Yearly maintenance tips to make garden power tools last

July 29, 2015

Match the dollar investment you've made in your garden equipment with a few hours of maintenance every year, and you won't be frustrated by equipment that won't go when you need it to.

Yearly maintenance tips to make garden power tools last

Storing gasoline-powered equipment

  • Don't store gasoline-powered garden equipment in sunlight — even from a window.
  • Repeated warming and cooling of the metal parts can cause water condensation inside the machine, which can lead to mechanical problems.
  • The best storage place is cool and shaded. Barring that, toss a tarp over your machine.

Storing rubber-tired equipment

  • Moisture, heat, and sunlight can damage rubber. Store power equipment with rubber tires in a dry, cool place, away from sunlight.
  • Place blocks under the equipment to raise it off the floor to promote air circulation around the tires and to prevent damage from moisture.
  • If storing equipment outdoors, protect tires with a tarp and raise them off the ground.
  • Do not store equipment where the tires will rest on heat-absorbent or reflective surfaces, such as asphalt, packed snow, or sand.

Add life to your mower blade

  • Sharpen your mower blade regularly.
  • Be sure to retain the same cutting-edge angle as the manufacturer (usually 30 degrees) and to remove equal amounts of metal from both sides of the blade.
  • Check for blade balance by resting the blade's center on a dowel or marble.

Keep old chainsaw blades

It's a shame to dull a nice sharp chainsaw chain by using it to cut tree roots or for demolition work. Keep your old chains handy for such occasions.

Keep cables lubricated

  • Many controls on outdoor power equipment are operated with cables that are not unlike bicycle cables.
  • Take precautions against snapped cables by occasionally putting a drop or two of oil at the points at which the cable enters or exits the cable sheathing.

Prevent trigger burnout

  • Triggers and on-off switches in general are a frequent cause of an electric tool's demise.
  • To avoid switch problems, avoid turning off a tool while the motor is working hard. This may cause arcing that can damage the switch's contacts.
  • Instead, allow the tool to run a few seconds with no load and then switch off the tool.

Maintain brushes on electric tools

  • For homeowners who enjoy doing their own gardening chores, buying professional-quality tools is often a wise choice.
  • They will last much longer, perform better, and make chores go quicker.
  • In addition to costing more than homeowner-grade equipment, these tools will eventually require maintenance and service to keep them in top shape.
  • Pro-quality electric tools, such as hedge trimmers, chain saws, and mowers, for example, have replaceable motor brushes.
  • These carbon-block contacts press against the motor's armature and deliver current to the motor's electromagnets.
  • If they wear too thin, the motor will run poorly or stop altogether. Replace them according to the instructions and schedule in your owner's manual.

Find your grease fittings

  • Even in this age of sealed self-lubricating joints, many riding mowers, garden tractors, snowblowers, tillers, and other outdoor power equipment require a regular squirt of grease to keep running smoothly.
  • Check your owner's manual, and seek out the grease fittings (small metal nipples).
  • Purchase a grease gun with a flexible hose to make the job easier.

Don't tip your mower over

  • When cleaning or maintaining your lawn mower, don't tip it onto its side or you will risk contaminating the oil filter with fuel or oil.
  • Tilt the machine over only enough to get beneath it with a hose or scraper.
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