Basic lawn mower maintenance is essential to keep your lawn in tiptop shape throughout the year. However with winter now upon us, it’s a good idea to give your mower a thorough clean and service, to ensure an easy start-up in the spring. Find out how to clean, service, and store your mower this winter, with tips from Paynes Turf.
Drain the fuel
It’s very important to drain the fuel from the tank of your mower before storing for the winter, as fuel deteriorates over time which could cause problems when starting up again in the spring. If there is a just a small amount of fuel left in the tank after the last cut of the year, leave the mower running until it burns off the remaining fuel.
Check the oil
Oil changes are important to ensure the smooth running of your mower, and are usually carried out annually, making winter the ideal time to change the oil as the mower is less likely to be used. To change the oil, remove the oil drain plug which is usually located under the engine, or tip the oil out from the top while the oil is warm. Remember to replace with clean, high quality oil straight away – never leave the oil sump empty.
Clean the mower
Rotting grass can cause damage to a mower if left, due to acids in the grass which break down over time. It’s always a good idea to clean your mower after every use, but more so when the mower is left for long periods of time, i.e. over the winter period. To clean the underneath of the mower, make sure that you always lift the mower up from the front so the spark plugs point upwards. Never tip the mower on its side – this will allow fuel from the carburetor and/or oil from the sump to flow into the air filter or the silencer, which will result in difficult starting, excessive smoking, and contamination of the air filter element. Scrape off any debris that is attached to the mower with a flat blunt instrument (for example, a paint scraper) to make sure you don’t damage the mower – never use a knife as this could permanently damage your mower. Don’t be tempted to remove any grass deposits with your hands either – one slip onto the mower blades and you could be missing a finger or two. Clean with water and a stiff brush taking care not to let water into the fuel or oil tanks. Clean the grass collection box or bag at the same time, leave in the sun to dry, then store in a dry place.
Give the spark plugs a light clean to ensure they are dust and dirt-free, and check the air filter is not blocked or dirty. Fabric air filters can be rinsed and dried, but paper filters will need replacing. Check the tightness of all nuts, bolts, and screws to make sure everything is firmly attached, replacing if necessary. It’s also worth checking the wheels at this point to make sure they are in good working order – tighten up if you need to.
Finally, check the mower blades for sharpness and damage – it’s worth getting the blades professionally sharpened at a mower service centre to ensure a really sharp cut.
Your mower is now ready to be stored over the winter. Always store in a dry place on a level surface, and never hang on the wall or store the mower on its side, as oil could potentially leak onto the engine or other parts of the mower, which could lead to damage. If you don’t feel confident enough to service the mower yourself, take to a lawn mower service centre for ease and peace of mind.