Winterizing Outdoor Equipment
With the cold weather fast approaching, outdoor equipment is the last thing most homeowners are thinking about. But most of the items in your outdoor arsenal need some form of winterizing to survive the winter fully intact. From lawn mowers and pipes to patio furniture and HVAC units, here's a quick guide on how to winterize all of your outdoor equipment.
Take a look at all of the exterior pipes and remove any garden hoses. Fully drain the hoses before winding them up and storing them for the winter. Then locate the shut-off valves for the faucets. (The shut-off valves are typically indoors.) Once the valves are closed, turn on the outdoor faucets and drain the excess water. Once all of the water has been removed, the exterior pipes should be fine over the winter. If you are concerned about some exposed pipes, you can insulate them for even better protection.
Give the mower a good wash after the final cut of the fall season. Make sure you remove all of the grass clippings from the underside of the mower and around the blade. Then drain the oil and add some fuel stabilizer to the gas. Fill the gas tank to full and let the engine run for a few minutes. This will help disperse the stabilizer throughout the system. If you do not want to add stabilizer, you can run the engine until the gas burns out. Before storing the mower, give the fuel lines, spark plugs, and fuel filters a good check. Replace anything that looks worn so that your mower will be ready to go in the spring.
Clean any dirt and debris from exposed surfaces and allow the furniture to fully dry. Remove any cushions and clean them with a mixture of warm water and soap. After the cushions have dried, store them away. The drying process may take a day or two. You can store cushions in a special storage bag or wrap them tight in a sheet and seal them in a plastic bag.
While cleaning your outdoor furniture, take note of any damage you notice and repair it if you can. Fixing small issues now will prevent them from becoming major headaches after the hard winter months. You should also store natural wicker furniture in a dry environment over the winter.
If you do not plan on using your grill during the winter, then it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and protected. Clean the grill inside and out, removing any grease buildup and leftover coals. Allow the grill to fully dry before covering it up. If you have room in the garage or shed, you can store the grill indoors for better protection. If not, the grill should be securely covered to shield it from the ice and snow. If the grill has a propane tank, it should be disconnected and stored indoors.
Make sure fall leaves and grass clippings are removed from the unit. You can use a garden hose to rinse it after the larger bits are clean up. Once everything has dried, ensure all pipes are insulated with tubular rubber or foam. You can then disconnect the unit if you do not anticipate using it over the winter. Finally, cover the air conditioner and secure the cover with bungee cords. When winter snow hits, keep the unit clean and free of ice accumulation.
Inspect and remove the batteries in all of your outdoor power tools. This will help prevent the batteries from corroding in the cold weather. Then lubricant moving parts, like chainsaw blades, to keep them from rusting out. You can also add some tung oil to wooden handles so they don't crack in the dry winter air. Once everything is stored properly, you can enjoy a few months of very little lawn maintenance.