Now that cool weather has arrived and our grass is no longer needing mowing-and if you are finished mulching those leaves that are so profuse here in East Texas, it's time to think of putting your lawnmower away for the winter. By taking a few easy steps to prepare your mower for storage, you can prevent a lot of trouble in the spring when it's time to mow again.

  1. Empty the Gasoline. Gasoline left in an engine for long periods of time tends to become "gummy" and can clog your carburetor. To prevent such clogs, either run your mower until the gas tank is empty or add a gasoline stabilizer to the fuel. (Stabilizer can be purchased at most hardware stores.)
  2. Change the Oil. It is best to do this while the engine is still hot, so an excellent time for oil changing is just after mowing or running out the gas. (It is advisable to change the oil at least once a year whether you store your mower or not.)
  3. Clean the Air Filter. If you have a foam-type filter, remove it and clean with hot, soapy water. Before putting it back, squeeze a couple tablespoons of clean oil onto it. To clean a paper filter, shake it gently or blow on it. (If you mulch with your mower or mow in dusty places, you should clean the filter each time you mow-or sometimes even during mulching.)
  4. Oil the Spark Plug. To protect the engine from corrosion, remove the spark plug and pour a tablespoon of clean engine oil into the hole. Replace the plug and crank the engine a couple of times to distribute the oil. When you start it again next spring, you may see some white smoke as the oil burns off.
  5. Clean the Engine. You've cleaned the inside; now clean the outside. Wash off with water, being sure to get any dirt or grass clippings off the underside as well. Clean the cooling fans using an old paintbrush. Also check the blade. If it's dull, sharpen it or get a new one.

Taking these precautionary steps now will ensure that your mower will start with no difficulty when spring comes around again.

Don Gill, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas Cooperative Extension

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