Proper preparation for storage is important in ensuring the continued proper operation of your equipment. It is especially important to make sure the proper precautions are taken when equipment is to be stored for an extended period of time, such as storing mowers and trimmers over the winter months.
The first concern is dirt and debris that has accumulated during the season. Remove covers such as chainsaw bar covers or belt covers on lawn tractor mower decks. Wipe or blow off any debris that has built up (a leaf blower works very well for blowing grass clippings and dust off of mower decks and out of engine compartments.) Clean grass clippings and debris from under mower decks as well. This will help prevent premature corrosion of the deck material as well as possible mold and mildew growth in the grass clippings, over the storage period.
On trimmers and brush-cutters clean any debris from under guards. remove trimmer heads and clean debris from inside as well. Clean and lubricate blades on hedge trimmers at this time also to prevent corrosion and potential binding during storage.
Removing the fuel from the unit is very important if you have been using "pump gas" during the season. The current formulations of gasoline available degrade fairly rapidly, 30-45 days is a general rule according to most small engine manufacturers. As the fuel breaks down, it can form deposits and lead to corrosion in the fuel system due to moisture absorption over the storage period. See our fuel tips page for more information on fuel recommendations for your equipment.
Once the machine has been cleaned and lubricated as necessary, drain any fuel from the fuel tank on the unit. Start the machine and let it idle until it runs completely out of fuel. Do not rev the engine while running it out of fuel. This is especially important on 2-cycle engines to ensure that the unit maintains proper lubrication. On units equipped with a purge primer, depress it a few times and attempt to restart the machine to make sure that all fuel has been removed from the system.
A small amount of "canned fuel" can be added to the tank and the unit run at this time to help remove any remaining "pump gas" in the unit. Tip: Most manufacturers specify that their "canned fuel" is stable for periods over 6 months and therefore can be left in the unit during storage.
If the fuel is not being removed for storage, for example on lawn tractors that will be used for snow removal or when using "canned fuel", the tank should be kept approximately 90-95% full to help prevent moisture from condensing in the tank and avoid spillage due to expansion and contraction from temperature changes.