Monday, November 2, 2009

How to Prep a Lawnmower for Winter Storage

By Handy Man
Before I begin, I will first say that there are many correct ways to prep your lawn and garden machinery for winter’s hibernation. But, I’ll describe the steps I use based upon my father’s advice from nearly 40 years for power equipment repair experience.
I’m sure more than one of you out there has gone to start your lawn mower for the first time, at the beginning of the mowing season and nearly pulled your arm out trying… You can admit it… It’s ok, most of us have done it at least once. Now you see that the whole idea behind this process is to prevent what I’ve just described, above.

Now, performing this process yourself is not for everyone. For those of you who are not DIY’ers, I have this advice:

Bribe a friend or relative with a case of beer to perform the service for you (just be sure to wait until the service is complete before imbibing).
Pay a mechanic for this service.

If you are going to attempt to do this yourself, here's how to do it:

For machines which require an oil change, I like to run them for 10 minutes or so before beginning. This heats up the oil, thinning it out, allowing it to drain from the engine block a little easier.

1. Check the oil level. Always check the oil level before starting the engine. It’s a good habit.
2. Run the engine for 10 minutes or so to warm it up.
3. While warming up the machine, take a minute to gather up the waste oil drain pan, any necessary wrenches, pliers and screw drivers. And don’t forget PLENTY of rags. (It’s better to have too many and not need them than to have too few and need more than you’ve got).
4. Shut the engine off. Drain the oil and change the oil filter (if applicable).
5. Refill the engine with oil (refer to the manual for the correct amount).
6. Again, check the oil level to ensure proper level. Too much oil is just as bad as not enough.
7. Run the engine for a minute or two and check for leaks.
8. Turn it off and check the oil. Add more as needed. (A new oil filter will retain 3 to 4 ounces of oil after the first run).

Now that there is fresh oil in the engine, it’s time to drain the gas from the tank and run the machine again until it burns all of the remaining fuel out of the gas lines and carburetor.

For the machines which do not require an oil change, I still like to run them for 5 or 10 minutes before beginning, just to get them warmed up. Then drain the fuel from the tank and run the machine again until the gas in the lines is burned up.

If this seems like too much work, please keep in mind that there are fuel stabilizer products which are supposed to keep the gas from going bad over the winter. They do work, but I prefer to run the machines completely out of gas. My equipment has never failed to start on the first or second pull, come spring.


Beth said...

That reminds me, I need to get out and do the last mow of the season. (winks)

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