A Long Winter’s Nap for Your Lawn Mower


The stockings are hung by the chimney, visions of sugar plums soon will be dancing in your head, but make sure you saved some time for last minute lawn mower maintenance so it can settle in for a long winter’s nap. Last month we encouraged you to give your landscape some late fall TLC. Now it’s time for complete end-of-the-year push lawn mower maintenance.

Remove all gas from the tank, carburetor and fuel lines.

If your lawn mower sits for a prolonged period of time, gas can degrade and clog fuel lines. The easiest way to remove old gas is to open the throttle and let the engine run out of gas. Add fuel stabilizer beforehand so it distributes throughout the mower while it’s running. If you want to conserve the gas instead, siphon excels gas into a clean can and it can be used in your car, provided it hasn’t been mixed with oil. Gas siphons can be purchased at hardware or auto parts stores.

Drain and replace the engine oil.

With a pan ready, place a drop cloth under your mower. Set the mower on its side with the air filter and carburetor facing up and out of the way. Remove the oil reservoir plug and slowly tilt the mower until oil begins to drain into the pan. Replace with fresh oil.

Clean the outside of the carburetor.

The carburetor is typically round or square and bolted to the side or the top of the lawn mower engine. The carburetor combines gas from the tank and air from the air filter to create a highly combustible mixture that powers the engine. Free debris from outside the carburetor with a pressurized spray product.

Change the spark plugs.

The spark plug ignites the air and fuel mixture to start the mower. It should be replaced roughly every 100 hours or every season. Remove the spark plug using a spark plug socket. Using a spark plug gap tool, adjust the gap between the center electrode and the ground electrode on the new plug. You can find gap specifications in your mower manual. Reinstall the new plug and reconnect to the spark plug lead.

Replace the air filter.

Dirt and debris collects in the air filter, keeping the engine clean and in good condition. The filter is usually located near the top of the engine and is encased within a metal or plastic housing shroud. Remove the screws holding the shroud in place, remove the paper filter. Clean the inside of the filter with a cloth (no solvents and no compressed air). Insert the new filter and reattach the shroud.

Clean and lubricate all moving parts.

Use a product recommended in the mower manual. Grease every fitting on the mower and on any attachments. The manual will help you locate all of them.

Clean and scrape the undercarriage of the mower.

Cleaning the undercarriage should be done at least twice a year, once mid-mowing season and before storing the mower for the winter. Cleaning will not only improve the mower’s performance, it will help prevent the spread of lawn disease. Make sure you empty the gas tank and disconnect the spark plug first. With the mower on its side, take a garden hose and spray at full blast. If your hose is already stored for the winter, you can use a brush and a bucket of water. Once dry, this is a good time to sand and paint any rust spots.

Inspect, remove and sharpen mower blades.

After the gas tank is emptied and the spark plug is disconnected, it’s time to inspect the mower blades. Using sturdy work gloves, remove the blades with a ratchet set with a long handle for best leverage. Wipe down the blades on both sides. If you have a whetstone or sharpening tool, now is the best time to sharpen the blades. Alternatively, take the blades to a local hardware store for sharpening. Once they are clean and sharp, wipe them with a thin layer of vegetable oil and reattached to help prevent debris from accumulating on the blade and housing.

Schedule professional repairs if necessary.

Of course, if the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is stressing you out, all of the above maintenance can be done for a fee at your local hardware or small engine repair shop. Most shops will transport your equipment for a reasonable fee in needed. Below is a list of shops we recommend: Putting your equipment away in good shape will make your spring start up a lot easier. For more helpful tips, visit our Resources page.

Aberdeen Outdoor Power Equipment: http://www.aberdeenoutdoor.com/

My Mobile Mechanic: https://belairmobilemechanic.com/

Jack’s Small Engine Repair: http://www.jackssmallengines.biz/

Hopper Farms: https://hopperfarms.net/

Mower Masters: https://mowermasters.com/index.html

C&P Small Engine Repair: http://cpsmallenginerepair.com/