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How to Use Your Excavator in the Winter: Tips and Tricks

excavator in the winter in alberta

Getting your equipment ready for the winter is vital to make sure it doesn't break down in harsh conditions and keeps your team working through any obstacles that winter throws at them!

Many breakdowns can be prevented with early preparation. Let us consider what makes these machines tick: they are 95% hydraulics. Canada is known for some harsh winter months and you need preventive failure measures to avoid machine errors.

Keep reading below to find out how to maintain your heavy construction equipment in the winter with our list of essential tips.



In the winter, many potential failures can be seen by the naked eye before they occur.

Have a visual inspection checklist that a driver must perform each day before operating the machinery. This list should be comprehensive for major faults that can be picked up by the eye. Keep an eye out for:

cracks on hydraulic pipes,

loose wiring,

oil leaks,

anything that looks out of the ordinary


Now that your pre-inspection is done and the operator is happy, start the machine and let it run at idle. Never, and we repeat, never run the machine before the engine has reached its optimal operating temperature. Running an engine cold constantly is fatal for a diesel engine. Use engine covers or even cardboard to cover up those rads and stop the cold air flows.

Your machine's morning warm-up is about allowing it to warm up for at least 15 minutes before attempting to move it, then slowly start by cycling the boom and stick with no load on. The objective is to try to get some circulation going and warm up the hydraulics. Lift each track off the ground and rotate the track 4-5 rotations in both directions. Cover up the rads and coolers, specifically at 30 degrees Celsius or below 0. The fan will put cold air through the rads and coolers at severely adverse temps, these temperatures can gel the oil solid and with no oil through the cooler, the hydraulic oil in the tank will overheat.



Winter months are hard on final drive seals, snowmelt will create a lot of water, and this water will form to ice around the final drive as your machine sits overnight. With luck, your duo-cone seal will have enough oil residue that the two sides won't freeze together. Sometimes they will and will become damaged, thus causing final drive seal leaks.

Always keep an eye for uncommon colours that could be oil on the inside of your tracks.



If your much-valued equipment isn't on-site or being used, try to park in manner it can be serviced and maintenance people can access the machine in event it won’t start, use fuel conditioner and make sure block heater is working, these small tips could get you going a lot quick when it time to get back at it


In cold weather, a battery needs to output twice as many cranking amps to turn over an engine. Keeping a battery fully charged and warm will help it last longer and avoid the vehicle not starting.

If the machinery isn't operational, it's better to remove the battery and place it on a trickle charger and keep the battery at room temperature.



Even after doing all the above, there may be times that the machinery will struggle to start. It's okay to use starter fluid when the vehicle is cranking and give it the much-needed help.



Work doesn't stop even in the harshest conditions but following these simple steps will ensure your heavy construction equipment will last.

Are you still unsure about how to care for your equipment? Or perhaps you have a repair that needs to get done? Make sure you contact our team today and get the service you need!


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