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Mower Maintenance and Mowing Guide

Mower Maintenance and Mowing Guide

This article is a supplement to the Early Spring Lawn Care Tips article that On The Level Home Inspections posted the other day. Just like doing some work early in the season to help attain that desirable lawn, the same goes for mower maintenance. The last thing you will want to deal with during the dog days of summer is fighting to get your mower to start and run efficiently. These simple and relatively easy to do tips will help your mowing season be a little smoother. If you’re not too handy and don’t want to be bothered with a DIY tune-up, bring your mower to a professional. If you want to take the challenge on, you will want to find your owner’s manual (to locate the specific components, replacement part numbers, etc.) and some basic tools.  

1.     Gas. Always start with fresh gas. I cannot emphasis this enough. If you didn’t empty out the gas tank last fall, do it now. It has been my experience that most starting issues are mostly related to the fuel supply. In addition to fresh gas, I also suggest using a gas stabilizer. I personally use Marvel’s Mystery Oil, but any gas stabilizer product should do fine. Just follow the manufactures’ recommend dosing amounts. The stabilizer products will not only keep the gas in your gas can fresh, it will help prevent the carburetor, fuel lines, and filter from developing the varnish from the additives that are put into the gas nowadays. Also, if your mower has a fuel filter, follow the manufactures’ instructions for replacement.  

2.     Oil Change.  Regularly changing the engine oil will help keep your mower running for years to come. Locate the oil tank and the drain plug. Tilt the mower and block and stabilize as needed to allow the oil to drain out. Place an oil pan or other suitable container under the drain plug. Using the proper size wrench, turn the plug counter clockwise until the oil begins to drain. You may need to reposition the drain pan at this time. Completely remove the drain plug and allow all of the old oil to drain out. Please remember to properly discard the used engine oil. After all the old oil is drained out, replace the drain plug. Do not over tighten the plug or you will have a difficult time next year when you need to change the oil. If your mower has an oil filter, replace it before adding the new oil. Remember to lightly coat the rubber seal with a little bit of new oil. As with the drain plug, do not over tighten the oil filter. Fill the oil tank with the recommended type and amount of engine oil.

3.     Spark Plug. Locate the spark plug and disconnect the spark plug wire by grasping the boot (closest part to the spark plug) and gently twist and pull off. Using the proper size spark plug socket, remove the old spark plug. Refer to your owner’s manual for the proper gap size. Check the gap of the new spark plug and adjust accordingly. Install the new spark plug and replace the spark plug wire.

4.     Air Filter. There are 2 types of air filters. Paper and foam. Locate the air filter housing and remove the cover. Inspect the air filter for its overall condition. If you have a paper filter and it’s not too dirty, simply clean the filter with compressed air (air in a can) and re-install. If it is dirty you are probably better off to just replace it. If you have a foam filter you can clean it up if it isn’t ripped or torn. Simply wash it using warm soapy water. Dry thoroughly, and lightly coat it with some new engine oil. Re-install and replace the housing cover.

5.     Mower Blade. This is often overlooked. A dull and damage mower blade will not help give you that sharp, nicely cut look you will want. If you haven’t changed or sharpened your mower’s blade lately, now is a good time to do so. Tilt the mower and block and stabilize as needed to get to the cutting blade. Most of the bolts securing the mower blade are a left handed thread. Using the proper size wrench/socket, remove the bolt by turning it clockwise. Inspect the overall condition of the blade. If it isn’t too damaged with nicks and dings you can have the blade professionally sharpened at most hardware stores. If it is however damaged, replacing the blade altogether is your best bet.  

6.     Mowing Strategy. Most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to mow our lawns using the same pattern over and over. Not only does this get us into a rut, but puts our lawns into a rut, literally. When the mower wheels run over the same section of ground again and again, you will develop ruts. Additionally, the grass blades will be conditioned to being bent in 1 direction, never learning to grow straight up. So switch up your mowing pattern every other cut and see the difference. Lastly, remember not to cut the grass too short. The general rule of thumb is to cut only the top third of the grass blade. This helps encourage the roots to grow strong.

We at On The Level Home Inspections hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact us via email, or call us at 609-607-0485 if you have any questions. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future articles, we welcome your suggestions.

John Harashinski

On The Level Home Inspections





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Last Updated  04.03.2013