Winterizing Power Equipment
The onset of cool weather means that relief from mowing and trimming is just around the corner. You’ll know the time has come when your lawn stays within 1-1/2” and 2” in height and stops growing.
By Tim Youngworth
This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener November 2009 issue.
The onset of cool weather means that relief from mowing and trimming is just around the corner. You’ll know the time has come when your lawn stays within 1-1/2” and 2” in height and stops growing. But before you put your summer power tools into hibernation, you should winterize them.
Anytime you plan to do regular maintenance on your power equipment, you should first disconnect the spark plugs to avoid an electric shock. If your gas mower or string trimmer will sit unused for more than 30 days, you need to address the gasoline in the tank. If you cannot empty the gas tank, you should add fuel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from corroding the tank or going bad. A better choice would be to empty the tank. The last time you mow at the end of the season, run the mower until the fuel runs out. No further maintenance is required of the gas tank, and the mower will be ready for fresh gas in the spring.
If yours is a four-cycle mower, be sure to empty the oil also by draining it into a pan or bucket. Check the spark plugs. If it is dirty, clean it or replace it. Also check the air filter and replace it if worn.
If the gas tank is empty, tip the mower on its side and clean the grass and dirt off the underside of the deck with a hose. Remove the blade and have it sharpened so it will provide the most effective cut in the spring. If the blade is old, replace it with a new one.
These same maintenance requirements also apply to your string trimmer. First disconnect the spark plug. Typical trimmers feature a two-cycle engine, so the oil and gas is mixed. Run the fuel out the last time you use it or add fuel stabilizer to protect it through the winter. Check the filter and spark plugs, and clean or replace them as needed.
Once your power equipment is ready for winter, be sure to store it in a dry place. Temperature will not affect the tools, but moisture will. If you have questions about preparing your tools for winter, or you just need to stock up on mower or trimmer parts, visit your local hardware store or lawn equipment dealer and speak with someone in the lawn and garden department.
Regular care and maintenance of your summer power tools will ensure that when spring comes and your lawn awakens from its hibernation, you’ll be ready to go too.
At the time this article was written, Tom Youngworth was the Corporate Merchant for Westlake Ace Hardware at the home office in Lenexa, Kansas. He oversaw the company’s merchandising of Lawn & Garden power equipment for all Westlake stores.