Store Your Mower For Winter

Your lawn mower takes a lot of abuse during the mowing season, and a little TLC in the off-season will nip potential issues and emergency repairs – or worse, having to replace it all together. If you take a little time to do a few simple maintenance tasks prior to storing it, it’ll be ready for action once spring arrives.
Mower Garage

Disconnect The Spark Plug

Before proceeding with the following steps, it’s important that you disconnect the spark plug. Otherwise, the mower could start accidently, leading to serious injury.

Empty The Gas Tank

Gasoline that sits in your mower’s fuel tank for months and months degrades, gets stale, and even thickens, eventually clogging the carburetor and fuel lines in the system. It also attracts moisture, which can lead to corrosion. It’s best to empty all fuel prior to storing your mower for winter. Before emptying, turn the mower off, and allow the engine to cool. Then, simply siphon remaining gas into a clean container (if siphoning is intimidating, you can let the mower idle until it runs out of gas). To ensure the fuel lines are empty, restart the mower, and let it run until it stops on its own. Always use approved containers for storing and/or transporting fuel. Contact your local gas station to learn where to dispose of excess fuel.

Should you choose NOT to empty the fuel prior to storing your mower, it’s a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank, and run the engine for at least 10 minutes to give the stabilizer a chance to flow through the entire fuel system. Fuel stabilizer is an acceptable alternative to avoid tacky deposits during storage. Always follow the mix ratio found on stabilizer container. Do not empty the gas tank and carburetor if using fuel stabilizer.

Change The Oil

Changing the oil in a lawn mower is really simple. You’ll need an oil pan, oil can, or other container. Empty all fuel (if you’ve completed step 2 above, the fuel tank should already be empty). Remove the plug on the oil reservoir as well as the dipstick cap, and slowly tip the mower to drain oil into the pan. Replace the plug and add fresh oil (only fill to the ‘full’ mark on dipstick, since overfilling can cause damage to engine). Always check your user manual for recommended oil weight for optimal engine performance, and be sure to dispose of used oil in an environmentally acceptable way (many automotive oil change facilities will recycle it, or you can take it to a local service station or household waste recycling facility). Some lawn mowers are equipped with engines that never require oil changes, so check your owner’s manual to see what’s recommended for your model.

Clean The Underside

Many newer mowers are equipped with a washout port that you simply connect to a garden hose for quick deck clean-outs. If your mower doesn’t have one, you can simply tip the mower over and gently brush out grass clippings, mud, leaves, and other debris. If debris is on the blade, use a stick or other tool to remove it ̶ never use your hands. Wash the deck with a garden hose. Allow time for deck to dry thoroughly.

Check/Change Spark Plug

Spark plugs should be changed from time to time – typically every 100 hours. You shouldn’t need to change it every year, but at least inspect the spark plug for damage and wear each season. If there’s no corrosion, cracks, or other visible damage, you can probably continue to use the plug, but will need to clean it with a wire brush and check the gap with a gap tool before reinstalling (don’t over-tighten). If you do discover damage or corrosion, replace the spark plug – a new plug will greatly improve engine startup and overall performance

Change The Filter

A dirty air filter prevents the engine from burning gas efficiently. Most walk-behind mowers have a paper air filter that can be removed in a few seconds. You can purchase a replacement filter at your local outdoor power equipment dealer, home improvement store, or mass retailer. If your mower has an oil-soaked sponge filter, remove it and wash it out with soap and water. Allow it to dry completely, then add a bit of clean oil before putting it back on. 

Remove The Blade

While not mandatory, the end of the season is a good time to remove the mower’s blade and get it sharpened. To prevent accidental cuts, wear gloves while handling the blade. Refer to your owner’s manual for detailed instructions for removing/replacing blade. 

Store Mower In A Dry Place

Store your mower in a dry place that’s protected from the elements, like a garage or garden shed. If the storage location is dusty, consider covering it with a tarp or other type of cover – the less dust, the better. Never store it next to a furnace, water heater, or any appliance with a pilot light.

Don’t have a gas-powered mower? Electric and battery-powered mowers need care too. It’s a good idea to store your mower battery indoors, since exposure to freezing temperatures will shorten battery life. The battery should not be stored in its charger for off-season, but it should be fully recharged prior to storage, then re-charged before the first use the following spring.

By following these friendly tips, your lawn mower will be ready to tackle all your lawn care in the next spring season.

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