How to Destroy Your Lawn Mower
Lawn mower maintenance may seem daunting, but it's actually quite easy. With some routine mower maintenance, your lawn mower will stay in tiptop shape, and your yard will continue to look picture-perfect.
Lawn mower maintenance tips
Of course, if you're already tired of constantly mowing the lawn, here are some easy ways to destroy your lawn mower and free up some extra time this summer:
- Neglect the Air Filter - A lawn mower's air filter catches dirt that would otherwise find its way into the engine. As dirt accumulates in the air filter, it keeps oxygen from reaching the engine. Without adequate oxygen for internal combustion, the engine sputters and coughs. Replace or clean your air filter once a year or after every 100 hours of operation, whichever comes first. Service your filter more often if you mow in dusty conditions - like using your lawn mower to mulch dry leaves.
- Skip the Oil Change - Passing on an oil change leaves grit in the dirty oil that grinds on moving parts in the engine, shortening its life. Being low on oil can lead to low compression or burn out the engine completely. Change the oil every three months or after 25 hours of lawn mower use, whichever comes first.
- Ignore the Spark Plug - An old or improperly gapped spark plug makes the engine run rough. A wet or corroded plug won't start the engine at all. Check the spark plug after every 50 hours of operation and replace it once a year.
- Let Clippings Cake - Clippings and dirt that collect on the lawn mower can block cooling fins and the air intake screen, making the engine overheat. Moist debris, and even dry grass clippings, can trigger corrosion and rust. After mowing, let the lawn mower cool until it's safe to touch and then use a piece of wood to scrape debris from under the deck. Gently brush clippings off the top of the lawn mower.
- Use Old Fuel - Gasoline that sits in the lawn mower over the winter collects moisture. So does gasoline that sits in a gas can for months, especially if that gasoline contains ethanol. Water prevents the engine from starting because your lawn mower's engine can't burn water. Keep moisture from reacting with gasoline by adding fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank or gas can. Follow the mix ratio on the stabilizer label and run the lawn mower for at least 10 minutes before storing it for the winter.
- Disregard Vibrations - An imbalanced blade (one that was sharpened unevenly) makes a lawn mower shake. So does a bent blade or a loose blade. An imbalanced blade could break or cut loose from the lawn mower when rotating at a high speed - a dangerous situation. Test the blade's balance by hanging it horizontally on a nail. If one side dips, shave metal from that side until the blade balances. Regularly check that the blade is tightly bolted to the lawn mower, and replace the blade if it's bent or has a chip that sharpening can't remove.
You can save your lawn mower from destruction by tuning it up once a year and keeping up with routine mower maintenance. It doesn't take long, and it can help prevent most problems that shorten the life of your lawn mower.
Lawn care tips
Now that you know how to keep your lawn mower in good shape, here are a few quick lawn care tips to keep your lawn looking great this summer:
- Don't Cut Wet Grass - Aside from clogging the lawn mower and leaving clumps of wet grass all over the yard, wet grass doesn't cut easily. It tears, just as it does with a dull blade.
- Set the Cutting Height - Keep the cutting height to at least 1 1/2 inch. Taller grass holds moisture better and allows the root system to "grab hold" of the soil better, which means a healthier lawn.
- Mow in Different Directions - Don't mow in the same direction every time. For example, one week mow north to south. The next week, mow east to west. This prevents ruts from forming in the yard and lets the grass grow thicker.
- Use the Mulching Feature - For the first and last cut of the season, use a grass catcher. The rest of the mowing season, use the mulching feature to reduce yard waste and add nutrients back into the yard.