Useful Tips on Home Related Matters, Part 3
It is spring and time to do a little maintenance on that lawnmower, rototiller or any sort of lawn and garden equipment that you might have. People seem to think that it is best to do this in the spring, but I have found that it is better to do at the end of the season. That way, when you drag out what you need WHEN you need it, everything is all ready to go. But, just in case you weren’t able to do that last fall, we’ll get you on track for the future.
Changing Oil? Not Hard at All
Before you get started, disconnect the spark plug. You might not need to replace it this year, I change mine every other year. If you still have your owner’s manual, grab it, and if you don’t know where the drain plug is, you can look for it there. If you don’t have the manual, then check for it under the cutting deck or the engine. Put a drain pan below the plug and remove the plug (remember the old saying: rightie tightie, leftie loosie. It’s just like opening or closing a jar. It will take the oil a little time to drain. Replace the drain plug and add the proper amount of oil. Make sure that you get the correct type of oil for your equipment. Don’t use the same kind of oil that you use for your car. Also, recycle the old oil, as it is better for the environment. Service stations will take your used oil.
Filter and Spark Plug? It's a Snap!
Sometimes all you need to do is clean your air filter by tapping out the debris, but if the filter is too dirty, replace it. Make sure that you install the new filter the same way that you removed the old one.
Remove the spark plug and replace it with a new one if it has seen about 50 hours of use. It will need to be properly gapped, so check the owner’s manual for the gapping info. Do not overtighten the plug and break it. Just make sure that it is tight enough not to come loose with engine vibration.
Sharpen the Blade and Lubricate Cables? Easy!
Take a look at the blade and see if it needs to be sharpened, which it well might. If it is old and rusted with a lot of deep dings, it may need to be replaced. Remove the blade, and either sharpen with a flat hand file, or use a grinder, but be sure that you retain the same angle on the blade. When you use the hand file, do the sharpening on the forward stroke only. If you use a backward stroke, you will ruin the file and dull the blade.
Use spray graphite for cable, control box and friction point lubrication. A stuck control cable will keep the engine from starting.
Tune Up Kits for Mowers
Use Good Gasoline
Gasoline begins to deteriorate after a couple of weeks, and will leave varnish residue in your engine and in the gas lines. To prevent fuel deterioration, use a fuel stabilizer any time you plan to store the equipment for a few weeks or more. Effective fuel stabilizers such as Sta-Bil, Sea Foam and those offered by Craftsman and Briggs & Stratton can keep fuel fresh for a year or more and will go a long way toward ensuring that the engine will fire up on the first pull.
Last week I got an e-mail asking how to replace those screens with holes. No-See-Um's, gnats, and flies can get through some pretty tiny holes. For just a couple of those, use a piece of duct tape, don't waste your money.
If you have larger holes or tears, definitely replace those screens. Before you get started, make sure that you have the correct width of screen(measure your windows and make certain that they are the same width), spline(what holds the screen in place around the edges of the frame), a spline tool(looks like a pizza cutter on both ends), a jack knife, and a pair of scissors. Remove a short piece of spline from the frame and take it to the home center or the hardware store and match up the size that you need to put in new screen. Don't use the old spline, as it is out of shape and may be cracked due to age.
Having done these repairs alone, I've found it best to remove a section of spline(partially on one side) at a time from the screen by just pulling back on it. Cut a piece of replacement screen with a 1" overlap around each edge beyond the frame to allow yourself some room. Keep it as straight as possible and slightly taut. If you pull it too tight, you could tear this nylon screen. Use the new spline and choose the correct side of the spline tool, which has different sizes, to roll the spline into the recessed area on the screen over the new screen. Take your time, keep the screen straight, as it can walk on you. Keep pulling away the old spline and replacing it with new. Go around the frame, removing and replacing spline, until you get the hang of it and can keep the screen slightly taut while you work. Just don't get too carried away with your first few and try to move too fast until you get the right feel for it. When you're finished with your first screen, you can either use the knife or the scissors to cut off the left over screen on the edges.
Now wasn't that easy? You just saved yourself $7 to $10 per window, minus the cost of the supplies. AND you learned a new way to be self sufficient.