How to Store a Lawn Mower for Winter
Operation of a gas or oil-powered machine can result in the gradual degradation of components over time. The Home Depot agrees that improper care of a gas-powered lawn mower can result in years taken off the lifespan of an otherwise high-quality machine. When the winter months draw in and lawn equipment is used less, it's the perfect time to give machines such as your lawn mower some TLC until they’re needed again. We’ve put together a list of the steps to take when preparing your lawn mower for winter storage.
Drain the gas tank
Draining your mower’s gas tank is an essential first step before storing your machine away. People often aren't aware that leaving gasoline inside your lawn mower over the winter months can result in rust. It can also lead to the inner components of the machine becoming clogged up with a thickened sediment, affecting performance and long-term durability.
Prior to draining the gas tank, you should add a fuel stabilizer to the machine's tank, which will help to circulate the gas more freely. Once this has been added, run the motor for several minutes, allowing the compound to circulate, before switching the mower off and waiting for it to cool down. Finally, drain away the excess liquid into a gas canister.
Remove the blade
Your next task of draining the machine's oil supply will be far easier if you first remove the machine's blade. After you've cleaned the underside, and your machine is still on its side, use a wrench to disconnect the bolts holding the blade in place. This should ideally be done with a thick pair of gloves that will resist the sharp edges of the blade. You may also wish to take the opportunity to sharpen your lawn mower blade while it is disconnected.
Drain the oil
This won't always be a necessary step; it depends upon whether your lawn mower is a 2-cycle or 4-cycle engine. The latter type of mower uses a separate oil tank, whereas the 2-type variety has oil mixed directly into the gasoline supply.
If you're running a 4-cycle engine, then you should prepare an appropriate oil pan to catch the runoff, as well as a tarp to prevent the liquid from contaminating the ground. With your mower still on its side from the removal of the blade, you should remove the oil reservoir plug and gently lean the mower towards you, so that the oil drains away into the pan. Be sure that no oil spills into the air filter or carburetor.
Clean the mower
Leaving the remnants of grass and weeds stuck to the inner workings of your lawn mower can be a terrible idea when the wintry weather arrives. Not only will this make it more difficult to clean once the dirt dries on, but any chemicals that may stick to the blades could result in corrosion of your mower's components.
You should always begin by removing the spark plug lead wire from your mower, which will ensure that you avoid accidental ignition of the engine while cleaning it. Be sure to brush or hose away any grass, leaves or dirt that may have clung to your mower blades, before tipping it onto its side and cleaning the underside. Any trapped or stuck-on dirt should be removed with a tool as opposed to your hands, to prevent injuries that could be caused by the sharpened blades.
Change the filters
Your mower may have either an oil filter or an air filter, or more commonly both. They will need to be changed regularly, whenever they becomes dirty, though frequency will depend on how often you use the machine. According to manufacturer Flymo, this component can result in poorer gas-burning efficiency when it becomes dirty. If it's a paper filter, then a simple replacement will suffice. If it's the sponge variety, then it'll need to be thoroughly washed in warm, soapy water, before allowing it to dry and applying some clean oil prior to replacement.
A lawn mower should never be stored away for the winter in a dirty condition, nor should the fuel tanks be left full of old oil or gasoline. The steps above will take minimal time to complete, but should result in your lawn mower enjoying a much longer and healthier life, without the need for replacement of vital components.