In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shares his top five tips for keeping your lawn mower running smoothly.
Steps for Tuning Up Your Mower:
- Check the mower’s oil level before every use. Be sure the mower is on level ground when checking the oil.
- If the oil is low, add fresh oil to raise the level to the “full” line on the dipstick.
- If the oil is dirty, change it by tipping the mower onto its side and draining the dirty oil into a container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Recycle the old, dirty oil at a service station, auto shop, or local transfer station.
- Add new oil a little at a time, stopping frequently to check the dipstick to avoid over-filling the crankcase.
- Replace the air filter with a new filter every mowing season, or sooner if the mowing conditions are very dusty.
- Change the spark plug once a year, or when the engine starts running rough.
- Remove the old spark plug with a deep socket and ratchet wrench.
- When installing the new spark plug, hand-thread it into place, then tighten it with the socket and ratchet. However, be careful not to over-tighten the spark plug or it will be difficult to remove next year.
- Sharpen the blade every mowing season to ensure that it cuts the grass quickly and cleanly.
- Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting, then tip up the mower to gain access to the blade.
- Use a ratchet wrench and socket to loosen the nuts that hold the blade in place.
- Sharpen each end of the blade with a metal file or right-angle grinder. Be sure to maintain the blade’s original bevel angle, and remove the same amount of material from each end.
- After sharpening, use a balancer to confirm that the blade is perfectly balanced.
- If the blade is out of balance, file or grind the heavy end of the blade and then recheck it with the balancer.
- To keep the mower running smoothly, always use fresh gasoline. Stale gas can damage the engine.
- Buy only enough gas to last one month.
- To extend the life of gasoline, add a fuel stabilizer.