Homeowners are much more likely to have ethanol-enhanced fuel problems with their power equipment than professional landscapers are, said Derek Sollars, a mechanic at Corky’s Lawn Mower and Chain Saw Service on James Island.
That’s because professional landscapers use their equipment on a daily basis, while homeowners will store their mowers, edgers and string trimmers for months at a time.
“A machine likes to be run,” Sollars said. “It doesn’t like to sit.”
During extended storage times, deteriorating gasoline can cause issues that are more expensive to repair than the equipment’s initial cost.
“Ethanol will break down rubber and it won’t flex like it’s supposed to flex,” Sollars said. “Fuel lines shrink and cause leakage around the fuel tanks and carburetors. Seals are blown.”
Sollars estimated 70 percent of the work he does is related to ethanol. To remove and rebuild the carburetors on smaller motors averages $75. The costs climb with larger equipment.
If you don’t catch a problem early, he said, it can lead to valve and piston problems and a $75 to $100 repair job turns into a $400 to $500 repair job.
The ideal solution is to use ethanol-free gas or a synthetic blend of gasoline designed for string trimmers and similar pieces of infrequently used equipment. If you do use gas that contains ethanol, he recommends purchasing a test kit to make sure the fuel doesn’t contain more than 10 percent ethanol. Anything beyond that amount will void the manufacturer’s warranty.