As fall creeps in, you’ll want to start thinking about winterizing your walk-behind lawn mower. It’s a sure way of starting the new season with many problems if you just pack the lawn mower away for winter. So, before you push the mower into a corner of the garage, let’s look at what you should be doing first. Here’s everything you’ll need to know to successfully winterize your mower to ensure the next cutting season starts off on the right foot.
Winterizing your lawn mower is super important
While your lawn mower is resting during the winter months, it’s still subject to new problems. Your mower is susceptible to fluids and elements. So, if you don’t plan ahead and forget to winterize your lawn mower, you’ll have to make some avoidable repairs come next cutting season. Let’s take a look at what is happening to the mower while it’s stored for the winter.
Untreated Gasoline/Fuel gum/Varnish
Gasoline in your lawn mower during the cutting season doesn’t pose much of a problem. But, if it’s left in the lawn mower untreated for more than 30 days, the gas will end up going bad. The varnish is a sticky, gum-like substance that forms when gasoline becomes contaminated. Bad gas is not only inedible for a mower fuel, but it also coats everything with fuel varnish.
This can cause clogged or damaged fuel systems, damaged carburetors, and gummed-up head. These problems can be costly and time-consuming. You can avoid these problems by simply winterizing the lawn mower.
Untreated Gasoline & Moisture
Ethanol is one of the modern fuels we use to mow our lawns. The main problem with biofuels like the ones you get at the gas station is that ethanol attracts moisture. If you leave fuel untreated for too long, water could form in your gas mower.
Rust can form if metal is exposed for a prolonged time to water, such as during the winter months. Rust can develop wherever iron-containing material is present. This means that both the engine and its internal components are at risk.
The Lawn Mower’s Metal Structure
Most lawnmower blades are made out of some kind of metal. Any metal without iron, such as steel is susceptible. This means that metals exposed to moisture and air will rust during winter. The engine, cutting deck and areas that have had paint removed are the most vulnerable.
Old engine oil
By the time you get to the end of the cutting season, you will likely have old engine oil sitting in the engine’s sump. It is crucial to change the oil before the mower goes into storage for the winter. If it isn’t changed, it will cause major issues.
As oil sits undisturbed for long periods, it loses its viscosity, and sludge forms in the base of the sump. If you try to use the mower in the spring with the same old oil from the previous season, you’ll face problems with overheating and poor performance.
Although it is possible to change the oil in a spring, it won’t be enough. To eliminate the sludge you will need several oil changes. This will save you many headaches when spring arrives.
A Dirty Lawn Mower
Winterizing isn’t just for gas-powered lawn mowers; far from it. Winterizing is required for both corded mowers as well as fancy robot lawnmowers. Any type of lawn mower gets dirty and must be cleaned before it’s put into storage.
Rust can be attracted dirt and grass on the mower. It’s super important to clean all mowers before putting them away so that moisture can’t sit in the old clippings and dirt and rust the metalwork.
The Tools and Supplies You’ll Need to Winterize Your Mower
Winterizing your lawn mower covers those essential jobs that ensure your lawn mower doesn’t suffer any damage and is completely ready to go for the next cutting season. Let’s take a look at what tools and materials you’ll need to prepare your lawn mower for winter.
Tools and supplies you’ll need for those essential winterizing jobs.
All Lawn Mowers – Cleaning
- Silicone Spray
- Cleaning Cloths & Paintbrush
- Handheld Brush
- Cleansing Soap
- Water Hose
- Airline & Compressor/Leafblower
Gas-Powered Lawn Mowers
- Fuel Stabilizer
- Engine oil
- Air Filter
- Fuel Filter
- Spark Plug
- Plug Wrench
- Oil Catch Pan
How to Winterize a Lawn Mower – The Main Steps
One thing is common to all lawn mowers: they get dirty. In this section, we’ll discuss the best approach to getting your mower cleaned and protected for winter.
How to Get Ridof the Bulk Of Dirt and Clippings
First, you’ll want to remove as much of the big dirt as possible from the cutting deck. I use a scraper to remove as much dirt from the deck’s underside. Next, I use my handheld toothbrush to clean any remaining dirt.
Wash the Mower
With most of the dirt and grass removed, it’s time to wash the lawn mower. If you are cleaning an electric/battery mower, then instead of using a water hose, it’s best to use a damp cloth. The entire mower can be cleaned with a sponge, soap, water, and water. Rinse the mower with clean water.
Dry the Mower
Before you store your mower, ensure it is dry. I find that using a compressor or an airliner on a leafblower is the most efficient and fastest way to clean a lawnmower. Because it is cooler in winter, it is more difficult for a lawnmower to dry completely. But there’s nothing wrong with air dying; just make sure it is completely dry.
Protecting the Mower’s Metal
Before the mower is put away, you’ll want to protect the metal. This will prevent any rust buildup over the winter. Silicone spray acts as a barrier to prevent the metal from rusting. Make sure that you cover all of the metal, including the cutting deck’s metal underside and any paint chips. It’s also a good idea to give the engine a coat. If you have electric motors, don’t spray any electrical parts, even the motor.
You guys with gas-powered lawn mowers will have to carry out specific steps for your combustion engine to ensure it’s winterized correctly.
Modern push mowers that use oil can have the oil from the oil filler caps removed. You can consult your manual for more information. To do this, tilt your lawnmower so the filter faces up and the filler cap faces downward.
After you have placed yourself, place an oil catchpan under the filler cap. Then, take off the cap. After you remove the cap, the oil will start draining. You can remove the dipstick to increase the flow. When the oil has completely drained, you can refill the mower with fresh motor oil as per your manufacturer’s recommended oil.
Protect the Fuel
Next, you’ll want to protect the fuel with a fuel stabilizer. You may hear that it’s best to drain the lawn mower of all its fuel for winterizing, but the downside to this is that it leaves the metal exposed to air and moisture. According to the instructions included with the product, you can add a stabilizer or other additive to your fuel.
Let the mower run for 5 minutes after adding the stabilizer. This will ensure that all unprotected gasoline is burnt off.
Change the spark plug
Changing the spark plug will not protect the lawn mower during winter, but it’s one of those jobs you need to do so that the lawn mower comes out next season with all the maintenance completed.
Next, disconnect the spark plug’s ignition cable and use your wrench to remove the spark plug. Next, attach the ignition cord to the new plug.
Change the air filter
Again, this stage isn’t essential for wintering, but it is part of the servicing that should be carried out before the start of a new season. First, remove the filter cover. You may need a screwdriver if the cover isn’t clipped-on.
Now you can remove the old filter/s. Next, clean the filter housing with a clean towel. Finally, replace your filter cover with a fresh one and install a new filter.
Cordless/battery lawnmowers make winterizing much easier. The batteries are the only other thing you should pay attention to. If you have a lawn mower with removable batteries, then it’s best to remove these before storing the lawn mower. This will prevent corrosion and power drain between power connectors.
When you store your batteries, make sure they are not in direct contact with the charger. Again, this can drain the power and potentially shorten the battery’s life.
Finally, if you can, move the batteries inside to a warmer location. The cold temperatures in a garage or shed can cause damage to batteries, which can decrease their lifespan.
Corded electric lawnmowers are similar to battery-powered mowers in that they don’t require much to be winterized. However, it is a good idea to inspect the connection and cord before you store your mower.
Inspecting the Lawn Mower’s Cord
Electric corded lawn mowers’ main power cables can take a beating over the summer. They are pulled through flowerbeds and dragged across the lawns all the time. You can take the cord apart and inspect for damage. It is time to replace the outer cable sleeves if they are worn or visible.
Storing the Cable
When you are wrapping up the cable to put away, it’s best to wrap it loosely. This will reduce cable twisting, and it will also put strain on the internal wires. You should not wrap a cable too tightly as it can cause damage and short-circuits next time you use it. You can purchase a velcro strap to keep your cable tidy at the store.
Inspection of the Cord Connector
The last task on the electrical side is to check the connector connecting the mower and cord. Here you’ll find the pins where the mower plugs in. It’s a good idea to give these connectors a spray with silicone spray. This will protect them against moisture and prevent them rusting.
My Top Tips Based on Experience when Winterizing Lawn Mowers
If you follow my steps, your mower will run just as smoothly. But here are a few extra ideas that will make next season’s first cut even better.
Protect Your Lawn Mower
If you want your lawn mower to look shiny after winter, cover it. Most lawn mower manufacturers offer covers to fit their specific lawnmower models. There are also generic brands that can make covers to fit most lawn mowers. This will keep your mower dry and clean while it is stored. If you can’t find a cover, then an old blanket or tarp will work fine.
Sharpen Your Mower Blades
You don’t want to have to sharpen your lawnmower blades when spring arrives. You might be willing to take the time to sharpen your mower blades prior to the lawn mower going into winter storage. This will make the first cutting of the season easier.
It is worth checking the battery of an electric start gas mower that has been winterized. To make sure it’s going to work next year, you can disconnect it and take it inside to keep it out of the cold, or you could use a battery tender. There’s nothing worse than turning the key next spring, and nothing happens.
Dress the Belts
You can spray your lawn mower’s belts with a belt dressing, if they are attached to a deck or drive. This will protect them against the elements throughout the winter. To release tension, remove the pulleys from the belts if possible. This will prevent any winter stretching.