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One of the best ways to restore a sense of order to your property after the winter months is to cut the grass. A freshly mowed lawn offers clean edges and a uniform cut, turning your shaggy growth into a tidy-looking turf.
Before you start the engine, though, you should give your mower a tune-up to make sure it’s in proper running order. After spending the several months in hibernation, it will need a little attention to make sure it runs problem-free through to the fall.
Luckily, lawn mower engines are relatively simple machines that can be maintained with just a few tools and supplies. Set aside a little time on a sunny day and follow this guide to get your mower ready for that first cut of the season.
The first thing you’ll want to do is locate and disconnect the spark plug. Without this connection, the engine can’t start, which is a little peace of mind for when you’re working on the blade.
At this point, you can remove the current spark plug and install the new one. Tighten it by hand, using a wrench if necessary. Don’t overtighten it, as that can damage the tip of the spark plug.
Don’t reconnect the plug wire yet. That will be your last step.
The air filter allows air to get into the motor while keeping out dust and dirt. Over time, this filter gets clogged, which affects the engine’s performance. Replacing the filter every season means that the motor is getting the airflow it needs.
The air filter will be kept in place under a plastic panel on the outside of the motor. Use a screwdriver to remove the cover and access it. Most filters are either paper or foam, so make sure to buy the right kind for your make. Simply dispose of the old filter and replace it with the new one. Reattach the cover and you’re all set.
Depending on the make and model of your mower, there may be a drain for the oil pan. If not, you’ll have to tilt the mower on its side to remove the old oil. Use a metal container to catch the oil, being sure not to spill any.
It can help to run the engine for a few minutes first to warm up the fluids, making them flow easier. Just make sure not to burn yourself on the engine if you do this.
Close the drain plug and add the new oil. Dispose of the old oil properly.
Not only does a sharp mower blade make mowing easier, but it’s also better for the grass. That’s because dull blades make ragged cuts that cause damage.
To remove the blade, tilt your mower on its side. Use supports to keep it stable so that you don’t need to worry about it falling over. It’s also wise to wear gloves to prevent cutting yourself while you work on it.
Use locking pliers to keep the blade from turning and a socket wrench to unscrew the bolt. Once you get it off, either a metal file or belt grinder will work to get it sharp again.
Before you reinstall the blade, take this opportunity to clean out the underside of the mower. The buildup you find here can be tough, so use a putty knife to scrape it all off.
Once clean, you can install the blade, making sure that the bolt is secured tightly.
Reattach the spark plug wire, which should slip on easily, allowing the motor to start up.
Fill up the fuel tank with fresh gas and you’re ready to go. Don’t use old gas unless you added a stabilizer to it before storing it for the season. Gasoline can go bad, requiring you to drain the tank and add new fuel to it.
There’s something satisfying about a freshly mowed lawn. It’s one of those landscaping chores that offers an immediate sense of accomplishment. With a little effort, even the wildest yard can be transformed into a tidy lawn.