Getting Your Lawn Care Equipment Ready For Winter Storage: Five Essential Steps To Take

Posted on: 28 October 2014

Self storage units are a great place to keep lawn care equipment over the winter. However, before you place your lawn mower, weed trimmer, edger or other power equipment in storage, you need to properly prepare them for the long winter months ahead, especially if your unit is not climate controlled. When the leaves change colors, and it's time to place your equipment in storage, here is what you need to do:

Empty fuel from the tank

The first thing to do is make sure that all gasoline is emptied from your lawn equipment. Gasoline left inside of a tank can be a hazard if fumes should leak; gasoline fumes will pool in low spots on the floor of the storage unit, and a spark or open flame could ignite them with devastating consequences.

Not only is gasoline a potential fire hazard, it can lose its potency inside of a fuel tank within a relatively short period of time. Gasoline typically contains significant amounts of ethanol, a moisture-absorbing substance, and this can result in water-logged gasoline that will ruin engines and engine components.

To empty gasoline, the simplest course of action is to run the engine until the fuel supply is exhausted. However, with significant quantities of gasoline, you should use a siphon to suck most of the fuel from the motor before running the tank dry.

Clean off grass and debris

Before placing your power equipment in storage, it's important to remove all traces of grass, dirt and debris. These things can retain moisture which can cause rust or corrosion, especially if the debris is lodged inside crevices such as engine shafts or wheel bearings. Use a small screwdriver or knife blade to remove debris, and wash off blades and wheels with a garden hose. Just be sure to allow the equipment to dry completely before placing it in storage.

Fill cylinder with oil

Once gasoline is removed or consumed from engines, the empty cylinders should be filled with oil to protect surfaces from rust and pitting. To fill the cylinder, remove the spark plug and move the engine shaft so that the piston is at its lowest point in the cylinder. Place a funnel in the spark plug opening, and carefully pour new motor oil of any brand or weight into the cylinder until is full. Replace the spark plug to seal the cylinder from outside contamination or moisture incursion.

When it comes time to remove the equipment from storage, be sure to remove the oil before attempting to start the engine. Use a siphon to suck out the oil, or drain the oil into a pan through the open spark plug opening.

Get equipment off wheels

Equipment with wheels or tires, such as lawn mowers, needs to be elevated to protect the rubber from damage from sitting. Rubber tires can dry rot when left in one place, especially if the ambient conditions are cold. The easiest way to get equipment off the ground is to rest the chassis on lengths of two-by-four lumber blocks. Simply stack the blocks on the floor underneath the equipment, and lift the machine onto the blocks until the wheels are clear of the ground. Be careful that you don't rest the equipment on its axles or steering components such as tie rods; otherwise, you may bend or damage them.

Remove batteries

The last step to getting your lawn care equipment ready for long term storage is to remove batteries. Lead acid batteries contain water, and if it freezes, the case will burst and ruin the batteries. In addition, most batteries should be kept continuously charged with a float charger to maintain internal chemistry. Float chargers are usually inexpensive, and you can safely keep your batteries in an inside location such as a laundry room until it comes time for reinstallation.