Lowe's Home Improvement
FREE PARCEL SHIPPING on Qualifying Orders

How to Maintain a Push Mower

Good maintenance lets you get the most out of your push mower. Learn how to keep it performing for years to come.

Tools & Materials

Product costs, availability and item numbers may vary online or by market.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Push Mower Maintenance Basics

Push Mower on a Tarp in a Garage.

Maintenance may differ depending on your mower model. There are general steps below, but read your mower documentation before beginning work and follow the instructions for use, maintenance and safety. If you need to replace parts, use manufacturer-approved replacements. Note your mower make and model number and have this information with you when shopping for replacement parts.

Perform the maintenance in a well-ventilated area and on a hard, flat surface. Spread a drop cloth over the work area.

Before performing any maintenance, cleaning or inspections on your mower, it must be off with all moving parts stopped. On a gasoline-powered mower, you also need to unplug the spark plug wire. Disconnect an electric mower from its power supply or remove the safety key (if equipped). Follow any pre-maintenance procedures the manufacturer specifies.

You'll need to tilt the mower on its side for some maintenance. If you have a gasoline-powered mower, first take steps to prevent fuel spills. Different manufacturers have different methods for preventing spills, such as running the mower until the tank is dry or placing a piece of heavy plastic under the fuel cap to cover the fuel inlet. Follow the instructions for your mower. Tilt the mower onto its side so the dipstick is down and the air filter is facing up to avoid getting oil in the upper part of the engine.

Caution

Don't run a gasoline-powered mower in an area that doesn't have proper ventilation.

Maintenance Each Time You Mow

Before Each Use

Step 1

Disconnect the spark plug or power supply as described above and give the mower an overall inspection.

Step 2

Check for loose fasteners and tighten them as needed.

Step 3

Checking Push Mower Wheel.

Make sure the wheels rotate correctly.

Good to Know

Drive wheels on a self-propelled mower may rotate with some resistance.

Step 4

Check for damaged and worn parts. Replace them before operating the mower.

Step 5

Checking a Push Mower Grass Catcher.

Clean off dirt and debris from the grass catcher.

Step 6

Checking the Oil Level on a Push Mower

If you have a gasoline-powered mower, make sure the oil and fuel are at the correct levels.

Step 7

Reconnect the spark plug or power supply.

After Each Use

Step 1

Disconnecting the Spark Plug Wire on a Push Mower.

Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug or power supply.

Caution

The mower may be hot.

Step 2

Brushing off a Push Mower.

Brush off the mower engine and deck and clean the grass catcher.

Caution

Don't use a vacuum near gasoline.

Step 3

Push Mower Resting on Its Side.

Tilt the mower onto its side as described above.

Step 4

Scraping Grass Clippings from Under a Push Mower Deck.

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.

Caution

Don't use water to clean an electric mower.

Good to Know

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.

Step 5

Let the mower cool before putting it away.

Step 6

If your mower has a battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions for battery care.

Maintenance at the End of the Mowing Season

Once the season is over, prep your mower for long-term storage and get it ready for spring.

Maintaining the Mower Blade

Step 1

Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug or power supply and for tilting the mower on its side.

Step 2

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:

  • Maintain the bevel of the blade.
  • Sharpen the cutting edges equally.
  • Check the balance of the blade, making adjustments as needed.
  • Wipe down the blade with a light oil before reinstalling it.
Caution

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.

Step 3

Wood Block Securing a Push Mower Blade.

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.

Good to Know

As an alternative to the block, you can purchase a blade removal tool to immobilize the blade.

Step 4

Remove the blade, attachment hardware and debris shield (if equipped). Check the hardware and associated parts for damage and replace as needed.

Step 5

Scrape off any remaining grass clippings from the underside of the deck.

Step 6

New Mower Blade Aligned.

Install the blade and associated parts, making sure to align them properly. Different models will have different methods for aligning the blade.

Step 7

Installing a New Blade on a Push Mower.

With the blade immobilized, tighten the blade bolt to the torque specified in your mower manual.

Step 8

Remove the wood block or blade-removal tool and set the mower back on its wheels.

Step 9

Reconnect the spark plug or power supply.

Changing the Oil in a Gasoline-Powered Mower

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Follow the procedures above for disconnecting the spark plug.

Caution

The mower and oil may be hot.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

Draining USed Oil into a Container.

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.

Good to Know

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.

Good to Know

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.

Step 5

Wiping off a Push Mower.

Set the mower back on its wheels. Wipe up any spills.

Step 6

Adding New Oil to a Push Mower.

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.

Caution

Excess oil can damage the engine.

Step 7

Contact your local recycling center for oil disposal instructions and dispose of the used oil properly.

Maintaining the Air Filter on a Gasoline-Powered Mower

Step 1

Removing a Push Mower Air Filter.

Remove the air filter cover and filter.

Step 2

Brushing Off a Push Mower Air Filter.

Clean the cartridge with a soft brush. If the filter is very dirty or damaged, replace it.

Good to Know

If you mow in dusty conditions, you may need to clean or change the air filter more often.

Step 3

Install the filter and filter cover.

Other Mower Maintenance Your Manual May Specify

Step 1

Removing a Push Mower Spark Plug with a Socket Wrench.

Replace the spark plug. Use a socket wrench and spark plug socket to remove the plug.

Step 2

/projects/images/how-tos/Outdoor-Power-Equipment/how-to-maintain-a-push-mower-inline-lube-cylinder.jpg

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.

Step 3

Install the new spark plug, but leave it disconnected until you complete maintenance on the mower.

Good to Know

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.

Step 4

Push Mower Muffler.

Check the muffler to make sure it's not rusted or loose.

Step 5

Lubricating the Mulcher Door Pins on a Push Mower.

Lubricate the handle mounting pins and mulcher door pins with spray lubricant. Check your manual for information on other lubrication points.

Preparing the Mower for Winter Storage

Step 1

Fuel Stabilizer and Gasoline Can.

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.

Good to Know

If you store the mower with fuel in the tank, don't store it where fumes can reach an open flame or a spark.

Step 2

If your mower has a battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions for battery care and charging.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

Push Mower in a Garage.

Store your mower away from children in an area that's clean, dry and not near fertilizer and other corrosive material.

Good to Know

With the mower clean and ready for storage, you may want to touch up any areas where the paint is chipped.