How to Winterize Your Outdoor Power Equipment

As a landscape professional I often get asked what I do in the winter. My quick response is “I work on equipment.”

I don’t know about you, but I always have trouble finding time to maintain equipment during the growing season. Early winter presents the perfect time to clean, inspect, perform routine maintenance and prepare outdoor power equipment for the spring.

Winterizing your gas-powered tools will extend their life and guarantee hassle-free spring start-up. The most important winterizing step is to drain or stabilize the fuel. Gasoline left in the fuel system over the winter will degrade leaving gum deposits and varnish build-up that will plug up the fuel system — the #1 reason mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and chain saws won’t start in the spring.

Tip: I only use ethanol free gas in my landscape equipment. Even a 10% blend of ethanol can ruin a small engine. The ethanol/fuel mixture attracts moisture into the gasoline. If you buy gas and let it sit around it will attract water, so treat stored gasoline with a fuel stabilizer.

Supplies Need

  1. Fuel Stabilizer
  2. New Spark Plugs
  3. Filters – Air, Oil and Gas
  4. Lubricating Oil
  5. Funnel and Gas Can

Simple Steps to Prepare Power Equipment for Winter Storage

  1. Add fuel stabilizer to a full tank and then run it a few minutes to make sure the stabilized fuel gets into the carburetor. Drain the fuel from two-cycle engines and run until dry.
  2. Clean and dry. Pay attention to areas such as mower decks where grass and dirt builds up. Treat metal surfaces with a light of coat of lubricating oil.
  3. Change the engine oil and filter.
  4. Sharpen blades — lawn mower, chain saw, etc.
  5. Inspect and clean the air filter. Replace extremely dirty or damaged filters.
  6. Remove the spark plug and pour about a half ounce of motor oil into the spark plug port. Inspect the old spark plug, clean it and check the gap or install a new one. I prefer to install new plugs because they only cost a couple of dollars.
  7. Check fuel lines and replace the fuel filter.
  8. Lubricate throttle cables.
  9. Inspect for worn or missing parts and hardware.

Store your tools where they are protected from the weather. No garage or shed? Protect your equipment with a tarp. Check on your stored tools, mice will nest in machines and chew on wires.

Kick back and enjoy the holidays. Come spring, your mower, leaf blower and string trimmer will fire up and you’ll be glad you invested a little time and money winterizing your lawn and landscape equipment.