How to Store a Lawnmower in the Winter
For many homeowners, autumn stirs thoughts of storing the lawnmower. While your manual will indicate the best storage methods, you may also need to consider an annual maintenance schedule to allow your lawnmower to continue running efficiently and safely. Read on to learn how to store a lawnmower for the winter.
How to Store a Lawnmower in the Winter
These are steps that you need to take when storing your lawnmower over the winter. Each step is crucial in ensuring the lawnmower remains in good working order. Remember, this is a machine, and improper maintenance can have serious consequences. Plus, you want your lawnmower to last.
Prepare the Mower for Maintenance
Place your mower on a flat or level surface. Turn the engine off and ensure it is completely cool before moving on to the next step. Once thoroughly cooled, disconnect the ignition wire of the spark plug.
Drain the Fuel
The main reason people have challenges starting the mower come spring is the stale gas left behind. Either run the mower to rid it of excess fuel or drain the fuel from the tank. Then, use a fuel stabilizer and add it to the fresh fuel while filling the tank.
To prevent stale gas, add quality fuel stabilizers which keeps gas fresh for up to two years. It prevents old fuel from becoming gummy in the carburetor while not being used, which is essential when storing your lawnmower.
Run your lawnmower to distribute the stabilizer through the fuel system. Turn your mower off, allowing it to cool. Siphon leftover gas into a clean can. Restart your lawnmower and keep it running until it stops. Repeat the process until your engine isn’t starting and your fuel lines are completely empty.
Disconnect the Spark Plug
Before continuing to the rest of the step, disconnect the spark plug to prevent your mower from accidentally kick-starting, potentially causing serious injuries.
Take this opportunity to check the spark plug. If the spark plug is damaged or worn, replace it. The operator’s manual will contain the appropriate part number.
To remove it, use a socket wrench and a spark-plug socket. It should have a neoprene lining protecting the porcelain casing. Even if your spark plug is in decent shape, the new one performs better and only costs a few dollars. It will give you a smoother start when spring arrives.
Remove the Battery
If there is a battery, remove it by following the instructions for your lawnmower. You will need to store riding mower batteries in a dry and cool location.
- If you have a 4-cycle engine, you need to do an oil change. Some trimmers and lawn mowers contain 2-cycle engines where oil mixes with gas. Have your pan ready. Then, place a tarp under your lawnmower to catch oil that may spill.
- Place your lawnmower on its side. The carburetor and air filter should be facing upwards so residual gas and oil don’t spill into the area.
- Remove the oil reservoir plug. Slowly tilt your mower until oil starts to drain into the pan.
- Replace the plug when the oil has completely drained.
Replace Air Filter
Dirty air filters prevent your engine from efficiently burning gas. It restricts the air required for combustion.
For engines containing a paper filter, replace it with a new one with the paper edges facing outwards. If the filter is an oil-soaked sponge filter, wash it using soap and water. Allow it to dry thoroughly, and add clean oil before putting it back.
Clear your cooling fins from debris and dirt using a popsicle stick or screwdriver. After this has been completed, you can replace the air filter cover. Then you can secure it to your lawnmower.
Clean the Mower’s Undercarriage and Inspect the Blade
The lawnmower needs to be tilted to the side and the air filter facing upwards to access the undercarriage. Begin by clearing away the grass clippings, dirt, and other debris that may have become lodged in this area.
Put on gloves, then inspect the lawnmower blade for damage or wear. If you need to replace or sharpen the blade, you will need to remove it from the undercarriage. To remove it from the undercarriage, you will need a blade removal tool to hold the blade in place. Use a socket wrench to loosen the bolt which secures the cutting blade to the engine driveshaft.
Then, remove the lawnmower blade, ensuring you don’t cut yourself in its sharp edges. If you need to sharpen it, you will need a blade balancer sharpener kit. Follow the instructions carefully when sharpening a lawnmower blade to reduce the chances of any accidental injuries.
Once the undercarriage is clean and you can turn your mower into an upright position, fill the oil tank with 30-weight oil or SAE 3. Recycle the used oil at the nearest service station. Refrain from using thicker oils like 10W-40.
Check for Worn or Broken Parts
Check all parts of your lawnmower, like the discharge chute, belt cover, mulch plug, bag, and tires. Examine the cables for any indication of corrosion or rust. Replace anything worn or broken according to the user’s manual.
Lubricate Your Mower
Before storing the mower, ensure that all moving parts, like cables and wheels, are properly lubricated. You will need to apply one coat of chassis grease to the blades to prevent them from rusting.
After everything has been done, you can store your lawnmower. Make sure you place it in a clean, well-ventilated, dry location. Avoid placing it close to corrosive materials like fertilizer, appliances using a pilot light, furnaces using flames, or water heaters.
Store gas in a detached shed or garage. Only use an approved container and store it 50 feet from any sources of ignition. Fuel stabilizers will keep your gas fresh for your snow thrower or generator for two years.
Lithium-ion batteries will lose charge when exposed to cold. They can also catch fire. You will need to remove them from lawn equipment and store them with their unplugged chargers in locations where the temperature is above 50° F. Cold temperatures will not degrade propane, so you can store it in a well-ventilated, above-grade location.
What Is the Best Location to Store a Lawnmower?
Lawnmowers are best stored indoors, like in a storage unit or garage. It ensures the mower remains fully dry and isn’t exposed to freezing temperatures or wind. Lawnmowers can also be placed in basements or backyard sheds, providing they are elevated off the floor. Where you store it is up to you. Any location that is dry and away from the outside elements is ideal.
Can I Place my Lawnmower Vertically?
You can place winterized lawnmowers upright since you drained the fluids from them. This is the same for an electric mower. You can store some gas-powered motors upright as well, if they contain special features preventing petrol from leaking out.
There are numerous options for hanging a lawnmower for storage. However, for traditional gas-powered mowers that haven’t been drained of oil and gas, do not store them vertically. They will leak.
Can I Store my Lawnmower Outside Over the Winter?
While you can store your lawnmower outside, this is not ideal. If you absolutely need to store it outside, ensure that you elevate it so that it isn’t sitting on the ground. Elevation will permit air to circulate to keep it dry.
Cover your lawnmower tightly using a heavy-duty tarp. Periodically check it to ensure no damage to your tarp and no holes exist. To really protect it, build a storage box using basic tools. This storage space idea will give you peace of mind over the winter.
To store a lawnmower in the winter, follow our simple step-by-step instructions on winterizing it before you put it into storage. This process involves removing important components, thoroughly inspecting crucial parts, replacing them if necessary, and winterizing each component.
If you follow these steps each year, your lawnmower will continue to run efficiently. In the spring, it will not seize up as gunk won’t be clogging your carburetor for the mowing season. Operating it will be a breeze, and your mower will last longer due to the proper care it has received.
Take ‘Mow’ Care and Winterize Your Lawn Mowers for Storage
Lawn tractors and mowers can do a lot of yard work, but they’re not designed to handle snow. So, when winter comes knocking, that usually means exchanging the lawn mower for a snow blower. But you can’t just shove the mower into a shed and call it a season. Before the chill and frost move in, you have to winterize your lawn mower properly. And secure winter storage is only part of the process.
Winterize your lawn mower properly or you might need a new one in the spring
Much like motorcycles and outboard boat motors, lawn mowers need some care before going to sleep for the winter. Keeping them secured in a shed or similar location to protect them from weather, animals, and thieves is a solid first step. But winterizing your mower goes further than that.
Although electric mowers are available, many lawn mowers use four-stroke, gasoline-powered engines. And even in winter, gasoline has a limited shelf life. As some of the chemicals within your fuel start to degrade, they clog and damage components, Popular Mechanics explains. And if the gasoline degrades enough, it won’t ignite properly, or possibly at all.
Then there’s the ethanol. Essentially all modern gasoline contains ethanol to help the fuel burn more cleanly. That’s not a problem even for carbureted engines, which many lawn mowers still use. But when gasoline sits for an extended period, the ethanol separates from the rest of the fuel. Once it does, it starts dissolving plastic and rubber parts. Plus, ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture. And metal plus moisture equals rust.
In short, if you leave gasoline in your lawn mower before putting it into winter storage, it might not start in the spring. Not even fuel-injected engines are immune to clogs from degraded gasoline and ethanol.
But if you want to winterize your lawn mower properly, you can’t just stop at the gasoline, Consumer Reports says. Cold temperatures play havoc on electric mowers’ and tractors’ batteries, for one. And it’s not ethanol-attracted moisture that can make mowers rust. Trapped leaves and grass and old engine oil cause corrosion, too. All these things have to be addressed before putting your lawn mower into winter storage.
How do you winterize a lawn mower?
As noted earlier, preparing a lawn mower for winter storage is similar in some ways to the motorcycle winterization process. That includes the necessary gasoline-related precautions.
There are two options for winterizing your mower where the fuel is concerned. The first is simply draining the fuel tank and running the motor until all the residual gasoline is used up. After all, the tank, engine, and carburetor can’t be damaged by bad gas if there’s no gas left. Just don’t keep any leftover gasoline indoors—it’s a fire hazard, PM warns.
The other option is to stabilize your gasoline with a fuel stabilizer. Just add the prescribed amount to a full tank and let your mower run for a few minutes to let the stabilized fuel circulate. Then, shut it off and let it cool completely.
After dealing with the gasoline, if you have a lawn tractor, remove its battery. Hook it up to a battery tender if you have one, or if it’s very old, get a new one in the spring. And if you have an electric mower, remove its battery pack as well.
Next, winterize your lawn mower by removing its spark plug. This is partially to prevent accidental starts during the next steps, and partially to see if it needs replacing. And after removing it, make sure to squirt some oil into the socket for extra rust protection, PM advises.
After that, clean your lawn mower’s deck and remove any old grass, leaves, mud, etc. For stubborn gunk, use a degreaser, some water, and a wire brush. And if you remove some surface rust, now’s a perfect time to give your mower some fresh paint.
Winterizing also involves getting it ready for the spring
The winter storage preparation steps described so far have been about preventing damage to your lawn mower. But winterizing your mower is also about ensuring that it starts in the spring. That’s why, even if your spark plug is in decent shape, This Old House recommends getting a new one: easier starting.
Besides stabilizing the gasoline or draining it, winterize your lawn mower by changing its oil. As mentioned earlier, old oil that sits around can cause corrosion. The additives in fresh oil, on the other hand, haven’t degraded to the same extent. As a result, the oil won’t just protect better, but it will help the engine start easier, too. However, if you’re going to drain the fuel tank, change the oil before letting the engine run dry, Lifehacker advises. That way, the fresh oil circulates as much as possible.
To further improve starting ease, before putting your lawn mower into winter storage, change its air and fuel filters. Or, if your filters are reusable, clean them. Finally, sharpen or replace your mower’s blades so it cuts through the grass with ease. Just make sure to balance the blades before reinstalling them, PM notes.
It might seem like a lot of work to winterize your lawn mower. But a bit of care and prep-work is better than having to buy a new mower in the spring.
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Lawn Mower Won’t Start After Sitting All Winter (Storage Fix Tips)
Lawnmowers are notorious for not starting after being stored for long, and rightfully so! After all, it’s just a machine designed to cut grass.
And, when it doesn’t get to do its job when stored during the off-seasons, various other factors come into play, which might result in your mower not starting the next spring.
Let’s dive deep to find out how you can store your mower, start your mower, and all the safety tips you must keep in mind beforehand.
How to Prepare Your Lawn Mower for Storage?
Your lawnmower may not start after being stored during the off-season. It’s an expensive item to buy, so to only use it once after you buy, then it would be a complete waste of money. Here are a few tips which can be helpful to prepare your lawnmower for storage.
Use of Gas stabilizer
You can store your fuel by mixing it with a gas stabilizer up to 95% of the tank. The little space is left so that the fuel doesn’t expand and spill up when the temperature rises. You should never make the mistake of draining all the fuel from the mower before storing it.
Doing so might affect the mower’s carburetor, and it can lead your tank towards corrosion by opening the tank to condensate. Similarly, you should avoid the use of fuel containing ethanol as it can gunk up the carburetor.
Replacing the oil
It is always a brilliant idea to replace the oil once before starting the mower and once before storing it. You can simply drain the old one out and replace it with the new oil before storing it. You should always use the oil suggested by the company for better efficiency of the machine.
Replacing spark plug
Similar to oil, you also need to replace the spark plug once every season. Even though it might seem nice and working, its performance degrades over time due to the carbon buildup. So, it’s better to replace your old spark plug with the new one before storing it for a smoother start for the next season.
Removing of battery
If you don’t want your battery to drain in vain, you must remember to remove the battery from your land mower before storing it.
After removing it, clean your battery with a cloth, and use a metal brush and a battery cleaning product to clean the terminals of the battery before storing. You need to store your battery in a cool and dry indoor place away from hot items such as heaters, gases, and furnaces.
Clean your mower
You should clean your land mower before storing it safely. And, why not? It would have worked numerous hours during the spring season.
Remember to be careful enough to plug out the spark plug before you start to clean it up. You can simply brush off the grass, leaves, and mud from your mowers before storing it.
After cleaning your land mower, you can store it in a dry and covered location like a garage or warehouse, and it should be ready to use again during the next spring.
How to Start a Mower That Has Been Sitting?
Check the gas tank
If you haven’t taken our tips of using a gas stabilizer pre-storage, you might new to add fresh gas into your mower. Gasoline is quite unstable, and if it is more than 30 days old, it should be replaced if you want your mower to start smoothly.
Check the oil
Does your mower have enough good quality oil? Or, does the oil look dark and have residues in kt? It’s always a good idea to check the oil level and quality before you start your mower.
Even if it might not be the sole reason for stopping the mower from starting, replacing old oil will ensure that the mower runs smoothly and lasts for a long time.
For the small engine of a mower, a small amount of oil would be enough. So, it is actually quite an inexpensive thing you can do for the better functioning of your mower.
Is the air filter clogged?
A dirty or clogged air filter might be the reason why your mower is not starting. But if you try to clean the filter that is perforated, even if it’s tiny, you might be unknowingly letting in the dust into the engine, thus, ruining it.
On the other hand, replacing the filter is very easy to do and doesn’t come with the risk as mentioned above. If your mower starts but stops when you start mowing the lawn, it’s a major indication that something’s wrong with the air filter.
Make sure that the spark plug is in good shape
Are the wires that attach to the spark plug in good shape? And, is the connection good there? Then, using a socket wrench, remove the spark plug and check its condition.
Look for any discoloration or corrosion on the spark plug. If the plug seems old and in bad condition, you might need to replace it for the proper functioning of the mower.
Petrol Lawn Mower maintenance and winter storage
Dirty carburetor – a common culprit!
A dirty carburetor is often one of the most common culprits for preventing the mower from starting. If fuel was left in the engine pre-storage, it might cause the carburetor to be clogged as the fuel evaporates, thus, leaving behind a sticky residue in the carburetor.
You can choose to clean the carburetor by soaking it in a good quality carburetor cleaner or vinegar. Or, you can simply replace it with a new one.
Is your flywheel key broken?
If nothing else seems to work, a broken flywheel key might be preventing the mower from starting. Flywheel key is often known to break when the mower hits a hard object.
So, if your mower had faced some hardship the previous season, it might be the reason why your mower is not starting. Remember that removal of flywheel can be quite tedious. And, most importantly, follow a proper tutorial for the purpose as flywheel key can be quite expensive.
Know These Safety Guidelines Before Starting to Work on Your Mower!
Always keep in your mind – safety first before working on your land mower! Here are a few safety tips you must keep in mind before working on a mower.
Remember that the petrol/ gasoline of a mower is highly flammable. So, you should get rid of ignition sources such as cigarettes, flames, sparks, or stoves when working on the tank.
You should also remove the rags moistened with fuel as it is equally flammable. Also, provide adequate ventilation to prevent the buildup of vapor.
Remove the spark plug
For safety purposes if you want to work on the underside of the engine, then you must disconnect the spark plug lead and let the engine completely cool down. If you’ve decided to turn the blades by your hands, you must make sure to plug out the spark plug for safety.
Check the manual
You should always check the manufacturer’s manual to know how you can change oil, remove blades, and clean decks.
Sometimes manufacturers recommend keeping the carburetor upwards facing the sky. Similarly, sometimes the plug must be uppermost with the handles tipped onto the ground.
You should be careful not to turn your mower such that the carburetor and air filter face downward as the oil in the engine can degrade the carb and filter, which will lead to difficulty in starting your mower.
Drain the fuel
You must be careful to notice that the fuel on your tank shouldn’t reach the cap. If you find out that your fuel has reached the cap, then you can simply drain your tank. For draining the cap that has a vent, you can remove the fuel from there.
Turn the fuel tap off
You need to turn the fuel tap off and then run the engine until it cuts out if you want your mower to place it on its sides. If your tank is full, you can remove the overflow out of the vent.
The float bowl on engines may not work properly if you don’t keep the engine horizontal. It is known to cause the carburetor to overflow into the engine’s intake manifold.
Storing Your Exmark Mower Outdoors This Winter
There may also be a chance to start a fire if the fuel leaks onto the outside of the hot engine. However, if you just want to unclog the deck, you shouldn’t turn off the fuel but always remember to disconnect the plug lead.
Lawnmower not starting can be a big headache. Well, not anymore! With all these tips to store and start your mower, we believe that you can easily fix the problem on your own. All the items you need are the right set of tools, basic skills, and of course, determination!
So, why do you think your mower is not starting? And, did you fix it? Let us know!
Preparing Your Lawn Mower for Winter
The growing season is coming to a close and it’s time to store your lawn mower. Clean and protect them with these helpful tips to keep everything in good working condition and ready for spring. In warmer climates, it might be a good time do the same maintenance as the folks in the frozen tundra.
Prep Your Mower for Winter Storage
Properly winterizing your mower will ensure it’s ready in spring when the grass starts growing again. A little time, effort, and a few bucks might just save you from expensive repairs or replacement later.
Check the Owner’s Manual
Crack open the owner’s manual for your mower for maintenance, winterizing, and storage information before you begin. Can’t find the manual, checkout the manufactures website or ManualsOnline.com, which has thousands of free manuals in many categories. If you encounter conflicting information, always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions.
Gasoline: Tank on Empty or Full with Stabilizer
Don’t store your mower with a partially full tank of fuel. Ethanol in the fuel begins to degrade or stiffen plastic and rubber parts, and attracts moisture, which can cause the tank to rust. It can take as little as 30 days for gasoline to become “stale,” gumming up the fuel system and carburetor. After months, it can thicken into what technicians call “varnish.” Stale gas is the primary suspect when a mower won’t start.
Your first option is to empty the fuel tank. You can either drain it or run the tank dry, whichever is the easier option. You might consider adding a fuel stabilizer or preserver, then run the mower dry.
Some recommend storing mowers with a full take of treated fuel. For this method, add the fuel stabilizer, fill the tank, run the mower for a few minutes to circulate it through the engine, then top off the tank with more fuel. This can keep gasoline fresh for months. Regardless of the method you choose, always follow product directions and manufacturer’s recommendations.
Change the Oil
Four-stroke engines require an oil change, especially if the oil is old, contaminated, or dark black. Consult the owner’s manual for directions, the type of oil to use, and the proper amount. Never pour used oil down the drain or sewer to prevent contaminating waterways! Many municipalities have recycling centers and auto repair shops may dispose of the oil for you, possibly for a small fee. Two-stroke engines don’t require an oil change, since oil is mixed with the gas.
Clean the Deck
Grass easily builds up under mower decks. Before you begin cleaning, play it safe and remove the sparkplug. Follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding tipping your mower to access the underside of the deck.
A good cleaning will help prevent corrosion. Use a putty knife or wire brush to scrape away caked-on clippings and dirt. Wipe off any remaining residue. Many newer mowers have washout ports to simplify cleaning the mower deck and help eliminate grass clippings from accumulating. Spray the clean, dry deck with silicone spray to help prevent future build-up.
Spark plugs are designed to be used for about 100 hours of mowing and should only need to be replaced every other year. Remove and check the spark plug and replace it if it’s corroded. Coat the threads with anti-seize compound and it’ll come out more easily next time. New sparkplugs improve startup and performance and they’re inexpensive. It’s so easy, why not change it annually? Remove the sparkplug until spring.
A clogged air filter can be one of the main culprits if you have problems starting your mower in spring. A clean filter provides steady air flow to help the engine burn gas more efficiently. If it’s a paper filter, replace it. If it’s an oil-soaked sponge filter, wash it with soap and water, allow it to thoroughly air dry, add a bit of clean oil, and reinstall it. Check the cooling fins and remove any dirt while you’re at it.
Sharpen the Blade
Your mower’s blade has had a tough season cutting the lawn. It’s also survived the adversity of stones, rocks, roots, branches, and all the stuff that lurks in lawns waiting for an unsuspecting mower. Dull blades tear and damage blades of grass making them more prone to disease and desiccation—drying out. In an ideal world, the blade should be sharpened 2–3 times a year. If you haven’t kept up, at least do it before winter.
Wear work gloves and follow manufacturer instructions for removing the blade. DIY sharpening is only recommended if you’ve had some experience. Otherwise, take the blades to a mower repair shop and for a few bucks, let the professionals take care of it. If you’re taking your mower in for a tune-up, blade sharpening is likely included. Finish up by lightly coating the blades with a light oil or spray of multipurpose lubricant to prevent rusting.
Recharge the Battery
If your mower has a battery, remove it and give it a full charge. Reinstall the battery in spring.
The easiest tune up
If you’re not a DIY person, take your mower to a repair shop for maintenance. Let the professionals handle it.
Disconnect the battery and sparkplug. Store your mower in a dry, protected place such as your garage or shed. If you’re storing it on a concrete floor, put plastic underneath to prevent moisture from rusting the deck. Never store it next to a furnace, water heater, or appliance with a pilot light.
Preparing your lawn mower for a winter rest will lengthen it’s usefulness. It will be sharp, clean, and well maintained when your lawn awakes in spring, and you’re ready to get outside again!