Lawn Mower Maintenance
It does not matter how much you pay for your lawn mower, what is important is that it lasts you a good long time. Lawn mowers can cost as little as two hundred dollars or as much as thousands of dollars. The point is for any mower to have a long and beneficial lifespan you need to perform routine lawn mower maintenance.
Failure to follow basic maintenance procedures will cause your machine to malfunction in no time at all. This article covers a comprehensive list of lawn mower maintenance tips and things to do for different types of mowers at various times of the year. It is recommended that you use these guidelines to keep your mower humming along happily for a long time to come without having to call in the professionals.
Setting up and following a maintenance schedule for lawn mowers that runs through the year is a really important aspect of keeping your mower in top condition. It is not fun to take the mower out of storage when the winter is over only to find it refuses to start!
The guidelines below cover the various maintenance routines you need to perform to keep your machine in top working condition.
Every year in October/November - if you have a gas engine lawn mower you need to drain the engine once your last mowing for the fall season has been done. Failure to complete this procedure will mean difficulty in getting the mower to work when spring arrives. One way to do this is to just keep running the mower until it runs dry – do this only after you finish your last mowing job. Alternatively you can drain the gas into the gas tank of your car.
Each December/ January - is a good time to have your mower serviced and get any repair work done. It is better to have your mower ready for when spring arrives.
Every February/March - lawn mower manufacturing companies recommend that the oil in the mower engine be changed every spring. This is not a particularly difficult task, but very essential one.
Mower blades - sharpening the blades on your mower is a simple yet highly important feature of lawn mower maintenance. This job should be attended to once every two months at least. Dull blades don’t cut grass; they rip them out giving your lawn a rat bitten appearance and leaving the grass prone to disease.
Guide to Sharpening Lawn Mower Blades:
1. Remove the spark plug wire – you don’t want the mower to start up suddenly causing an accident.
2. Remove the nut that holds the blade in place, you may need a wrench to do the job.
3. Follow the angle (approximately 45 degrees) of the blade using a file to sharpen the blade; try to file both sides the same number of times to maintain a balance in the blade.
Air filters - most mowers have paper filters but some have foam filters as well; the difference being paper filters are replaced and foam filters are cleaned. A clogged filter prevents the engine from breathing. It is good to keep a spare handy and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a new filter.
Guide to Cleaning/ Changing an Air Filter:
1. Stop the engine and allow time for the parts to stop moving and the machine to cool off.
2. Remove the spark plug wire.
3. Unscrew and remove the cover and then take out the filter; paper needs to be discarded; foam can be cleaned with pre-cleaner or rinsed off with water or even gas and then allowed to dry.
4. The new or cleaned filter needs to be replaced and the cover fitted back on.
5. Reconnect the spark plug wire.
Tips: never operate your mower without an air filter and always discard paper filters, don’t try to clean them.
Spark plugs - every spring time you need to clean out the spark plugs in your lawn mower. Check them over thoroughly, if you spot signs of wear, don’t bother cleaning them, just replace them straight away.
Guide To Cleaning/ Changing Spark Plugs:
1. Remove the spark plug wire.
2. Use an old rag to clean out the spark plug housing
3. Use a socket wrench to remove the spark plug
4. Use a wire brush to remove old carbon buildup on the spark plug
5. Inspect the plug for cracks and signs of damage. If you have to replace the spark plug make sure that the gap on the plug matches the manufacturer’s specifications. Always have your owner’s manual handy.
6. Manually install the spark plug and then gently tighten using the socket wrench.
Tips: before you replace spark plugs put some anti-seize compound on the new plugs to forestall difficulty in removing them the following spring. Don’t over tighten spark plugs, they are liable to break.
Oil change - this is probably one the most essential lawn mower maintenance tasks of all. Engine oil should be changed after the first 5 hours of operation and then on completion of every 50 hours of operation or every season whichever comes first. You also need to consider the environmental conditions when scheduling oil changes; dirty, dusty conditions require frequent oil changes. High temperatures, heavy load on the machine and excessive use requires oil changes after every 25 hours of operation.
Guide To Changing Engine Oil:
1. Start by running the engine for a few minutes, this will warm up the oil, which flows better when warm and also mix up the contaminants nicely
2. Stop the engine and wait a few moments for all the parts to stop moving
3. Remove the spark plug wire
4. Clean any visible dirt from the upper part of the oil tank using a wire brush or even an old toothbrush. Next unscrew and remove the dipstick (if applicable)
5. Remove the drain plug and drain out all the oil but don’t forget to stick an oil pan underneath to catch the used oil. If there is no drain plug, simply tip the machine over to drain the oil.
6. Using manufacturer specified oil and fill up to the ‘Full’ line on the dipstick; fill oil slowly until full.
7. If you machine has an oil filter, now is the time to clean it out or replace it as the case may be. Give the gasket a clean up as well.
8. Install the dipstick and mop up any spills
Tips: follow the owner’s manual or else you could end up damaging the filter. Do not dump the used oil down your drain; find out how you can recycle.