Lawnmower Maintenance: How to Keep Your Lawnmower Working Like New

Lawnmowers are not cheap, and neither is the cost of repairing them. The good thing is that there is a lot you can do to keep your lawnmower in perfect condition, protecting your investment and resulting in a healthier lawn. These tasks are inexpensive (often free) and won't take much time. If you do them regularly, you will extend the life of your mower and make sure that it works perfectly, each and every time you need it.

Lawnmower Maintenance Task #1: Sharpen the Mower Blade

This is probably the task that intimidates people most. You can take your mower to a shop to be serviced, which includes having the blade sharpened, but it is so easy to do it yourself. It is simple to do:

1. Unplug the spark plug. This is usually very easy to locate. On many models, it's on the front of the engine, but sometimes it's on the side. This is absolutely necessary, as it will prevent the mower from accidentally starting while you're fiddling with the blade.

2. Tip the mower onto its side, and, using a wrench or socket wrench, loosen the nut that holds the blade on.

3. Pull the blade off, and secure it in a bench vise.

4. Use a file to sharpen one side of the blade. Simply follow the original angle of the blade, smoothing out any nicks as you go.

5. Flip the blade over and do the other end.

6. Make sure your blade is balanced. The cheapest, easiest way to do this is to pound a nail into the wall of the garage, or into the side of a workbench, and hang the mower blade on it by the hole in the center of the blade. If the blade rests level on the nail, you know both sides are balanced. If one side dips lower than the other, than it is unbalanced. Go back to the vice, and use the file on the end that sank lower, since that is the side material needs to be removed from to make it perfectly balanced. Do this until it rests level on the nail.

7. Install the blade back on the mower.

8. Plug in the spark plug, and you're done.

Besides making your mower work more efficiently, a sharp blade also results in healthier grass, because it cuts, rather than tears, the grass. Tears can help introduce diseases into the lawn, while sharp, clean cuts guard against them.

Lawnmower Maintenance Task #2: Clean the Mower Deck

Clumps of grass can stick to the underside of the mower deck, eventually resulting in rust. To clean this grass off, unplug the spark plug and flip the mower on its side. Use a plastic or metal spatula or putty knife to remove large clumps of grass, and a stiff brush to clean the rest of it. Wash the underside of the mower with a strong blast of water from the hose. Dry it off completely, then coat everything with a light coat of nonstick cooking spray. This will help prevent grass from sticking so easily in the future.

Lawnmower Maintenance Task #3: Clean the Air Filter

Find the place on the mower where the air filter is located. Sometimes, you have to remove a screw to get to the air filter. Wash it gently with soap and water, and rinse thoroughly. Set it out in the sun to dry, and once it is completely dry, install it back in the mower.

Lawnmower Maintenance Task #4: Fluid Maintenance

The mower works best with yearly oil changes. Simply turn the mower over to drain all of the old oil out (catch it in a container, and dispose of it as your municipality instructs you to). Pour new oil in, and you're all set.

In addition, you should never store the mower for long periods of time with gas in the gas tank. The best thing to do is, after the last mow in autumn, let all of the gas run out by keeping the mower running until it stops.

With these tasks, your mower will stay in top condition.

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