Winter is Coming - Welder Winterization
Updated: Oct 23
We've updated this article as of 2023. Check out our updated article here.
For those of us who live in Canada, especially western Canada, we know that old man winter can wreak havoc, dipping down to -30 Celsius or colder is a common occurrence. We store away our lawnmowers and bicycles, bring out the winter tires and weather proof our windows all in preparation of the cold months ahead. However, if you own an engine driven welding generator, you can also take steps to prepare it for the cold weather as well.
Here are 6 steps to ensure your welding generator is ready for winter.
#1 READ YOUR MANUAL
Duh right? Every welding machine comes with an owner’s manual, which include maintenance schedules for your machine. Some manufacturers such as Miller, print these schedules directly on the air filter cover and inside the engine compartment door. Keeping your machine maintained properly is the first step to preparing it for the cold of winter. If you’ve lost your owner’s manual, it can be downloaded online on most manufacturer’s websites, so there is no excuse to avoid regular maintenance.
#2 CHECK YOUR OIL
If you plan to use your welder generator in temperatures below -20 degrees Celsius, changing to a lighter weight oil is typically recommended to provide better viscosity and circulation through the engine. 5W-30 would work just perfectly. While another alternative would be to use synthetic oil during the cold months. When an engine sits, the oil settles which can cause it to take longer to flow freely through the engine once the ignition is fired up, especially in cold temperatures. A synthetic oil is engineered to flow quickly at low temperatures and starts protecting your engine right after you start your ignition.
#3 BLEND YOUR FUEL
Blended fuel is recommended for the cold weather, with the addition of ethanol to your gasoline. Ethanol acts as a cleaning agent, removing debris from the fuel, adding about 10% of the total mixture should suffice. However, this can lead one of the most common problems from ethanol blended gasoline; phase separation. When the fuel absorbs moisture from the air in the tank it then bonds with the ethanol and separates from the gasoline. The ethanol/water mix can cause the engine to seize, possibly creating severe damage. To prevent phase separation from occurring, several fuel additives are available on the market. Along with the ethanol and additives, be sure to keep your fuel tank as full as possible at all times, this will limit the amount of air and moisture in the tank.
#4 DE-ICE YOUR CARBURATOR
Carburetor icing occurs when the temperatures are near freezing and the relative humidity is high. Ice forms on the throttle plate and inner bore of the carburetor, causing the machine to stall. Cold weather kits are available and can be installed by your service centre. Kristian Electric offers our own kits for cold weather operation. Once properly installed, the kit pulls heated air from the muffler surface into the carburetor and shuts the cold air off. This increases engine temperature during operation in both idle and high speed.
#5 INSTALL HEATERS
There are many options when it comes to heaters for your welding machine.
Glow-Plugs – Small electric heaters installed in most diesel engine welders to aid the starting of diesel engines. Be sure to have your glo-plugs tested and replaced if faulty by a service center in preparation for winter.
Block Heater – Installed in the cylinder block it warms the engine to increase the chances of starting as well as warm the engine up quicker than normal.
Pan Heater- Installed directly onto the engines oil pan, usually with magnets.
Dipstick Heaters – Installed in place of the engines oil dipstick to regulate oil temperatures
Anti-Gel – Diesel fuel contains wax which should be treated with an anti-gel during cold weather to prevent wax build up in the fuel filter.
Anti-freeze- Topping up the antifreeze solution in a welders cooling system should be routine maintenance.
#6 COVER AND PROTECT YOUR MACHINE
Radiator grill tarps are available for some machines. The tarp will help to keep the operating temperature of your engine warmer on cold days. While protective welder covers will not only help to keep your engine warmer, but also protect and maintain the finish of the welder from the blowing ice and snow.
If you follow the above recommendations you can rest assured that your machine will make it through the rough winter ahead. However, if this all seems a bit of a daunting task, give us a call at Kristian Electric and we would be happy to winterize your machine for you!