How to Winterize Lawn Equipment: Your Step-By-Step Guide

It happens every year when winter rolls around. As temperatures begin to grow colder and the snow begins to fall, homeowners move their lawn equipment indoors for the season — whether it be in a storage shed, the garage or a basement.

In the context of winterizing lawn equipment, proper storage can be thought of as the last step. Before it’s stowed away for the winter, it’s critical that the proper care and maintenance steps are taken so when you go to use the equipment in spring, it performs efficiently and effectively.

While we’re a few months into winter, you can use this checklist as a guide to catch up on any to-dos you may have missed this season, and as a roadmap to guide your efforts moving forward.

✓ Drain Gas From Power Tools

Did you know that gasoline can go bad over time? Gasoline breaks down over time, not only becoming less effective as a fuel, but also releasing gums and varnishes into the fuel system. What’s more, is the longer the gasoline sits, the more varnish that’s created. Pair this with the fact that in winter months as temperatures fluctuate, condensation can build up in the gas tank, adding water to the gas and further reducing its effectiveness.

With all of these elements in mind, the best thing to do before storing a power tool for the winter is to run its engine until it runs out of gas. That way, gas is removed from the carburetor and the fuel system.

✓ Drain Oil From Power Tools

In theory, it may seem like a time-saving task to leave oil inside a power tool so it’s ready to run come springtime. But when oil sits in an unused power mower, for instance, over the winter, it can turn into a sludgy substance that coats internal parts of equipment and causes them to rust.

While the technique for draining oil may vary slightly based on the tool itself and the model, the general approach is to first find an oil-safe container and then unscrew the oil pipe plug so it can drain into the container. Once the oil has been given enough time to fully drain, the cap can be screwed back on to close the oil drain pipe.

✓ Clean Spark Plugs in Gas-Powered Tools

Spark plugs are responsible for the ignition of a gas-powered tool’s engine. But when dust and dirt interfere with the air-fuel mixture that triggers this response, a few things can happen: the engine may not be as powerful or run as efficiently as it should, or it may not start at all.

To clean spark plugs, remove them from the lawn equipment and use a wire brush and brake cleaner to wipe away any unwanted debris. If you notice that a spark plug is corroded, it’s best to replace the plug so the lawn equipment has the power it needs to start in the springtime.

✓ Clean or Replace Air Filters

Think about what happens when the air filter in your home becomes clogged with dirt: it restricts the airflow and causes your HVAC system to work harder. A similar scenario plays out in the context of lawn equipment. When a lawnmower’s air filter, for instance, becomes clogged with oil and other debris, a decreased airflow can cause the engine to experience a loss in power and burn more fuel to compensate for it. And if the problem persists over time, debris can enter internal parts of the tool’s engine and cause premature wear.

Air filters can come in either reusable or disposable forms. In the case of reusable air filters, you can clean them by removing the filter from the tool, washing it with soap and warm water to cut through the grease and then drying it before it’s snapped back into place. For disposable filters, you can simply toss out the old paper filter and replace it with a new one for a fresh start.

✓ Lubricate Hinges & Parts

In any machine (lawn equipment included), hinges and parts rely on lubrication to minimize friction and enable parts to slide past each other with ease. If a lawnmower is stored in the winter without any lubrication, it’s likely that hinges and parts will dry out and rust into place. This affects both the efficiency of the system in the long run, as well as its expected life span.

All you have to do is apply an all-purpose lubricant to the moving parts of your lawn equipment, per the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s recommended that lubricant is also applied come spring.

✓ Remove Batteries from Battery-Powered Tools

While battery-powered tools have improved significantly over the last few years, batteries require some special care during the winter months. If possible, it’s recommended that batteries are removed from tools and stored in a warm environment for the winter. This helps prevent excessive discharge and lengthens the life of the battery cell. Although you don’t need to keep the battery on a charger all the time, charging it occasionally to prevent total discharge is a good idea and helps lengthen the life of the battery.

At Lush Lawn, we have years of experience helping Southeast Michigan homeowners keep their lawns beautiful, healthy and safe. If you’re interested in professional lawn care services, we encourage you to reach out to us for a free quote.

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