Taking good care of your lawnmower keeps it in good working order and means it will have a long life. Failure to properly winterize your lawn mower may result in it not working properly when you try to start it again.
Whether it’s a lawn mower or a riding mower, there are several key areas that need to be addressed to properly store it for the winter. We hear from lawn care experts about how and when to winterize your mower, plus six key steps to follow.
Is winterizing a lawn mower important?
After a summer of mowing grass lines in your lawn, it can be easy to simply put the mower away after use without worrying about it. However, this can lead to problems when it comes to mowing the lawn again in the spring, as neglecting to winterize the mower can cause problems for the engine and reduce its lifespan. Preparing your lawn mower for winter storage means it comes out again in good condition and ready to start cutting grass again.
When to winter the lawn mower
The time to prepare your lawn mower for winter storage will come when you stop mowing your lawn in the fall. This year’s final cutting time will be determined by the hardiness zone of the United States.
Weeds go into dormancy when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be from mid-October to December, depending on your location. The number of times you mow your lawn will decrease in the fall, and the last pre-winter mowing should come before the first hard frost.
“When you’re ready to be done mowing and put your mower away for the season, just spend a little extra time and clean it before storing it for the winter,” says Kody Ketterling, lawn care expert and founder of K-IT Products.
“It takes some time, but your mower will be clean and ready to use for the next season starting in the spring.”
Kody Ketterling has been running his own landscaping business for over a decade and is an expert in garden care and maintenance. Plus, K-IT maintenance products keep the grass greener. On shelves at Home Depot stores, as well as Walmart.com and Amazon, K-IT products are easy to use, affordable, and save time and money in the long run for homeowners and professional landscapers alike.
How do you winterize your lawn mower?
The exact ways to set up your mower will vary slightly depending on the machine. There will be differences if you are winterizing a lawn mower or portable mower, or if you are storing gasoline or electric lawn mowers.
Whatever type of mower you use to tend your lawn, taking the proper steps to prepare it for winter storage will ensure it’s ready for use next year.
1. Clean the mower
The first step is very essential and should be done after every mowing to keep your mower clean and give it the longest life possible. Before storing your mower away for the winter, you should clean it thoroughly. Be sure to remove any grass clippings, dirt or debris from around the mower deck as well as from the blade. Taking the time to properly clean your mower will prevent rust and corrosion buildup while you store the machine away for the winter.
2. Clean the air filters
Cleaning your lawn mower air filters should be a task done regularly throughout the mowing season on any gasoline lawn mower, but it is especially important before storing it away for several months. It is recommended to clean the foam filter after every 25 hours of use, and the paper filter after 300 hours, as dirt can build up in the filter after long hours of mowing.
It’s a simple task to clean paper filters by tapping them on a flat surface to remove dirt, while you can quickly wash dirt off foam filters with a bucket of water and some soap – just remember to dry them well before putting them back in. The machine is for storage.
3. Drain or install fuel
If you have a gas-powered lawn mower, it is a good idea to either drain the fuel or stabilize it before storing the machine away for the winter. It is not recommended to leave it with old fuel, as stale and old fuel can spoil over months in storage and lead to engine damage.
If you can’t simply run the machine until the fuel runs out, an alternative is to add a fuel stabilizer – which can keep any fuel in the machine fresh for an extended period.
Gasoline that has gone bad over the winter is “one of the main problems that causes mowers to fail to start and run fine the following spring,” claims Sarah Jameson, founder of Lawn Check.
“You can either buy an inexpensive siphon to drain the gas, or you can buy Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer, which keeps the fuel fresh for 24 months. This costs a lot less than sending your mower to a small engine repair shop in April,” she says.
STA-BIL 10 FL Storage Fuel Stabilizer. Geese.
Sarah Jameson is the founder and owner of LawnChick.com, a trusted lawn care blog that educates millions of homeowners every year to help them have a greener, healthier lawn. Sarah’s blog is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications.
4. Oil change
In addition to treating old fuel, changing the oil in your machine will also help protect the engine. When stored for a long time, old oil can also deteriorate and damage engine parts. It is recommended to change the oil at the end of the mowing season.
5. Remove and store the batteries
Batteries are an important and expensive part to replace on many mowers. Whether you are winterizing a riding lawn mower or storing a battery-powered lawn mower, they will have batteries that need to be properly stored and maintained during the winter.
When it comes to electric mowers, “The most important thing to do is to remove the batteries and store them indoors and out of the cold,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love.
“Constant exposure to the cold and below-freezing temperatures can cause batteries to die during the winter months, and since replacing them isn’t exactly cheap, be sure to remove them,” he adds.
If your lawn mower has a battery, it is necessary to disconnect it from the machine and store it in a cool, dry place. Even if your mower is stored in a garage or shed, remove the battery and keep it charged over the winter. Otherwise you risk a dead battery by spring.
To maintain its maintenance through the winter, check and charge it regularly with a battery viewer, such as the Battery Tender Plus 12V Battery Charger and Maintenance Kit available on Amazon.
Jeremy Yamaguchi is the CEO of Lawn Love, helping homeowners find high-quality, reliable lawn care. Jeremy, who specializes in technology and using industry expertise, intends to revolutionize the lawn care industry.
6. Store in a dry place
It is essential to store your mower in a dry, protected location throughout the winter, such as a garage or shed. Leaving it outdoors and exposed to the elements makes it susceptible to many problems, and can shorten its lifespan
“We recommend parking their cars in a garage, shop, shed, or covered area to help them stay out of the elements,” says Kody Ketterling. “If you don’t have a way to do this, we recommend getting a tarp and covering them for the winter to protect them from the harsh winter months or weather when they’re not Use the mower.’
Is it okay to leave gas on the mower during the winter?
Any gas left in the tank after the last mowing of the year could damage the carburetor and fuel system if left there to age over the winter. The two options with any remaining fuel are to remove it from the tank, or use a fuel stabilizer. The recommended method is to add a fuel stabilizer when you last fill the tank each year and run the engine for a few minutes to circulate this stabilized fuel around the system.
Should I leave oil in my lawn mower over the winter?
The oil can be left in the mower over the winter, but it may be helpful to change the oil before storing the machine. Old oil will likely become dirty and wear out over time, which can affect your mower. Check the oil after the final cut and fill it before storing, or change the oil and run the machine for a few minutes.
Besides storing lawnmowers properly, it is also advisable to clean garden tools before storing them away for the winter. Taking the time to properly sharpen and maintain all your tools means you can use them for many years to come.