3 Tips to Keep Your Riding Mower in Top Shape
As the weather warms and shorts become popular again, the grass switches from dormant to explosive growth. Once your lawn starts growing out of control, it’s time to fight back with the most powerful tool in your arsenal, the riding mower. Since the riding lawn mower has been sitting in the garage all winter, there are some crucial steps to ensure it’s running smoothly. Not only can the following tips help you save fuel, but they can also aid in preserving the lifespan of your riding mower.
Clean the Air Filter
One of the aspects of a riding lawn mower that many people can forget to check is the air filter. For your riding lawn mower engine to perform optimally, it needs to be able to breathe. The air filter is usually located on the top back of the engine and is easily accessible. Once you open the compartment that houses the filter, you’ll likely notice grass clippings and dirt build-up around both the foam pre-filter and the air filter itself. Perform the following steps for essential air filter maintenance:
• Remove the foam pre-filter, wash with dish soap and leave out to dry completely
• Inspect the air filter and gently tap it against a hard surface to shake loose any large debris.
• Carefully wipe and clean the air filter housing on any particles or engine liquids.
• Once everything is dry, reinstall the air filter and foam pre-filter and latch the housing shut.
Clean Out the Blade Deck
Sometimes if the grass is damp while mowing, it can start to clump and stick to the underside of the cutting deck around the blades. While the blades may still turn freely, the riding lawn mower’s cutting performance will suffer, and the engine will labor heavily even when cutting shorter grass. Unfortunately, you’ll need to physically remove the clippings that have formed a spongy layer underneath the cutting deck to return your mower to form. Perform the following steps to clean out your cutting deck:
• Unhook the cutting deck from the mower itself per the instructions for your model.
• Slide out the cutting deck from under the mower and carefully flip it over (extra hands will help here as riding mower decks can be heavy).
• Using a putty knife, stick, or your hands (carefully!), scrape and peel away the layers of old grass until you can see the metal underneath.
Note: Before you re-attach the cutting deck to your riding mower, you might want to consider the next tip for enhanced cutting performance.
Replace Your Blades
Riding lawn mower blades endure a lot of abuse throughout the season. Regular mowing will slowly dull the blades, and any objects caught up like rocks, toys, or sticks can deform the cutting edges. If you hit an obstacle hard enough, you can compromise the balance of the blades, which can leave you with strange angled patterns on the lawn. It’s crucial to replace the blades at least once every season so your mower can cut efficiently and preserve the health of your grass, as a dull blade rips instead of cutting. Perform the following steps to change out your riding mower blades:
• If you’ve already disengaged the cutting deck from the mower per the previous tip, great. Otherwise, you’ll need to unhook the cutting deck from the mower, slide it out and gently flip it, exposing the underside of the cutting deck.
• Before you loosen the nuts holding the mower blades, you’ll need to prevent them from spinning. You can purchase special clamps, or you can carefully utilize a woodblock. Ensure that whatever means you use to stop the blade is secure and won’t fly loose for everyone’s safety.
• The nut that holds each blade in place is tough to loosen. Utilize a large rachet with an extended handle for enhanced leverage. Even with proper tools, these blades can be difficult to remove, but be patient and continue applying torque until the nut loosens.
• Once loose, remove the nut and old blades, then install the new blades per the mower or blade instructions. Tighten down the nut securing the blades, and carefully re-attach your cutting deck to the mower.
A Difference You Can See, Hear and Feel
After cleaning out the air filter, removing old clippings clogging the underside of your riding lawn mower, and replacing the dull blades with sharp new ones, you’ll notice an immediate difference. The engine should sound better, especially if your air filter was filthy. The cutting deck will be able to process grass over a foot tall without even breaking a sweat. Your lawn will look healthy, your mowing time will decrease, and you’ll notice better fuel economy.
Looking For a Professional To Cut Your Lawn
Look no further. You have landed at the right place. Let the landscaping professionals at Fernandez & Sons Landscaping take care of your lawn cutting and maintenance. Contact us to learn more about us and our landscaping services.