Winterization Tips for Your Combination Sewer Cleaner, Vacuum Truck or Hydro Excavator  

When winter arrives, preparing your equipment for freezing temperatures is necessary to prevent costly damage. Pay particular attention to the areas of your truck that carry water, or where liquids can pool and freeze. We offer a few more important winter maintenance tips to remember below, but most importantly – always follow your original equipment manufacturer’s instructions for proper winterization and storage during freezing temperatures.

Drain your water tank

During the winter time, it’s important to completely drain the water tanks, hoses, valves, and plugs on your equipment. If you leave water in the system, it can freeze and expand, leading to bursting hoses, damaged gaskets, and other costly issues. When temperatures are near or below freezing, it’s important to empty the tank and entire system after each shift to avoid this.

Check your coolant

If coolant freezes, it can potentially crack the engine block. Switching to coolant that is rated for extreme winter temperatures before freezing can become a concern in your region is a simple way to prevent a costly failure.

Add fuel conditioner 

Using fuel conditioner is a key part of regular hydro excavator and vacuum truck service, because it prevents your fuel from freezing and helps your engine start in frigid temperatures. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount of conditioner required. It’s also important to match the fuel conditioner to the type of fuel you’re using.

Inspect your fuel filter

When the fuel filters in your machines are clogged, it allows moisture to build up and freeze during the winter months. Frozen filters and water traps will cause your hydro excavators to run improperly or fail to start at all. Empty the water traps in your fuel filters after each shift and always keep an extra set of filters in your cab.

Use cold start aids 

When temperatures drop below freezing, diesel engines often require ether to be sprayed into the air systems to help them start. For older machines that have ether spray bottles, check the bottle to make sure it isn’t empty. If you have a newer machine with an automatic ether system, inspect the connections and hoses for cracks or loose connections before the cold weather arrives.

Set up your block heaters

Using a block heater helps keep your fluids at the right temperature and viscosity. If you don’t utilize a block heater, oil may thicken, making it harder for the engine to turn over and adding stress to the battery. When temperatures start to decrease, inspect your block heater to make sure it is working properly.

Fill up your fuel tank

If you have a diesel engine, leaving it completely full of fuel after each shift during the winter months may be advisable. A full tank prevents condensation from forming within it, helping keep moisture and water out of the fuel system.

Start machines once a month

When storing your vacuum truck or hydro excavators for the winter, it’s important to start them up at least once a month. You should avoid starting the machines in extreme cold weather, so try to find a time when temperature is above freezing.


JJE provides parts, service, maintenance, repair, and technical support for all makes and models of hydrovacs, industrial vacuum trucks, and hydro excavation and safe digging equipment.

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