Basic Mower Care

(Family Features) - Regular lawn mower maintenance is vital to keeping this tool running well. It's not difficult and can save time and money down the road.

Start the season off right. The beginning of lawn mowing season means it's time to get the mower out of hibernation. A few simple steps will get it in good working order.

  • Change the oil. Check the owner's manual to find out what kind of oil to use.
  • Replace the spark plug.
  • Replace fuel filter.
  • Replace air filter.
  • Fill with fresh gas.

When replacing spark plugs, air filters and fuel filters, take the old ones to your local dealer to help you find the right replacement part.

Clean it up. Cleaning the lawnmower deck not only helps machine performance, it can minimize the spread of lawn disease. Some lawn experts recommend cleaning the mower deck after every mow; others say a couple of times a season is sufficient. No matter how often you decide to do it, there are some guidelines to follow.

  • First, empty the gas tank and disconnect the spark plug wire. It's possible for the mower to start on its own when the blade gets turned, which can result in serious injury.
  • Rinse mower completely with a water hose from above. Aiming the hose at the side of the mower might get water into the air filter. Wash the outside with sudsy water and sponge. Rinse.
  • Turn the mower on its side and clean off any built-up grass with your hands or a putty knife. Wash the underside with soapy water, then gently rinse.
  • Let mower dry completely (about an hour).

Sharpen the blade. Nicked and cracked blades should be replaced. Dull blades should be sharpened, either by you or by a professional. Dull blades rip the grass, leaving it weaker and more susceptible to disease. To sharpen a blade:

  • Drain the gas and disconnect the spark plug.
  • Clamp a piece of wood to the deck to keep the blade from turning.
  • Turn the blade bolt counter clockwise to remove it. If there is resistance, apply some penetrating oil, wait 15 minutes and try again.
  • Remove the blade and mark the bottom side so you can put it back on correctly.
  • Clamp the blade in a bench vise and sharpen with a 10-inch mill file. Use long strokes and work from the center outward. Use the same number of strokes on each side and keep the same angle.
  • Balance the blade on a balance tool - it's an inexpensive pyramid-shaped tool that can be found in most hardware stores. If one side of the blade hangs lower than the other, grind off excess metal from the end of the blade - not from the part just sharpened.
  • Reinstall blade.

Taking these simple measures will make mowing easier and help your lawn look great.


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