One of the most important things in ensuring a reliable snow removal or lawn care service—not just for a company—but for a homeowner as well; is proper maintenance of equipment. In Winnipeg’s harsh climate, heat and cold can do a number on the small engines that power snow removal and grass cutting equipment. As the owner of a company that provides snow and lawn services I have to keep the closest eye of anyone on maintenance schedules for this equipment so that it stays operational when my customers are counting on it most. In the 1st part of this 3 part series I will outline some of the problems Winnipeg’s climate poses to small equipment and ways we minimize these factors in our business.

I’ll also point out a few ways you can adapt our strategies to increase the longevity and reliability of your own equipment so it can last for years to come in our harsh Winnipeg climate.

Hot Temperature: The first obvious challenge in Winnipeg, is the hot summer temperatures.

Winnipeg summers can reach highs of 35 degrees. Not only does this temperature pose a challenge to the person cutting the grass, it’s hard on the lawn mower itself. Small lawn mowers are usually air cooled which means they simply use a fan to transfer the heat from the engine to the environment around it. Usually this is an effective form of cooling for a small lawn mower given the length of time it is used and the low workload the engine experiences. However, in thick grass or extreme heat the engine can be pushed to its limits.

In extreme Winnipeg heat, try not to push the mower too hard. If you have thick grass to cut in the heat, try “double cutting” it. Double cutting is when you cut the grass once at a higher level, and then a second time at your desired finish cut level. This spreads the workload of the mower and prevents bogging the mower in thick grass.

While you are mowing your lawn it is vitally important to keep the fan blades and housing clear of any clippings or debris so the cooling system can work properly. The more grass, leaves, sticks, or debris that prevents air from flowing past the engine block, the less effective the cooling system will cool your mower. Overheating is extremely hard on engines and is one of the leading causes that kills engines. If you notice the mower sputtering or detonating during tough cutting STOP! Idle the mower down slowly and allow the mower to cool off for at least 10 minutes. Do NOT pour water on the mower to cool it, this can cause other problems like the one mentioned next.

Another important mechanical consideration in high heat environments in Winnipeg, is to ensure that you idle down the mower before turning it off. Going from a full throttle position to an off position can be like taking a hot glass from the dishwasher and putting it in ice cold water. We all know this can cause the glass to break. While a sudden cooling of a small engine is unlikely to cause the the block to crack, it can still cause problems within your lawn mower. Therefore the best practice is to slowly bring your mower to an idle after you are finished cutting the grass, and allow it to idle for at least 30 seconds so it can properly cool down. This can increase the longevity of your engine which can save you money down the road and increase the reliability of your mower. The last thing we want is a broken mower for 2 weeks while the grass is up to our knees, especially with the price of Winnipeg mechanics these days.

Hot Winnipeg temperatures aren’t just a challenge for our equipment, make sure you take the same good care of your own body in the heat by hydrating properly, taking breaks if you need, and trying to complete you lawn chores in the cooler parts of the day like morning and evening.

Stay tuned for the next part of our series where we talk about the problems posed by a -50C Winnipeg winter, and what you can do to minimize its effect on your yard care equipment.