Have a lawnmower and winter is approaching? If you’re wondering what steps you need to take to properly winterize your mower so it starts up easily in the spring, I’ve got you covered. This article will provide my best lawn mower winter storage tips and the steps you need to take to make sure that your mower is ready to go when the grass starts growing again after the snow melts.
Why Winterizing Your Lawn Mower is Important
Any time your lawn mower will be sitting for a long time there can be a number of issues. The gas can go bad, you can ruin the carb, the mowing deck can rust.
Winterizing your lawn mower is the easy way to ensure that your lawn mower doesn’t deteriorate when it’s sitting in the off-season. It’s not expensive or time consuming, and it will save you time, money and aggravation in the long run.
So let’s go over my top lawn mower winter storage steps:
Clean the Mower and Undercarriage
Like any other lawn and outdoor machine, your mower will get dirty after a long hot summer. Before you put it away for the winter, make sure too clean as much of the dirt and grime off as you can.
Take any excess leaves, sticks and branches, mud and grass, that are clinging to the mower and remove them.
Take your time to brush any hard material off first and then water down and hose the mower. This will eliminate any residue from sticking to the outer part of the mower. Make a strong effort to wipe down the mower and make sure there isn’t any water left behind. This can cause rusting and further damage to the body if not taken care of.
Afterward, repeat the same process after tilting the mower on its side and getting any excessive dirt or debris that may latch on to the blade and the inside of the mower deck. Use any tool small and flexible enough to get the hard to reach places in the undercarriage (I use a small wire brush for this).
Without doing this, you can expect rust to develop and clog of the passageway of the discharge chute. Your lawn mower blade will also dull faster if it’s rusting.
Lawn Mower Gas Tank Winterization
Engine maintenance is extremely important. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may have been invented for small engines, because if you defer maintenance you can expect problems (and probably you should budget for a new lawn mower).
The good news is that keeping your engine running well, before any complications occur, can be easily accomplished. Like many of the things mentioned, first, clean the mower before playing around with the engine.
To prevent sticking and rusting in your mower’s carburetor, remove any gas that’s leftover in the mower at the end of the season. Untreated gas that’s left in the tank may cause clogging in the fuel system, which will cause significant difficulties when ready to be used the next season.
Most gasoline contains ethanol, which will separate and cause the gas to go bad, so you shouldn’t leave your gas in the tank anyway. If your mower is going to be sitting a while, you can add a fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL (Amazon link) to eliminate the task of having to drain fuel before storing your lawn mower for the winter.
Start the mower and allow the stabilizer to dribble in through the system. Shut the mower down and wait for the mower to cool down. Next, draw out any surplus gas into a can. Make sure not to mix this gas with oil. Run the mower again, turning it on and off after it stops each time until the fuel that’s out of the tank and already in the mower is out.
Personally, I use TruFuel (Amazon link) in my mower, which is an ethanol-free gasoline that burns clean. I don’t drain my mower before letting it sit for the winter, and it starts up first-pull every year (the same goes for my snow-blower and I use the 2-cycle fuel for my edger). It’s more expensive than regular gas, but if you’re looking for a low-maintenance solution that will help your equipment last, this is it.
How to Winterize Your Lawn Mower’s Spark Plug
Take it out! Before you begin any work on your lawn mower, remove the spark plug to avoid the mower from starting up accidentally.
Replace the spark plug with a spark-plug socket for the winter to protect the spark-plug’s casing. Spark plugs are inexpensive, so even if it looks like it’s in good shape, I’d swap it out for a new one next spring. I hang on to the old ones in a show box in the garage so if I have an issue one day, I don’t have to run to the store because I have some that will probably work.
Prepare Your Lawn Mower Blades for Winter
Protect and preserve your lawn mower’s blade so that it won’t rust and dull over the winter.
Before you begin cleaning anything under your mower, make sure to remove the spark plug so there’s no chance of it starting.
I also recommend that you always protect your hands before dealing with the blades by wearing gloves or protective gear. When you’re ready, undo the bolts holding the blades in and set the blade somewhere safe. I like to bring a sharpie and mark the blade (top/bottom) so I don’t accidentally reinstall them the wrong way.
Always take the blades out and clean them separately from the undercarriage. If you can, sharpen the blades yourself or take the blades into your nearest hardware store to be sharpened.
What About Your Lawn Mower’s Battery?
If you have a pull-cord to start your mower you can ignore this one, but if you have a riding mower then you should respect your mower’s battery like you would your car.
What happens when you allow your car battery to sit out in the cold after not running it for some time? The same applies to your mower.
- First, remember to remove cables – negative cable first.
- Next, wipe off the battery with a clean cloth.
- Then, use a battery cleaner or metal brush to clean out the battery terminal.
- Afterward, store the battery somewhere safe, away from any gas and oil cans, a heater or furnace.
Frequently, every few weeks or more, run your battery to make sure it’s still retaining a charge.
Always make sure to keep the battery charge around 25 and 50 percent. After not being used for a while, some batteries may discharge.
Check your manual to see what is required of your battery and plan accordingly.
Push Lawn Mower Winter Storage Steps
- Empty the fuel
- Remove the battery (you might not have one)
- Take out the spark plug
- Change the oil
- Remove the mower’s blades
- Scrape the undercarriage
- Sharpen the blades
- Wash and polish the mower
- Store in a safe area
Riding Lawn Mower Winter Storage Steps
- Empty the fuel
- Run the battery
- Remove the battery and store it in a safe place
- Check the oil
- Spray and hose down the mower
- Spray underneath to clean undercarriage
- Check tire pressure
- Store in a safe area
Lawn Mower Winter Storage: It’s Not Complicated
Generally speaking, you want to keep your mower cleaned and in the same shape you bought it in. Check tires, handles, wheels, decks, undercarriage, battery, gas and oil, and anything that may limit how your mower functions if it is not maintained.
Having cleaning materials around is important, especially material that is specific to your type of mower. Read your manual and learn what you can clean with and what you’re not allowed to clean. Aside from blade sharpening, these steps should be carried out to preserve your mower for use.
Take your time, do this before the first snowfall, and make sure to keep mowers and materials away from children and flammable materials that may pose threats.
Whether you have a push mower or a rider, you should take care of your lawn equipment to ensure longevity. Don’t spend your money on a new mower if you don’t have to!
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