How to service and maintain a Lawn Mower, a step by step guide
Regular maintenance and servicing of your lawnmower is a must if you want to have a healthy and well cared for lawn.
Cutting the grass correctly is one of the most important gardening jobs you can do and with a well-maintained lawn mower to help keep your lawn looking neat, tidy, and healthy, you can really set your property off well.
Regularly maintain and service your lawn mower by cleaning off any old grass and mulch, remove and sharpen the blades then treat them with a coat of light oil. Lawnmowers with petrol motors will need the oil and air filters changed, electric mowers need the power cables checked for any damage.
A well looked after lawnmower will really help by keeping your lawns in good order and make a world of difference to the look and feel of your property, I mean who wants to see an overgrown mess with weeds everywhere? A well-kept lawn will look good and also add to the value of our property.
So here are our top tips for lawnmower maintenance that you can do yourself to keep your tools in the best order and make them last for years.
Checks to do before mowing your lawn
Before you cut the grass with your lawnmower there are a few simple maintenance checks you should carry out to ensure you get the best from your lawnmower.
Generally larger petrol mowers need a little more maintenance than electric lawnmowers, however, both types need to be looked after in order for them to give you the best.
Before you work on any power tools including a lawnmower ensure it is safe to do so.
For petrol, mowers turn off the fuel tap and remove the spark plug cap to ensure it cannot start, unplug electric mowers from their power source.
Remove batteries from cordless units and ensure anyone nearby knows you are working on the lawnmower and not to touch it.
Always check the manufacturer’s handbook for details about your specific lawnmower.
Maintaining a Petrol lawnmower
- Check the fuel tank is filled with fresh fuel, unleaded fuel can go stale and should be changed every two weeks to reduce unwanted ‘gumming’ of the fuel system.
- Check the oil levels are correct, too little oil and there’s a danger of seizing the motor, too much and it will burn whilst running causing nasty smoke.
- Check the air filter is clean and free from dust or dirt. Having good airflow helps the fuel mixture and the engine will run smoothly.
- Ensure the grass collection box and body of the lawnmower are clean and vents are clear, remove any old grass and mulch before you start to cut. A dirty grass box will reduce the ability of the lawnmower to clear the cuttings away from the blades and leave grass on the lawn, which will go brown and make the lawn look untidy
- Set the blade heights for the correct length of cut. This will depend on the time of year, the first spring cut should be set as high as possible to simply trim the top of the grass. (Check your manufacturer’s handbook for details on how to adjust the cutting height)
- Check the blades are sharp, free from damage, and have been lightly oiled. Dull blades will not give a good clean cut and the mower will not perform as well keeping them sharp will get the best results.
Maintaining an Electric mower
Electric lawnmowers need less work than petrol versions however they still have to be well maintained in order to give you the best performance. The following checks will help keep your lawn mower working at its best.
- You will need to check the blades are sharp and oiled. Dull blades will not give a good clean cut, damage from stones and other debris will mean the mower will not perform as its best. Keeping the blades sharp will get the best results.
- Ensure the grass box and lawnmower body are clean and free from old cuttings or earth. Keeping the mower clean will help cut the grass and give the mower a long working life.
- Check that cables are in good order, look for any nicks or splits in the cables and repair or replace any that are damaged, remember electricity can be very dangerous.
- Cordless lawnmowers should also be fully charged before use. If you intend to cut a lot of grass, having spare batteries is always handy so you can use one whilst the other is charging.
Checks for after you have cut the lawn
Once you have cut your lawns and they are looking great, it’s a good idea to look after your lawnmower, this will mean it’s ready for next time and rather than just shove it to the back of the shed, take 5 minutes to clean and check it over.
Following these steps won’t take long and will ensure your lawnmower is ready next time
- Ensure all power sources are disconnected, remove the plug of electric units and collect the cable, shut off the fuel supply on petrol mowers, and remove the batteries from cordless mowers.
- Wipe down the blades and clean off all clippings and caked-on earth, use a stiff brush to get to the corners, and clean the grass box out well.
- Clear out the canopy of rotary mowers and wipe down the exposed parts to dry them, on bare metal parts like the blades, use an oily rag to prevent corrosion.
- Check the blade assembly and look for loose or damaged blades as these will reduce the cutting efficiency of the mower and could be dangerous if not repaired.
- Put batteries on charge ready for next time.
More in-depth Monthly Checks
About once a month during the cutting season which is typically late spring to late Autumn, checking your lawnmower thoroughly is a good idea and means you can avoid any major issues.
You should consult your manufacturer’s handbook as they will have a guide on how to maintain your machine, typically all the points covered in the previous section with the addition of the steps below will give you a comprehensive monthly check.
- Check all the bolts and fixings are tight. Some mowers use left-handed threads on blade fixings, turning them the wrong way may loosen them.
- On Cylinder mowers check the cutter bar is cleaned, sharp and free from damage, usually a quick clean up with a file will give the bar its cutting edge back, however, units that are too badly damaged should be replaced.
- Check the blade the assembly on cylinder Cylinder mowers. These need to turn smoothly and be properly balanced, hitting stones can put them out. Unless you have the right equipment this may be best done at a dealers or lawn mower repair shop.
- Check the cutting gap between the blades and the cutting bar, this should be adjusted to give a clean precise cut, using a piece of writing paper between one of the blades and the cutting bar. The paper should be cut cleanly all the way across the blades, if this is not the case adjust the gap using the lawnmower blade adjustment screws (check your lawnmowers manual for details)
- Check that batteries are holding a charge and there is no damage to the casings or connectors
- Make sure any moving or rotating parts like the blades or rollers are oiled at the bearing faces. Clean out any dirt or dried grass.
- Any chain drives should be checked to ensure the correct tension and chains greased to keep them in the best condition.
- Check and clean out the air filter, you can use a vacuum cleaner to help but be careful they can be delicate, and if the filter is worn or damaged replace it with a new one.
- Petrol mowers should have oil levels checked regularly, top up with the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer.
- Check for any leaks and if the oil appears very dark or black it should be changed for fresh.
- Spark plugs should be inspected and cleaned with a wire brush, you can tell a lot from the colour of the spark plug. Check out this spark plug guide to see how your motor is performing.
- For electric mowers regularly check the cables are in good order and the plugs are secure. If there is any damage to cables, this should be repaired with a waterproof connector, simply using insulating tape is not good enough and should be avoided.
Yearly maintenance, giving your lawnmower a full service
Once a year treat your lawnmower to full service, give a complete overhaul to ensure it lasts you as long as possible.
For electric lawnmowers, this means carrying out all of the steps for weekly and monthly servicing with the addition of the following steps
- Check and adjust rollers and wheels, give all the rolling parts a good clean with a stiff brush then add a drop of lubricant to any bearing surfaces.
- Clean and check the height adjustment, make sure springs are tight, and replace and items that are worn.
- Fully clean the lawnmower body and grass collector, remove any dirt and debris, use a stiff brush and scraper to clean off old grass and mulch.
- Once clean and dry, store the lawnmower somewhere safe and dry for the winter season
Petrol mowers should be fully serviced as per the electric units with the addition of the following steps:
- Change the Oil, drain and replace the motor oil from the engine.
- Change the spark plug, remove the old spark plug, and fit a fresh new one, double-check the gap is set correctly to ensure the motor runs properly.
- Change the air filter, replacing this regularly will ensure proper fuel mixture allowing the motor to perform at its best
To find out how to change the oil and spark plug on a petrol lawnmower read our engine servicing post for an in-depth guide.
Other things to consider
Can you clean a lawnmower with a hosepipe or pressure washer?
It is not a good idea to use a garden hose or pressure washer on a lawnmower, water will get into all sorts of places that it shouldn’t, like the electrics or fuel which will cause the motor to fail.
Bearings may get water inside them causing rust and corrosion and they can be difficult to replace.
It’s better to use a stiff dry brush to remove any old grass, stubborn clumps can be removed with a hard scraper.
Then use a damp sponge or rag to wipe down any excess dirt, once clean use a dry cloth to remove any moisture, and wipe down bare metal parts with an oily rag to help prevent corrosion.
Where to store your lawnmower?
Keeping your lawnmower stored safely is essential, it should be kept covered and away from water, ideally in an outhouse, garage, or shed where rain and frost cannot reach it.
Try to avoid damp spaces and keep the lawnmower off bare earth or concrete, use a wooden base or put down a hardboard layer to prevent the spread of damp.
It’s also a good idea to secure your lawnmower to something solid like a floor hasp or a ‘shed Shackle’ with a good quality chain and lock to prevent thieves from helping themselves.
Your lawnmower is going to be one of the most expensive tools you own and keeping is safe should be a priority.
To find out more about keeping your tools safe take a look at our top home security tips for more great and easy ways to protect your tools and improve your properties defense against intruders.
How to store your lawnmower for Winter
For long term storage during winter months your lawnmower can be put away until required in the spring, following the guide above there are few additional things to do,
Winter storage of Petrol Mowers
- Drain off all the fuel from the lawnmower. Unleaded doesn’t last very long before it begins to form a sticky residue, so running the lawnmower dry will remove any fuel from the fuel system and carburetor, helping keep it clean.
- Oil or grease bearings
- Wipe over any metal parts with an oily rag and use a water repellent anti-rust spray
- Check blades are secure and wipe with an oily rag
- Keep the mower in a safe dry place and use a good cover to keep dust and dirt off.
Winter storage of Electric lawnmowers
Electric lawnmowers are easier to care for but should be treated with the same levels of care as petrol versions
- Clean off any old grass cuttings and earth with a stiff or wire brush
- Check for any damage to the chassis and cables, make any repairs as needed.
- Oil or grease chain drive and bearings
- Check blades are secure and wipe with an oily rag
- Use a water repellent anti-rust spray to protect from corrosion
- Store the lawnmower in a safe dry place and use a good cover to keep out any dust or dirt.
As with Petrol and corded lawnmowers, cordless lawnmowers need to be cleaned, oiled, and protected ready for winter.
Batteries should be recharged and stored in a warm dry place and if possible kept on a ‘trickle charge’ to help maintain the battery’s lifespan.
Remember, always check the manufacturer’s manual or handbook for full details of how to care for your particular lawnmower.