Thursday, November 12, 2015

Important Safety Recall Notice to STIHL Customers

We care about our customers’ safety, so in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, STIHL Inc. is recalling certain gas-powered edgers, trimmer/brushcutters, pole pruners and KombiMotors. These products were sold by authorized STIHL dealers in the United States from November 2014 through September 2015. 


This recall is for safety reasons.  In select units the tank vent may not be fully inserted in the fuel tank, allowing fuel to leak.  This creates a risk of fire, although STIHL Incorporated has received no reports of fires or injuries at this time.

To determine if your product is affected, please visit our product recall website  You may also call our customer service department at 1-800-610-6677 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or email .

Only products with serial numbers between 501830112 and 504083576 are included in the recall.  The serial number can be found on the label on the bottom of the power head (engine) housing.

Serial Number Location
If you determine that you have a model in the serial number range listed above, discontinue the use of your STIHL product and take it to an authorized STIHL dealer.  Your STIHL dealer will inspect the fuel tank vent and, if not properly installed, install a new fuel tank vent.  This will be done at no cost to you. 

If you have any questions regarding this recall, please contact our customer service department at , visit our website at, or e-mail .

We apologize for any inconvenience this recall may cause you, however we take seriously the safety of the people who buy and use STIHL products.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Home Heating Safety Tips

by Amy J. Valdez, Battalion Chief, Virginia Beach Fire Department

Photo by Retired Master Firefighter/
VBFD Photographer Ray Smith.
Each year fire claims the lives of 3,400 Americans, injures 17,500, and causes billions of dollars worth of damage. People living in rural areas are more than twice as likely to die in a fire than those living in mid-sized cities or suburban areas. The misuse of wood stoves, portable space heaters and kerosene heaters are especially common risks in rural areas or after a significant storm.
All heating equipment needs space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away. Supervise children whenever a wood stove or space heater is being used. Have a three-foot "kid-free" zone around open fires and space heaters.

Fireplaces regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned out frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires.

Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Don't wear loose-fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Photo by Virginia Beach Fire Deparment
Wood Stoves
Wood stoves cause over 4,000 residential fires every year. Carefully follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions. Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs, or trash. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.

Electric Space Heaters
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Kerosene Heaters
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare-up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. When refueling, allow the appliance to cool first and then refuel outside. Never overfill any portable heater. Use the kerosene heater in a well ventilated room.

Photo by Virginia Beach Fire Department
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

For more fire prevention  tips, visit the U.S. Fire Administration
The Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign is part of the United States Fire Administration’s effort to reduce fire deaths and injuries across the nation. More than 3,000 people die in home fires each year in the United States; most of which are in homes without a working smoke alarm. A working, properly installed smoke alarm lowers your chances of dying in a fire.

The Install. Inspect. Protect. fire safety campaign will help encourage Americans to practice fire safety, to protect themselves and their families, and to protect the firefighters who work each day to save lives. Research has proven that the following fire safety practices work:

1. installing and maintaining smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers;
2. practicing fire escape plans; and,
3. performing a home safety walk-through to remove fire hazards from homes.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tips for Fall Lawn Care and Winter Prep

By Geoffrey Rinehart, 'Grass Roots' Program Coordinator for U.S. National Arboretum

Late-Fall Fertilization
In all but the most northern tier and high mountain regions there is still time to fertilize your cool-season lawn before it goes dormant for the winter. These “cool-season” lawn grasses include tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. If you have a warm-season lawn like zoysia, Bermuda, centipede, St. Augustine, or buffalograss, it’s too late to fertilize since those grasses are best fertilized in summer. Using a “fall fertilizer” that contains approximately the same percentage of potassium, “K” (the 3rd number on the label) as nitrogen, “N” (the 1st number on the label) will help supply the adequate potassium needed to help with winter stress tolerance. Usually, fall fertilizer is applied at 1 lb. of actual nitrogen/1000 sq. ft. of lawn. Be sure to read the label and sweep any fertilizer off hard surfaces.

Fertilizing with Leaves
Mulch mowing leaves is an effective way to reduce the time it takes for “leaf clean up” and a great way to recycle your yard’s nutrients and reduce the amount of material going into your community’s “green waste” or refuse collection.

Research studies by Michigan State University have indicated that under optimal conditions you can mulch mow up to 6” of leaves at a time with a mulching mower, but mowing only 3”-4” at a time provides a better chance to chop leaves up more efficiently. The chopped up leaf litter then falls back into the turfgrass canopy and decomposes, returning nutrients to the soil. Research has indicated that mulch mowing leaves can also contribute to a reduction in broadleaf weeds over 3+ years.

In summary, there are a number of factors that can be attributed to effectively mulch mowing your leaves, including the number of deciduous trees you have, your lot size, if you have any windstorms, and, of course, your time. So, when you think about leaf clean up this fall, save time and recycle your yard’s nutrients and “leave it alone” until its time to mow.

Sidewalks, Driveways, and Patios
Even with mulch mowing, there is usually some more leaf management to do on sidewalks, driveways, and patios. While there is always the handheld leaf rake, recent technology advancements have improved the efficiency of leaf blowers. Today, there are several battery-powered models available that offer more power and longer duration, while eliminating exhaust emissions. On hard surfaces, wet leaves can pose a slipping hazard and some temporary concrete staining if left too long (Hint: you can blow them off onto your lawn and then mulch mow!)

Soil Testing
One very important, but sometimes overlooked aspect of managing lawn and garden nutrition is soil testing. Soil tests are a reasonably priced, easy way to gain insight into the status of your soil. Properly managing your soil nutrient status is critical to growing healthy plants, which are more able to withstand drought, pests, and other stresses. Submit separate soil tests for areas of your yard that are dramatically different in soil type, slope, or use. For instance, take separate soil samples for your lawn, vegetable garden and landscape garden beds.

You can find out more about soil testing and locate labs in your area by contacting your state extension service and find out more about lawn and turfgrass management at the ‘Grass Roots’ website or your state’s university turfgrass website.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Courteous and safe fall cleanup

If you are like most folks, you are gearing up for fall.  Cooler temperatures, holidays, and of course, fall cleanup.  There is nothing like a blower to make short work of clearing your property of leaves and debris.  Here's a quick video on how to select the STIHL blower that is right for you.

STIHL Gutter Cleaning Kit 
To help you get the most out of your blower, and to operate it in a more safe and courteous manner, we have put  together this blower information guide.
Here are a few excerpts from the guide:
  • Always refer to your blower's instruction manual and understand all operating and safety instructions before using your blower.
  • Wear all protective clothing recommended by your instruction manual
  • Inspect the blower before and during use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.
  • Never modify a blower in a way not authorized by the manufacturer.
  • Children should not use a leaf blower.
  • Pay attention when using a leaf blower. Don’t point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
  • Make sure bystanders, including other operators, are at least 50 feet away. Stop blowing if you are approached.

The STIHL BG 66 L. A low emission, low noise handheld blower
for cleaning up leaves and debris in noise-sensitive areas

Many of the objections to blower use in communities are a result of improper blower use.  Courteous use of blowers is not only the right thing to do, but can help avoid backlash like bans .  Our guide lists several tips including:
  • Follow local rules and ordinances about when to use leaf blowers.  Do not use very early in the morning or very late in the day.
  • If you live in a noise sensitive area, consider owning a low noise gas powered blower like the STIHL BG 66 L, or BR 500, or a cordless blower like the BGA 85.
  • To reduce dust spreading, check wind direction and intensity and use the lowest possible throttle speed to do the job. 
  • Never point the nozzle or blow debris toward people, pets, cars or houses.
  • Always be considerate of people passing by and of property.
By properly operating your blower and accessories you can make safe and short work of your yard care chores, and get on to all the fun activities fall has to offer.
For a complete listing of STIHL blowers visit the STIHL Blower page or use the interactive product selector to find the right blower for your needs and find your local STIHL Dealer on our website.