So far most of my pieces on lawn mowers have been about the best practices when using them, but here I’ll be talking about what to do when it’s time to pack it away for the winter.
Leaving the lawn mower outside over the cold season is definitely not something you want to be doing, as this is basically begging for rust to ruin your equipment.
In general, storing a lawn mower is similar to other pieces of outdoor equipment. Keeping it clean and emptying it of grass clippings and fuel should be your number one priorities. Checking it over for any signs of wear or damage that could worsen over winter is also important.
This guide will go through how to prepare the mower for storage, as well as how and where to store it.
Preparing the Mower for Storage
Before getting to the storage itself, there are a few things to do to the mower beforehand.
Keep it clean
This is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re in the habit of upkeeping your mower regularly then you probably clean it after every use (and if you don’t, you should!). This means the pre-storage clean won’t take too long.
Brushing away caked on mud, leaves and grass clippings can reduce the risk of rust and will also prevent moving parts of the mower from getting clogged up.
Before cleaning it is incredibly important to make sure that the mower is not plugged in and it is impossible for it to power on.
A stiff brush will help you really get into the nooks and crannies and get the blades clean.
Drain the fuel
If you have an electric or cordless mower then this step won’t apply to you.
Just like I wrote about in the guide to storing pressure washers, it is a good idea to drain any fuel from the tank before you put the mower away for storage.
Fuel that is left sitting can start to become stale and if it’s left for extended periods of time (such as a winter) this can start to cause harm to the engine and your mower may not start properly when you bring it out in spring.
The best and most fool proof option is to drain the tank, which will need a siphoning hose to do.
There are fuel stabilisers that can be added to the fuel. These are supposed to keep the fuel fresh until you need to use it again, some of which claim to increase the lifespan of the fuel for as much as two years.
Remove the battery
This applies to cordless mowers where it is possible to remove the battery.
It’s better to keep the battery separate in a cool, drier space indoors (unless the shed you’re keeping the mower in happens to have heating).
Keeping the battery in good condition is ideal because they can end up being very expensive to replace if something goes wrong.
Wiping the battery and the battery terminal down with a dry cloth won’t hurt either.
Top up the oil
In the opposite sense to the fuel, the oil should always be topped up before you store the mower.
This means that when you come to get it out again at the end of winter, you can be assured that there won’t be any issues in starting up the engine.
The manufacturer’s manual will have some indication of the best oil recommended for your mower so it’s always best to go with that one
Check the air filter
This is an integral part of the engine. If the air filter is dirty, the mower will stop the mower burning fuel efficiently.
Generally this should be a part of your regular mower maintenance again and the air filter should be cleaned on average every 25 hours of use or so.
For electric mowers, a dust filter is the equivalent and this can be cleaned as well.
Check the blades
Here you can also check how sharp the blades are and sharpen them up if need be.
Dulled blades will tear the grass rather than cut it clean, allowing fungus and disease to move in easily.
Frayed grass also dehydrates it which can make it look quite unhealthy.
Keeping them sharp regularly will let you get up and go pretty much immediately in the spring when it’s time to mow again.
Disconnect & clean spark plugs
Disconnecting the spark plugs is good for two reasons.
If they’re not connected then the mower won’t suddenly start up while you’re cleaning it and it also allows you to clean the plugs themselves.
A season’s worth of use can cause buildup on the plugs, which is important to clean up for the winter.
Again, this doesn’t apply to electric mowers as spark plugs are not used for them.
Now that you’ve prepared the mower and you’re happy that it’s ready to be stored.
There are a number of different ways you can choose to store your lawn mower for the winter and it really all comes down to a mixture of personal preference and convenience, as well as what you have available.
As mentioned before, if you can avoid storing your mower outside, then this is important to do. Keeping the mower dry is the top priority.
Keeping the mower inside your home is also never a good idea, as the fuel will produce fumes that aren’t great to inhale.
This is probably the most common option.
The shed is pretty much ideal because it will keep your mower dry and it can keep it cool as well.
The shed will also mean that the mower doesn’t take up valuable space elsewhere in your home.
If you don’t have a shed at your disposal, there are a couple of other options that are available.
This is a cover that goes over the mower and will protect it from the rain and damp. This covers the most important aspect of lawn mower storage.
In colder climates, however, it may not be enough to keep it safe over the entire winter.
This is sort of like a mini shed that can be used for bins and garden tools. Mowers should fit snugly into most of these.
This is ideal if you have limited outdoor space and no shed. The mower will be kept dry and the temperature shouldn’t be an issue.
You could even combine this with a cover if you’re concerned about weather.
Following this guide should have you confident that you’re doing everything you need to keep your mower running perfectly and that once spring comes round again, you’ll be back at the mowing with no problems!
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