Lawn care companies invest a lot in their equipment. They want the best equipment they can afford because the better equipment performs optimally and lasts longer. We thought you might be interested in knowing what sort of maintenance chores good lawn companies do on their equipment throughout the year. We created this list of equipment maintenance that is performed by the best lawn companies.
Caring for the Engines
Gasoline containing ethanol is especially prone to destabilization so we are careful to use purer gas and mix it with special synthetic oils depending on the machine’s specified requirements (See “Preparing for Winter Storage” below for more about gasoline).
Just like gas, oil is essential to an engine. Oil lubricates engine parts as a machine runs. An engine that runs out of oil will be damaged and that means big repair costs. Lawn care equipment gets oil changes about every 100 hours of use time. Oil filters also need to be changed but they typically last through a couple of oil changes.
Some parts like wheel bearings and blades spindles need a daily dose of grease to keep them working properly. Grease is a general term for any sort of lubricating substance. The sort of lubrication used depends on the part but generally high quality synthetic greases are used.
Caring for Equipment Parts
Blades must be sharp and balanced to work properly. Dull mower blades put drag on belts, pulleys, clutches, spindles, engines, and gear boxes. Blades that are out-of-balance cause vibrations that damages other parts of the machine and, if prolonged, can even cause physical damage to the machine’s operator.
In addition, blades and undercarriage get cleaned after each mowing. Cleaning keeps grass from building up and interfering with the cut. Cleaning also prolongs the life of the deck. Grass build up causes rust on the underside of the deck.
Some equipment use belts to turn parts. Breakdowns are more common if belts are not kept in good shape and a breakdown while on a job is especially onerous. Checking belts for wear and tear periodically saves a big headache later. Hand-held trimmers also need special greases.
Air filters also need changing at regular intervals and the boxes that house them need a bit of cleaning as well. Air filters vary in price and quality but they are essential. Gas engines need air to burn the gas and air filter, well, filter the air that the engine uses. Air filters increase engine life and need regular checks for dirt.
Just like bicycles and car tires, lawn equipment tires need regular checks. Keeping the proper air pressure in tires prolongs tire life and reduces the change of flats, another work stopper. Properly aired tires roll equipment along more easily thereby reducing vibrations and engine wear. Fully aired tires are especially important on lawn mowers because a low tire can mean an uneven cut.
Engines are “sparked to life” by spark plugs. Spark plugs need cleaned or changed every do often. An old, dirty, worn spark plug that does not properly spark will not only cause engine starting difficulties but also reduce running performance.
The muffler provides the exit for burned fuel exhaust. A clean and properly maintained muffler keeps the air cleaner but also helps the engine run better. The muffler gets a cleaning periodically to assure its continued optimum performance.
Before we store equipment, we follow these maintenance procedures.
- Clean equipment, especially the undercarriage and other locations where dirt and debris collect.
- Test it for any mechanical problems. The winter is a good time to make major repairs if they are needed.
- Check the oil and change it if needed.
- Empty the fuel from the tanks. We run the mowers until all the fuel runs out of the lines so none is left to gum up over the winter. An engine’s gas tank is not the place to store gas because gas tanks are not airtight. Gasoline left in fuel tanks for more than a month will have begun to destabilized, absorbing water vapor and reducing the performance of the engine
Getting Equipment Ready in the Spring
- Check the air filter and change if dirty.
- Install new spark plugs, if needed.
- Sharpen the mower blades. We keep our blades sharp. Sharp blades give the cleanest cut which is not only aesthetically pleasing to look at but helps maintain the health of the grass.
- Balance the mower blades. Blades work best when properly balanced.
- Perform a “tune up” which means adjusting or replacing moving parts as needed and tightening or replacing belts. Adjustments can cut down on vibrations which can damage equipment, loosen parts, and such. Vibrations are not good for the machines’ operators either. The machine operators’ fingers can develop a condition called “white finger,” which can be serious if left untreated.
So there you have it. A long list of things the best lawn care companies perform to ensure their equipment works properly and delivers the best performance to the landscape.