Consult with your equipment’s user manual before performing maintenance or operating. Following are commonly recommended practices that may assist in the upkeep of your lawn care equipment. The following recommendations are for homeowner mowers with light to moderate use throughout the year. Your use of your mower may differ and require additional maintenance activities.
Check your oil
Before starting your mower, check your oil level while the engine is still cold using your mower’s dipstick. If the oil level is low, add more per the manufacturer’s user manual. For most residential lawnmowers, oil is typically changed every year. Many mowers also have gauges that record the hours in which equipment is used. For those that heavily use their mowing equipment, change the oil according to the number of hours specified by the manufacturer.
Air filters keep dust from entering the engine. Over time the filter will become filled with dust and debris and will need to be changed per the manufacturer’s direction. (At least once per year) Air filters are often inexpensive and an easy method to keep your mower engine running smoothly.
Fuel filters are typically changed on an annual basis. This is another inexpensive way to protect your mower’s engine for long-term use.
The literal spark that starts the engine comes from the spark plugs. Push mowers often will have one, while riding mowers will have two. Inspect spark plugs, ensuring the contacts are clean and free of scoring. Typically, spark plugs are changed every two years. Be sure to purchase the correct spark plug for your mower engine. The owner’s manual should have detailed instructions on the type and method for replacement of the spark plug including the spark plug gap measurement. Avoid cross-threading when installing a spark plug. Once properly threaded, make the final tightening using a spark plug socket wrench. Spark plug wrenches are cushioned with rubber padding to prevent damage when the spark plug is tightened properly.
Sharp mower blades are critical to the health of your lawn. Sharp blades cut grass. Dull blades bludgeon, rip, and tear grass blades leaving ragged wounds that are more difficult to heal. A lawn cut with a dull blade takes more energy to recover and offers a longer opportunity for disease to infect exposed tissues.
Before removing the blades of your mower be sure to disconnect the spark plug or for electric mowers remove the battery to prevent any accidental engagement of the blades. Brace the blade with a board, brick, or metal pipe and remove the bolt holding the blade in place.
Various tools can be used to sharpen mower blades such as a bench grinder, grinding stone, or a simple file. Many lawn service businesses also will sharpen blades. Commonly, hardware stores sell inexpensive mower blade sharpening kits. These kits often come with a cone-shaped balance that can ensure after sharpening and cleaning the blade is balanced. An unbalanced blade can create a slight wobble that causes strain on a mower and may result in an uneven cut.
When reinstalling the blade under the mower, use a torque wrench to tighten the bolt to the specifications listed in your mower’s user manual.
Cleaning the mower
It is important after mowing to clean off the mower. Grass clippings stuck to the bottom of the mower deck hold water causing the metal to rust and shortening the lifespan of the equipment. Use a leaf blower or air compressor to blow off clippings, dust, and debris. Lift the engine cover to blow off dust and clippings that have accumulated around the engine and battery. Be careful of wiring and hoses.
Some mowers are equipped with a port to hook up a garden hose to clean off underneath a mower deck. Follow your manual’s instructions for how to use this feature. Routinely inspect underneath the mower for accumulated clippings. Scrape this off using a putty knife. Whenever your hand goes near the blades always disconnect the spark plug for gas-powered or remove the battery for electric mowers.