maintain lawn mower

Everyone knows the saying about the grass being greener on the other side.

If you don’t take care of your lawn mower, the grass will be shorter on the other side, too. Lawn mowers are a considerable investment, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute says they are typically replaced every six years. Replacing your lawn mower this frequently can become a significant household expense.

Luckily, you can cut down on this expense by taking better care of your lawn mower. Proper lawn mower maintenance can also make lawn care easier and ultimately improve the health of your grass. Here are some ways to extend the life of your lawn mower.

Keep it clean and sharp

Clean the deck of your lawn mower after each use and clear away any grass clippings. (The deck is where the blade on the underside of your lawn mower is located.) If grass clippings accumulate, they can disrupt the airflow around the blades and impart moisture and corrosive chemicals from lawn treatments to the underside of your mower. If grass dries on your lawn mower deck, turn off your lawn mower, rinse it down with a hose and use a plastic putty knife or ice scraper to remove debris.

Also make sure to sharpen your mower blades at least once a year. Sharp blades cut cleaner, and can reduce fuel consumption by 22 percent. Sharp blades can also improve the overall health of your lawn. That’s because the condition of grass cut with a dull blade makes it more likely that grass will become diseased. You can sharpen the blades yourself or take them to a hardware store that offers blade sharpening services.

Check the spark plug

A bad spark plug can make your mower difficult to start or cause it to run roughly. You can maintain your spark plug, which ignites the gas so your mower can run, by regularly cleaning the area of rust and dirt. When the time comes for a new spark plug, you’ll be happy to know that they are easy to replace and generally inexpensive. Consider spark plug replacement your best option if you’re worn out from trying to pull-start your mower over and over again.

Replace the air filter

Replacing your mower’s air filter is another simple and affordable way to keep your mower running smoothly. A clogged air filter prevents proper air circulation in your motor. The engine will struggle when it’s overdue for a filter replacement. Paper filters are inexpensive to replace, while foam filters can be reused simply by washing them with dish soap and water. After drying, treat a foam filter with a little motor oil to help it trap more debris.

Change the fuel and oil

The right way to prepare your mower for winter is to drain the oil and gas. Run the engine until it stops to empty out the gas tank. Gasoline can separate and spoil in just a few weeks, potentially damaging the engine. Also drain and recycle the motor oil. At the start of the next season, fill up your mower with fresh oil and gas.

Your lawn mower is a work horse. By following these five tips, you can help keep it humming for many years to come.

Carla Williams works in customer relations for Safety1 Industries, a retailer of safety equipment such as gas cans and safety storage cabinets.