First Try To Prevent Lawn Mower Problems
A good mulching lawn mower is going to cost from $400 to $600. That is an expenditure that we feel deserves some ongoing maintenance followup. You don’t have to go nuts with this maintenance stuff, but here are what we feel are fairly important issues to consider.
Suggested Annual Maintenance Cycle For Yardeners
October or November
All small gas engines MUST be drained each fall after the mowing season or you are unlikely to be able to start your engine in the spring; The best technique is to run your mower dry after that last mowing job. If you have to drain the tank, put the old gas into your car’s gas tank; it will not hurt the car and that is good environmental approach to dealing with waste gas.
December or January
All the spring tasks described below can be done by you or by a lawn mower repair shop. If you plan to take your mower to the shop, do it in these two months when there is less pressure on the time available in the shop. In the spring you might have to wait three or four weeks to get this spring maintenance work done.
February or March
Oil Change - The companies making lawn mower engines recommend changing the oil in your engine every spring. It is not a difficult job. If you let it go to every two years, the engine will be fine, but don't wait any longer to change your engine's oil.
Air Filter - Air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Keep a spare handy and replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually you should replace the filter every two years. This example may or may not fit your mower.
Mower Blade - We recommend that you replace the lawn mower blade every year or at the very least every two to three years; every year is better. This blade probably does not fit your mower, but you can see what one looks like.
During The Mowing Season
Add Fresh Gas - When you give your mower its spring supply of gas, do not forget to add gas stabilizer to the tank or to the container holding the gas.
Cleaning Underside of Mower - If you have recently mowed wet grass, and
as a matter of routine you never clean the underside of your mower, you can get an accumulation of old grass clippings adhered to the under surface of the mower. Sometimes that accumulation can get serious enough to impeded the movement of the blade when you are trying to start the engine. It is wise to keep the under carriage of the lawn mower relatively free of accumulated debris throughout the season. A paint scraper is a good tool for this job.
Avoid Gasoline Problems
Gas Left In Machine Over Winter or Gas is Just Bad
Not too long ago the mantra was to empty the gas tank in the fall when the mowing season was over. That is no longer the position of the small engine experts.
All small gas engines need to have some gas left in the tank in the fall after the mowing season. The logic is that there are gaskets between the gas tank the the rest of the engine. Those gaskets will dry out if there is no gas in the tank.
The rule that you should still use gas stabilizer at all times still stands.
Carburetor Is Gummed Up
If you left gas in the engine all winter, the chances are good that the carburetor has become clogged with gummy staff resulting from the evaporation of that old gas. Unless you are skilled and experienced in repairing small gasoline engines, this is a job for the professional. Take you mower to your local mower repair shop to fix this problem.
Air Filter Needs Replacing
Most lawn mower engines have a single paper filter element. The filter provides engine protection, but when closgged, it prevents the engine from breathing. Air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Keep a spare handy and replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually you should replace the filter every two years.
Spark Plug Needs Replacing
The engine needs a spark from the spark plug to start; no spark, no start. Spark plugs wear out. They often need replacing due to using stale fuel in your mower. Blocked air filters and oil filters can affect the performance of the spark plug. It is wise to replace the spark plug as a matter of course every season. On most mowers, it is not a difficult job. You just need the right tool to grab on to the plug to twist it out of its socket. Not all spark plugs are alike so check the owner’s manual for the plug specs for your mower.
Underside Filled With Grass Clippings
If you have recently mowed wet grass, and as a matter of routine you never clean the underside of your mower, you can get an accumulation of old grass clippings adhered to the under surface of the mower. Sometimes that accumulation can get serious enough to impeded the movement of the blade when you are trying to start the engine.
It is wise to keep the under carriage of the lawn mower relatively free of accumulated debris throughout the season. A paint scraper is a good tool for this job. You can buy a Mowermate® Cleaning Tool from QVC which is pictured here.
Mower Blade Gets Dull
Healthy Grass Needs Sharp Mower Blade
If after you have mowed your lawn, the mowed lawn does not look wonderful – grass is cut unevenly and maybe there are clumps of grass sitting on top of the turf. If the grass is wet, that is normal; you should avoid cutting grass when it is wet – it is tough on the engine and it never looks terrific. If the grass is relatively dry and you have problems, then it is likely that you have a dull mower blade.
For most yardeners we recommend that you replace the lawn mower blade every year or at the very least every two years. It turns out that the mulching mower blades of today have functions for both sides of the blade – one side lifts the grass, while the other side cuts it. The “Lift” side of the blade wears out just like the cutting edge. The blade’s cutting side can be sharp, while the lift side is worn, thus affecting the quality of cut.
If you are handy with tools and prefer to sharpen the blade yourself, a good tool is from the Dremel Company. You can sharpen the entire cutting surface of your lawn mower blade in minutes with this easy-to-use attachment. It provides the optimum angle to sharpen most walk-behind rotary lawn mower blades for a healthy, beautiful lawn. Other garden tools such as shovels, shears, hoes, and axes will also gain a new lease on life.
- Easily screws on to your rotary tool in place of the tool's housing cup.
- Sharpens to the perfect angle.
- Long-wearing nylon material.
- Comfortable ergonomic design.
- Recessed thumb grips for comfort and safety.
- Sharpening attachment
- One Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone: #932
NOTE: Dremel rotary tool sold separately