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Preparing outdoor power equipment for winter storage

As fall draws to a close, it's time to start thinking about putting your seasonal outdoor power equipment away. Proper winterization will help ensure that your lawn mower, chainsaw, hedge trimmer, string trimmer, and other equipment remain in good condition over months of storage and are ready for use again in the spring.

Here is what you need to know about preparing outdoor power equipment for storage.

1

Indoor storage

Keeping your outdoor power equipment indoors and away from the harsh winter elements is ideal, especially if you have any electrical tools. The garage is generally the best choice for power equipment storage but, if you don't have a garage or if you just don't have enough space in yours, then a shed is a good option as well.

When putting your equipment away into a garage or shed for the winter, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid placing your equipment near containers that can spill, like fuels, fertilizers, pool chemicals, and solvents.
  • Prevent corrosion by using your central heating system or a space heater to control temperature and humidity.
  • Store your equipment well out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure that there are no exposed sharp edges that may cause accidental injury.
2

Outdoor storage

Sometimes, keeping your power equipment inside over the winter may not be an option. In this case, properly winterizing your equipment for outdoor storage will help to greatly minimize the effects of wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures.

If you'll be keeping power equipment outside over the winter, then here are some important tips for doing it right:

  • Empty the fuel to prevent it from freezing and splitting lines or damaging internal components. To do this, drain the fuel tank, flush the lines, and ensure that all of the fuel is removed by running the engine until it dies.
  • Drain the oil to prevent it from deteriorating and causing pitting on the bearing surfaces.
  • Cover your equipment tightly with a tarp to prevent wind from blowing up underneath and causing corrosion. Secure the tarp with stakes and cords to keep it in place.
  • Remove batteries and bring them inside to avoid corrosion and freezing. Wipe the batteries with a clean, dry cloth before putting them in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight.
3

Pre-storage maintenance

Prior to putting any piece of outdoor power equipment away, there is some basic maintenance you should carry out to make sure that it will be ready to go in the spring.

First, clean the equipment thoroughly and inspect the body for any loose screws or bolts. While you are cleaning, check all nooks, crannies, and crevices on the equipment and remove any moisture-trapping debris like leaves and grass that would encourage corrosion. If you spot any damage, it's best to have it fixed before the equipment sits in storage for several months.

It is also highly recommended that you add a fuel stabilizer for extra cold resistance to any equipment that you need to use throughout the winter, such as a chainsaw that you will use for cutting firewood.

4

Little things

In addition to the major maintenance and storage considerations for putting away your outdoor power equipment, there are some smaller but no less important tasks that will help with proper winterization.

Make sure you also:

  • Use hose bibs and pipe wrap to protect lines and faucets from freezing temperatures and maintain a water supply for equipment such as power washers.
  • Remove gasket seals from equipment that you won't be using over the winter to prevent them from cracking in the cold.
  • Check fuel and air filters for debris and moisture buildup. Clean reusable filters or replace disposable filters as needed.
  • Inspect the spark plugs and remove any buildup to prevent it from interfering with performance and fuel efficiency.
  • Lubricate the moving parts on equipment like chainsaws and hedge trimmers to keep the joints from freezing or rusting over. Make sure you use manufacturer-approved lubricants.
  • Keep a lock de-icer on-hand when using equipment that has a key-like ignition in case the mechanism freezes. It can rapidly thaw the lock and allow your key to fit inside.
  • Scrape any rust away from your outdoor power equipment with a wire brush and use a rust-inhibiting spray enamel to keep it from forming again.
5

Snowblower preparation

When you're putting your seasonal outdoor power equipment away for the winter, that means it's time to get your snowblower out and ready for work.

Before the first big snowfall arrives, you need to make sure that your snowblower is working as it should. Inspect the body for damage and tighten up any nuts and bolts that may have loosened up in storage. If you have a gas-powered snowblower, you will also need to change the oil and fill it up with fresh fuel. After that, give your snowblower a test run to see if everything is moving smoothly.

Heading into the season, it is important that you have spare snowblower parts so that you can always run your snowblower when you need it. This includes extra drive belts, bolts, clips, and shear pins.

6

Winterizing checklist

Correctly winterizing your outdoor power equipment before winter hits means you can get off to a smooth start with lawn care in the spring. Here is a handy checklist to help you put away chainsaws, hedge trimmers, lawn mowers, and string trimmers.

Chainsaws

  • Keep the chain links properly lubricated with a bar and chain oil.
  • Before putting the chainsaw away, remove the chain cover so that you can brush away any collected sawdust and wood chips.
  • Use a blade sheath to prevent moisture from encouraging the development of rust.
  • Make sure you add a fuel stabilizer to prevent the fuel from freezing if you will be using your chainsaw over the winter months.

Hedge trimmers

  • Clean the cutting blades and clear them of any green plant matter that could cause corrosion.
  • Oil the blades to keep them from rusting and locking up.

Lawn mowers

  • Drain the fuel and run the engine so that the tank is empty before putting your lawn mower away to prevent freezing, corrosion, and blockages.
  • Change or drain the oil to prevent it from becoming thick and viscous and causing problems on startup.
  • Clean or replace the spark plugs, filters, and blade, and clean the underside of the mower. Make sure to thoroughly remove dirt and grass clippings.
  • Check all parts, including the discharge chute, belt cover, tires, and mulch bag, for signs of rust and wear.
  • Remove and sharpen the blade so that it is ready to go when it's time for the first spring mow.

String trimmers

  • Store the string in a warm place to keep it from becoming brittle and developing cracks.
  • Clean out grass, dirt, and any other debris from the line head, cutter guard, and debris deflector to prevent moisture buildup and corrosion.