Top 5 Mower Maintenance Tips
Extend the Life of Your Commercial Mower
Regular commercial mower maintenance can go a long way toward preserving your equipment and budget, especially with the rigorous conditions landscapers face and long days mowing in the field. While teaching landscape crew members to “respect the machine” plays a large part in making mowers last, so do simple things like reading the operator’s manual, greasing parts, changing oil and keeping the mower clean and dry.
“There are some landscapers who are really great about maintenance and know how important it is, and their mowers last longer—and there are others who say, ‘We’ll get to it tomorrow,’ but that tomorrow never comes until the mower breaks down, says Patrick Havens, owner of 321 Lawn Mower Sales & Service in Maiden, N.C.
Quick Tips to Keep Commercial Mowers in Peak Shape
1. Fuel your mower correctly. “We have put more new carburetors into mowers this year than in the last five years,” Havens says, attributing this to contractors fueling up with gasoline that has more ethanol content than the engine can handle.
Michael Iles, a Briggs & Stratton Associate Product Manager, recommends fueling mowers with gasoline that has an ethanol content of no more than 10 percent (E10). And when it’s time to retire mowers for the season, use a fuel stabilizer to prevent water and gasoline from separating. “Most stabilizers will last from six to 12 months, and this helps fuel stay in good condition for when you start running the machine next season,” Iles says.
Without fuel stabilizer, when the mower is started up it will suck up water first instead of gas, which can cause corrosion and damage internal engine parts, Iles says.
2. Properly store your mower. Leaving mowers outdoors even overnight can cause premature wear, namely corrosion that can cause linkages to rust. “Wherever water can build up, it eventually will dry out and cause corrosion,” Iles explains. Always dry machines to remove excess water before storing them. Havens adds, “We can look at the units that come into our shop and tell if they are stored inside or outside. The appearance of them is like night and day.”
The investment in covered trailers for hauling and storing equipment will preserve machines. Keeping mowers stored in a garage, barn or any dry shelter will give equipment a longer shelf life, and save on maintenance over time.
3. Watch the tire pressure. When Havens hears that a mower isn’t cutting evenly, the first thing he checks is a mower’s tire pressure. “That will set your deck of and the mower won’t cut level,” he explains. Maintaining tire pressure is important for prolonging the life of your equipment and its parts.
4. Clean the mower deck. When grass clipping and mulched leaves build up under the deck, the residue can form a layer of hard “gunk” that practically has to be chiseled out. Regularly cleaning underneath the mower deck will prevent this problem. “Not cleaning out the bottom of the deck can rust the deck and it’s hard on the unit and the belts,” Havens says.
5. Remember basic mower maintenance. Most commercial lawn mowers have 10 to 20 grease fittings that need to be greased to prevent metal parts from rubbing together. When this happens, “you just get extreme wear,” Havens says. He recommends reading the operator’s manual carefully, which will outline all basic maintenance activities landscapers should tend to in order to keep a mower in prime condition.
Iles adds, “Many common problems can be avoided by simply reading the operator’s manual to learn what you should and should not do.”
Before storing a mower for winter, Iles suggests giving it a full service, including changing oil and filters. “That way, you are not waiting in line come spring when everyone is ready to service their mowers,” he says.
Regular maintenance checks, including oil and filter changes as specified by the operator’s manual, will keep a mower running strong during the growing season, when landscapers might be running equipment for up to 12 hours per day. “Keep mowers tuned up, especially in the dusty season when air filters can get clogged,” Havens says.