7 ways to keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape

A quality lawn mower can last for years. When well-maintained, it may even last for decades. Here are seven foolproof ways to prolong the life of your mower by keeping it in tip-top shape to help ensure summer after summer of trouble-free service.

7 ways to keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape

1. Clear the lawn

Before you begin to mow, check the lawn for stones, tools, branches or other objects.

  • Running over a toy can turn it into a missile. Running over a root or stone can severely damage your mowing machine by, for example, nicking the blade, dinging the deck or even causing the engine to jam.
  • What's more, if these types of items rocket out from underneath your mower, they can be potentially dangerous if they hit a person or pet.

2. Clean after each use

Clean your mower after each use. It takes just a few minutes.

To clean push mowers
Keep a wire brush handy for the task.

To clean  gas-powered or electric mowers
Similarly, you can also use a stiff wire brush. However, a blast from your garden hose under the mower's deck will do the trick.

Before you clean your mower
Safety is the most important consideration when cleaning your mower.

  • Always disconnect the spark plug of a gas-powered mower before your begin cleaning. You should also wait until the engine is cool. Moreover, it's best to avoid getting the engine or spark plug soaking wet.
  • For electric mowers, it goes without saying that you must unplug it before cleaning. If it has a rechargeable battery pack, disconnect and remove the battery pack completely. What's more, allow the engine to cool down before working on the mower.

If cleaning your mower with a hose, ensure the mower's engine has cooled off and isn't hot. Cold water on a hot engine block may crack it due to the sudden change in temperature. In addition, hot engine parts may cause burns if you accidentally touch them.

  • If you forget to clean your mower once or twice, you may need a scraper to loosen the dried accumulations.

3. Keep the engine block clean

To prevent the engine from overheating and becoming damaged, use a long-bristle brush or stick to clear debris that has been caught between the engine's cooling fins after each use.

  • An old toothbrush work well to get into tight corners.

4. Clean and lubricate regularly

Keep the engine housing and all mechanical connections clean. A rag and an old toothbrush simplify this task.

  • Lubricate cables where they enter and exit cable sheathing to keep them from getting stuck and breaking.

5. Change the oil!

Change oil according to your manual or after every 25 hours of use. You'd be surprised how many people overlook this simple procedure.

  • To get to the oil drain plug that's usually located under the mower's deck, prop your mower on concrete blocks. Catch the dirty oil in an oil pan so that you can take it to your local recycling centre. If your engine has an oil filter, change that as well.
  • Before changing the oil, ensure the motor isn't hot. Otherwise, the oil that comes out of the crankcase could potentially be hot enough to scald unprotected skin.

6. Change or clean the air filter

Change or clean the air filter according to the instructions in your owner's manual.

  • Simply replace a paper filter with a new one; clean the filter housing and insert the filter, pleat-side up.
  • If your filter is foam, soak the new filter in oil and squeeze out excess with a rag before inserting it.
  • If the weather has been especially dry and dusty, you may want to change your filter more frequently. The owner's manual can provide more details.

7. Siphon the gas when storing

When you put away your mower or lawn tractor for the winter (or your snowblower for the summer), siphon out most of the fuel and then run the equipment until the tank is dry.

  • You can use the leftover gasoline that you siphon out in your car as long as it has not been mixed with oil.
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