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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Power Down for Winter

When the last mow of the season is done, it’s tempting to park the mower, hang up the power tools and be done. But a little time spent cleaning and prepping now could save you a lot of time — and money — later.

Always check the owner’s manual for instructions specific to your tools. If you no longer have the manual, here are some general guidelines.

Lawn Mowers

  • Before doing any lubricating, cleaning, or other maintenance, disconnect the spark plug wire and ground it. Remove the plug with a spark plug wrench. Most spark plugs need to be replaced after every 100 hours of use. Clean the plug using a wire brush and spray it with plug cleaner. If the spark plug is very dirty or cracked, it’s time to replace it.
  • Fuel left in the gas tank can gum up the carburetor, requiring a costly tune-up next spring. Siphon out as much fuel from the tank as possible into an approved container, such as a metal coffee can. When finished, start the engine and let it run until all of the fuel is used. (If the gas is difficult to get out, add a fuel stabilizer to fresh gasoline to prevent build-up.)
  • While the engine is warm, drain the oil and refill with fresh oil. Be sure to use oil that’s recommended for your lawn mower. Dispose of the used oil properly by taking it to your municipal hazardous material recycling location. (If you own a two-cycle lawn mower, this step is not necessary.)
  • Scrape off dirt and grass clippings from the underside of the mower with a scraper or putty knife. Rinse off the mower and wipe dry.
  • Lubricate the blade, cables, wheels and starter with aerosol silicon spray.
  • You may want to consider having the blade professionally sharpened. Dull blades can damage the grass.
  • Check the air filter. Clean it by blowing it out with compressed air. If it’s really oily, then use warm soapy water, rinsing well when you are done. Make sure it’s dry before putting it back on.

Riding Mowers

  • Remove the battery and charge it completely with a charger. Store it in a dry place until the next mowing season.
  • Remove the wheels and store your tractor off the ground on blocks if possible, to prevent air-filled tires from going square. If it has pneumatic tires, park the mower on cardboard to keep the tires off the cold concrete.
  • Protect the mower with a covering that breathes, like a painter’s drop sheet or heavy burlap. This lets condensation evaporate naturally, minimizing the possibility of rust.

Other Power Tools

  • If any of your tools have carbide-tipped blades, they must be professionally sharpened. A sharpening service can return most blades to like-new condition. Call to see if they can handle the type of blades you have, and to get a price estimate.
  • String trimmers: Sharpen the cutoff blade at the head of the trimmer with a file. Inspect the spool and replace if it’s worn out. If it’s a gas trimmer, clean the air filter and change the spark plugs.
  • Hedge trimmers: Inspect the blades and see if they need sharpening. Lubricate with an aerosol silicon spray to prevent rust. For electric trimmers, inspect the power cord for nicks or other damage. For gas-powered trimmers, clean the air filter, change the spark plug. Check the integrity of the safety shield on all trimmers.
  • Chainsaws: Clean the chain by removing it and dipping it in mineral spirits. When reinstalling the chain, be sure to set to the proper tension. Clean the cooling fins with a thin wooden stick. Inspect the engine on gas chainsaws, clean the air filter and change the spark plug.

Taking these steps to properly power down your tools will make it fast and easy to power them up again next spring.

Courtesy of Family Features


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