Winterizing Necessities

Grass mowing season has finally ended, and now it's time to prepare our mowers for storage.  There are many tasks that can be done to prepare for the coming winter, but here are some of the most important tasks.

Stabilize the fuel.

Gas that sits in a mower all winter can clog the carburetor.  Come spring, you’ll have to pay upwards of $100 to have the part professionally cleaned.

If you store the mower in the basement, run the engine until the gas is gone. If you keep it in the garage, fill the tank (to prevent condensation) and add a bit of fuel stabilizer, available at home centers and gas stations.

Add stabilizer every time you fill up your gas container since it helps engines run cleaner. This time around, remember to operate the mower for 5 minutes so that the stabilizer can reach the carburetor. (Tip: Whether you keep the mower in the basement or the garage, stick a cup full of mothballs near the engine to prevent rodents from nesting there.)

Change the oil.

Routine oil changes will extend the life of the engine. Be sure to refill the oil reservoir to the designated mark on the dipstick, remembering that too much oil can be as bad for the engine as too little. (To dispose old oil properly, take it to a local service station or recycling center.)

Charge the battery.

If your mower or tractor has a battery-powered starter system, periodically charge the battery throughout the winter. Otherwise, it will fail much sooner because it will not hold a full charge. Unlike your car, mower engines can not fully recharge your battery while mowing.

Clear the deck.

Scrape grass clippings from the underside of the mower deck to prevent it from rusting. If you do this right after the final mow, spray from a garden hose should be enough to clear the clippings. Otherwise, an old bristled pot scrubber is an effective tool. Spray the cleaned deck with silicone spray to help prevent future build-up.


Winterizing Maybes

Replace the spark plug(s).

Spark plugs typically need replacing every 100 hours of operation. (Tip: Buy an hour meter at the home center or parts supplier to keep track of running time.) You’ll know right away from the corrosion if yours is spent. If the plug is in good shape, it’s a good idea to remove it, pour an ounce of motor oil into the cylinders, crank the engine a few times, and then reinstall the plug.

Sharpen blades.

Save yourself the hassle next spring by getting your blades sharpened now. Keep a second blade on hand for when the first one is being sharpened. Change blades every month during the mowing season to keep dull blades from butchering grass.

Service the air filter.

Refer to the owner’s manual to see if you should clean or replace the filter and how frequently.

Replace the fuel filter.

Refer to the owner’s manual for specific instructions. Mowers usually don’t have a fuel filter, though many lawn tractors do.