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Winning winterization strategies for your mower fleet

October 21, 2022 -  By
Successful winterization can set a professional up for a seamless transition into the busy season, when the time comes next spring. (Photo: Husqvarna)

Successful winterization can set a professional up for a seamless transition into the busy season, when the time comes next spring. (Photo: Husqvarna)

Winter may be downtime for landscaping businesses in part of the country. That doesn’t mean equipment isn’t potentially at risk of deteriorating while stored during the offseason.

Mower winterization should be a significant part of a landscape professional’s end-of-year checklist to ensure equipment is in working order when springtime comes around. Experts from Exmark and Husqvarna share with LM what pros need to keep in mind when winterizing mowers this fall.

Ticking time bomb

Tom Person, technical support manager with Exmark, says winter provides the perfect storm of conditions to deteriorate mowers.

“It’s the time when those machines aren’t being used,” he says. “It’s the optimal time for those batteries to go bad, for fuel to evaporate and to leave a varnish behind that can potentially gum up carburetors, fuel injection and fuel delivery systems.”

The same goes for battery-powered mowers, according to Person, who says undercharged batteries are a common pitfall for pros. An undercharged battery is at risk of freezing and a frozen battery is, in most cases, a dead battery.

To make sure a battery isn’t weak or does not contain a full charge, Person has two recommendations: a trickle charger or the more straightforward solution of unplugging it.

“There is always some kind of very small parasitic draw on that system, and over time in storage, that will drain that battery to the point where it’s at risk of freezing,” he says. “So, if you simply disconnected it, you’ve removed that parasitic draw.”

Person says this doesn’t completely erase the chance that the battery won’t freeze. But it will, at the very least, lower the chances of that happening.

Take your time

Other items on the winterization checklist, according to Stephen Clark, parts and accessories manager for Husqvarna, should include assessing belts, blades, pulleys, idlers and more.

“Often during the winterization process — particularly if done right involving a thorough inspection — one will encounter worn parts,” says Clark. “(Professionals) might also run into bigger issues like oil leaks that may require the machine to be serviced at a dealer shop.”

As far as the timing of winterization goes, Clark recommends that professionals do it as soon as possible after the season is over. He says this ensures the mower isn’t left in a “contaminated state” and maximizes the time for repair.

“A comprehensive and timely winterization process allows the pro to execute wear part replacements or repairs during the off-season so as to not take the machine out of service during the busy season,” he says.

Protect your investment

Once a professional has checked off every item on their checklist, what’s next? Clark says storing the mower correctly is the crucial last step.

“A lot of people do a decent job of actually winterizing the machine,” he says. “But they will store it in a shed or other environment that is not rodent-proof, and they take no steps to prevent rodent infestation in the machine itself.”

He says that a mouse or squirrel nest under the fan housing in an air-cooled engine or inside the air filter can lead to a costly bill. He recommends repellents like moth balls around enclosed spaces on the machine, which will discourage unwanted guests from moving in.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in 1022, From the Magazine, Mowing+Maintenance
Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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