With temperatures dipping into the single digits and snow on the ground, odds are you’ve put away your trusty lawnmower for the year. What you may not have done, however, is a little preventative maintenance. It might seem like it’s no big deal to skip, but come spring you’ll be kicking yourself.
Don’t worry, this won’t take very long… Let’s get to work!
What You’ll Need:
- Oil (check your owner’s manual for the proper type)
- Fuel stabilizer
- Drain pan
- Wire brush
Stabilize the Fuel:
One of the first and easiest things to do when winterizing your lawnmower is to stabilize the fuel. If you let the gas sit all winter, it will get stale. You can prevent this from happening by adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank. Once you’ve done so, start and run the mower for at least five minutes to allow the stabilizer to run through the whole system.
If you’re storing the mower outside or in a garage, you should also top off the gas to prevent condensation inside the tank. If you’re storing it inside, you can empty the gas tank and run the mower until it uses the remaining fuel in the lines.
Change the Oil:
You should change the oil in your mower once a season. What better time to do so than when you’re getting ready to store it away for the winter? It’s one less thing to worry about – and likely forget – come spring.
If you’ve never changed the oil before, don’t panic. It’s very simple. Find the drain plug for the oil pan (consult your owner’s manual if you’re having trouble;) some mowers may require you to invert the mower if there is no drain plug. Remove the plug if there is one, and drain the oil into a pan and dispose of it properly. Finally, replace the drain plug, and refill the mower with the appropriate weight oil.
Clean the Deck:
The deck of your mower can get pretty nasty over the course of a year. Before you put it away for the winter, you’ll want to clean it thoroughly. This will keep the mower running better, and help to prevent rusting.
Before you start, disconnect the spark plug to ensure that the mower isn’t accidentally kick-started when you’re working around the blade. To do so, simply remove the wire connector from the plug.
First, remove any loose debris from the deck and chute; an air compressor can be handy here but isn’t necessary. Once the easy stuff is gone, it’s time to break out the wire brush and get to work. You might need to scrape off especially stubborn grime with a paint scraper or flat-bladed screwdriver.
Next year you can do this project before the temperatures dip below freezing. That will let you start off by hosing everything down, loosening up the grime, and making your job a lot easier.
Feeling like an overachiever? Here are a few more things you could do to ensure your mower is in top condition when you’re ready to use it the first time next spring:
- Clean and sharpen the blade
- Replace the spark plug
- Clean or replace the air filter
That’s it! In less than an hour, you’ve cleaned and winterized your lawnmower. Now, sit back, relax, and wait for spring.