5 Tips for Annual Lawn Mower Maintenance will help us all get our lawns looking beautiful for spring and summer. Did you know that we spend more money on the initial purchase for our lawn mower or tractor than any other tool?
So it stands to reason that once we’ve made that purchase, we’d like to go at least a decade before replacing it. To that end, here are some tip for prepping that tractor or lawn mower for the spring season. This week's post is written by my husband, The Colonel.
As the last die-hard patches of snow melt, our thoughts begin to turn to the projects and chores which have lain dormant during the cold months. For the average homeowner, the lawn tractor is the central piece of equipment for outdoor maintenance. I mean, we even build sheds for them.
Annual Lawn Mower Maintenance
Getting ready for Spring begins in the Fall. Once the grass turns brown, you want to do two things – thoroughly clean it, and empty the gas tank (we’ll discuss that in the second step). For cleaning you will need a leaf blower, a plastic putty knife, a soft brush, a garden hose, a five-gallon bucket a hose, and a determined set of hands.
For cleaning agents I use a quarter cup of detergent and 2 ounces of tri-sodium in five gallons of water. Wait at least a week after your last usage. This will allow the grass clippings to dry out. If you’ve been blowing the clippings off of the mower’s deck after each usage, then you’ve already fought half the battle. With the mower away from the house, turn on the leaf blower and begin blowing the clippings out of every nick and cranny. Make sure your get both the top and bottom of the deck, as well as the engine compartment.
Next, with the engine turned off and the key out of the ignition, (do I really need to say that?) get under the deck, with the putty knife and scrape the insides, getting all the grass clumps adhered to the inside wall of the blade housing. Even with all this, you may have to get in there with your hands to remove clumps from the housing. Then give it a good wash and rinse. I hose it down first, then immerse a soft brush on a broom stick into the bucket and give it a good scrubbing. Let it dry.
You can do this yourself, or seek out an expert. My friend Jerry owns a small engine shop nearby and has earned my confidence over the years. At a minimum, change out the spark plug, motor oil and oil filter, air filter, and apply tire sealant to the inside and outside wheel rims.
Check the carburetion (very important) and make the adjustments. The carburetor on a small engine is usually a single barrel throttle body, so if adjustments are needed, they’re pretty simple if you’re inclined to do it yourself (I’m not).
5 Tips for Annual Lawn Mower Maintenance
See the owners’ manual for your particular model. They are all online now. The best motor oil for a riding lawn mower is usually SAE 30, but this intended for Springtime temperatures. You should always check your owner's manual for the proper oil for YOUR lawn mower. Depending on which variables are at play, stored gasoline can turn to varnish in as little as 30 days. Get it our of your tank and fuel lines.
Tire Pressure for Lawn Mower
Again, see your owner’s manual. Ensure your tires are inflated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Don’t hibernate during the cold months. It’s always a good idea to check on the shed regularly during Winter. Make checking the tractor’s tires part of your routine while you’re checking on everything else. Under inflated tires tend to crack in the cold, and will also cause the rims to bite into the rubber.
Sharpen the Blade
You need to sharpen the blade at least once a year. Mowing the lawn with a dull blade can shred the tips of the grass instead of cutting them which will cause the lawn to turn brown. Always remove the blade from the mower for sharpening. If the blade has a lot of large nicks in the cutting edge from hitting rocks, you need to replace it. Take advantage of cleaning under the mower while the blade is removed.
Clean it from Top to Bottom
You should always clean the mower after every use. Most of the time you can do this with just using a broom to sweep away the grass clippings or a spray hose. But at least twice a year you should clean the lawn mower/tractor from top to bottom. Using a strong spray of water, remove any grass that is caked on to the underside of the mower deck making sure you get all the grass clippings and other debris off the deck and out of the crevices around the engine and wheels. After the mower has dried, you can wax the deck to keep grass and dirt from sticking to it.
Storage for Riding Lawn Mower
You should store your riding lawn mower in a shed or garage where it won't be exposed to the elements of rain or snow. Don’t let your tractor sit outside during the cold months. Exposing it to the elements will take years off of its life.