Did you know that your seasonal garden tools all should be winterized and stored away properly for the cold months? You can’t just roll your mower into the garage or shed and call it a day. There’s steps to take, and precautions to consider.
But not a lot of people know exactly how to store a lawn mower for winter. It’s not like it comes with a special set of instructions on how to do so. It’s just something you’re expected to simply know! So, I’ve put together this simple tutorial with pictures and everything, so you can have this awesome knowledge for yourself and never have to Google it again.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO FOLLOW THIS TUTORIAL
- Paper towels – It can get messy, especially when draining the liquids. So be sure to have these handy for a quick clean up.
- Trowel – This is for scraping off the built-up, caked on grass and mulch from the undercarriage. A trowel will work, but really, any kind of scraping tool will do.
- Grease pan or old container – You don’t want the oil and gas to spill onto your deck or into the ground around your house. A grease pan is great, but really anything that will catch and hold liquids will do. Even an old plastic container.
- Ratchet – This is to remove the blade. There’s not really an alternative for this unless you can remove the fitting by hand.
- Pair of gloves – Kind of obvious, unless you don’t mind getting super dirty. But a good pair of gloves are also good when handling the blade and shaper bits.
- Wire brush or spark plug cleaner – This will come into play when removing and cleaning your spark plug. Alternatively, you can just use a durable knife.
- Tarp – This is to catch any spills or splatters. Alternatively, you can use an old blanket or towel. Some even use a large black garbage bag.
- Syphoning tube or hose
This is for syphoning the gas out of the tank. If you don’t have a hose for syphoning, you can either run the mower until the gas is gone, or tip it over and pour into a wide tray. Another alternative is to use a regular plastic hose and a turkey baster.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Follow these steps and you’ll be a mower winterizer extraordinaire.
STEP ONE: EMPTY TANK
This is the first, and one of the most important steps of winterizing your lawn mower, regardless if you store it in the garage or just leave it outside. Leaving gas in your machine can gum up and promote things like rust.
So, first you turn on the mower and let it run until you think most of the gas has burned off. Then, turn it off, let the engine cool down, and proceed to syphon the rest out if there’s any left.
To do this, insert your syphoning tube into the gas tank and then pump the remaining fluid out into a tray or container. If you don’t have a proper syphoning tube from a kit, you can use any sort of tube device and a turkey baster to get the sucking motion going.
We don’t do this step at our house. We’ve always just burned until dry and have never had an issue.
STEP TWO: DISCONNECT & CLEAN SPARK PLUG
So, this step is important for two reasons. The spark plug can ignite while you’re cleaning the mower and can lead to injury. Also, while you use the mower all summer, the spark plug gets caked up with carbon. It should be removed and cleaned before you properly store the machine away.
To do this, just remove the spark plug from its location and scour it with a wire brush or pad. The carbon build up will begin to flake off. You can also use a spark plug cleaner. It’s an oily liquid and you just rub it on the plug with a cloth until it comes clean.
Alternatively, you can use a durable knife to hack away at the materials built up on it.
Replace your spark plug every two years. Cleaning a used one should only happen once. But, keep any old ones in case you run into an issue in the future where you need a quick fix.
STEP THREE: REMOVE BLADE
Removing the blade is important for the rest of this tutorial because it prevents you from hurting yourself, but also makes it easier to drain the oil and clean the underside. To do this, use a ratchet to remove the center bolt that holds the blade in place. Wearing your gloves, take off the loosened blade and set aside.
I may not look like it at first glance, but the blade is extremely sharp. I learned the hard way a few years ago.
STEP FOUR: DRAIN OIL
If your machine is a 4-cycle engine (which it probably is), then you need to drain the oil. Without oil, the machine can be put away for winter storage without worrying about it gumming up.
To pull this off, you have to place a tarp under the mower and then slip a tray underneath, roughly centering it with the oil plug. (should be in the center of the underside)
Then, tip the mower on its side but make sure the air filter and carburetor are both facing upwards. That’s how you know it’s the right way. Otherwise, you risk leaking fluids into your filter and other bits.
Remove the plug and let the oil drain out into the tray. Wipe clean and reattach the plug.
For some engine model, such as the Honda that I have, the oil access is actually located right hand outside. It’s a circular screw top with a dipstick attached. Simply turn the mower on its side, filter up, tray underneath, and the unscrew the cap.
STEP FIVE: CLEAN UNDERNEATH
Using a trowel or other durable scraping tool, begin to remove any caked-on grass and mulch from the underside and blade. This will pay off in the Spring. There’s nothing worse than trying to remove 6-month-old, dried on grass from the year before.
STEP SIX: CHANGE FILTER
So you will have one of two types of filters; paper or sponge. If you have a paper filter, remove it and replace with a new one. They’re fairly inexpensive, too, so no worries.
If you have a sponge type, remove it and clean with warm soapy water to remove all of the old dirt and oil. Let it dry completely and then put it back in the mower.
Making sure you have a new or clean filter will keep your mower operating effectively and for longer. The filter allows the air in that’s needed to create combustion in the engine.
READY TO GET STARTED?!
And that’s about it! Some people remove the battery, too, but that’s really only effective if you live in extremely cold climate and are storing it outside. Did you enjoy this easy tutorial? Did it help you to winterize your mower? Remember, your machine is a part of your home and an investment on your part. Take care of your tools and they’ll last forever. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to comment and share below.