Even the best lawn mowers require maintenance, and keeping you mower in top working condition will not only extend it's service life, but it'll also play a big role in maintaining your lawn. When a lawn mower is properly maintained, it can have a service life of up to 15 years, and maybe even more!
Completing the recommended maintenance isn't too difficult, but many owners prefer to have their lawn mower's tuned-up by a professional service expert. This article covers the tasks that need to be completed to keep your lawn mower happy and healthy so it can leave your lawn looking amazing.
When performing annual maintenance on a gas lawn mower, you actually need to start in the Fall. After you've mowed your grass for the last time, run your mower out of gas. If you need to winterize your mower, this is a good time as many of the tasks are the same.
Here's what you need to do to to keep your gas mower well maintained:
- Change the oil
- Check the air filter. Clean or change as needed
- Lubricate the wheels
- Lubricate all moving cables
- Check all nuts and bolts for tightness
When refueling your mower with fresh gasoline, it's a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer. Gas can go stale in just 30-days and keeping your gas fresh will help protect the mower's engine.
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A lawn mower's blade takes a beating and sometimes it needs a little extra attention. Over time, just with normal use, blades can become dull, but add in hitting the occasional stick or rock and they can actually be damaged.
When mower blades become dull they leave an uneven cut. In addition, if you noticed that the tips of grass on your lawn turn brown shortly after mowing, or your grass simply looks dry, then chances are, your mower's blade need to be sharpened.
A dull blade will shred the tips of grass (instead of a clean cut), it will also leave your lawn prone to becoming diseased.
Each time you mow your yard you should clean your mower and remove all clippings and debris under the deck. Since the blade is actually cutting the grass, it has a tendency to develop a build-up of clippings and other gunk.
Each time you finish mowing your lawn, it's important to clean the blades by following your manufacturers recommendation. Some recommend using a brush, others have a cleaning port that a hose can be attached to, either way, they need to be cleaned.
Your mower's blade should be checked and sharpened regularly. There are a number of tools that you can use to sharpen the blade outlined in the video below.
Here's how sharpen using a metal file:
- Always wear eye protection and gloves
- Before removing the lawn mower's blade, make sure that the spark plug is disconnected to prevent any chance that the mower will start
- Place the blade into a vice with the sharp edges pointing up
- Trace the angle of the blade with the file, taking strokes in one direction
- Your done sharpening once you have all the nicks removed from the blade, and the edge is sharp
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It's a good idea to give your lawn mower a thorough cleaning at least once or twice a year. Here's what to do:
- After emptying the gas tank, unplug the spark plug and set your mower on its side
- Check the blade area and remove any build-up that may have wrapped around the blade, or has caked onto the underside of the deck
- Use a garden house to spray the underside of the deck. All of the debris may not be washed clean, but you have loosen the dirt and debris
- Using a soft brush and soapy water, scrub the deck
- Rinse the deck and allow the mower to dry
Check your owners manual for instructions that are specific to your model. Recommendations vary and you should always follow the steps outlined by your mower's manufacturer. You'll also notice that many of the winterizing tasks are the same as general maintenance.
Here's how to winterize a lawn mower:
Blade - Unplug the spark plug and turn the mower on it's side to check the blade. Sharpen and/or replace as needed.
Oil - To allow the oil the drain easily, run the mower for a couple of minutes. Then remove the oil cap and turn the mower on it's side over a drain pan. Once you've removed all the oil, replace with oil recommended by the manufacturer. Be careful not to overfill.
Air Filter - Remove the air filter and clean it with a soft brush, or if it's very dirty, replace it with a new one.
Fuel System - Be sure to check your owners manual for specifics on your mower. Some manufacturers recommend running the motor dry for storage and others prefer a full tank of gas with a fuel stabilizer added.
Spark Plug - It's a best practice to change the spark plug once a year, however we recommend changing the spark plug at the beginning of the mowing season versus the end. Add an ounce of oil into the spark plug hole before storing the mower for the winter.
Muffler - Check the muffler to make sure there isn't excessive rust and that it's not loose.
Lubricate - Use a spray lubricant, such as WD-40, to lubricate all the moving parts.
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Lawn mowers are an investment and nobody wants to turn around a purchase a new one right away. Here are a few tips that can help keep your mower (and lawn) healthy:
- Check the nuts, bolts and other fasteners on the mower, wheels, and handle periodically to ensure they are tight. As the mower runs, the vibrations from the engine and the general movement of mowing will cause them to loosen
- Replace damaged wheels with new ones
- Walk your yard prior to mowing and remove any sticks, rocks, or debris that may cause damage to the mower
- Do not mow when your grass is wet or damp. When the grass is moist it's prone to clogging and building up under the deck
- Replace damaged blades. If you notice cracks or dents on your blade you need to replace it with a new one. Unfortunately, you can not simply sharpen the damage out.
- If you don't feel comfortable performing maintenance, you can find a local lawn mower repair service to do the tune-up for you.