To keep lawnmowers and weed whackers in working condition for years, it’s essential to care for them each season.
And during cold weather months, or a period of time when they won’t be used, taking a few precautions will ensure the next time you need to cut the grass, they’ll be ready and revving to go.
Lawnmowers and trimmers typically have two different types of engines, explains Teris Pantazes, co-founder of EFynch.com, a handyman and homeowner community in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Lawnmowers usually have a four-stroke engine and lawn trimmers have two-stroke engines.
“For both engines, the key to winterize is preserving the gas from spoiling, the fuel filter from clogging, and rubber components from drying out,” says Pantazes. If your machine has a battery, you’ll want to remove that and store it correctly as well.
Follow these guidelines when storing lawnmowers and weed whackers in a garage or self-storage unit.
After you’ve finished cutting the grass for the last time, get the lawnmower ready for storage by unplugging it or disconnecting the spark plug.
Put on protective gloves to clean the mower, and then remove grass and dirt with a soft brush or thick cloth.
“If you own a hover mower, clean grass from the hood,” says Pol Bishop, a gardening and landscaping expert at Fantastic Gardeners. “Usually, there’s a special tool provided with the mower, but if there’s none, you can always use a plastic kitchen spatula.”
Avoid using water, polishes or heavy chemicals on the lawnmower, as these can damage some of its parts.
Then empty out the grass bag or box. “If your mower has a metal box, make sure you wipe it thoroughly with a cloth to prevent any rust or stains,” adds Bishop.
If there is only a little fuel left in the tank, run the tank dry. For bigger machines with larger tanks, use a fuel stabilizer, which you can buy at gas stations or home and garden stores.
Remove the battery if your machine has one by disconnecting the hot lead (red wire) first, and then the ground wire (black wire), suggests Mike Arman, a gasoline engine specialist who has owned more than 150 cars, as wells as lawn tractors, lawnmowers, and other motorized vehicles. Clean the terminals and place it in a cool and dry place. Don’t put it directly on concrete, as this can reduce its lifespan. Place it on a charge maintainer if you have one.
Then put a piece of blue painter’s tape over the exhaust to keep critters and dust out. If you can, clean the fuel filter.
For a riding lawnmower, inspect the cutting deck, blades and belt for any signs of damage before storing it. Then block the mower up, adds Arman.
“Get the tires off the ground so they don’t flat-spot from sitting in the same position,” Arman says.
Keep the machine in a cool, dry place. Either leave it uncovered, or drape it loosely with a tarp or blanket, as a tight covering will lock in moisture, which could lead to rust.
If you place it in a storage facility, check on guidelines for lawnmowers.
“Many storage facilities, ours included, do not allow the storage of flammable items, which would include gasoline in lawn mowers,” explains Carrie Thompson, facility manager at Affordable Mini Storage, LLC, in Roanoke, Va.
Avoid working on the engine while the lawnmower is in a storage facility. Doing so could damage nearby items if any oil spills or raise suspicions if you have the machine outside of the unit.
Storing weed whackers
After you’ve finished using a lawn trimmer for the last time, drain its tank.
“Start the engine and let it run until fuel is depleted,” says Tanzares.
Then remove the fuel filter and soak it in regular (non-mixed) gasoline for an hour. Take it out of the gas and reinstall it on the weed whacker. Wipe grass cuttings, mud and water off of the machine. Take out the string if you can and keep it in a dry, cool place.
When storing a lawn trimmer, keep it off the ground to avoid water damage. If you hang it vertically, make sure the engine is on the bottom.
Article contributed by Rachel Hartman for SpareFoot.com. SpareFoot is the world’s largest marketplace for storage. Find and reserve a storage unit near you for free.
Featured image courtesy of SpareFoot.