Turf Magazine - July, 2014

FEATURES

Top 10 Mower Maintenance Musts

Ways to improve the longevity of your machine


Keeping your mower well maintained will reduce expensive repairs and downtime as well as improve its longevity.
Photo courtesy of Humphrey's Outdoor Power Equipment.

Keep your mower in top shape this summer by following Humphreys' Outdoor Power and Dixie Chopper's Top 10 Ways to Maintenance Your Mower. These simple tips will improve the longevity of your lawn mower and the quality of your cut.

1. Check and/or replace the engine's air filter

The most overlooked part on a mower engine is the air filter. We tend to be great about changing the oil and greasing vital engine parts, but fail to change or clean the air filter as needed. Having a dirty air filter can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Preventing adequate air flow to the engine, which can foul a plug.
  • Improper air flow can tear a hole in the filter, allowing debris into the cylinder. When that happens, you run the risk of damaging the cylinder, leading to much bigger problems.

2. Clean the underside of the mower deck

This should be done at the end of each day that the mower is in use. Grass collects under the deck, disrupting airflow and reducing the quality of your cut. An accumulation of grass can also cause your deck rust faster.

3. Keep your blades sharp

Your blades need to be sharpened a minimum of three times a year, sometimes more if mowing over rougher terrain. Dull blades begin to tear your grass rather than cut it, leaving white streaks when you mow. Torn grass not only doesn't look as good, but it is also more susceptible to disease.

4. Check tire pressure

Tire pressure is a common issue among lawn mowers. Low tire pressure can affect your steering and the quality of your cut. In most instances, an uneven deck is actually caused by uneven tire pressure. Check tire pressure first if you notice your lawn mower deck is uneven. You should be routinely checking tire pressure at least once a month and any time there are big temperature changes.

5. Store your lawn mower properly

Keeping your mower out of the elements is not always the only requirement to keep your mower safe. In recent years we've been seeing a larger number of mice problems. Mice love to build nests next to coils and chew on coil wires. In a lot of instances these wires can't be purchased separately and the coils can be expensive. It's important to store your lawn mower in an area away from the elements and rodents.

6. Use quality fuel

This has been a larger issue with two-cycle equipment, but also comes into play with standard mowers as well. First, you should store your gas in an area where it will not rust (see number 5). Issues can arise with rust in gas tanks because it was not properly stored before the gas was poured into the machine. Also, keep in mind the level of alcohol in the gas. Alcohol in the gas can actually draw water through the vents and into the gas tank. Water causes numerous issues when it gets into the fuel system. If you can, try to find alcohol-free fuel.

7. Run the engine at the proper RPMs

Most of lawn mowers we purchase these days are meant to be run at full throttle. They are designed to pull enough air to cool the motor and keep the blades turning at the right speed at full speed (normally around 3,600 RPMs). Running any slower will keep the engine from getting enough air and lower the blade tip speed - ultimately reducing your cut quality.

8. Cut the right amount of grass

We're talking about height-of-cut. If you let too much time pass since your last mow job and the grass is higher than normal, you may end up working your engine too hard and removing more of the grass blade than it can handle. You should only ever be cutting half the blade of grass as a general rule. So, if your grass is 6 inches high you should be cutting no lower than 3 inches.

9. Match the right mower with the right application

Every category of lawn mower is designed and built for a very specific job. It is very important to select a mower that matches your acreage, terrain, grass types, mowing frequency and conditions. Do the proper research before starting the buying process and know what you need before walking into a dealership.

10. Don't hesitate to call for help

A lot of times, issues can be made worse by letting them go. If you notice something going on with your lawn mower, contact your local dealer. Even if you can't bring it into a shop, dealer professionals can at least steer you in the right direction.

Information for this article has been provided by Humphrey's Outdoor Power Equipment, Greencastle, Indiana.