How To Store My Lawn Mower in the Winter

If you ask this question to 10 different lawn mower repair technicians, more than likely you will get 10 different answers! This topic will be the debate for as long as we burn gasoline in our lawn mowers and especially if it is laced with ethanol.

Our biggest problem come springtime is that the lawn mower doesn’t want to start. Why? Because the fuel in it has either went bad or the battery has run down on a riding mower or a self-propelled with a key start. There are other reasons of course but those are the most common.

Regarding our earlier conversation about fuel. There are two schools of thought about what to do with it. You can either treat your fuel with stabilizer (my favorite is Ethanol Shield) or you can run the engine until it is out of gas. I like to do a little of both depending on what machine I am prepping for winter. I add the fuel stabilizer to all of my fuel when I buy it, so I have a constant supply of stabilizer already in the gas for both 2-cycle and 4-cycle equipment. What I do for lawn mowers is to leave the gas in them all winter long. If the mower has a shutoff valve, I will turn the gas off, start the mower and then let it die when it runs out of fuel. That’s it and I am done. If you don’t want to use fuel stabilizer, then you should be running that mower out of gas or it won’t be starting in the springtime.

The smart thing to do is to prep your lawn mower for the upcoming season when you put it away and I will tell you how to do just that as well.

Let’s break this down by different types of lawn mowers to make things easier shall we….

Push Mower Winter Storage

The ordinary push mower does not have a lot of parts so storing them for winter is pretty simple. To get it ready for next year and store it, perform the following;

  1. Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank.
  2. Run the mower for 10 minutes to get the engine warm.
  3. Change the oil.
  4. Change the air filter and sparkplug.
  5. Remove the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug.
  6. Remove the blade and sharpen it and scrape the deck. Re-install the blade and the sparkplug wire.
  7. Blow off the engine and deck with compressed air.
  8. Lubricate cables, wheel bolts and linkages with silicone spray.
  9. Check for any damage or missing parts and order them or bring the mower to your lawn mower mechanic.
  10. Store the mower in a place where it won’t get damaged and rodents will not move into it.

Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Winter Storage

The self-propelled lawn mower has a lot more parts so storing them for winter is a little more time consuming. To get it ready for next year and store it, perform the following;

  1. Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank.
  2. Run the mower for 10 minutes to get the engine warm.
  3. Change the oil.
  4. Change the air filter and sparkplug.
  5. Remove the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug.
  6. Remove the blade and sharpen it and scrape the deck. Re-install the blade and sparkplug wire.
  7. Blow off the engine and deck with compressed air.
  8. Lubricate cables, wheel bolts and linkages with silicone spray.
  9. Check for any damage or missing parts and order them or bring the mower to your lawn mower mechanic.
  10. Remove the cover for the drive belt, clean out the grass and check the belt for wear such as cracks, a shiny appearance or it is sitting deep in the pulley, which means it has worn out. Install a new belt if it is and replace the cover.
  11. Remove the drive wheels and check the drive gears to see if they are wearing out. Spray the gears if they are metal with silicone spray as well as the wheel bolt.
  12. If your mower has a battery, put it on the trickle charger that came with it. If you don’t have one you can remove the battery and recharge it and keep it in a warm place and re-install in the spring.
  13. Store the mower in a place where it won’t get damaged and rodents will not move into it.

Riding Lawn Mower Winter Storage

The riding lawn mower is an entirely more complicated machine so storing them for winter is a lot more time consuming. To get it ready for next year and store it, perform the following;

  1. Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank.
  2. Run the mower for 10 minutes to get the engine warm.
  3. Change the oil and filter
  4. Change the air filter and sparkplugs.
  5. Change the fuel filter.
  6. Remove the blades and sharpen them and scrape the deck. Re-install the blades.
  7. Blow off the engine, the transmission and deck with compressed air.
  8. Lubricate cables and linkages with silicone spray. Grease the front wheels, steering and deck spindles and any other grease fittings that are on your machine.
  9. Check for any damage or missing parts and order them or bring the mower to your lawn mower mechanic.
  10. Check the drive and deck belts for wear and replace if necessary. If you see wear such as cracks, a shiny appearance or the belt sitting deep in the pulley, it means it has worn out.
  11. Inflate the tires to their proper pressures. Normally 15psi in the front and 10 in the rear.
  12. Clean the battery terminals. Put your battery on the trickle charger. If you don’t have one you can remove the battery and recharge it and keep it in a warm place and re-install in the spring.
  13. Check the transmission fluid if your mower has an external tank.
  14. Store the mower in a place where it won’t get damaged and rodents will not move into it.

That covers all the major things you need to do to store your lawn mower for the winter. Walk-behinds and Zero Turn lawn mowers are fairly close to riding lawn mowers but the tire pressures are normally what the operator likes in terms of how it rides.

Next spring you will be ready to go and your mower won’t be sitting in a lawn mower repair shop waiting until they get their backlog of machines done to finally get to yours.

 

Advertisements
Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

Clean Your Gutters With a Leaf Blower

When fall comes in West Virginia, the leaves comes right down with it. If you live in an area like I do, you are surrounded by leaves and you clean them up time and time again.

Then of course you have to clean them out of the gutters. You could either use a ladder and move it back and forth or you can break out your trusty leaf blower and do what I do! I get on the roof and blow them out and it takes about 15-20 minutes if they are really heavy.

Here is a great article to give you some ideas on how to deal with this pesky task.

Clean your gutters with a leaf blower.

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

What Brand of Lawn Mower Do You Recommend?

At Mark The Mechanic, we get asked this question quite frequently. Most of the time it is because the current owner of a lawn mower is having problems with their push, self-propelled or riding lawn mower and want a recommendation for something that is better quality or has the features they need.

My answer is always the same and that is to “Get a Honda lawn mower”. Why Honda? Because they have extremely reliable engines and are well designed overall. Honda pays great attention to details and the quality of the parts that go into their lawn mowers.

Sometimes I hear them say that they can’t find a Honda lawn mower and if they cannot, I recommend to them that they buy a lawn mower with a Honda engine on it. It may be made by Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt or Toro etc., but as long as the engine is a Honda, that will make it a much more reliable machine. Honda Self-Propelled lawn mowers are the best.

Even the larger mowers such as the Zero Turns or larger lawn and garden tractors should have a Honda engine in them. For Zero Turn lawn mowers, Mark The Mechanic recommends the Hustler brand with a Honda engine in it. Hustler Zero Turns are built tough and combined with a good Honda engine, they really make a great combination that will keep on running for years.

It is important which brand of lawn mower you choose because a poor grade lawn mower will only result in poor performance and a lawn mower that will not last very long. You will pay a little more for the Honda, but it is worth every penny in the long run.

 

 

 

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

Preparing Your Summer Lawn Equipment for Winter Storage

I don’t like to say this, but summer is coming to an end as fall quickly approaches. And when it does come to a close, it is time to start thinking about how you will store your Outdoor Power Equipment. A little preparation here will save you a lot of aggravation later.

Let’s start with your riding lawn mower. If you have an indoor place to store it that is best as to leave it out in the elements severely reduces the lifetime of the mower. Rust and mildew set it and these are never good for a machine.

The end of the mowing season is the best time to have your rider serviced instead of waiting in long lines in the spring. The oil should be changed as well as the oil filter if it is equipped with one. The air filter and spark plugs are the next items to change out. The inline fuel filter is another part that is something to change to keep your fuel as clean as possible before it reaches the carburetor or fuel injectors.

Next item on the list is to sharpen the blades and scrape the deck clean underneath and clean the grass off of the top. Check your deck and drive belts for wear and cracking. Fill the tires with air and lubricate the grease fittings. Lubricate your linkages and cables with cable lube, dry lubricant or whichever your maintenance manual calls for.

Add some fuel stabilizer to the tank and let the engine run for 10 minutes at idle.

Check the overall condition of the mower for any defects and then wash it. Make sure the battery is fully charged and then remove it if storing the machine outdoors or in an unheated area. If you have a trickle charger, put your battery on it for the winter. It is a good idea to check the battery acid levels before you do so.

For push and self propelled lawn mowers, the task is much easier. You just do all the steps above and if you have a battery start mower, then you need to address that as well.

Pressure washers are the one machine that doesn’t see much use throughout the year which causes issues of its own. The other problem is that they are stored in an outside shed which freezes the water in the pump and hose which can break them.

These machines need their oil changed, fuel stabilizer added and the engine ran and the pump should be treated with a product such as Pump Saver. This pushed out the water and lubricates the pump. The machine should also be stored inside in a heated area or one that does not freeze.

Your 2-cycle machines should have fuel stabilizer added to the fuel as well and run for 10 minutes.

Be sure to use all safety precautions when working on your machine as laid out in the applicable owners or service manual.

Just a few simple things can make your next lawn management season a much less frustrating one.

And of course we can do all of the above for you so you don’t have to!

 

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

Preparing Your Lawn Mower and Outdoor Power Equipment for Winter

As summer fades into fall, it is a good time to start thinking about how to wind down your season. Most people just shut their lawn mower off, push it in the garage and then forget about it until next spring.

Bad idea. After the season is over, this is the best time to prepare your lawn mower or other outdoor power equipment for next year.

It is time to clean and tune the machine and treat the fuel with stabilizer or better yet to run it completely out of gas. One important reason to do your maintenance at the end of the year is that if your machine develops a problem in the spring, you won’t have to wait in a long line of other people who are in the same boat as you.

You were wise and took yours to the shop months ahead and now it is ready to go when the chores need done outside come springtime.

At Mark The Mechanic, we prepare a machine for winter by doing a tune-up on it, sharpen any blades, scrape the deck, check the drive, fuel system, electrical, belts and anything else on that machine. We can treat the fuel or remove it and let the engine run out of fuel.

By preparing for the season early, you will be a step ahead of the game and will not have to worry about if your mower will not be fixed for weeks.

Call us to schedule your outdoor power equipment for storage when your season has come to and end. 304-395-3330

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

Getting Your Lawn Mower Ready for Spring in WV

It’s won’t be long before the Robins will be hunting for worms in the lawn and you will begin thinking about getting your lawn mower ready for another busy year!

The best time to check out your lawn mower is in February or March. When you find a problem and need it repaired, you will likely find the repair shop is not extremely busy like they are in April.

There are certain things that need to be done to ensure you have a trouble-free lawn mowing season.

First, clean your lawn mower of dirt, debris and any oil leaks.

Next, start the lawn mower and let it warm up for 10 minutes. After the warm up, drain the engine oil and remove the oil filter after the oil has drained. Install a new oil filter and then install the drain plug and add engine oil. Make sure you put in the correct type of oil that is required for your specific engine.

Moving on, you want to check the air filter. If it is dirty, change it out. Check around the blower housing and engine cylinder head for grass and debris and blow this area out with compressed air.

Check all your belts and control cables to ensure they are not fraying or breaking. Cables can become stiff inside their outer sheaths and may rust and snap.

Now comes the hard part, sharpening the lawn mower blade. This is a safety item in a couple of ways. You must remove the spark plug boot before turning the blade to prevent the engine from firing while you are in the blade area. Next you must have a way to secure the blade while you remove and reinstall it. After you sharpen the blade, it must be torqued to the proper specification to ensure that it does not come loose.

After you put the blade back on, it is time to fire it up and test the drive system. If it is a self-propelled lawn mower, that is simply pulling the drive bail to make it move. It should pull the mower forward firmly and not be lagging or grabbing. Pull the PTO switch to turn on the blades to ensure they are working properly and not making any unusual noise or vibration.

If you have inflatable tires, bring them up to the proper air pressures. For most riders it is 13 psi in the front and 10 psi in the rear. Zero Turn lawn mowers vary according to the preference of the operator and the owner’s manual.

Check your tires and wheels for any damage and repair or replace as necessary.

We save the messy part for last. It is time to grease the machine. In your owner’s manual, it should tell you where all your grease fittings are. Lubricate each one and you are complete with this task.

There are quite a few items that need to be accomplished when you are getting your lawn mower ready in the spring, so do this job thoroughly and you will be rewarded with few problems all year-long.

Don’t feel like doing all of this work or you don’t have the tools or space to do so? No worries, Mark The Mechanic is your local lawn mower repair shop in Hurricane, WV that can do the job for you. Give us a call and we would be happy to take care of your spring tune-up!

Mark The Mechanic

305 Church Camp Road

Hurricane, WV 25526

304-395-3330

fixyoursmallengines@gmail.com

fixyoursmallengines.com

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips

Mark The Mechanic attends Kohler 2016 Update Class

NGK Spark Plug Assembly Plant

1/26/16

Sissonville, WV

The NGK Spark Plug manufacturing plant hosted this year’s Kohler Engine 2016 Update Class.

This class is required of all Kohler Dealers to maintain their Expert status and to bring them up to speed of new products and updates to repair procedures on new and existing engine lines.

The class was taught by Donnie Johnson of Gardner Denver and there were 30 students in attendance. The topics covered were Electronic Fuel Injection, New Service Bulletins, New Power Generation Products and the Oregon company updated the class on their forestry and outdoor power equipment.

The class ended with a tour of the NGK Spark Plug assembly plant and the Sensor plant as well as the warehouse facility.

 

 

Outdoor Power Equipment Tips