“Winter Maintenance is a necessity when running an excavation Company big or small!”


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We have it pretty mild when it comes to the cold here in Clark County, WA. I do notice we receive a little snow and ice in the coldest months of the year but it is mellow compared to other parts of our country.  I thought I would put together a little info on keeping our machines winterized. Enjoy!

Having your equipment breakdown while you’re at work is a widespread occurrence during the winter season. The failure mainly occurs because the machine operators or the owners fail to take the necessary precautions to ensure their heavy equipment are well prepared for the cold months. 

Luckily, here in Clark County, Washington we get a very mild winter compared to some of the other parts of the country but it is still very important to make sure these routines are followed every season.

You don’t need to run a loss or get your job affected merely because your equipment couldn’t function properly. Such failures might not only affect your work, but you might incur considerable costs to get your equipment back in operation not mentioning the lost time.

Ask, for instance, Nylund Inc. construction equipment experts and they will tell you how important it is to take your equipment for servicing before the winter season. Just before the temperature begins to drop, you should know that your machine needs some servicing, repair, and maintenance so that you minimize any complications and breakdown.


Pre-startup check

Heavy equipment operators understand how important it is to check their equipment before they begin operation. This is because overnight weather conditions can adversely affect the equipment and cause problems such as frozen pipes, and metal stress. These problems are even worse during winter, and the equipment safety should be given more consideration during this time of the year.

Operators should be very observant before they take the equipment out some work. You should learn how to look for frozen pipes, metal stress and if any ice is in the equipment. If you find any issues, they should be fixed immediately to avoid exposing the equipment to more damage. Some of the equipment parts that you should ensure are up in good condition includes:

Equipment attachments

Equipment attachment areas such as snow blades, angle brooms, snow blowers, and spreaders are the hardest parts to maintain during winter. Even though Vancouver Washington and our surrounding cities don’t get much snow, these attachments still demand much attention, and you need to dedicate yourself to ensure they are in good working conditions when you need them.

You should visually check and pay attention to the attachment components such as cylinders and guards, hoses, fighting, and teeth, cutting blades and edges. This way, you will quickly find out if any wear is developing and take the necessary precautions before the damage becomes huge. Ensure you lubricate the attachment areas that require lubrication.


The battery is another essential component of heavy machinery equipment that you should pay particular attention to during winter months. During cold weather, the battery is required to generate almost twice the cranking amps so that it can turn over and deliver enough oil to the engine.

Check the battery electrolyte to ensure it’s up to the full indicator ring and over the top of the plates. Check the rated current output of the alternator as well as the load test current output of the battery.

Dirt and debris can create a conductive path that drains the energy. Clean any corrosion around the posts to ensure they have clean and clear contact to supply consistent current flow to the machine. If you store your machines outdoor, ensure you remove the battery every evening and store indoors to avoid freezing. Ensure your battery is always fully charged to keep it ready anytime you need to use the machine.


Tires also require extra maintenance during winter, and you should ensure you inspect them properly before storing. Tires can wear easily during winter, and you won’t realize it when you don’t check them.

Ensure the tires are fully inflated and remove any counterweights when not using to avoid straining the tires for nothing. Check for cracking and chunking and remove any debris before you start working. Ensure you replace them in time if you notice any wear or chunking. When inflating the tires, use dry hydrogen gas to eliminate any chances of crystal formation.


The engine is a vital component of heavy equipment, and this is where fueling comes in. First, you should ensure fuel system is well maintained. This involves cleaning the fuel tank cap and making sure it’s functioning properly. Ensure you feel the fuel tank before going to sleep so that you leave no room for water build up since this is the primary cause of fuel injection system failures.

The quality of fuel you’re using during winter season also plays a huge rule in heavy equipment maintenance. Ensure the fuel doesn’t have any moisture or contaminants. Ensure you remove any contaminants and fuel residue and drain the tank while the engine is still running.

Oil and coolant

The oil that you use in your equipment during winter should match the temperature outside. Verify the viscosity to ensure you’re using the right oil. A low viscosity engine allows the oil to flow faster, so you don’t have to wait for the oil to flow in when the equipment is turned on.

50/50 ratio of coolant and water is enough to keep your oil running during normal days. However, during winter seasons, you should use 70/30 ratio of coolant to water so that water doesn’t freeze.

You should inspect the cooling system regularly and ensure the cooling in the radiator is filled to the cap and ensure the cap has proper relief pressure. Coolant is not only crucial for keeping the cooling system from freezing. It protects the machine from corrosion, lubricates shaft seals, prevents cavitation and increases the boiling point temperature.


New machines use diesel exhaust fluid, DEF. This fluid can freeze and thaw but will not hurt the equipment’s ability to function correctly. If you’re not going to use your machine during the winter season, then it’s essential that you store it indoors from direct sunlight.

DEF is also very corrosive hence you should store in HTPE plastic or a stainless steel container. You should also know that DEF can expand during winter so you should leave room for expansion when you fill up the tank, so that is doesn’t crack the reservoir.


You should ensure you give the undercarriage proper maintenance to ensure efficiency during winter. The undercarriage is more exposed to mud, debris, and snow. Daily inspection before you step out for work is essential to help get rid of the mud, debris, and snow that can affect the undercarriage of the equipment.

If you need to correct any track tensioning or make any adjustments, you should refer to the equipment manual. Even if it’s not winter season, ensure you inspect your undercarriage from time to time to ensure they’re in good condition and reduce the maintenance costs.


Storage is also essential during the winter months. When your equipment is not going to be used for a while, it is imperative that you keep it in an enclosed place to avoid the accumulation of snow and also give you an easy time when starting. Also, detach any attachments if you’re going to store it for a long time so that the joints and the hinges are not damaged.




Heavy equipment maintenance during winter months is usually different during the warmer months. You should start preparing your equipment for winter as early as fall so that you get all the time to carry out all necessary maintenance costs.

Remember, deadlines and costs don’t halt during winter, and you can’t afford to have your machine damaged in the middle of the work. Ensure you educate your staff on how to maintain and take care of your heavy equipment so that you keep your operations running smoothly.  

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Nylund Inc. is an excavation contractor based out of Clark County Washington and in our state, it is the law to have all utilities located before we dig. The same goes for you as a homeowner or business property owner.

Washington State Law – https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=19.122

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Utility – A service provided by a city or public utility company, such as electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, phone lines, cable, garbage, internet, and more.

Underground Utilities – Pipes and cables that transport electricity, water, gas, and information to each residents and business in a city.