Good maintenance lets you get the most out of your push mower. Learn how to keep it performing for years to come.
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Don't run a gasoline-powered mower in an area that doesn't have proper ventilation.
Disconnect the spark plug or power supply as described above and give the mower an overall inspection.
Check for loose fasteners and tighten them as needed.
Make sure the wheels rotate correctly.
Drive wheels on a self-propelled mower may rotate with some resistance.
Check for damaged and worn parts. Replace them before operating the mower.
Clean off dirt and debris from the grass catcher.
If you have a gasoline-powered mower, make sure the oil and fuel are at the correct levels.
Reconnect the spark plug or power supply.
Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug or power supply.
The mower may be hot.
Brush off the mower engine and deck and clean the grass catcher.
Don't use a vacuum near gasoline.
Tilt the mower onto its side as described above.
Clean and scrape the underside of the deck to remove accumulated grass clippings.
Some mowers have a fixture that allows you to use a garden hose to wash under the deck. If you use this feature, keep water out of the electrical system, muffler, carburetor and air filter. Let the mower dry completely before putting it away. Don't use a hose unless it's recommended by the mower manufacturer.
Don't use water to clean an electric mower.
If you have a self-propelled mower, clean under the drive cover several times during the season. Inspect the drive system pulleys and belts for wear, damage and proper tension.
Let the mower cool before putting it away.
If your mower has a battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions for battery care.
Once the season is over, prep your mower for long-term storage and get it ready for spring.
Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug or power supply and for tilting the mower on its side.
Inspect the blade. If it's worn, damaged or bent, replace it.
If the blade is undamaged but dull, you may be able to sharpen it. Some manufacturers do not recommend this, so check the instructions for your mower. If your blade can be sharpened, have a professional do it for you or purchase a sharpener and balancer to do it yourself:
Wear work gloves when handling a mower blade. When sharpening a blade, you also need to wear eye protection and — if using a grinder — hearing protection.
Place a wood block between the mower housing and the blade to keep the blade from turning as you loosen the blade bolt or nut.
As an alternative to the block, you can purchase a blade removal tool to immobilize the blade.
Remove the blade, attachment hardware and debris shield (if equipped). Check the hardware and associated parts for damage and replace as needed.
Scrape off any remaining grass clippings from the underside of the deck.
Install the blade and associated parts, making sure to align them properly. Different models will have different methods for aligning the blade.
With the blade immobilized, tighten the blade bolt to the torque specified in your mower manual.
Remove the wood block or blade-removal tool and set the mower back on its wheels.
Reconnect the spark plug or power supply.
Run the mower outdoors for about a minute — warm oil will drain more easily. Turn the mower off and move back to the work area.
Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug.
The mower and oil may be hot.
Make sure the area around the oil-fill inlet is free of dirt and debris. Remove the oil cap and place it on a clean surface.
Tilt the mower on its side as described above so the oil-fill inlet is closest to the ground. Let the oil drain from the inlet into a used-oil container, rocking the mower to get all the oil out of the engine.
Some mowers have an oil drain plug on the bottom of the engine that allows you to drain the oil without tipping the mower. If you use this method, clean dirt and debris from around the plug before you remove it. Replace the plug after draining the oil.
As an alternative to tilting the mower, you can purchase a siphon pump to move the oil from the engine to the used-oil container.
Set the mower back on its wheels. Wipe up any spills.
Add the proper engine oil, checking the level periodically. When the oil level is correct, let the oil settle for a few minutes and check again. Don't add too much oil. Replace and tighten the cap.
Excess oil can damage the engine.
Contact your local recycling center for oil disposal instructions and dispose of the used oil properly.
Remove the air filter cover and filter.
Clean the cartridge with a soft brush. If the filter is very dirty or damaged, replace it.
If you mow in dusty conditions, you may need to clean or change the air filter more often.
Install the filter and filter cover.
Replace the spark plug. Use a socket wrench and spark plug socket to remove the plug.
If you're storing your mower for the winter, lubricate the engine cylinder by squirting an ounce of engine oil into the spark plug socket. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil.
Install the new spark plug, but leave it disconnected until you complete maintenance on the mower.
You may need to gap a new spark plug before installing it. Check the gap with a spark plug gap tool and adjust the outer electrode according to the mower manufacturer's specifications.
Check the muffler to make sure it's not rusted or loose.
Lubricate the handle mounting pins and mulcher door pins with spray lubricant. Check your manual for information on other lubrication points.
Prepare the fuel system on a gasoline-powered mower for storage. Manufacturers may instruct you to run the fuel system dry or to store the mower with the tank full of fuel mixed with a fuel stabilizer. Follow the instructions for your mower and engine. See Fueling Outdoor Power Equipment for more information on fuel and fuel additives.
If you store the mower with fuel in the tank, don't store it where fumes can reach an open flame or a spark.
If your mower has a battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions for battery care and charging.
Make sure the mower is cool and dry before putting it away. Pay special attention to the underside of the mower deck to make sure it's free of moisture.
Store your mower away from children in an area that's clean, dry and not near fertilizer and other corrosive material.
With the mower clean and ready for storage, you may want to touch up any areas where the paint is chipped.