The start of spring means a few things: warmer weather, spring cleaning, and – inevitably – pulling out your yard tools. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that your lawn mower is ready for use all spring, summer, and fall long – including keeping it in a safe, easy to access storage spot. Applying a little bit of elbow grease to your lawn mower now will pay off in the long run.
Don't just let the grass grow beneath your feet; take the proper steps to get your lawn mower ready for action. (Garage Smart suggestion: proper lawn mower servicing can also apply to other gas-powered yard tools like snowblowers and edgers. Take proper care of your outdoor power tools for more success next time you pull them out of the garage.)
Give it some gas
If you left gas in your lawn mower over the winter, make sure you don't have a rusty carburetor. If you do, you can always repair it or replace it before adding more gas. To ready your lawn mower's gas tank for new gas, add fuel stabilizer to the tank and let it run through the system by powering your lawn mower on. Turn your mower off, allow the engine to cool, then siphon any leftover gas into a clean gas can. (Garage Smart suggestion: if this gas hasn't been mixed with oil, use it to top off your car!) Restart your lawn mower and let it go until it stops. Keep repeating these steps until the engine doesn't start.
If you have a rusty carburetor
Double check your lawn mower's carburetor before cleaning out the gas tank and/or adding more gas. Most carburetor issues can be diagnosed by starting the engine: if it doesn't start or takes too many pulls to get it going, and you've let gas sit in your mower for a long time, the chances are that you have a rusty or gummy carburetor that needs to be rebuilt/repaired or replaced.
To double check the status of your lawn mower's carburetor, shoot an aerosol lubricant or carburetor cleaner down into the carburetor. Then, yank the cord. If the engine begins to run and then dies, you probably have a fuel problem.
Replacing the carburetor
Remove the carburetor from your lawn mower's engine and place it in a bucket or other large container (to catch the gas). Open the carburetor bowl to check for corrosion. If there is any corrosion present on the carburetor, you'll need to buy a new one – there's no repairing a corroded carburetor.
Even if you have no corrosion on your lawn mower's carburetor, you may want to replace it. Purchasing a new carburetor tends to be about the same price as the tools you'll need to repair an old one – plus a lot less labor.
Repairing the carburetor
If you're down for a little DIY, purchase a carburetor cleaner and a carburetor rebuild kit. Make sure you also have these items on hand:
- Plastic gloves
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Needle-nose pliers
- Nut driver
- Organic vapor respirator
- Socket/ratchet set
Spread out some towels and disassemble your lawn mower's carburetor. Match the new gaskets and O-rings in the carburetor rebuild kit with the old ones. Then, set aside any extra parts in the kit (kits often come with enough parts for a number of lawn mower models). Dunk the parts into a carburetor cleaner and let them sit for about an hour. Rinse all of the parts and let them dry completely. Install the new carburetor parts and mount the carburetor on the mower's engine. The engine should start just like new.
Disconnect the spark plugs
It's super important that you disconnect the spark plugs on your lawn mower before continuing with any further repairs. Connected spark plugs could cause your lawn mower to start up unexpectedly, which could result in serious injury.
Remove the blade
To make it easier to clean the underside of your lawn mower and change the oil, remove the blade on the bottom. (Garage Smart suggestion: wear thick gardening gloves when removing your lawn mower's blade with a wrench to prevent injury.)
Sharpening your lawn mower's blade
An often used lawn mower blade will naturally develop nicks and dings. Carefully sharpen it with a metal file to increase its efficacy.
If your lawn mower's blade looks unusually worn and/or damaged, take it to a repair shop. A repair technician can tell you whether you need a replacement or a more heavy duty sharpening method, like a bench grinder.
Before reattaching your lawn mower blade, make sure it is balanced. A plastic balancer is available at most home improvement stores for only a few dollars. If one side of the blade dips lower than the other side when placed on the balancer, you will need to sharpen and/or grind that side a little more until the blade is balanced.
Change the oil
Set your lawn mower on its side with the air filter and carburetor facing upward. Place a tray or pan under your lawn mower to catch the oil, then slowly remove the oil reservoir plug and tilt your mower until oil starts to drain. Replace the plug when all of the oil has drained.
Clean the deck
It's likely that the undercarriage of your lawn mower has caked-on grass and mud, which could prevent your mower from working properly. Use a putty knife or wire brush to scrape off the bottom of your lawn mower. Once you're done, replace the blade and fill the tank with fresh oil.
Change the air filter
If your lawn mower has a paper air filter, you'll need to replace it with a new one. If you have a sponge air filter, simply wash it out with soap and water and allow it to dry completely before putting it back.
Replace the spark plugs
If you didn't replace the spark plugs before winter, it's best to do that before a full season of using your lawn mower regularly. New spark plugs are usually just a couple of dollars and will make your lawn mower run much smoother.
Lawn mowers can be very dangerous if left around kids and/or pets. Because of their regular use, they can also nick and ding your cars as you take them in and out of your garage. Overhead storage is often the safest and most practical solution for everyday items – especially if it's motorized. Motorized storage makes it easy to retrieve your lawn mower every weekend when you're doing a yard spruce, and store it when you're finished. Garage Smart's Platform Lifter is a perfect solution for lawn mowers and other outdoor power tools because of its easy operation and self-leveling storage platform.
It can be difficult to keep your regularly used tools maintained and ready to use. Garage Smart creates garage storage that is easily accessible via smartphone app.