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Annual tips for lawn mower maintenance

lawn mower maintenance

Gas-powered mower maintenance:

  • Clean your mower If the outside of the mower is dirty, heat can build up and wear out the parts too quickly. So you need to get rid of any built-up grass and dirt on the underside of the deck around the blade.

    To clean the underside, you need to turn the mower over, so you'll have to drain the fuel tank first. Disconnect the rubber hose from the tank to the engine and drain the gasoline into a bucket. Remove the spark plug or find a way to ground the plug wire. With a putty knife, scrape away any grass, being careful not to nick the undercarriage. Then you can wash it with a hose.

  • Sharpen the blade A dull blade tears rather than trims grass, so sharpen your blade. Loosen the bolt with a wrench; if it doesn't budge right away, spray WD-40 lubricating oil on it. Use a file or a bench grinder and follow the blade angle evenly along its length.

  • Replace the spark plug Replacing the spark plug is a good idea. Remove the wire and use a socket wrench designed to extricate plugs. Don't overtighten the new plug; reposition the wire.

  • Change the oil and filter Then change the oil and the filter, and clean the fuel tank. Take off the engine cover (screw removal usually), and vacuum out dust and dirt first. Remove the oil dipstick, tip the mower, and drain the oil. With the hose disconnected, lift the fuel tank; clean it by putting a little gas in and swooshing it around a bit, then disposing of the gas. The old air filter should easily slide off the carburetor fitting for replacement.

Electric mowers maintenance:

  • Clean your mower These motors also can burn out if they get too hot, so make sure air vents are free of grass and dirt. The best way is by removing the motor housing and blowing the stuff out with a shop vacuum.

  • Check the electrical cord
    Check the plug on the power cord. If the prongs are bent, straighten them with pliers. If a prong is loose or broken, you'll need to take the machine in for a new plug. Check the extension cord for cuts or abrasions. The cord connecting the switchbox on the handle to the motor can get pinched and tear. Tears in the casing can be wrapped with electrical tape; replace the cord if the wires inside have been cut.

  • Check brushes and replace if necessary Most electrical motors have two carbon blocks called brushes that wear down and need replacement. On most models, the brushes slide in and out for replacement. They should be changed if the brushes are longer than they are wide.

  • Check the blade For blade replacement or sharpening, follow the procedure listed for gas-powered models. Clean underneath the deck with a hose; allow some time for the deck to dry, though electric mowers, unlike toasters, are designed to operate in the rain.

  • Adjust your wheels Make sure the wheels are adjusted at the same height, or you'll get an irregular cut.

Reel mowers maintenance:

  • Check the blades and bearings Grass is cut by a spiral reel of blades as you push, but only grass that comes between the cutter bar and the reel. To make sure the cut is even across the cutter bar, insert a sheet of paper and turn the blades. If only part of the paper gets cut, adjust the bar (check the owner's manual), but don't overtighten. Regularly lubricate the mower's bearings and cutting edges.

    Reel blades tend to get dull quickly; if a local hardware store won't sharpen them, you can do it yourself. If the blades are not that bad, lapping compound should do the trick; a kit is probably available from the mower manufacturer. You remove one of the wheels and fit a hand crank on the axle. With a paint brush, apply the lapping compound evenly on the blades and the sharp edge of the cutting bar, cranking until the blades become sharper. If the blades are really dull, use an abrasive strip also available from the manufacturer.

If you have a gas-powered reel mower then follow the tips for gas-powered mowers.

stuart robinson
  • Stuart Robinson
  • Busselton, Australia
  • Email Me

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