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5 Ways to Prevent Equipment Breakdowns

Megan WildTake a look around the garage, pole barn or shed on your property and you'll see any number of tools, farm implements and other sorts of equipment that are used on a day-to-day basis. Although some may be more vital to the operations of your homestead than others, they all have a time and place.

With that in mind, it's important that you take the necessary steps in order to prevent breakdowns and preserve your equipment for years to come.

1. Maintain Adequate Records and Documentation

Pile of documents
Photo by Fotolia/ki33

Receipts, proof of ownership and other forms of documentation that are included with your equipment should always be kept somewhere safe. You never know when you'll have to refer to that proof-of-sale or warranty card, so it's important that this information is accessible when you actually need it. If possible, you may even consider digitizing this information for long-term preservation.

Moreover, it's always a good idea to keep detailed records regarding any upgrades, repairs or even preventative maintenance you've performed on your equipment. Not only does this help you maintain a regular schedule of maintenance, but it can also be called upon to help troubleshoot and identify any future problems.

2. Preventative Maintenance and Storage

Proper preventative maintenance is critical to safeguarding your equipment from stress or damage. What exactly constitutes proper preventative maintenance depends on the specific type of equipment you’re working with, but there are a few generalities to keep in mind.

Hand and power tools, for example, should always be stored properly. Before putting your tools away for storage, however, make sure you give them a deep cleaning with a high-pressure hose or washer. Apart from aesthetic appeal, cleaning away dirt and debris can help prevent rust and other types of damage.

Equipment that features any moving parts should be shown extra attention during the preventative maintenance phase. Ensure all bolts are tightened, any hoses are leak-free and belts are free of any damage. Finally, verify any necessary fluid levels within the engine.

Furthermore, ensuring the proper storage of your farm equipment can also affect the value of your equipment when the time comes for a trade or sale. According to some studies, farm tractors that are stored indoors typically boast a trade-in value that is 10 to 15 times greater than that of comparable equipment that is permanently left outside.

3. Read Equipment Instructions or User Manual

Stack of thick books
Photo by Fotolia/279photo

Nearly every sort of self-propelled farm implement includes a user manual by default. Likewise, most powered and hand-operated tools include a set of detailed instructions regarding the safe use, proper storage and preventative maintenance techniques for ensuring the longevity of your equipment. Unfortunately, many consumers, including farmers and homesteaders, have a tendency to disregard this information altogether.

However, reading and understanding such documentation can go a long way toward preserving your equipment and avoiding accidents in the field. Moreover, some user manuals provide helpful tips and techniques to maximize your productivity in the field.

4. Pursue Training or Certification

Advanced training or certification may be available for certain machinery, especially for some heavy-duty farm implements. Courses and classes are available from a number of different resources, including schools and institutions, community co-ops and even equipment dealerships.

The costs associated with such training vary greatly from source to source and even from region to region. However, some classes, particularly those concerning operator safety, are typically made available at no cost to you.

5. Use Your Equipment Correctly

Equipment hosing a field
Photo by Fotolia/chas53

Finally, make sure you use all of your equipment in the correct manner. Mis-using tools, vehicles or equipment is not only a hazard to the equipment itself, but it can also be dangerous for you or anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity.

If you are unsure how to use a particular tool or machine, don't be afraid to delegate the task to a professional. Apart from preserving your equipment and personal safety, seeking the help of an expert can bolster productivity to levels you never even imagined.

Protecting Your Equipment for Years to Come

While all equipment is susceptible to failure or damage, there are a number of steps you can take in order to prevent machinery breakdowns, preserve the value of your hardware and ensure productivity for years to come. Although you won't be able to eliminate the risk entirely, you'll certainly be able to rest easier knowing that your equipment will be ready and waiting for you in the morning.