How to - Lawn Care

Get your electric mower ready for spring

Tips to keep your lawnmower in good repair and make it cut better

A long winter is a fact of life. But you don't have to hibernate along with your tulips—take advantage of the down-time to tune up your electric lawnmower, so you're set to go when the grass is green and growing. An annual tuneup is not only important to the health and appearance of your grass, it increases the longevity of your mower. "A mower lasts twice as long if you maintain it," says Wesley Gray, owner of Small Appliance Repair Service in Scarborough, Ontario. Gray has been servicing lawnmowers since he first started working, about 30 years ago, at what was then his father's business. "A dull blade, and debris in the motor's air vents, for example, cause unnecessary wear on the motor," he says. Following is his checklist for a do-it-yourself tuneup.

Step 1
Your lawnmower should be unplugged before you work on it'and the plug is a good place to start your inspection. Make sure the prongs are straight and secure. Prongs can be straightened with pliers; if they're loose replace the plug. Then check the length of your cord for nicks or cuts. (Never use an extension cord longer than 100 feet/30 metres'the motor runs harder and could burn out.) The section of cord that runs from the switchbox on the handle down into the motor frequently gets pinched when mowers are stored. If you have a tear in the wire's casing, wrap the area with electrical tape. (If the inner wires are severed, replace the cord.)

Step 2
Next, clear out the air-vent slots for the motor. Remove the housing over the motor and brush away any grass or debris; for a more thorough job, use a vacuum cleaner. 'Sometimes you'll see what looks like a bird's nest sitting in there,' Gray says. Without air to cool it, the motor may overheat and burn out. Before you put the housing back on, place three or four drops of 3-in-1 oil in the small opening on the top of the motor.

Step 3
Electric lawnmowers have two carbon blocks, called brushes, that act as electrical conductors for the motor. The length of the carbon brushes should be longer than their width. "They wear down with use, like pencil leads," Gray says."If they're more short than wide, it's time to replace them." Some slide out quite easily; others require disassembly. Consult your owner's manual for specifics. New brushes are available at lawnmower service shops.


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