Lawnmower maintenance matters (04-03-2006)
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Spring has arrived and homeowners are active in their landscapes refurbishing flowerbeds, fertilizing lawns, etc. The one activity that will be repeated over and over from now to late fall will be the weekly ritual of mowing the lawn. However, in our spring preparations we often neglect to spend a little time and a few dollars prepping this miraculous machine called the lawnmower for the task that it will be called upon to accomplish.
We wouldn’t think of not servicing our automobiles on a regular basis, but yet, we run these small engines week after week just a foot or so above the ground amidst dust and debris.
To get the best performance and extend the life of your mower the following suggestions are recommended:
Do an overall safety check making sure all guards, belt shields, cut-off switches, etc. are in place and working properly.
Inspect the decking for any weak or broken parts including blades, wheels and rollers.
Pay particular attention to the blades to be sure they are not worn to an unsafe condition and keep them sharp for a much cleaner cut. A sharp blade puts much less strain on the engine therefore increases efficiency.
The engine should be serviced routinely throughout the mowing season, but as you begin the spring landscaping activities consider draining the oil and replacing it with clean fresh oil along with the oil filter if your mower has one.
Replacing the spark plug could provide easier starting, increased power and better fuel efficiency.
The air filter is critical to extending the life of these small engines. Depending on the type of air cleaner on your engine servicing should follow manufacture recommendations. Many of the smaller engines have only a foam filter that should be washed with soapy water, dried, and lightly oiled before reinstalling.
Spending a few dollars and a little time getting your mower ready for the season will be a wise investment and you, your lawn mower, and the lawn will be the benefactors.
Published April 3, 2006
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org