Regular lawn mower maintenance. Guide to Lawn Mower Safety and Maintenance

Guide to Lawn Mower Safety and Maintenance

Before using a new lawn mower, it’s important to understand the basics of proper operation and maintenance. Doing so will keep everyone safe and help you get the most out of your investment.

Are Lawn Mowers Safe to Use?

Since millions of people use lawn mowers, it’s easy to have a false sense of security about them. Yes, lawn mowers are safe when you use and maintain them properly. However, gas-powered walk-behind mowers, which are the most common models, do present some hazards. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 60,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year after being injured while mowing the lawn. That why we recommend that you refresh your memory about important lawn mower safety protocols before starting yours up for the year.

Are Lawn Mowers Safe for Kids?

Since they are powerful machines used by adults, lawn mowers attract the interest of many kids. Given the significant safety hazards posed by these machines, however, children under 12 should not be permitted to operate them. Children under 16 should not be allowed to operate riding lawn mowers. Even when they are old enough, parents should ensure that kids follow all safety protocols while mowing the lawn.

Lawn Mower Safety Tips

Stay safe while whipping your yard into shape with the following lawn mower safety tips:

  • Read the owner’s manual for the lawn mower you will use, including operating instructions and safety tips.
  • Never allow children under 12 to operate any lawn mower. Children under 16 should not be permitted to use riding lawn mowers.
  • Only mow the lawn during the day, and make sure the grass is dry.
  • Wear protective gear to avoid mishaps while mowing the lawn, including fitted clothes, long pants, sturdy shoes, and gloves.
  • Shield yourself from flying debris and loud noises with protective eyewear and earplugs.
  • Before starting, walk through the yard removing sticks, pine cones, rocks, and other debris that could turn into hazardous projectiles while you mow.
  • Also, before mowing, make sure that there are no children or pets in the area.
  • Never disable any safety features on your lawn mower.
  • Do not operate a lawn mower while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications with warning labels about operating heavy machinery.
  • Always shut off the lawn mower before doing things like adjusting the mower height, removing the grass catcher, clearing the grass chute, or performing other repairs.
  • Never allow passengers on riding lawn mowers.
  • Take extra care when operating a lawn mower on hills and inclines. When using a push mower, mow across the incline for optimal safety.
  • Allow the engine to cool completely before adding more fuel. You can avoid this issue by checking the fuel and topping it off before getting started.
  • Always turn off the engine on a riding lawn mower before getting off.
  • Never insert your hands or feet into the mower to clear grass and other debris even if it is turned off. Instead, use a broom handle or stick.
  • Never lift a lawn mower from the bottom.
  • Always turn off the lawn mower before crossing sidewalks and driveways.
  • While operating a lawn mower, always keep your gaze 3 to 4 feet ahead of you.
  • Keep all four wheels of the mower down at all times; never tilt it.
  • Do not pull the lawn mower toward you. Instead, if you miss a spot, go back and mow it again.
  • Stay clear of the hot engine; the muffler can get as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

When Should I Take My Lawn Mower for Maintenance?

Ideally, you should tune up your lawn mower after every 25 hours of use or every three months, whichever comes first.

Most types of lawn mower maintenance are easy enough for the average owner to handle. However, some prefer leaving the work to the professionals. Many companies offer lawn mower maintenance packages that take the guesswork out of keeping your lawn mower in tip-top shape.

Here’s a maintenance to-do list for performing a tune-up of your lawn mower:

  • Change the engine oil – Push mowers have 15 to 18 ounces of oil capacity. Change the oil every 50 hours or annually, whichever comes first. Riding mowers have a capacity of 48 to 64 ounces. Change the oil every 100 hours or annually, whichever comes first. Always follow instructions from the owner’s manual, including recommended oil type, when changing the oil. You can dispose of old oil at local municipal recycling centers and many auto shops.
  • Change the spark plug – Swap out the spark plug on your mower to ensure that it keeps starting quickly.
  • Replace or clean the air filter – Follow instructions from your owner’s manual to replace or clean the air filter.
  • Clean the undercarriage – With the mower off and spark plugs removed, place it on its side. Use a brush to clear away caked-on old grass and other debris. Spray down the area with a hose, and allow it to dry.
  • Add fuel stabilizer – It’s important to use fresh gasoline when mowing the lawn. Gas can start going bad within 30 days, so consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank to prolong its life and protect the engine.
  • Check fasteners and wheels – Look over all fasteners and wheels, tightening hardware as needed to keep everything in good shape.
  • Fog the engine – If you won’t be using the mower for an extended period, for instance, over the winter, drain all the gas and spray fogging oil into the carburetors and cylinders to protect them. Otherwise, lubricants in the engine will drain away, and water in the air can cause corrosion and other damage.
  • Sharpen the blade – Dull blades can tear grass, leaving it susceptible to infection and damage from insects and the sun. If your mower has reel blades, it’s best to let professionals sharpen them. If it has a rotary blade, you may be able to sharpen it yourself using a grindstone, file, or bench grinder. Hold the blade at a 45-degree angle while sharpening it, and use goggles, gloves, and other safety equipment.

How Often Should I Replace My Lawn Mower Blade?

During regular tune-ups, examine your lawn mower blade. If there are cracks or other damage, sharpening it more won’t help; replace it instead. Otherwise, plan on replacing your lawn mower blade about once a year. It may last longer if you are conscientious about sharpening it regularly, so keep up with its routine maintenance to get as much use out of the blade as possible.

A Great Lawn Starts With a Well-Maintained Lawn Mower

To keep your yard looking terrific throughout the year, you should mow it regularly. Since mowing the lawn is a fact of life, it pays to take steps to keep your machine in good working order. Whether you take it to a repair shop or do the work yourself, regular tune-ups will let you squeeze as much use out of your lawn mower as possible, giving you the best bang for your buck. Knowing how to use it safely and effectively will prevent injuries and produce better results. True Value has everything you need to make the most of your lawn mower, so find a store near you to get started today.

How to Service a Lawn Mower

A lawn mower is an essential piece of equipment when caring for your lawn. Like all machinery, it may need service and maintenance in order to keep it running and in tip top shape. If you’re wondering how to service a lawn mower to make your machine last, I’ve got you covered.

While it may seem obvious that your lawn mower will need maintenance, the lawn mower is one of the least maintained pieces of machinery in most people’s homes and is one that takes most of the beating during peak seasons.

In this in-depth article I’ll explain how to service a lawn mower, covering just about every aspect of routine maintenance you need to know about.

So without delay, here are a few tips to ensure your lawn mower is in working shape when you need it:

Get to Know Your Lawn Mower

Knowing your lawn mower inside and out is a great way to ensure that you not only know how your lawn mower works, but that you know when your lawn mower isn’t working correctly.

I recommend that you read your lawn mowers owner’s manual before using it and before storing it for long periods of time. It also might be a good idea to brush up every couple of years by leafing through it at the beginning of a new season.

If you’re like me, you tend to forget things, especially things that aren’t on the top of your priority list. Reading your lawn mowers owner’s manual will ensure that you are able to take the best care of your lawn mower possible.

It’s a great first step to protect your investment.

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Store Your Lawn Mower Properly

Taking good care of your lawn mower doesn’t stop when the mowing season stops. It is important to care for your lawn mower all year round, especially when it is going to sit for a long period of time, or when you first pull it out after it has been sitting.

Lawn Mower Maintenance that will Save you Time & Money. How to

When storing your lawn mower for long periods of time, be sure to drain the gasoline from the mower. Old gasoline in your lawn mower could cause it to not start when peak mowing season comes around.

It’s more expensive, but you can also buy gas that is ethanol-free. This type of gasoline you can leave in your machine year-round and you don’t have to worry about it going bad. For me, it’s worth the extra money (at least early in the spring and late in the fall).

If you forget to drain the gas our of your lawn mower, here are some tips for getting your mower started again when peak season comes around:

How to Drain Bad Gas From Your Mower

  • Clean out your lawn mower’s gas tank. You can refer to your lawn mowers owner’s manual for instructions on how to get inside of your mowers fuel tank.
  • Remove any remaining gas from your gas tank. Once the gasoline build up is gone, siphon all of the old gas into a container before adding new gas.
  • Ensure that the spark plug is installed properly. Often, the spark plug in your lawn mower can come loose. After draining the old gas out of your lawn mower, be sure the spark plug wire is all the way in. This will give you the best chance at restarting your lawn mower.
  • Add the new gas and start slow. After adding the new gasoline, start slow when starting your lawn mower. When the smell of gas becomes strong, stop. A strong smell of gas means that you have flooded your carburetor.

Check your Lawn Mower’s Oil

Oil in a lawn mower is essential for proper functioning, and if you want to learn how to service a lawn mower, learning to change your mower’s oil is the first step.

You should change the oil in your lawn mower once every other mowing season minimum (I recommend doing it once a year because it’s easy and inexpensive to do).

How to Change the Oil in Your Lawn Mower

  • Drain all of the gasoline from your lawn mower (optional – I usually don’t do this, but some people recommend it)
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire (good safety practice)
  • Check to see if your lawn mower has an oil drain plug. Some lawn mowers, especially larger ones and riding mowers will have an oil drain plug. Smaller walk-behind lawn mowers generally do not have an oil drain plug.
  • If your lawn mower has an oil drain plug, pull the plug and drain the oil into a pan or container like you would with a car.
  • If your lawn mower does not have an oil drain plug, tip your lawn mower on its side, being sure to keep the carburetor on the raised side, and drain all of the oil out of the mower. In a push mower this is usually done right through the hole where the dipstick is where you add oil. They’re almost always built with the carb on the other side.

Clean the Mower’s Undercarriage

One common lawn mower maintenance item that is often overlooked is cleaning out the undercarriage.

Grass, especially if you mowed wet grass, can get caked to the underside of your lawn mower and clog up your lawn mower’s discharge chute.

It can also rust your mower deck and your blades.

Cleaning the undercarriage of your lawn mower is easier if you have a smaller, push mower. If you have a larger, riding mower, I recommend seeking professional help.

For smaller, push mowers, unplug the spark plug wire and tip your mower on its side. Using a wire brush, scrape the grass clippings and dirt off the undercarriage. Be careful not to scratch the painted finish much because that’ll result in easy spots for rust to develop.

Once the majority of the buildup has been scraped off, use a hose to spray the remaining debris off the undercarriage of your lawn mower and let it dry.

Your Lawn Mower Needs Clean Air

Your lawn mower’s air filter picks up a lot of dirt and dust, especially if you live in a dry, dusty climate or your lawn has bare spots.

It is important to clean the air filter in your lawn mower, just like it is important to clean the air filter in your car. A dirty air filter will put more stress on your lawn mower and waste gas.

I clean mine by removing it, shaking it gently and then blowing on each side to remove any larger dust particles before each use.

I also replace my air filter annually. It’s easy to do and inexpensive and when you’re first learning how to service a lawn mower, this is one maintenance step that is easy to master.

I recommend that you replace the air filter in your mower once a year to ensure optimal performance. It’s usually wise to buy a couple when you go to the store so if you notice it’s dirty during lawn maintenance season, you have one handy to save you a trip to the store.

Spark Plug Replacement: A Satisfying Part of Servicing a Lawn Mower

Another thing that you should change annually is your spark plug. Spark plugs ensure that your lawn mower will start up easily.

Here are some tips to change your spark plug:

How to Change a Lawn Mower Spark Plug

  • Unplug the spark plug wire.
  • Remove the old spark plug with a spark plug wrench or socket. Most people don’t have a socket long enough for this task in their set, so you might need to buy a new one. Your mower’s manual will tell you what size to buy.
  • Place the new plug into the socket, ensuring that you do not tighten it down too much. Overtightening your spark plug could prevent your lawn mower from starting. You want it just beyond finger tight.

Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blades

Let’s face it … other than that guy or gal across the street nobody has a perfect lawn (every neighborhood has that neighbor).

Because nobody’s yards are perfect and most are filled with rocks, roots, sticks, and other hard, blunt objects, your mower’s blades can take a beating. They endure a lot of stress, especially during peak mowing season.

It is important to keep your mower’s blades sharp.

Dull lawn mower blades rip and tear the grass instead of cutting it, causing damage to your mower and to your lawn. Learning to sharpen your lawn mower blades will make a huge difference in your lawn’s performance.

Plus it’s super satisfying to learn and do. It was one of my favorite steps when first learning how to service a lawn mower.

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If you are not handy, I recommend hiring a professional to help sharpen your lawn mower blades.

Some people use a metal file to sharpen their lawn mower’s blades and others use an angle grinder. Doing this improperly can be dangerous. You could damage your mower, so gauge for yourself whether or not this is for you.

I found it pretty easy to master and I find it relaxing and fun. But I also have a blog about lawn care, so I may not be speaking for the masses.

How to Service a Lawn Mower: Explained

Regular maintenance routines on your lawn mower vary. What you need to do to regularly service your mower will depend upon:

  • the size of your mower,
  • how often you use it, and
  • the size and condition of your property.

Here is a summary of the basic service you should perform on your lawn mower:

Recommended Lawn Mower Service Items

  • Understand how your lawn mower works and know how to tell when it is broken. By reading your owner’s manual you can know when your lawn mower is working properly. You can also know how it is supposed to feel and sound, so when it is not working properly, you can pinpoint the problem. Most manuals have a page dedicated to common problems and how to fix them.
  • Don’t just abandon your mower after the final use of the year and let it sit during non-mowing seasons. Your lawn mower needs attention even when you are not mowing. Before you leave your lawnmower in the back of your garage for the winter be sure to drain all of the gasoline. Disposal is easy – just dump it into your car’s gas tank. This will save you some headaches when it is time to pull the mower out again and use it.
  • If you forget to drain your lawn mower of gasoline, don’t fret, use the tips in this article to get your lawn mower back up and running after a winter with old gasoline.
  • If you use TruFuel or another ethanol-free gas, you don’t need to drain your tank. You can also treat your gas to winterize it, but many people do this incorrectly, so I don’t recommend it.

The Satisfaction of Caring For Your Lawn Mower

Servicing your lawn mower is important if you want to keep it running well. I’m a huge advocate for DIY, but if it seems overwhelming hire a professional to service your machine annually.

Protect your investment and take care of your lawn mower following these simple service tips. Your mower will remain in tip-top shape for years.

How to tune up a lawn mower video

You can help the engine on your walk-behind lawn mower run better and last longer by giving it a tune-up at least once a year. A tune-up takes about half an hour and involves changing the oil, air filter and spark plug, along with cleaning the exhaust, controls and engine cooling system. This video walks you through the process so you can keep your engine performing its best.

For additional repair help, including common symptoms and troubleshooting tips, step-by-step lawn mower repair guides and articles, check out our repair help section. In addition, find the lawn mower parts you need to fix your mower.

Hi, Wayne here from Sears PartsDirect. Did you know that tuning up the engine on your lawn mower at least once a year helps it last longer and perform better? It doesn’t take that long either—we’ll show you how in this video.

Supplies you may need

When buying supplies, make sure to get the spark plug and air filter that fit your engine. You also need motor oil, a drain pan, a spark plug wrench, a wrench or nut driver set, shop rags, a cleaning brush, work gloves and safety goggles.

Before you begin

Look up the engine oil capacity in the engine owner’s manual so you know how much to add when changing the oil.

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In a well-ventilated area, check fuel level in the gas tank. The tank should be nearly empty before starting the tune-up so fuel doesn’t spill when you tip the mower.

If the tank has fuel, run the mower to empty most of the fuel or drain most of it out of the tank.

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Just before beginning the oil change, run the engine for 5 minutes to warm the oil so it drains faster. If you ran the engine to empty the fuel tank, let the engine cool for about 20 minutes. The oil will still be warm enough.

Put the mower on a level surface.

Wearing safety goggles and work gloves, remove the fuel tank cap. Place a plastic bag over the fuel tank opening and put the fuel tank cap back on to prevent gasoline from leaking out through the fuel tank cap vent.

Remove the spark plug wire; be careful because the engine is hot.

Change the oil

Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a shop rag.

Put the drain pan next to the mower.

Tip the mower to drain the oil from the dipstick tube and into the drain pan.

After the oil drains, set the mower upright and wipe up any spilled oil.

Carefully pour new oil into the dipstick tube. Start by pouring in three quarters of the amount of your engine’s oil capacity, because some oil might be left in the mower.

Wait a minute for the oil to settle in the engine sump.

To check the oil level, push the dipstick all the way into the dipstick opening and lock it.

Then unlock and pull out the dipstick. If the oil doesn’t reach the top of the full mark on the dipstick, add a little more oil, wait a minute and check again.

Repeat until oil reaches the top of the full mark. Reinsert the dipstick.

Take off the fuel tank cap, remove the plastic bag and reinstall the cap.

Replace the air filter and change the spark plug

Next, we’ll change the air filter. Release the locking tab and pull off the air filter cover. Remove the old air filter and install the new filter. Reinstall the air filter cover.

To replace the spark plug, use a spark plug wrench to remove the old plug from the engine cylinder. Using a gap tool and feeler gauge, set the gap on the new spark plug to the specifications in your engine owner’s manual. For this engine, the gap is 0.02 inches. Thread the new spark plug into the engine and tighten it with the wrench. Don’t reconnect the spark plug wire yet.

Clean the engine

The next step is to clean the engine when the engine and muffler are completely cool. Release the starter rope from the lawn mower handle. Remove the screws from the blower housing and pull the housing off the engine.

Clean the muffler and engine cooling fins using the cleaning brush and shop rags. Also clean the choke and throttle rods, springs and linkages. Use the brush to remove debris from the rewind starter grill.

You can also blow debris and dirt off the engine and controls using compressed air.

When you’re done, reinstall the blower housing and connect the spark plug wire.

Re-check the oil level

Now that we have everything installed, let’s start the engine and re-check the oil level. In a well-ventilated area, run the engine for a few minutes to move the oil through the engine. Then shut the mower off. Allow a minute for the oil to settle in the engine sump. Remove the dipstick and check oil level.

Add oil if needed to hit the full mark on the dipstick.

Simple Lawn Mower Tune-Up and Maintenance

That’s it, the tune-up’s complete and you’re ready to start another season of mowing.

I hope this video helps you out today. You can find links to the parts and products we talked about in the video description below. Check out our other videos here on the Sears PartsDirect YouTube channel. Subscribe, and we’ll let you know when we post new videos.

Lawnmower Maintenance: The Essential Guide For New Homeowners

Lawnmowers are a necessary homeowner’s tool when it comes to keeping your yard looking neat and tidy.

But as new owners of an unruly yard quickly learn, lawnmowers require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly.

Neglecting basic maintenance tasks can lead to costly repairs down the line, so it’s important to stay on top of things.

In this article, we’ll cover all the essential maintenance tasks you need to keep your lawnmower in top shape.

Get To Know The Parts Of A Lawnmower

The various parts of a lawnmower and their functions can be confusing for a novice. But understanding the parts of a lawnmower can help you to better maintain and troubleshoot your mower.

By familiarizing yourself with the various lawnmower components and their functions, you can keep your mower running smoothly and your grass looking its best. So let’s take a quick look at the main components of a lawnmower and how they work together to keep your grass trimmed and healthy.


The engine is the heart of the lawnmower, providing the power needed to turn the blades and move the mower across the grass. Lawnmowers can have either gas-powered or electric engines. Gas-powered engines are typically more powerful and can be used for larger lawns, while electric engines are quieter, more environmentally friendly, and easier to maintain.


The blades are the most important part of the lawnmower, responsible for cutting the grass. Lawnmower blades are typically made of hardened steel and are mounted on the underside of the deck. The deck is the metal or plastic housing that surrounds the blades and helps to channel the grass clippings.


The deck is the metal or plastic housing that surrounds the blades and helps to channel the grass clippings. The deck is typically made of steel or aluminum and is designed to be durable and resistant to rust. Some lawnmowers have a deck that can be adjusted to different cutting heights, allowing you to customize the cut for different types of grass.

Wheel Assembly

The wheel assembly consists of the wheels and the axles that connect them to the lawnmower. The wheels provide traction and allow the mower to move across the grass, while the axles provide stability and support. The wheel assembly is an important part of the lawnmower, as it helps to distribute the weight of the mower evenly and reduces wear and tear on the blades and engine.

Handle Assembly

The handle assembly consists of the handles and the control levers that allow you to operate the lawnmower. The handles provide a comfortable grip and allow you to steer the mower, while the control levers allow you to start the engine, engage the blades, and adjust the cutting height. Some lawnmowers also have additional features, such as a bagging system or mulching capability, that can be controlled via the handle assembly.

Other Components

In addition to the main components, lawnmowers may also have other parts, such as a fuel tank, oil reservoir, and air filter. These parts help to keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently and may require regular maintenance or replacement. Consult your owner’s manual for specific information on these parts and how to care for them.

Cleaning the Deck and Blades

The first step in maintaining your lawnmower is to clean the deck and blades.

Over time, grass clippings and debris can build up under the deck, leading to poor cutting performance and reduced fuel efficiency.

  • Remove any debris from the top of the deck and blades.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire so that the engine doesn’t start accidentally.
  • Use a putty knife or scraper to loosen and remove any grass clippings or debris from under the deck.
  • Use a wire brush to scrub the blades, and make sure that you give some attention to the underside of those blades.
  • Wipe the deck and blades with a clean, dry cloth to remove any remaining dirt or debris.

Changing the Oil

Changing the oil is an important part of keeping your lawnmower running smoothly.

Over time, oil can become dirty and contaminated, reducing its ability to lubricate the engine and leading to increased wear and tear.

Most lawnmowers require an oil change every 25-50 hours of operation, or at least once per season.

  • Find the mower’s oil drain plug and oil filter. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where they are located on the machine.
  • Place a pan or container under the oil drain plug to catch the old oil.
  • Remove the oil drain plug and allow the old oil to drain completely.
  • Remove the oil filter and replace it with a new one.
  • Add new oil to the engine, following the oil capacity recommendations in your owner’s manual.

Checking and Replacing the Air Filter

Since the mower’s air filter is what does the heavy lifting when it comes to trapping dirt and debris before it enters the engine, it’s important that you keep it clean and in good condition.

  • Locate the air filter cover on your lawnmower. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where it is.
  • Remove the cover and inspect the air filter. If it’s dirty or damaged, it needs to be replaced.
  • Replace the air filter with a new one, making sure it’s seated properly and the cover is tightened securely.

Sharpening the Blades

Sharp blades are essential for a clean, even cut and healthy lawn.

Over time, blades can become dull and damaged, leading to poor cutting performance and potentially even damaging your grass.

  • Remove the blades from the lawnmower. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on how to do this.
  • To sharpen the blades, use a file or grinder. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper sharpening angle and technique.
  • Balance the blades using a blade balancer or a piece of string. This helps to ensure an even cut and reduce vibrations.
  • Reinstall the blades, making sure they’re tightened securely.


Lawnmower maintenance may seem like a daunting task, but by following these basic steps, you can keep your lawnmower running smoothly and extend its lifespan.

Remember to regularly clean the deck and blades, change the oil, check and replace the air filter, and sharpen the blades to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

Regular maintenance will not only help your lawnmower run better, but it will also end up saving you some money by preventing some costly repairs.

So don’t put it off – start taking care of your lawnmower today!

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