Lawn mower maintenance
Preparing For A New Lawn Mowing Season
Spring brings with it the beginning of the growing season once more. For the next 9 months, we have to rely on our lawn mower to perform it's duties, providing us with a nicely manicured lawn.
After its winter rest, or sometimes after a winter workout, depending on our properties and lawn types, it's time to do a little maintenance to ensure another season of reliable use.
Always remove the spark plug lead before any lawn mower maintenance.
Always refer to the Owners Manual for correct measurements, quantities and routines for your specific lawn mower.
A Good Scrub
Lawn mowers need to be looked after too, and giving them a good scrub is the first place to start in this process. It gets rid of grime, to keep the machine looking respectable. It removes oil and dirt build ups around the engine and carburettor, and removes organic build ups around the cooling fins of the engine, preventing it from overheating. It also removes dirt and other crud from around wheel bearings and other moving parts. Cleaning underneath the base of the lawn mower provides a clean and unobstructed pathway for the lawn clippings to flow into the catcher, and removes any weed seeds from the previous season.
Cleaning Your Lawn Mower
First get some degreaser onto all the oily crud around the engine and anywhere else it's found, let it soak in for a few minutes, and hose off. Repeat if necessary.
A dustpan and brush set can usually be picked up quite cheaply these days, and the soft bristled brush is a good cleaning tool for the lawn mower. without being too harsh. The bristles get into a lot of tight spots, and removes the grime a little easier.
In most cases a dishwashing detergent is enough when making a bucket of soapy water. If it's not working well enough, grab some powdered laundry detergent and dip the brush into it, then scrub the mower.
Do not use car wash products, which are made to be gentle to a cars paint work, we need heavy duty grime removal here.
Lawn Mower Air Filter
Filters prevent dust entering the engine
Remove the lawn mower air filter, and clean it well. A paper air filter can usually only be cleaned by tapping it against a hard surface. Usually a foam air filter can be cleaned by soaking in engine oil, and wringing out the excess. Always check your lawn mower owners manual for correct instructions as similar products can have different cleaning methods.
If in doubt, or if the lawn mower's air filter is quite dirty, replace it.
The filter is the guardian keeping fine dust and contaminants out of the lawn mower engine, and ensuring the long life of the engine. Most air filters for residential grade lawn mowers are inexpensive, and by trying to save a few dollars and not replacing them regularly it can in fact cut years off the life of a mower’s engine.
Lawn Mower Oil Change
Regular mower oil changes
extend engine life
An oil change is essential to long engine life in our lawn mowers.
Over time, the engine will gradually break down very fine particles from it's metal parts, the oil circulates these, gradually wearing out the moving parts inside the engine. Also, as oil begins to degrade with use and over time, its protection for the lawn mower's engine also degrades. A regular oil change will help ensure reliable and long engine life.
Many lawn mowers don't have a convenient plug or screw in which to drain oil, and if it does, it's usually too difficult to reach to be of use.
If your lawn mower has an easy to use oil drain plug - then use that, otherwise for mowers with difficult oil plugs, try the next step instead.
In most cases, the easiest way to drain the oil is to remove the cap from the oil filling spout, and tip the lawn mower over on it's side. Remember, oil flows easier when it's warm, so draining oil after running the engine for a minute can be a good idea.
Always refer to your lawn mower owners manual to ensure you you the correct grade of oil.
Lawn Mower Spark Plug
Lawn mower park plug
A spark plug in a lawn mower can go a couple of years without being replaced, but it is a far better practice to include its replacement as part of our Spring lawn mower maintenance routine. That way we never forget, and our lawn mowers always remain in peak working condition, extending its life.
Simply remove the old spark plug. Refer to your lawn mower's owners manual to ensure the gap on the new plug is correct, and rub some engine oil around its thread, before inserting it into place. Remember not to over tighten. The oil on the thread will ensure easier removal next year, and help prevent any seizing into place.
If you have chosen not to replace your lawn mower's spark plug this year, then it is a good idea to check and clean it.
Remove the plug, clean its electrodes with some degreaser and a mini wire brush or a fine piece of sandpaper. Check its gap, oil its thread and place it back into it's place.
Never clean grime from around the spark plug area when there is no spark plug in place. There is a great risk of grime, grease and dirt entering the lawn mower engine. If this crud enters the engine it can cause massive damage almost instantly.
Sharp Lawn Mower Blades
Now that we've got our lawn mower in good working order for the season, there's one last thing to do, make sure our lawn mower blades are sharp.
For most lawn mowers these days, the blades are made to be cheap to replace, in the majority of cases, all that needs to be done is to replace the blades. When buying a new set of lawn mower blades, make sure you also purchase the bolts and Nyloc nuts at the same time. For most domestic mowers, these are usually included in kits with the blades. The nuts and blots should be replaced to ensure they stay in place, and don't fly off causing damage to property or injury to people.
If you have a single blade mower, then the blade should be removed and filed to sharpness, or taken to a lawn mower shop to be sharpened.
And that's it. We're ready for another lawn mowing and lawn care season.