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How to adjust your lawn mower (just in time for summer)



Lawn mowers are hard. Like any machine, they need regular maintenance to do their best. Worse, neglect can cause a mower to fail completely. So before the mowing season really gets going in the summer, prepare your lawnmower. From cleaning, to changing the oil, to sharpening and balancing the blades, this guide contains steps to get your lawnmower in top shape.

First collect all the tools and items you need.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 1
: Gather what you need

First collect your tools and equipment. You need a drill, eye protection, work gloves and a blade sharpening kit. The kit should be equipped with a ceramic sharpener and balancer. Expect to pay about $ 8 for the kit at your local hardware store. You will also need a torque wrench (or a socket wrench in case of emergency) and a wooden block. Also consider a rubber mallet.

Other items and accessories include a plastic drip tray, engine oil and a waste oil container. Often a large piece of cardboard is useful, as well as an old rag or a cloth. Also note that this manual is for push or self propelled mowers, not mowers. While some advice applies here, they are another animal together.

Clear dirt, debris and old grass from the blade area


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Step 2: Clean

To clean it, start with a cool motor first. If your mower has a fuel valve, turn it off. If you can, also disconnect the spark plug. Next, use a leaf blower to blow away old dirt and larger debris. Carefully place the lawnmower on its side and tank lid up. Also, try to remove garbage from the bottom of the mower.

You could use a garden hose to clean your lawnmower. The safest way, with the least risk of damage, is to clean it by hand.


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I know that many people prefer to vacuum their mowers with a garden hose. I admit, I did it. Still, that's risky. If water gets into the wiring, the air filter or the engine, you could really do some damage. Hand washing with a damp cloth is a disadvantage, but also your safest bet.

Some lawn mowers, such as the Craftsman 37705, have a "washout" feature. It is essentially a garden hose that fits on top of the circular sheet cover. This allows you to pump water into the blade assembly while you run the engine. This action was developed to immediately rinse out dirt and debris.


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Step 3: Sharpen and balance its blades

Hold the mower still on its side and grab your socket wrench and block of wood. Place the block in the leaf cavity. This prevents the blades from rotating while loosening their screws. Remove the blade mounting screw / screws. A typical mower has a blade like the Craftsman 37700 I, which is being serviced for this guide (a fixing screw). Some, like my Honda HRR216VKA, have two blades, one upper and one lower (two mounting screws). Each blade should have at least two cutting edges.

To sharpen them, secure them in a bench vise. Now attach the blade sharpener to the end of your drill. Be sure to wear eye protection and work gloves. Use the sharpener carefully to sharpen the cutting edges of your blades. Go slowly first to get the feel for the best angle to hit the blade and the sharpener.

After sanding both sides of the blade, place it on the tapered balancer. If one side dives under the other, continue to grind until the blade is level. Return the sharpened blades to the mower and replace. If you have a torque wrench it is a good idea to use it here. Often you need to tighten the bolts / bolts for blade mounting to a specific tightness.

Typically measured in pounds-foot, your manual should list these specifications. For example, my personal machine, the Honda HRR216VKA, requires between 36 to 43 lb-ft of torque.

Let the lawnmower run for a few minutes to allow the oil to flow freely.


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Step 4: Change the oil

Next change the oil. To reduce the viscosity of the oil and allow it to move freely, run the engine for a few minutes. Now stop the engine and place the mower on a piece of cardboard or a cloth. Close the fuel line (if your lawnmower has one) and unhook the spark plug as before. Find the oil filler hose and remove its cap. Often the cap also serves as a dipstick.

Empty the old oil from your lawn mower into a drip tray.


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Place a drip pan or other container with the filler on the side of the mower. Carefully tilt the mower so that the oil flows into the pan. Dispose of the used oil in a suitable disposal container.

Put the fresh oil with the filler pipe into the lawnmower. A funnel like this is sometimes useful as well.


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Slowly add fresh oil to the mower. For the specific type of oil you need, check your manual. Make sure you only add as much as your model needs. Remember to allow the mower to sit undisturbed for a few minutes to allow the oil to accumulate well in the engine.

Pour the old oil into a special disposal container


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Get out and kill

Now that you've done everything, your mower should be ready to tackle the season. It should also run smoother and safer. Even better, you have just saved the cost of $ 200 to $ 300, which usually costs, at least in my forest, to professionally service your lawnmower. So keep going and come out. The tall grass has to be cut.


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