If you’re like many large lawn owners, you probably welcome the arrival of winter as a break from the summer mowing and fall leaf-blowing cycle. But winter doesn’t just mean the end of outdoor chores for a few more months – it’s also a time to winterize your lawn and garden equipment to prevent damage from cold temperatures and long periods of inactivity. Leaving fluids in your equipment at the end of the season can lead to serious damage that will be expensive to repair in the spring. Make sure your weed eaters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other equipment are ready for winter with these simple steps.
Drain the Fuel or Stabilize It
Gasoline doesn’t stay good forever – or even longer than a month or two under many conditions. If enough time has passed or the temperature has fluctuated, it will begin to separate, causing water to accumulate in the tank and rust to form. Separated fuel will also prevent the unit from starting or it will run erratically until you drain it again. Avoid this by draining the tank or adding a fuel stabilizer. Small equipment, such as electric hedge trimmers, are relatively easy to tip and drain, but you will need a small hand pump to drain equipment such as a lawn mower. If there is only a small amount of fuel left in the equipment, try running it to a natural stop to make sure it is empty.
Clean off Mud, Grass Clippings, and Other Debris
To prevent the mower or trimmer from starting, disconnect the battery. Use a brush and hose to remove accumulated debris. If corrosive material remains on the mower or trimmer blades, it can cause rusting during the winter, especially if there is water between the material and the metal. Allow the unit to dry before placing it in a shed or garage.
Replace the Filters
Each gas-fired appliance contains a fuel filter and an air filter. Replacing these two filters at least once a year is essential for good performance. Proper filter replacement can significantly extend the life of a unit while improving the operating experience. If you’re having trouble getting good performance out of a chainsaw or lawn mower, a filter change may be all you need to get it going again.
Pull the Battery out
Vehicle and appliance batteries should be properly stored if not used weekly – or at least monthly. Disconnecting the battery and placing it in a dry, reasonably warm environment will ensure that it will be ready for use again in the spring without needing to be replaced or recharged. Batteries will maintain their performance over the winter if stored between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also replace spark plugs and check the condition of wires when storing a lawn mower or other large lawn equipment for the winter.
Change the Oil
Lawn mower oil doesn’t separate or deteriorate over the winter like fuel, but it still needs to be changed every year. If you didn’t get around to taking care of it in the middle of summer, do it now – don’t wait until spring. Trimmers and other types of 4-cycle equipment also need oil changes, so don’t stop with the lawn mower. So don’t stop at the lawn mower. At least check the oil level and bring it back up to the recommended amount before winter. It’s not good to start with a low amount of lubricant.
Replace or Sharpen Blades
You may think your lawn mower blades or hedge trimmer edges are durable, but in reality they are wearing parts. At the very least, you should consider sharpening your lawn mower blades with a sharpening tool for your drill. Simply clean the blades, take a lawn mower blade sharpening tool and restore the edge. This will ensure that the lawn mower will still cut perfectly next year. For equipment such as chain saws and hedge trimmers, you will need special sharpening tools. Replacing these blades is also an option, especially for equipment that cuts unevenly or catches on edges.
If you don’t take care of them, winter will take a toll on your lawn equipment. Protect your favorite mower by following these winterization tips.