Lawn mower maintenance: correct use of garden equipment

A lawn mower is a unique, convenient and simple instrument, with which you can easily bring the beauty to your lawn.So you have to know everything about lawn mower maintenance. It is a highly specialized machine: it is used for cutting the lawn and nothing else. It is also irreplaceable equipment for municipal city services responsible for maintenance of parks, squares, lawns, flower beds.

Don’t ever treat a lawn mower just as a good working tool. You have to  know all the rules of maintenance not to kill the machine.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO BEFORE YOU START

 

Nowadays lawn mowers are produced in two main types: electric and gasoline.

Gasoline lawn mowers are very convenient for mowing grass at a distance from home. Their main advantage is mobility, as they are not tied to a certain place, you can move to the farthest corner of the lawn and work there. Gasoline is much more powerful than electric and can mow for hours without interruption. Gasoline-powered lawn mowers also have  a several times higher mowing speed.

Before starting a gas mower, you should first check the presence of fuels and most importantly – oil, because if it is not present or not enough, the engine may jam severely, and you will have to spend a lot of money on repairs.

Electric lawn mowers are less noisy, unlike petrol mowers, they are also cleaner (eco-friendly) and more economical to use (especially with low energy costs). The most important disadvantage of such a lawn mower is limited mobility due to the fact that it is connected to the power source by a cord and the extension cord often  clings to everything.

Before starting up an electric lawn mower, you should first check that the extension cord and the power cord are not damaged and that the socket is functional.

Another important point for the electric mower is that you should never use it during dewatering or after rain. It should only be used on dry, moist areas.

PRINCIPLE NUMBER 1: CORRECT LAWN MOWER MAINTENANCE

The other most important rules of operation are identical for electric and petrol lawn mower maintenance:

  • Follow the instructions for your lawnmower strictly during operation, especially when taking a break from work. For example, if you take a break at the wrong time, the motor may overheat and cause trouble.
  • When mowing the lawn, remember to remove any residual grass from the deck and blades each time.
  • Be sure to keep your lawn mower in a heated and dry place and to keep out of rainfall.
  • After work, do not forget to switch off the equipment, as its spontaneous movement can not only damage the lawn, but also threaten you and your family. Never inspect or repair the machine when the engine is running.
  • If damage (cracks, chips, dents) is detected, contact a specialised service centre for diagnosis. A problem detected in time will not cause serious damage and will therefore save money.
  • If the lawn is heavily started and the grass is high, do not cut it in one pass. This will put more strain on the engine and the blades will work less efficiently, it is better to pass this part of lawn several times, removing the grass gradually.
  • To prevent the blades from dulling from touching the soil, you should level out any uneven ground before mowing.
  • For a good cut, take your lawn mower slowly and only forward (the knife unit is designed with a one-way mowing sight).
  • To avoid possible injuries, only use the lawnmower with shoes and preferably no open body areas. As a stone can hit the knife and bounce off you.
  • It is advisable not to use a lawn mower near trees, poles or kerbs, where it is very easy to blunt and break knives. In such places, garden shears or trimmers are more effective.
  • If you want to have a striped lawn (stripes on the lawn alternating between bright and dark), you should mow it by constantly changing direction and a special roller should be installed on the lawn mower.
  • In the following sections, we will explain how to operate the mower and how to care for it. It is very important to know some nuances of the rules for the care of mower tools.

MOWING UNIT MAINTENANCE

Knife sharpening

lawn mower maintenance

The rules are the same for gasoline and electric lawn mower maintenance:

  • Disconnect the electric mower from the power supply and put the gasoline mower on the brake (before this fuel should be drained). Unhook the grass catcher box (the container in which the mowed lawn is located, there are models without grass catcher box).
  • Put the mower on its side. Wear protective gloves not to hurt your hands and clean the knife with a brush. When the knife is dull, remove it (below we will tell you how to do it). The cutting knife looks like a bar that is 50 cm long and 2.5 mm thick.
  • Then you can clamp the knife in a vise and process it with a file. It should be noted that its cutting part is hardened and therefore your actions should be careful. Only the damaged part can be treated with a small file. If you accidentally bend the knife, place it in a firm and flat place and then level it with a hammer. Use the file to remove large burrs and use a bar to remove small ones. The bar should move from the centre of the knife to the edge. It’s like a scythe whetting. You can also sharpen it on electric machines, but don’t drain much or you’ll have to throw away the knife – it can break when you’re working.
  • Finally, put the knife back in its original position.

Sharpen the knife mainly in early spring, before the first use of the device. Then you may not have to resharpen the knife during the whole season.

All this sounds and looks simple and elementary, but in the process of work there are many difficulties that can not be solved by people unprepared. Therefore, it is better to entrust the sharpening of knives to specialists. The fact is that if you do it yourself, you can easily unbalance the knives. Incorrect balance contributes to the appearance of vibration, the mower begins to “jump and shake” from side to side. Such a tool is harder to hold, so the load on your hands increases, and the result of mowing is unlikely to please you.

Knife replacement, correct installation

  • To remove the knife, you need to use an open end wrench or socket wrench to unscrew the knife mounting bolt. You will see the bolt right away, as it is located in the centre of the knife. 
  • Then take a new knife and put it in the same place, tightening it with the same bolt (if the bolt has bad thread, replace it too). 
  • The main thing is to do everything carefully, do not need to tighten much, because you have to unscrew more than once. Examine the new knife – whether it is flat, because the bumps can cause vibrations, non-smooth operation, which  will lead to failure in the future. Only a smooth knife is the key to a lawnmower’s long service life.

LAWN MOWER MAINTENANCE: WHY CLEAN THE MOWER AFTER WORK

lawn mower maintenance

The inside of the deck must be cleaned each time. After all, the grass and debris underneath the deck or in the air intakes will not only interfere with subsequent lawn mowing, but can also cause a fire. Note that you should not clean it with chemicals, they can severely damage the machinery. 

Many people ask the question: “Can I wash my lawn mower?” It can and should be cleaned with both cleaning products (without chemicals) and water, but gently. After rinsing the deck with water, wipe it thoroughly, because in steel deck, a small amount of paint peeling will be enough and, if you leave moisture there, rust will not be avoided. Decks are also made of aluminium (anti-corrosion) and plastic (but this is more true for electric lawnmowers).

Some manufacturers have models with special hose connections. Washing them is very easy and convenient – we connect the hose (inside which water flows), start the knife (it rotates) and the mower starts to “wash and bathe” itself.

LAWN MOWER MAINTENANCE OF ENGINE

lawn mower maintenance

Lawn mowers are equipped with air-cooled motors, so clean ribs of the cooling system (fan) ensure quality of work and protect from overheating. To clean them, it is sometimes necessary to remove some external parts of the motor. It’s good to clean it with compressed air, but you can also use a simple soft brush.

  • The engine only needs to be filled with quality fuel, which affects its performance, service life, and therefore, the economy of your budget. 
  • Drain the gasoline before winter, but it is better to work out all the old gasoline, then no plaque will be formed.
  •  After the gasoline is gone, turn the starter, then all the valves will be closed. Fill up a lawn mower in spring.
  • Oil and candles should be changed from time to time. The oil is changed according to the term in the instructions. 
  • Dump the old oil and dispose of it, and fill in the new oil, but only of the right class and viscosity. In some engines, the drain is located at the bottom and you may need to turn the machine sideways. It is better to drain the oil when the engine has not cooled down, then it will flow out faster and take a lot of accumulated debris with itself. Pour the oil down to the level and keep out dirt.
  • Change the candles if they are worn out, covered with rust and burned out. If you see any plaque or soot on a candle, clean it, or you can put a new one immediately, setting the necessary gap (according to the instructions) and tighten it carefully with a torque wrench.

Also do not forget to clean, and if necessary, change the fuel and air filters. The more dust in the area, the more often it is necessary to do it, and before winter it is obligatory.

LAWN MOWER MAINTENANCE: STORAGE

Electric and petrol lawn mowers should be stored in enclosed spaces, at an optimal temperature (not too high and not too low). No moisture, wind, rain or snow should enter the room. Be sure to restrict access for animals and children. The machine must also be well cleaned, as dirt has a tendency to get in, and because of this rubber parts are destroyed, plastic gets old and metal mechanisms are covered with corrosion.

YOU CAN’T DO THAT!

We have prepared for you the top five cases from the category “How people kill lawn mowers”. Read, understand, remember and NEVER do that.

1. Stone, brick, rebar – anything can be on the lawn. Avoid it! The knife will shattered in small pieces or the engine will be jammed – overheated. Replacing the knife is half a win-win, but repairing the engine system will hit your pocket hard.

2. Why wash it, if it is clean? Well, there’s dirt and pieces of grass left somewhere and you decide not to pay attention. But when you run it next time , don’t sincerely wonder: “Why is it jammed?” 

3. It’s good to work in the rain – fresh, fun. Wet grass cools your legs so nicely. But for some reason the lawn mower doesn’t share your joy:

Electric lawn mower. Snap! – and a short circuit. The engine will have to be repaired. But that’s at best. At worst, there’s a real threat to life. If the cable is damaged, and the grass is wet…

Gasoline low mower. Ignition spoilage and carburetor failure is ensured.

4. Explosion in the barn and fire.  You say no way, but it’s possible. The fuel left in the lawn mower for the winter is quite capable of that feat. Fumes from gasoline could cause the machine to explode.

5. You decide to put a tool somewhere far away, in a dusty and wet barn for winter. What could happen? Well, I don’t think someone will steal the lawn mower, but a terrible corrosion of the metal body and component breakage due to contamination will wait for you in spring

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