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How to set up your lawnmower (just in time for the summer)



Lawnmower is tough. Like all machines, they need regular maintenance to run their best. Worse, neglect can cause a mower to fail completely. So before the summer's cutting season really kicks into high gear, prepare your mower right. From cleaning the oil to sharpening and balancing the blade, this guide contains steps to get your mower – and your garden – in top shape.

First, collect all the tools and objects you need.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 1
: Gather What You Need

First, collect your tools and equipment. You need a power drill, eye protection, work gloves and a cutting tool. The kit should be provided with a ceramic knife sharp and balance. Expect to pay about $ 7 for the rate on your local hardware store. You also need a torque wrench (or a socket key in a pinch) and a wooden block. Consider having a rubber ball at hand.

Other articles and accessories include a plastic droplet, engine oil and a waste oil container. Often, a large piece of paper is useful as well as an old cloth or cloth. Also know that this manual is about pressure or self-propelled lawnmowers, not for lawn mowers. While some advice here is, they are another animal altogether.

Clear dirt, debris and old grass clippings from the leaf area.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 2: Clean it

To clean it, first start with a cool engine. If your mower has a fuel valve, turn it off. If you can, you can also disconnect the spark plug. Then use a blade blower to blow away all the old dirt and debris. Carefully place the mower carefully, the fuel cap facing up. Try to get rid of debris on the underside of the lawnmower as well.

You can get away with using a garden hose to clean your lawnmower. The safest way, with the least risk of injury, is by hand cleaning.


Chris Monroe / CNET

I know many people prefer to throw their lawn mowers with a garden hose. I admit, I've done it. It still makes it risky. If water enters the lines, air filter or engine, you can really do some damage. Hand wash with damp cloth is a draw, but also your safest bet.

Some lawnmowers, such as Craftsman 37705, have a "tire wash" function. It is essentially a garden hose mounted on top of the circular blade hood. This allows you to pump water into the blade when driving the engine. This action is designed to flush out dirt and debris.


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Step 3: Sharpen and balance the blade

With the mower still on its side, grasp the connector and the wooden block. Place the block inside the blade well. This is to prevent the blades from turning when you loosen the bolts. Remove the screw / screws. An ordinary mower has one blade like Craftsman 37700 I serve for this guide (a mounting bolt). Some, like my Honda HRR216VKA, have two blades, one upper and one lower (two mounting bolts). Each blade should have at least two cutting edges.

To sharpen them, secure them in a table screen. Now attach the blade grinder at the end of your power drill. Be sure to wear eye protection and work gloves. Carefully use the sharpener to sharpen the cutting edges of your blades. Go slowly in the beginning to get the feeling of the best angle to hit the knife and sharpness.

After sharpening both sides of the blade, place it on the seat's cone-shaped balances. If one side falls below the other, continue sharpening it until the blade is level. Return the sharpened blades to the mower and replace it. If you have a torque wrench, it is a good idea to use it here. Often, you need to tighten the blade mounting bolt / bolts to a certain density level.

Typically measured in feet, your user manual should list these specifications. For example, my personal machine, the Honda HRR216VKA, is between 36 and 43 lb-ft of torque.

Drive the mower engine for a few minutes to allow the oil to flow freely.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 4: Change oil

Next, replace oil. To lower the oil viscosity and make it move freely, run the engine for a few minutes. Turn off the engine and roll the mower onto a piece of cardboard or cloth. Close the fuel line (if your mower has one) and remove the spark plug as before. Find the oil filling tube and remove the cover. The cover often also functions as a measuring stick.

Empty the old oil from your lawnmower into a drip pan.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Place a drip basket or other container on the side of the mower with the filler. Carefully tip the mower so that the oil releases and enters the boiler. Dispose of the used oil in a suitable packaging container.

Add the fresh oil to the lawnmower using the filler pipe. A funnel like this is sometimes also at hand.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Pour fresh oil slowly into the mower. For the specific type of oil you need, check your user manual. Make sure you only add as much as your particular model requires. Remember to let the mower sit undisturbed for a few minutes so that the oil settles properly inside the engine.

Pour the old oil into a special packaging container.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Going out and cutting

Now that you've done everything, your mower should be ready to tackle the season in battle. It should run smoother and safer as well. Even better, you've just saved the $ 200 to $ 300 fee that it normally costs, at least in my neck in the woods, to get your lawnmower professionally serviced. So go ahead and get out there. The high grass needs cutting.

Do you want to make the water easier? Here is the CNET guide to creating your own automated grass irrigation system .

Originally published May 31, 2018.
Update March 20, 2019 : Published for spring 2019.


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