How to Properly Maintain a Lawn Mower
The heat is rising, the sun is shining, and the grass is
growing...and growing, and growing. Summertime mowing can feel like a full-time
job, and if your lawn mower isn’t in top condition, that job can feel like a
real drag. Most folks don’t know the ins and outs of mower maintenance, which
is why so many lawn mower graveyards exist. (It's also what keeps the mower
salesmen in business!) Keep your mower alive and purring for years to come by
learning how to properly maintain it.
3. Blade Maintenance
Sharp blades are a critical component of mowing a lawn properly. After each
mowing, brush off the mower blades to prevent the accumulation of debris. You
also want to avoid mowing when the grass is wet. Your mower blades will dull
faster. Dull blades cut unevenly and tear the grass instead of cutting it. This
leaves your lawn susceptible to yellowing and disease.
Sharpening mower blades
takes a little
practice, but it's actually quite simple. For safety, you should wear
cut-resistant gloves and disconnect the spark plugs. Remove the blade by
turning your mower on its side, blocking the blade with a 2x4 and then loosen
the single bolt holding it on. Mark your attached blade so that you know which
way to put it back on! Secure the blade in a vise or clamp, and use a 10" file to hone the cutting edge.
File in one direction, and keep the angle consistent.
Butter-knife-sharp is preferable to razor blade sharp, so no need to go
overboard. A blade that's too sharp will dull much faster. Once you’ve finished
both sides, hang the blade from a nail in the wall to check its balance. If it's
heavier on one side, file a little more until it balances. An unbalanced blade
can cause heavy vibration and ruin the blade shaft or bearings.
Aside from this regular maintenance, always remove anything wrapped around the blades and use a fuel stabilizer in your gas. This can really extend the shelf life of your fuel. Winterize your mower by emptying out all the old fuel at the end of your mowing season. Replace your spark plugs at the beginning of the season for optimized performance. If you follow these simple steps for regular maintenance, you can be sure to enjoy a long and productive relationship with your mower.
Jacob Palmer is a
gardening and landscape design writer. When mowing lawns on his street as a
child, he discovered a lifelong passion for landscape design. He now has three
children who can all be found helping him most weekends with his next big