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It happens sometimes – maybe you got distracted after mowing and forgot to put the machine into storage. Or maybe the pipes in your garage leaked.

And now you’re turning to the internet to ask: Can lawn mowers get wet?

Yes, but no. If the wetness is superficial – like on the outside – then the mower will be fine. It’ll dry out after it runs or after it’s been under direct sunlight.

But if the wetness gets into the systems, or if the exposure is prolonged, you may have to do some repairs or cleaning.

It’s always good to check your machine before you mow, especially if you think it may have gotten wet. Here are some causes for a wet lawn mower, signs to look out for, and how you can fix it.

 

What Causes Lawn Mowers to Get Wet?

Lots of things could lead to your lawn mower getting wet. Some common causes include:

  • Heavy rain
  • Morning dew
  • Mowing wet grass
  • Humid conditions
  • Leaking water fixtures in your garage

If you store your mower under plastic sheets or similar coverings, these can also trap moisture from condensation.

You should also avoid power-washing lawn mowers, even a ride-on model. Water could get into seals or other vulnerable parts.

jet of water from high-pressure washer cleans lawn mower on green grass with yellow dandelions.

 

Signs Your Lawn Mower is Wet

Maybe you’re unsure whether your lawn mower has gotten wet. Or maybe you’re not sure the water got into the machine.

There are a few signs to look out for:

  • Lawn mower won’t start
  • Engine starts but stalls or misfires
  • Lack of power or acceleration
  • Stalling then accelerating

There are several reasons your lawn mower starts then stops, so check the machine first to rule out any other causes.

 

Can a Lawn Mower Get Wet?

Yes… but also no. Yes, your lawn mower can get wet on the outside, but no, it can’t get wet inside.

Lawn mowers aren’t waterproof, but they are water-resistant to an extent. They’re designed for outdoor use, so yes, they can get wet – but not soaked.

 

Can gas-powered mowers get wet?

Yes – to a certain extent. Surface-level water is fine, so the wheels and handles can get wet without much issue.

However, continuous exposure to wet conditions (like rain or morning dew) can lead to rust or moisture entering more sensitive components.

 

Mowing the grass with a lawn mower. Garden work concept background.

 

Can electric mowers get wet?

Electric or battery-powered lawn mowers need an electrical charge to work.

A battery-powered lawn mower can get wet, but you need to be more cautious than normal. Moisture getting into the battery or other electrical components could cause a short circuit – or even a fire.

 

Can riding mowers get wet?

The same as gas-powered mowers, surface-level wetness is fine. 

Your ride-on mower can handle light dampness, but water getting into the internal systems could lead to potential damage.

 

What Happens When a Lawn Mower Gets Wet?

The issues caused by a wet mower depend a lot on how long the machine was exposed.

Keep an eye out for problems such as:

  • Rust: Water can cause corrosion in metal parts, from the bearings to the belt.
  • Contaminated fuel: Water in your gas will lead to engine malfunctions.
  • Contaminated engine oil: This will also lead to malfunctions and poor lubrication.
  • Damp components: The moisture could interfere with the machine’s function.

 

water from a hose washes a red lawn mower.

 

What Parts of a Mower Should Never Get Wet?

Many of the outer components of your lawn mower can get wet without much concern. However, some of the internal components are more sensitive.

Moisture or dampness could cause these parts to degrade or lose function.

 

1. Spark plug

Spark plugs kickstart the fuel combustion process that powers your lawn mower’s engine.

If the spark plug gets wet, that prevents the ignition process from starting. Moreover, it could cause the spark plug to degrade and need replacement.

 

2. Carburettor

The carburettor is the key component of your mower – it mixes air into the fuel to get your machine running.

If water gets into the air-fuel mixture, it will disrupt the combustion. Your mower will stall or even stop outright.

 

detail of the soft button of the fuel pump on the carburator,

 

3. Air filter

A damp air filter means soil, dust, and other debris will get trapped in the filter more easily. 

And a clogged air filter can lead to a lot of problems – primarily a lack of oxygen for your fuel.

 

4. Cables and tubes

There are several cables and/or tubes in your lawn mower, such as the fuel line or the electrical cord. 

If moisture gets into these, you could experience decreased function.

 

5. Fuel tank

Refilling the fuel tank in a petrol lawn mower.

Water does not mix with gas, and having moisture in your fuel tank can cause several problems.

The water could cause corrosion in the system. It’s also less dense than the fuel, so if the water sinks to the bottom of the tank, it could block the fuel from getting out.

In more severe cases, the inconsistent fuel mixture will cause your mower to slow down, then abruptly surge or accelerate.

 

What to Do If Your Lawn Mower Gets Wet

Check if your lawn mower can start. If it can, then it’ll dry on its own thanks to the heat. (Of course, if your lawn mower starts overheating, that’s a whole new problem.)

Alternatively, leave the machine out in the sun for a few hours. Direct sunlight will dry it out, after which you should start it then let it idle for several minutes.

Worst case scenario, you’ll have to take your mower apart and wipe it dry. Check all the components while you’re at it – you may need to clean the air filter (or replace it entirely) or the spark plug.

 

Fixing water in the tank

Open up the tank to check your gas. If there are tiny bubbles in the fuel, that’s a sign of water – think about how cooking oil bubbles if you splash water in it.

Drain the tank and wipe it dry to remove any water. Then refill with fresh gas (and some stabiliser, if you’d like).

 

Fixing water in engine oil

Check the reservoir – if there’s water, it’ll look milky or like there’s a film on top.

Like for gas, you can drain the reservoir and refill with clean oil.

 

Fixing a wet ride-on mower

View from above of a man mowing a lawn on an orange ride-on mower as he attends to yard maintenance

To dry out a ride-on mower, wipe the spark plug and wire with a clean cloth. 

You could also try a leaf blower (it’s a bit like a giant hair dryer).

 

Fixing a wet electric mower

Make sure the machine isn’t plugged into any electric source. Remove the battery and check for any corrosion or damage.

If there is corrosion, you’ll need to replace it. Otherwise, dry the battery and compartment with a clean cloth.

 

How to Prevent Your Lawn Mower from Getting Wet

Always store lawn mowers safely when not in use – keep them somewhere shaded or covered so they’re not exposed to bad weather.

Use a waterproof cover to keep your mower dry. Then when the season rolls around, it’s good to winterise the machine.

Don’t cut wet grass – that’s a surefire way to get wet clumps of grass clippings stuck in your mower blades. The dampness from a wet lawn could also get into other parts of the deck or motor.

However, if your deck is jamming even with dry grass, you may need to sharpen the mower blades. Blunt blades rip up grass in clumps instead of cutting cleanly.

Spray the cables and other components with WD-40 to displace or repel water.

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.

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About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.

Share