Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home: The Art of Lawnmower Maintenance

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home: The Art of Lawnmower Maintenance

Article excerpt

It's that time again. Grass is growing, and pretty soon you'll have to pull out the lawnmower.

With spring rains, mowing grass soon will become a twice-weekly routine, if not more. But how can you know whether your mower is spring-ready, and what can you do to keep it in good running condition for the season ahead?

First things first, you need to check the oil and the filter. Darrell Viergever, manager at Boettcher Supply Inc., 1540 N.W. Gage Blvd., says lawnmower maintenance at their company includes cleaning and/or replacing the air filter and changing the spark plugs.

To check the mower's oil, you'll want to start the machine first. Let the mower run for about a minute, then shut it off. You also should disconnect the spark plug, so the machine can't start while you're checking the oil.

Clean off the area around the oil cap with a rag to prevent dirt from getting into the oil reservoir. Then, open the cap and check the dipstick to see where the level of the oil is. Likely, even if it's at the correct level, you'll want to change the oil, especially if you didn't change the oil before the end of the season the previous year.

You'll also need to check the oil filter. Locate the filter, then turn it counter-clockwise until it releases. You may need to use a wrench if it won't come loose easily.

Check the filter for dirt and debris around the seal and general wear. Make sure to clean any dirt from the seal with a rag and tap it to release debris. Most manufacturers recommend changing the filter once a year.

Viergever says maintenance also includes cleaning the mower's blades and replacing them if necessary. For riding mowers, you'll also want to check the belts for any cracks.

"If they're cracked, they're probably going to break. If you don't replace the blade then, the lift will break off and you don't want that ... it will turn into shrapnel," Viergever said.

The backside of the cutting edge of a lawnmower blade has a lift that helps circulate air upward and kicks the grass clippings out from under the mower, he said. …

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