Like other machinery, lawnmowers need routine maintenance in order to operate efficiently, safely and effectively. Most lawnmowers only need occasional maintenance with a tune-up in the springtime before you mow for the first time, a midsummer tune-up, and a winterization tune-up in the late autumn. If you are thinking of buying a new lawnmower and are concerned about how much maintenance a riding versus push mower requires, here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Push mowers have a smaller oil tank capacity. They can hold up to 18 ounces, depending on the make and model. They need an oil change after about 50 hours of mowing time. Their smaller engines require a different type of oil compared to the larger engine of a riding mower. Be sure to review your owner's manual in order to select the correct type of oil. Riding mowers have oil tanks with a capacity of up to 64 ounces. Their oil should be changed after 100 hours of mowing time. If you do not reach 50 hours of mowing time with your push mower or 100 hours with your riding mower, change the oil once per year.
Clean the Lawnmower
After about 20 hours of mowing time, it is a good idea to clean the mower. This cleaning frequency is for both push and riding mowers. An ideal time to do the cleaning is when the gas tank is empty. Make sure the mower is cold. Clean it before a mowing session in order to avoid burns to your skin. Wear gloves when cleaning the mower. Remove debris from around the blades. Use a garden hose to rinse of caked dirt and debris. Scrub dirty areas with a soft-bristled brush and biodegradable detergent. Rinse the soap, and allow the mower to dry before using it.
Sharpen the Blades
Keeping the blades sharp ensures a cleaner cut. A ragged cut invites disease to your lawn. You should sharpen the blades after about 20 hours of mowing time. If your grass is particularly thick or you ride your mower over brushy areas, you may need to sharpen the blades more frequently. To prevent rusting of the mower's blades, use a long-handled brush to shake off the debris before you store the mower at the end of a mowing session.
Air Filter Maintenance
The air filter removes particles before they reach the combustion engine of the lawnmower. If you have an electric push mower, you do not have to perform this type of maintenance. For gas push mowers and all riding mowers, you should clean or replace the air filter after 50 hours of mowing time. This maintenance is more complicated, and you should refer to your owner's manual on how to disconnect the spark plugs. Some air filters need to be treated with oil before they are replaced. The owner's manual will explain if this is necessary.