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Gas. To drain or not to drain at the end of the season?

I was curious about draining the gas out my lawnmower, riding lawnmower or snow blower at the end of the season.  I have heard horror stories about people leaving the gasoline in the tank and having all kinds of trouble starting the following year, and having to take the lawnmower or snow blower to a repair shop to have it fixed.  I’m not sure if this is because of the ethanol that is being added to the gas today or not. I don’t recall having these problems in the past. Being a person of caution; I have chosen to drain all of the gas out of my riding mower and push mower this year.  A somewhat time consuming and tedious process after siphoning as much as possible, and then running the engine until it stopped, followed by draining out the fuel filter.  

    My specific question, owning a riding mower, push mower and snow thrower, ”Is this the best way to do this or maybe just adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas left in the tank and calling it a day?"

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Posted 2010-12-17T17:37:03+0000  by ToolBoxHero ToolBoxHero

Hi ToolBoxHero,


This is Ricks Picks.  Thank you for your question and Happy Holidays to you.  Yes it is very time consuming to drain all the gas from your equipment each season.  My father and my brother used to do that each fall just before the first freeze for the lawn mower when I lived in Minnesota.  We had a snow blower as well but that also double as a walk behind tractor for the garden in the spring.  There has been a great improvement in gas treatment products over the years.  I loaned a friend of mine my chipper/shredder.  He stored in for about a year before I was able to get it back.  Before we cleaned it off, covered it up, until the next time we planned on using it, I filled up the gas tank with gas, treated with a fuel stabilizer called Sta-Bil and ran the engine for a few minutes.  After about a year of not being used, I uncovered the chipper/shredder, primed it and on the second pull, it started right up!  It coughed a couple of times and belched a little smoke, but ran like a champ after that initial start.  I was impressed the results of the fuel stabilizer I used called Sta-Bil;

Sta-Bil should be carried by most Home Depot garden centers and most other garden equipment supply centers as well as automotive supply centers.  There is another product by Green Earth called Green Earth G-Fuel a 4 oz. fuel stabilizer which is also carried by most Home Depots.


I think the key is to be sure that the tank is completely full of fuel so that there is no room for moisture to accumulate.  As long as you have a fuel stabilizer in the gas lines and the tank is full, you are good to go so that you can pursue other fall activities.  That will vary depending on what part of the nation you are located in.  The only thing that would require treatment would be the blades of the snow blower then to prevent them from rusting.  I can remember my father coating the tractor’s plow blade with a healthy coat of oil to keep it rust free until spring.


Have a great Holiday Season.

Ricks Picks

Best Answer

Posted 2010-12-17T20:12:40+0000  by Rick_HD_OC

Hi ToolBoxHero,

Travis here, from The Home Depot in Atlanta.

There are several factors to consider when gasoline storage is concerned.


Who will perform necessary repairs on contaminated equipment? If you can do the repairs yourself, you will save time and money. Preventative maintenance can only be done at home.


What  type of equipment is the unit in question? Will it be used in an emergency situation? Those have to be ready at all times. Snow blowers and chainsaws fall into this category.


When will it be used? Walk behind mowers and snow blowers have opposite seasons.


Where is the equipment stored? An out building may not be as well insulated as a garage that's incorporated into a house. Some equipment is stored out in the elements where heat and cold extremes create havoc in the fuel system.


How can you avoid ethanol?  In my area, the only places that claim to not have ethanol blended gas are airports and marinas. Those aren't on MY commute!


Why take the chance? With the exception of instant-on emergency generators, I think it's best to store power equipment with no gas in the unit. A container of fuel can be made fresh to store with the equipment that is needed for the season.


That's right, I said "season". There are 4 seasons in a year. Gasoline should not be stored for more than 3 months. Ethanol causes gasoline to break down faster than it used to. Gas in the can needs to be emptied out before it goes bad. If you don't use it in your equipment, use it in a car or truck before it goes bad. That way you avoid disposal issues and gain benefit from the gas.


Store the gas can in a place where temperatures stay fairly constant. Keep it away from the sun. Sunshine puts more water in gasoline than rain does! Condensation is the most common way for moisture to contaminate gasoline. Water is heavier than gas, so it ends up in the filter and float bowl of your carburetor.


Always add stabilizer to gas when you purchase it. Stabil can't  fix old gas. It's a preventative that every engine manufacturer recommends for all gas, whether it's mixed for 2-cycle or not.  


If the equipment will be used on a weekly basis, the gas is less likely to become a problem. However, if a unit will be stored for a month, drain it.


Thank you for the question. I hope I helped.




Posted 2010-12-17T19:46:26+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL

Fuel can separate when left over time (like over the winter).  Most of the time with smaller engines, this isn't a problem, especially if treated with fuel stabilizer before storing (as previously mentioned).  If you plan on storing it for a longer period, what I have been told by several small engine repair mechanics is to drain the tank, then run the engine untill it dies (some fuel will remain in the carburator unless you do). If it uses regualr gas, pour the gas into your vehicle and use it there, you can always refill the tank at the begging of the season.


The next step is to remove the spark plug and put about a cap full of oil in the hole.  For mixed fuel engines use the oil mix and about half a cap, for regular engines that just take gasoline, use 10W-30 oil.  After adding the oil, replace the plug (without reconnecting the wire) and pull the starter cord gently a couple of times.  This helps lubricate the engine and keeps condensation from forming, which will cause serious trouble later.


I have a roto tiller that sat for 4 years, and it fired up without any problems because I stored it this way.

Posted 2010-12-18T18:40:48+0000  by GrueMaster
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