Spring is here (sort of) and the grass is turning green and starting grow. Like many of us you may be thinking it's time to get the sprinklers figured out and the lawn equipment running. As you start thinking about firing up your lawn mower you may want to consider getting a tune-up. I know it's hard to get excited about working on your mower or getting out the weed whacker. If you are like me, you wait as long as possible since once you start mowing the grass you are stuck doing it for quite a while. Sometimes I think that urge to procrastinate taking care of the lawn gets transferred to your lawn equipment. But, control the urge! Proper maintenance on your equipment is the key to a long and healthy relationship with your mower or other machinery. Here are some basics to help you determine what you should actually be looking at.
Change the oil and filter; even if the oil doesn't "look" bad it should be changed every year. Oil tends to collect moisture over time so it should be changed.
Clean the engine; most residential mowers are air cooled. Over time, you will get grass and debris under the cowling and oil and dirt stuck to the engine block. All of these act like an insulating blanket for the engine, which in turn doesn't allow the engine to cool properly and wa-lah it's going to fail.
Sharpen your blades or replace them. Sharp blades will make your lawn mowing job faster and easier. Not to mention blades do get bent fairly easy.
Change your fuel filter. Even if it "looks" okay, you should put a new filter in annually. Don't wait until your mower starts running poorly or not at all.
Clean or replace your air filter. Sometimes you can get away with simply blowing out the air filter, but if it is really doing it's job you won't be getting all the small debris out. So if the filter element is looking gray or tan after cleaning it should be replaced. When in doubt, change it.
If your mower is a rider or a self propelled walk-behind it has drive belts. Just like your car, these belts wear-out over time. Pull whatever shrouds and covers are hiding them and check for cracks and fraying. By the way, if you have a push mower, while you are changing the oil is the perfect time to do this since it's already on it's side and there is no oil in the crankcase to fill up the combustion chamber.
Fill it with non-ethanol fuel and add a little Sea Foam. Do this will help remove any collected moisture and clean out the carburetor jets.
Give it a good wash overall. I like to use a pressure washer and clean the underside of the mower deck. Getting rid of last year's accumulation of "stuff" that has stuck to the bottom. This will help your mower deck last longer. All that debris that is stuck to the bottom gets in way of the discharge or the mulching system working properly. Not to mention all that grass acts like little sponges for moisture, which can cause your mower deck to rust prematurely.
Keeping your equipment clean will help it run better, last longer and often you will be able to spot little problems before they turn into big problems.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, maintenance is key! Many costly mechanical problems can be avoided by preventative maintenance. If you don't know how, or simply don't want to do the things above, give us a call!