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How to Service Your Lawn Mower

With warmer weather on the way and the grass greening up from dormancy, it’s time to get that lawn mower up and running again. Having been stored away for the winter months, your mower needs a little TLC before use to be certain it’s in optimal, working condition. Regardless of what type of mower you use, some essential maintenance tasks will help ensure a successful, problem-free first haircut for your lawn this spring.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist:

  • Clean: Perhaps you’ve already cleaned your mower when you put it up for the winter. If not, use protective gloves and remove any debris including leaves and old grass that collected in the undercarriage around the blades. Refrain from using anything sharp for this task as you don’t want to scratch and promote rust development.
  • Spark Plugs: Removing your spark plugs is a good first step for extra safety precaution. Spark plugs serve a vital function in the ignition process of your mower. It’s important to maintain them yearly. Remove the spark plugs using a plug socket and clean any debris using a wire brush and specific plug cleaner. Replace your spark plugs if you notice any signs of rust or corrosion.
  • Oil Change: Replacing your oil annually can prolong the life of your mower by helping your engine perform at its best. It’s a fairly simple task too. Just put a container below the drain plug, remove the plug and drain the used oil. Then refill with fresh oil, replace the plug and dispose of the old appropriately. Your trash company may offer pickup, or you may take it to your local landfill for proper disposal. You can also check with an auto parts store for oil disposal.
  • Gasoline: Leaving unused gas in your mower may pose a problem when you’re trying to start it. Hopefully, you’ve run the gas tank dry or if there is gas still left in the tank, you can siphon it out. Unused gas left in the tank can clog up the carburetor and invite rust. Be sure the tank is completely empty, add fresh gas and get mowing!
  • Air Filter: Annual replacement of your air filter is another way to help your mower run longer and more efficiently. A dirty air filter can cause gas to burn wastefully. Filters are cheap and typically easily accessible, making this task a no brainer. Find the correct filter for your mower type: replace paper filters with new ones or if your mower has a sponge filter, clean it and air dry it before putting it back on.
  • Belts: Now is a great time to evaluate the condition of your belts. Turn your mower to its side and determine if they need to be replaced. Trade out any rotted, loose or cracked belts for new ones that will help you get the most out of your machine.
  • Tires: It’s no surprise that over the years, your tires can begin to show wear. Sometimes tires and wheels need repair or replacement as a result of worn tread or bushings, or broken hubcaps. Check them over for signs of deterioration or punctures, and repair or replace as needed. If you use a ride-on mower, check the tire pressure and adjust accordingly. Keeping your tires in good condition will help maintain proper traction and reduce turf damage.
  • Blades:
    • Sharpen- Remove your mower blades and wipe them down to assess their condition. If they have any chips or breaks in them they will need to be replaced. Otherwise, use a metal file to sharpen them, or have it done at a local hardware store or lawn mower repair shop.
    • Height– Once you’ve given your mower a good tune-up and tightened back all the screws and bolts, be sure to check that the height of the blades is about one inch high. Any lower and you risk tearing, scalping or damaging your grass.

These lawn mower maintenance tasks don’t take a lot of time or effort, and there are even tune-up kits available to help streamline the process. If you can’t invest the time, take it to a lawn mower repair shop and have them do the dirty work for you. Being proactive with your maintenance will help prevent problems during the mowing season when you can’t afford to be without a lawn mower. Take care of your main lawn care tool and it will take care of you, and your lawn, for months to come.

photo credit: Grass Clippings Flying via photopin (license)