Equipment, Home Improvement

Prepping Your Lawn Mower For Winter Storage

John Deere D100 EnginesSoon it’s going to be time to stow your lawn mower away for the winter, so before you stick it in your garage or shed for the next several months take a minute to do some basic maintenance. Keeping up with your lawn mower maintenance not only keeps your lawn mower working well, it can contribute to its overall safety.

  • Give your mower a quick visual once-over to look for anything out of the ordinary. Look for rust or any loose fixtures and repair or tighten them. Don’t put it off because it should be a quick fix.
  • For safety reasons, you should always disconnect the spark plug when you do any lawn mower maintenance in order to keep it from accidently kick-starting. Meanwhile, you can replace the spark plug as needed. The  spark plug helps your mower start up, so if you’ve noticed a little bit of a lag, it’s probably time to replace it. Get a good socket wrench with a specialized spark plug socket with neoprene lining that won’t damage the spark plug’s porcelain casing.
  • Inspect the mower’s blade. A dull blade can eat up more fuel and won’t give you as nice of a cut. It will rip your grass instead of cutting it, which is more damaging and can expose your grass to disease, even.  If the tips of your grass look shredded or brown, it’s probably time to sharpen that blade. After the winter, be sure to check for rust or erosion that could keep you from getting a nice, sharp cut. Sharpen up your blade or replace it with a spare one. You can sharpen your blade by clamping it in a vise and running a metal file over the blade, following the manufacturer patterns and grooves.
  • Get rid of all of the built up grass clippings and organic debris that collects on the deck ( undercarriage) of the mower. To clean it quickly, turn the mower on its side, remove the blade,  and rinse it off with a garden hose. You can also use a tool like a putty knife to scrape away the stuff that is really caked on there. Excess buildup on the deck can affect airflow and keep your mower from operating at its peak potential.
  • Empty the gas tank before you store your mower for spring. Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, and run the mower for a couple of minutes to allow it to circulate throughout the system. Then, turn off the mower and let the engine cool off for a bit. You can remove the gas by siphoning it off into a gas can. After that, you’ll want to clear the fuel lines by continuously restarting the engine until it stops and cannot be restarted again.
  • Changing your mower’s air filter should be just as easy as changing the filters in your own vehicle. There are a variety of different filter types on lawn mowers, however. A paper filter can simply be replaced, just remember to face the paper outward. A sponge filter should be soaked with oil, so to clean it wash it with soap and water, let it dry, and then add some clean oil to it.
  • When in doubt, consult the user manual for your mower. It may surprise you how much helpful information there is in there! The manual offers suggested maintenance, safety and operating guidelines that can be quite enlightening.

Emily Kaltman writes for The Grass Outlet in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing about lawn care and the smell of freshly cut grass.