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Push Lawn Mower Maintenance

We all work hard to maintain our lawns and keep our grass looking healthy and happy. A great tool for doing just that is a well maintained lawn mower. Caring for your mower and supporting gardening tools will make your job of frequent mowing easier and keep your lawn looking fresh and green.

Supplies and materials needed for mower maintenance include: 4 cycle engine oil, a plastic pan to place the old oil into, a grindstone bit designed for mowers, an electric drill, a vise, a socket wrench, a large flat-head screw driver and safety glasses or goggles.

Pull the mower onto a hard flat surface such as a driveway or level patio.

Unscrew the spark plug with the socket wrench. Always remove the spark plug before doing any work below the deck! Removing the spark plug will prevent any chance of the mower accidentally starting while working on it.

Examine the end of the spark plug that has been inside the engine for signs of corrosion. If no signs of corrosion are present, return the spark plug into the engine when maintenance is completed. If the spark plug is corroded, a replacement spark plug will be needed.

Unscrew the cap on the oil chamber. It will usually be on the opposite side of the engine from where the gas cap is. (If it is on the same side as where the gas goes in, oil will drain from underneath the deck.) There should be a short dip stick attached to the underside of the cap. Turn the mower over slowly so that the old oil drains out into the plastic pan. Be sure to dispose of the old oil properly at a landfill or service station. Never dump it on the ground or down a household drain!

While the oil is still draining into the pan, use the socket wrench and take off the nut and washer securing the blade arm of the mower. Put those in a cup for easy location, and then remove the blade arm itself. Clean any caked on grass off of the underside of the deck.

There are two blades, one at each end of the blade arm. Sharpen them one at a time. Place the blade arm into the vise of workbench. Put the grindstone bit into the drill. Always wear safety glasses or goggles when grinding! Begin to sharpen the first blade. Shine up the bevel of metal on top of the blade with the bottom of the grindstone. Then flip over the blade arm, securing it in the vise again and run the length of the blade between the grindstone and the white plastic guide attached to the upper end of the bit. Alternate back and forth between the two surfaces, flipping the blade arm as needed, until the blade is sharp. Then do the same thing to the blade on the opposite end of the blade arm.

Put the freshly sharpened blade arm back onto the underside of the deck, securing it with the washer and nut. Gently right the mower. Use a large flat head screw driver and unscrew the cover of the air filter compartment. Remove the sponge-like air filter. It contains a small amount of engine oil and will be fairly dirty. Wash it in a pan of water with a small amount of soap and degreaser. It is best to dispose of the dirty water at an approved facility so that the engine oil in the filter does not enter the sewer or storm drain systems. An air filter should be replaced if it is disintegrated.

Put about a tablespoon of the new engine oil on the air filter and work it in with your fingers. Put the filter back in its basket and back into its compartment, screwing the cover down tightly, but not too tight.

Put the new engine oil into the oil chamber. Some engine oil comes in a bottle containing more oil than what will fit into the engine, so use caution. Use the dipstick attached to the cap to monitor until the proper level is reached.

Last but not least, put the spark plug back in place with the socket wrench, fill the gas tank with new gas and you are ready to start your revitalized lawn mower. Your local Southern States experts are ready and willing to help you locate any of the tools required for this maintenance project and with any questions you may have about your lawn and garden.

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