How to Maintain a Lawn Mower
There's nothing better than the smell of freshly mown grass.
When Edwin Beard Budding invented the lawn mower in 1830, he gave all homeowners the chance to create their own, neatly cut lawns.
Of course, the lawn mowers used today are far more technical that his initial device, and require a little bit more care.
Today's mowers, with their roaring engines, are sort of a car. Price wise, they're a pretty big investment, but the better you look after yours, the longer it will last. Read this article to learn more about how they work.
Let's take a look at how to keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape:
Read the manual
While it might not be an entertaining read, lawn mower repair company Hitch City point out that your user manual is your best guide to keeping your specific mower in great condition.
Your user manual is bound to be full of useful information for maintaining your mower, from the people who know it best: the company that built it.
Keep the spark alive
Before you do any work on your lawn mower, you'll need to first kill the spark by removing the spark plug.
This way there is no chance of your mower magically coming to life and chopping off your fingers while you're busy.
But while you're there, you'll need to replace the spark plug annually anyway.
Florida Gardener suggests changing your spark plugs after every 100 hours of using your lawn mower.
Your spark plug specifications are likely to be included in your user manual, but you could also just take it with you to the store to make sure you buy the correct one.
According to Home Depot, once you've disconnected the spark plug wire, you can remove your existing spark plug with a pair of pliers or a wrench.
Fill 'er up
In an article for HGTV, writer Felder Rushing explains that modern blended gasoline can go bad pretty quickly thanks to the addition of ethanol which separates from the gasoline and causes havoc if it gets stuck in your carburetor.
Rushing suggests emptying your mower's gas tank in the fall and running it dry. In Spring you can fill it up with fresh gas. Try to find gas with as few additives as possible.
Like a car, you'll also need to change the oil regularly, but Rushing says once a season should be enough.
If your lawn mower has an oil drain, this should be fairly easy to do. If not, you'll have to drain the oil through the fill tube, by turning the mower on its side.
Make sure to have a draining pan or container handy before you start, to collect the used oil. Make sure you get rid of responsibly instead of just throwing it in the garbage or down the drain.
Huffington Post says most auto body shops will be able to do this for you, but you'll probably pay a small fee.
Call in Mr. Clean
Like most tools, a good clean goes a long way when it comes to the life of your lawn mower.
In an article for Angie's List, Mike LaFollette says your first point of call should be checking your lawn mower's undercarriage. That's where cut grass is likely to get caked up and interfere with the discharge chute.
To clean it, simply brush the area off with a wire brush, before using a hose on the leftover grass.
Home Depot add that you can also use a brush or a rag to clean the top of your mower and your blades.
While you're cleaning, you might also want to inspect your air filters.
As Huffington Post points out, air filters routinely get clogged with oil and debris which means your engine can't perform properly.
For older models, you may need to replace the filter completely but some mowers come with plastic foam filters that can be washed with warm, soapy water and reused.
Reusable filters should be allowed to air-dry and should be coated lightly with motor oil before being refitted onto you mower.
Either way, air filters are usually inexpensive and most pros recommend replacing them annually.
Sharp blades make all the difference when you're looking for a crisp, clean cut.
A blunt blade not only causes your mower to use more fuel but also shreds the top of grass blades, giving your lawn a shaggy look and turning your grass brown.
All About Lawns suggest sharpening your lawn mower blades once a month when you're using it regularly.
You can either do it yourself with a metal file or bench grinder, or you can take it to a professional to sharpen.
If you've hit some sharp or hard objects with your mower, you'll need to replace your blade completely, but since replacement blades aren't too expensive, you can consider doing so once a year, to save yourself the hassle of sharpening your existing one.
Call in the professionals
If you want to get the most out of your mower, it may be worth considering taking it for a professional "tune-up" once in a while.
Mike LaFollette writes that a lawn mower repair shop with do all the basics for you and run a few diagnostic tests on your machine.
It will cost you only a few dollars more than doing it yourself, but you'll save time and be sure that your mower has been serviced properly.
LaFollette suggests taking it in before the mowing season starts, for a quick turn around time.
The last word on lawn mower maintenance
Regular and thorough maintenance can ensure that your lawn mower provides you with many years of service. Storing them away for the season will also add years to its life.