March 29, 2011

Lawn mower
Courtesy Thinkstock Images/
If your lawn mower isn’t ready to take down growing grass, now is the time to do a little maintenance.

Now if you are well organized, your lawn mower was put away last fall with a clean air filter, oil and filter replaced, gas lines and tank drained, and the spark plug removed, cleaned and replaced. If you did all that, all you will likely need to do is fill the gas tank, choke and start.

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If your fall wasn’t quite as well organized as you would have liked, you may be facing a different situation with your lawn mower. Ethanol in gas tends to evaporate, and what is left can really gum up fuel lines and the carburetor. If this is the case for you, drain the old fuel out of the tank and lines, and do the other fall maintenance that was left undone.

Before refilling the tank, add 2 ounces of Sea Foam Motor Treatment or other stabilizer to a gallon of gas for the new fill. Sea Foam breaks down the old fuel and residue. I use it in all my small engines, especially if they sit for any length of time.

Don’t forget to sharpen and then balance your blade before putting it back on the mower. Take too much steel off one end when grinding out nicks and you could end up with a poorly balanced blade. It’ll vibrate, and that can damage your engine.

A quick way to check for balance is to stick a rod, bolt or even the shaft of a screwdriver through the center hole in the blade. Hold the rod horizontal with the blade perpendicular to the rod. If one end dips when you let it go, it’s probably out of balance. You can try to grind down the heavy side and rebalance, or better yet, spend a few bucks on a new blade. It’s worth it for a smooth cut and a smooth-running engine.

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