When the winters start to roll in, it is time to store away your lawn mower. However, before you put this lawn care tool away for another season, you’d want to do your future self a favor by winterizing it. Just a little prep work and maintenance can keep your mower in a good condition through the harsh winter months.
If you’re confused about how to winterize a lawn mower, you have come to the right place. Follow these five foolproof steps to winterize your lawn mower. We’ve also given several maintenance practices you should follow so that your lawn mower is fully functional when spring arrives.
Step 1: Cleaning The Mower Deck
Ideally, this is something that you should be doing routinely. Keeping your mower deck clean will result in optimum performance. However, the task becomes much more crucial before storing away your mower for the winters.
Grass clippings often harbor moisture that can rust and corrode the underside of your deck. To get rid of them, spray your deck using a garden hose. This should remove any fresh clippings. For accumulated dried clippings or debris, use an old bristled pot scrubber to scrape them off. While doing so, make sure to wear heavy-duty work gloves to protect your hands from the sharp blades.
Step 2: Preparing The Mower For Storage
When considering how to winterize a lawn mower, this is the most important step. Step 2 will vary for gas-powered mowers and electric mowers, so let’s look at each in detail.
a. For Electric Mowers: Remove The Batteries
Electric start self-propelled mowers are great at maintaining an attractive garden. However, extreme changes in temperature can damage your batteries, shorten their life-spans, and cause them to fail prematurely. A simple solution to this is to remove the batteries and store them indoors to minimize temperature fluctuations.
For most batteries, the optimum temperature for peak performance is between 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this may vary, so make sure to check the owner’s manual to find the appropriate temperature range for your mower.
b. For Gas-powered Mowers: Drain Or Stabilize The Fuel Tank
Dealing with leftover fuel in your gas tank is one of the most important steps to consider when winterizing your lawn mower. Gasoline sitting in your fuel tank for extended periods can wreck your engine.
Water released from condensation can stick to the ethanol in your fuel leading to clogs, corrosion, and gumming throughout the fuel system. Come springtime, you could see yourself investing a huge amount into professional carburetor cleaning if you don’t take the requisite precautionary actions.
There are two schools of thought when dealing with leftover gasoline in your fuel tank. We shall be discussing both so you can choose one method based on your circumstances.
1. Using A Fuel Stabilizer
Fuel stabilizers prevent oxidation in fuels and extend their overall lifespan. Filling up the tank and adding some fuel stabilizer can preserve the fuel from degradation and forming resins which damage the carburetor. Rev up the engine for a couple of minutes after adding the stabilizer. This allows the stabilizer to work its way through the entire fuel system.
2. Draining The Fuel System
Sometimes there is only a limited amount of fuel left in the tank at the end of mowing season. In such situations, letting the tank run dry is probably your best option. Using a siphoning tool or a turkey baster is a great way to siphon out the leftover fuel in your tank.
As a precautionary measure, you may need to run the engine several times until it no longer starts. Remember a filled gas tank indoors could be a serious fire hazard. Emptying your fuel tank is a wise choice if you decide to store your mower inside your basement.
Step 3: Changing The Oil And Oil Filters
The next step to winterizing your mower is to check the oil. Routine oil changes can help extend the life and performance of your engine. If you are nearing the 50-hour mark in terms of usage since you last changed the oil, go ahead and change it before storing the mower away for the winters.
Once done, run the mower for a couple of minutes to ensure that the oil coats the engine’s inner walls completely. Always refer to the owner’s manual to make sure you’re adding the right type and amount of oil.
Step 4: Replacing The Air Filter And Fuel Filter
The air filter and fuel filter prevent debris and junk from entering into your carburetor. It is advisable to change them at least once every season. While winterizing your mower, consider replacing your air and fuel filters. This will ensure that your mower performs at optimum levels when you finally decide to use it.
Step 5: Replacing Spark Plugs
Bad spark plugs used to be one of the most common lawn mower issues. However, with improvements in technology, most modern lawn mowers require spark plugs to be changed only once every few years. Consider replacing your spark plugs while winterizing your lawn mower, if you feel they are nearing their expiry date.
Storing Your Mower Through The Winters
Leaving your lawn mower without any gas in the tank or batteries means that it becomes a large immovable object. Make sure you park your mover in a convenient spot where it won’t need to be moved around for at least a couple of months. We recommend storing your mower indoors, preferably with a good quality tarp over it, so it doesn’t collect dust and debris.
Another factor to consider is pests. Rodents are notorious for chewing through wiring and filters. Consider layering some mothballs and mice traps to keep them away.