Preparing your mower for winter

Last week at work was our final week of mowing so that means that all of our big mowers all get their winter clean and then they are handed over to our mechanics for their annual service and overhaul.

It’s also the time where many, possibly most, of us will be putting our mowers away too. But before you do there are a couple of things you really should do.
Now before I start this is by no means an exhaustive list and you should ALWAYS consult your manufacturers manual for your own particular mower first when doing any work on it if you are not 100% sure what you are doing.

First things first…Be safe!
If you are working on a petrol mower then disconnect the spark plug so you cannot accidentally start the engine. If you are cleaning an electric mower then make sure either the power cord or the battery is not connected.
You may also want to wear gloves of some kind (latex is fine) as you may need to use your hands to clean parts.
If you are working on petrol tools then you may want to work on a paved area. Alternatively you could maybe put a plastic sheet down to trap any spilled oil or grease.

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Click the above images for larger versions.

Clean it!
The biggest problem with mowers is the rot you get from leaving them full of the debris you get with regular mowing. Now you shouldn’t get OCD about this and spend hours cleaning it every time, a regular quick blast with a hose is more than enough.
I actually had to leave my mower for a few cuts to let it build up some muck so I could get some realistic pics for this blog!

The important parts are the underside and ejection port. The shaft where the blade is attached should also be checked for anything wrapped around it. If you find anything you should carefully cut it away.

If you have a petrol mower it’s very important that you don’t tip the mower in the wrong manner. You should either tip it BACK or to the opposite side to where the air filter is.


Once the mower is clean enough then we can move on.


Once the mower is clean we can start dealing with the servicing.
Many people recommend having your mower serviced by a professional. Now this is fine, but if you are trying to save a bit of cash or willing to get a little mucky then you can do it yourself.

Petrol Mowers
Check your spark plug. Many people change their plugs every year. That’s great if you have loads of money and want to but it’s not always necessary!

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The first image is the spark plug when it came out of my mower. You can see a small amount of carbon deposit, this is normal over a working season. You can give it a little clean with a wire brush, as I did in the second pic, and it will be good as new.
If the spark plug looks different then it may indicate a problem with the mower. At this point you may want to consult your manual or take it to a professional.
This image can help diagnose spark plug issues.

Check the Air filter.

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The filter is another of those parts that may look bad and, while you can, probably won’t actually need replacing.
Used over the course of a season a filter will likely look like mine above. This again is normal. If it has any burn marks or more than superficial staining then, like the spark plug above it may indicate issues with the mower.

The second image above is the sticker on my mower that tells you how to clean it. Not all mowers have this so you will have to check your manual to see if yours can be cleaned or not. It’s worth checking as some filters cannot!

Change the oil/filter. 
I didn’t get any pics for this as it’s not worth it as no two mowers are the same.
You will need to consult your manual on the specifics for your model. You can also look on YouTube in case anyone has made a vid for your mower.

Also make sure you replace the oil with the correct oil for your mower. Do not overfill!

Check the blade. 
The blade should be fairly stiff to turn and should not have any other movement if you push or pull it. If there is a small amount of play then attempt the tighten the bolt holding it in place.

Electric mowers 

Electric mowers don’t need anything like the servicing that petrol mowers do. Most of it is simply checking certain parts for wear and tear. I don’t have an electric mower so I can’t get any pics!

Check your cable. If there are any splits in the plastic covering it will need fixing. You should also check that the cable is anchored to the main unit properly.

Check the cutting blades and the cutting area. The deck should be clean and clear and because most electric mowers have plastic chassis, you should check it for cracks and other damage.
The blades themselves should be in good condition. Any that are damaged or missing should be replaced.

The final thing to check is the air inlet. Most electric mowers don’t have air filters so its simply a case of using a brush and clearing the vents out.

Other appliances

Strimmers, hedge-trimmers and the like also need a check at the end of the year. Generally speaking you would follow the same rules as with mowers above.

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With electric strimmers you should clean out the deck and the air inlets as well as checking the cables for damage. Beyond that there is little to do.

With petrol strimmers, along with the info for mowers above, you should follow what the manual recommends, this mainly means greasing the head and cam shaft as well as checking the appliance for damage.

Hedge-trimmers should do the same as above but particular attention should be paid to the cutting arm. Before putting it away you should check the teeth for damage and spray it with WD40 or some kind of equivalent and replace its protective sleeve.

Final points

With petrol appliances you should always run the fuel down. While you can siphon the fuel out yourself its generally better to only put enough fuel in it to do the final job and then allow it to stop on its own as this means that the carb will also be empty.

With electric appliances you should make sure that the cable is not pulled taut. If it is it could damage it. Keep a little play available when coiling it up.

And finally…


After cleaning your machines make sure you clean up after yourself. If, like me, you make a mess then clean that up as well. debris like this, if left on the ground, will affect the lawn. Get it lifted and dump it in your compost bin!


5 thoughts on “Preparing your mower for winter

    1. It turns to varnish over time. Here in the UK we can add a stabiser to the mix of its only standing for a couple of months, not sure about the us/canada.
      I do know that US fuel is a lot rougher than ours over here. So I would recommend talking to a professional. Or just draining it!

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