Who doesn’t like a well-maintained, neat-looking lawn? We all love how our lawns look after a proper mow. But few homeowners ever bother to keep their lawn mower in tip-top condition.
Often, we stow the machine in the toolshed and – for a few months – forget that it’s even there. When it’s time for another mow, we drag that mower out, pull on the cord, and hope for the best.
The fact of the matter is that lawn mowers require regular maintenance. A well-maintained mower simply does the job better. Below are six easy tips to help you keep your lawn mower in good condition.
1. Check the oil.
Checking your oil is an important part of maintaining your mower’s motor. Oil keeps your mower’s motor running smoothly. If your mower hasn’t had an oil change for over a year, drain it and refill with new oil.
The same goes if you’ve used your mower for more than 30 to 40 hours. If you changed the oil recently, make sure it is topped up to the optimum level before you use it again.
2. Check the air filter.
You need to change your mower’s air filter every once in a while. Without regular maintenance checks, the filter can get grimy with dirt and debris. A dirty filter will cause your lawn mower to run – and cut grass — inconsistently.
Be sure your mower is off and the sparkplug is disconnected before you check the air filter. You will also need to remove the protective cap either by undoing the clips or screws.
If your mower has a paper air filter, you can use a brush to clean it. After cleaning the filter, clip or screw the cover back on. If the filter is torn or broken, then it’s time to get a replacement.
If your mower has a foam filter, clean the foam either with dishwashing liquid or kerosene. Afterwards, rinse the filter with water and allow it to dry. Once the foam is dry, apply engine oil to the sponge. Be sure you massage the oil evenly into the sponge. Then give the sponge a tight squeeze to remove any excess oil.
3. Check the spark plug.
Your mower’s motor will not start on a faulty or blown spark plug. To check if the spark plug on your mower has gone bad, remove it with spark plug socket.
Check the spark plug for any signs of failure. These include cracking, burning, or an accumulation of grime. If any of these signs are present, then it’s time to get a new spark plug.
Note the gap between the center electrode (post) and side electrode (tongue) and adjust if necessary. You can measure the gap with a feeler gauge or a spark plug gauge. If you are unfamiliar with the required gap, do not adjust it yourself.
There is a way to test the plug for spark. You’ll need someone to help you if you are unfamiliar with the method. Unless you know what you are doing, it is best to have an expert simply replace the plug.
4. Clean the mowing deck.
The mowing deck is not the most important part of lawn mower maintenance, but it does require regular cleaning. Make sure your blades are unobstructed. You want a clean deck without any accumulation of potential contaminants.
Make sure to turn the throttle off and disconnect the spark plug before cleaning the deck. Read your mower’s maintenance guide carefully before undertaking maintenance procedures. This is particularly necessary when using a 4-stroke lawn mower.
5. Check the blades.
You want to cut your grass not rip it apart! This is why you want a clean set of blades. If you are handy with tools and know what you’re doing, you may be able to sharpen the blades, too. Otherwise, it’s best to install a new set. They aren’t that expensive, after all.
Again, make sure you disconnect the sparkplug and the throttle before checking the blades.
6. Don’t forget to lubricate the motor.
If your mower is clean, then it’s a good time to lubricate any important moving parts. These include the wheels, the height adjuster for the mowing deck, and the throttle cable assembly.
Better yet, drop your mower off at your local lawn mower shop and have professionals give it a once over. That way when the growing season begins, all you’ll need to do is make sure you have fresh fuel in the tank.
Keeping your lawn mower in good working condition is a big part of maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn. Regular maintenance is key to ensuring that your lawn mower serves you and your lawn well.
Performing regular maintenance on your lawn mower, particularly its engine, will extend your lawn mower’s life. A well-maintained lawn mower will continue to provide a consistent cut for 10 to 15 years.