Automatic weather station maintenance knowledge
Your home automatic weather station should give you years of trouble-free performance. However, to prolong the life of your automatic weather station and maintain its accuracy, you should perform routine maintenance and inspections to ensure that the individual sensors are clean, free of debris and functioning properly.
How often depends on where you live, most of us in temperate regions should be able to get away with doing these tasks only once per season. However, in harsher climates, such as sandstorm-prone desert areas or other areas that experience extreme weather, you may need to maintain your automatic weather station on a monthly basis or even sooner.
Personal instrument maintenance
Each sensor on a weather station has a specific set of best practices to ensure they perform optimally. We’ve provided some tips below for the most common instruments found on personal weather stations.
Temperature and humidity sensor
Your temperature and humidity sensors usually don’t require regular maintenance, but less expensive sensors can easily drift over time. Dust and debris can accumulate on the radiation shield during the summer, while snow and ice can accumulate during the winter. Wipe the shield with a damp cloth to make sure nothing is blocking airflow. If you’re concerned about dust getting on the sensors, remove the shield and use a soft, dry toothbrush to gently brush off the mesh that protects these sensors.
Anemometers and vanes
Most automatic weather stations use a cup system to measure wind speed (some don’t, as we’ll get to shortly). Make sure the bearings are clean and the cup spins freely. If they don’t, there’s usually a “set screw” that can be loosened a bit to ensure smooth operation. Clean the mug with warm water. If these tips don’t fix anything, contact the manufacturer, as the bearings may have failed. The maintenance procedures and potential failures for wind vanes are almost the same as for anemometers. Just check the direction of the wind vane once a year to make sure the direction reading is accurate.
Almost every personal weather station uses a “tipping bucket” mechanism to measure rainfall. The mechanism is covered by a funnel that directs the rainwater into the tipping bucket. These funnels can easily become clogged with dirt, debris and even bird droppings. Remove the funnel and clean it thoroughly. When the hopper is closed, also check the lifting bucket inside. Make sure they are also clean and free of any insects and debris.
Solar Radiation and UV Sensors
You can also clean the solar radiation and UV sensors with a damp cloth. Make sure not to touch the diffuser with your hands as you may leave an oil stain which will make the sensor inaccurate.