(Family Features) - Parking a lawn mower in the corner of a garage or storage building is not tucking it in for winter.
"That fact can become only too clear by spring," said horticulturist Ward Upham, who heads the Master Gardener program for Kansas State University Research and Extension.
For example, those who mow with a gasoline- powered engine must either drain the tank or use a gasoline stabilizer. Otherwise, by spring the carburetor could be jammed by the thick, gummy stuff that untreated gasoline becomes over the winter months - a repair job for a professional.
To maintain life in mowers that have a battery, the first step is to clean the battery terminals, Upham said. Terminals usually are corroded by the end of each mowing season.
"A wire-bristle brush is good for the job," he said. "Then you can remove the battery and store it in a protected location. Or, you can connect it to a battery monitor that will keep it charged over winter."
Upham also recommended these "tucking in" steps:
- Change the oil.
- Clean away any grass, debris, oily spills and residue buildup. These kinds of "leftovers" can clog cooling fins, interfere with blade movement, rust a metal deck and/or become a fire hazard.
- Remove the spark plug. Put a few oil drops inside the spark plug hole to lubricate the cylinder.
- Put in a new spark plug. If they're worn, damaged or more than two years old, also replace the mower's filters - fuel, oil, air.
- Remove the cutting blade. Sharpen it (if you know how), get it sharpened or buy a new one.
- Oil or grease the deck and fittings. Check your owner's manual for other needed chores.
- Attach the cutting blade and store your mower in a dry location.