When cold weather begins, mowing season ends. So what do you do with your walk-behind lawn mower during the winter?
If your answer is, "leave it next to the house with the gas tank half-full and grass clippings stuck to the deck," you might need to review some of the best ideas for winterizing your lawn mower.
Winterizing your mower is important for maintaining its longevity. Leaving it to rust beside the house during the off-season will have you shopping for another mower in no time.
Here are the parts you should check to get your mower ready for winter storage.
Check the Gasoline
You have two choices for dealing with any fuel left in the tank before you store your gas-powered mower:
Get rid of the gas in your mower's tank by running the engine dry or draining out the gasoline
Add fuel stabilizer to the gas in your mower before you store it for the winter
Gas begins to degrade and go bad after as little as 30 days, and bad gas can cause gumming that clogs the fuel system and the carburetor.
Change the Oil
Drain you gas-powered mower's old oil and replace it with fresh oil. Be sure to fill it exactly to the fill line marked on your model.
By changing your oil, you ensure that you'll have a much easier time starting it in the spring. You'll also reduce the wear and tear on the engine's components, which will help your mower run well for years to come.
Remove the Battery
Whether you own a cordless electric mower or a gas-powered with a battery connected to the engine, the advice is the same: removing the battery for the winter is the best way to preserve its power.
Disconnect the battery, starting with the negative lead and then unplugging the positive lead. Carefully wipe any dust and debris off the battery with a dry cloth. When you store it, choose a cool, dry place away from flammable substances like gasoline or heat sources like a furnace.
Clean the Deck
Throughout the mowing season, grass clippings build up in heavy clumps on the underside of your mower deck. These grass clippings hold a great deal of moisture, which can cause rust.
Cleaning your mower deck is easy, but be sure to disconnect the spark plug before turning your mower on its side!
Turn your mower over and scrape the thick, caked-on layers of grass clippings off of the deck.
Using an old, dry towel, wipe off the remaining grass residue
For better results, coat the underside of your deck with WD-40
Not only will cleaning and coating the deck prevent rust from forming; it'll also improve the performance of your mower.
Change the Spark Plugs
Remove and check each spark plug. If a plug is corroded or cracked, replace it with a new one. Spark plugs are designed to be used only for 100 hours of mowing, and they're a lot cheaper to replace than the mower itself.
Sharpen the Blades
Dull blades mean poor performance. Sharpening your mower blades is a task that, once you remove them, is easy to do indoors in the winter:
Follow the steps in your mower's product manual for removing the blades
Brush away any remaining debris
Run a sharpening stone or file along the edge of the blade, taking care to match the angle of the blade's original bevel
Lubricate the blade with a light coat of WD-40 to prevent rusting
Check that your blade is balanced by hanging it on a nail through the center – if it dips to one side, file that side down
If you notice that your blades are chipped, cracked, or bent, it's time to invest in a set of replacement blades. Blades that are sharp and intact will provide the best mowing performance and keep you safe as well.