Tips to keep outdoor power equipment running smoothly and safely
Check the blades for wear or impact damage; dull or worn blades generally result in a poor cut quality with visible brown spots on the lawn from torn or shredded grass. If the blade is worn, dull or damaged take it to your dealer for sharpening or replacement. Also, be sure to check the blade bolts and ensure they are tight.
Check the lawnmower bag. Clean the bag according to the owner’s manual instructions, and replace the bag if it is worn, torn or clogged. A clogged grass bag will restrict air flow causing poor bagging performance, while a torn or worn bag can allow debris to pass through it –posing a risk to the operator. Frequent grass bag inspection is critical to maintaining maximum bagging performance and safe operation.
Check the air filter, the foam pre-cleaner and the paper element cleaner. If necessary, clean the foam element. If the foam element requires oil, use clean engine oil and only apply enough to wet the foam. If the paper element is excessively dirty, be sure to replace it.
Check the oil level. Start by removing the dipstick, wiping the oil from it, and inserting it back into the engine. Be careful NOT to screw it in. Then, remove the dipstick to check the level. Add oil if necessary. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended type of oil. As a rule of thumb, oil should be changed once per season. If you changed the oil before storing the equipment for the winter, another oil change is not necessary.
A cautionary note: small air-cooled engines may consume oil rapidly. Low oil levels can lead to an engine seizure, which would require engine rebuild or replacement. Failing to change the engine oil and check/clean/replace the air filter regularly can result in rapid engine wear, especially if the lawnmower is used in dusty conditions.
Inspect for loose bolts and fasteners, as well as fuel and oil leaks. Give the engine a quick, 60-second, look for any fluid leaks, or loose or missing parts. This inspection may require tilting the equipment to see all sides of the engine to check the lower crank seal.
Fuel tips: when storing outdoor power equipment, it’s a good idea to add gasoline stabilizer and run the engine for a few minutes outside to ensure all the gasoline in the fuel system is treated. This practice prevents fuel-related problems from occurring when the mower is removed from storage. Old fuel or fuel left in the carburetor for months can cause gumming of the carburetor and the intake valve. Even fuel that’s just a month old can make it hard to start the engine. In addition, allowing dirt and other contamination in the fuel tank or storage can lead to clogging of the carburetor passages and affect engine performance. If the mower was stored without proper treatment, and it is hard to start, a trip to the dealer may be necessary.