Preparing Equipment for Storage

preparing equipment for storageWe’d like to forget about our mowers, tractors and other equipment during the off-season, but improper storage can lead to expensive repairs. Fuel systems can clog up, rust can form on cables and housings, and batteries can fail. Taking these steps now will help your landscaping equipment make it through the winter unharmed.


Modern gasoline degrades quickly, even if it’s treated with a stabilizer. To prevent tarnishing and corrosion, empty the fuel system before storage. Most Honda engines have a removable sediment bowl on the bottom of the carburetor. Removing this bowl and opening the fuel valve will dump out the contents of the fuel tank and lines. On other engines, you may need to disconnect a fuel line or use a siphon pump to empty the tank. Once the tank is empty, start the engine to burn off any remaining fuel in the carburetor. As long as it’s not mixed with two-stroke oil, this gasoline is safe to use in your car. Modern fuel-injected engines are less sensitive to stale fuel, and that fuel will be diluted by what you’ve already put in the tank.

Diesel lasts a long time when stored as long as it doesn’t get hot. Summer diesel blends will cloud and solidify at low temperatures. However, this won’t hurt the engine as long as you don’t need to start it. If you think you may need to pull your tractor or mower out in the winter, fill the tank with winter formula diesel. Run the engine for a few minutes to pull this diesel through the fuel system. To prevent algae growth, keep fuel tanks and storage containers full to reduce contact with oxygen.

Natural gas fuel systems require no maintenance. However, if you have a dual-fuel engine, you still need to empty the gasoline side of the fuel system.

Preventing Rust

Clean your equipment thoroughly to remove any dirt that can collect moisture. Use a dry brush or rag to remove dirt from the engine, transmission and hydraulic components. Hand wash the rest of the equipment to prevent water from contaminating oil and hydraulic fluids.

To keep rust from forming, you need to create a barrier between metal components and the moisture in the air:

– Grease bearings to push out dirt and moisture.
– Check painted parts for chips. Apply touch-up paint to exposed metal to prevent rust.
– Clean and lubricate drive chains.
– Apply non-detergent oil or silicone lubricant to cables. Spray or drip the lubricant into one end of the housing until it comes out of the other end.
– Apply silicone lubricant or fogging oil to exposed metal parts.

Don’t cover your equipment with a tarp. Waterproof tarps can trap moisture against equipment, while breathable tarps will get soaked in rain and snow.

Piston rings can seize if they sit for long periods without lubrication. Apply a small amount of oil to the inside of the cylinders through the spark plug hole, then place rags in front of the holes. With the plugs out of the engine, pull the starter handle a couple times or run the electric starter for a few seconds. This will spread the oil across the cylinder wall and push out any excess. Put the plugs back in to seal the cylinders.

Winterizing Pressure Washer Pumps

RV anti-freeze can be used temporarily if you’re facing a sudden cold snap, but you really need to use pressure washer antifreeze long term storage. Unlike RV antifreeze, it has additives that prevent rust. Flush the detergent system and drain all the water out of the pump before adding antifreeze.

Antifreeze can be drawn into the pump through the detergent system. If your pressure washer doesn’t have a soap sprayer, use a float tank or hose and funnel to pour the antifreeze through the inlet. Run the washer until antifreeze is coming out of the pump outlet.


Lead-acid batteries sulfate during storage, reducing their capacity and cranking amps. To prevent this, a light charge needs to be applied with a trickle charger. Check the owner’s manual for charging recommendations. Small batteries used with single-cylinder engines may require special low amperage chargers.

We Have Everything You Need This Winter

Now is a great time to perform maintenance and repairs you’ve been putting off this year. If you want to do it yourself, or you need some help, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We’re a full-service dealer for many popular brands, offering parts, service, and accessories. Looking for snow clearing equipment? We sell snowblowers and attachments from a wide range of brands including BCS America, Multi-One and Woods. Come visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We also ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada. To order, visit us online at

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