For many parts of the country, spring starts the growing season. Conditions make the grass grow rapidly. You want to be sure your mowers can keep up.
A little upfront work can prevent equipment failure and workflow disruptions as your crew maintains the turf that visitors enjoy.
Start the season out right by doing the inspections and maintenance that ensure the mowers work efficiently. Schedule and perform these preventative maintenance tasks on all your mowers.
Use this as a guide to begin planning spring maintenance on your mowers. Check the owner's manual for any other required maintenance tasks.
Check/Change Essential Components
A mower needs the right combination of fuel, air, and sparks to run well. Be sure the essential components that deliver these things are in good shape. This starts by:
- Replacing old gasoline: Ideally, your crew emptied the mowers' gas tanks at the end of last season. If not, it's a good idea to drain the gasoline sitting in the tanks all winter. Start fresh with new gasoline.
- Changing oil and filter: Constant lubrication keeps mowers from breaking down. Drain the old oil, replace the filter, and add the appropriate new oil. Check oil regularly.
- Checking spark plugs: Take a look at the condition of the spark plugs. If necessary, clean them. If the engine has trouble starting or is not running efficiently, it may be time to replace the spark plugs.
- Checking air filters: Air filters can accumulate dirt and other debris, causing inefficient operation. Check the air filter--If the filter is dirty, clean or replace it.
Hopefully, the crew cleaned the mowers before storing them in late fall. Even so, it's likely the mowers accumulated some dust and debris while in storage. Also, mowers stored near ice melt need cleaning to remove any residue that causes corrosion.
Clean the mower deck of any leftover debris. The organic material buildup makes the engine work harder and the blades less effective. Apply a coat of wax or grease to help prevent future buildup of grass and other materials. Waxing the deck also makes cleaning easier throughout the growing season.
Also, check and clean the engine. Accumulated grass clippings and dirt can reduce the mower's efficiency and shorten the engine's lifespan.
Inspect and Maintain Parts
Give those clean mowers another lookover paying attention to these areas:
- Blades: Sharp, balanced blades are good for the turf and a mower's efficiency. Sharpen or replace any dull or damaged blades. Consider having an extra set of blades for each mower and change them out after each mowing cycle.
- Belts: Check for any worn or loose belts. Tighten or replace if necessary.
- Bolts: Rough terrain can shake bolts loose. Check all screws and bolts and make sure they are tight and secure.
- Tires: Look for any signs of wear. Inflate tires properly to ensure even mowing.
- Moving Parts: Check the lubrication points of your mower and grease if necessary.
At this point, it's also a good idea to take notes of any damage to a mower. This way, there is a record of the mower's condition before the mowing season. If an incident occurs, you can clearly identify any new damage.
Schedule Routine Maintenance and Inspections
Getting mowers ready for spring is the first step to ensuring efficiency and reliability throughout the growing season. Many of the tasks listed on this spring maintenance checklist must also be performed throughout the growing season.
Create a preventive maintenance schedule before the mowing begins. Assigning tasks before things get hectic ensures nothing is overlooked or forgotten.
Some parks & recreation departments discovered the benefits of software to schedule preventive maintenance. Once a system is implemented, preventative maintenance tasks get scheduled and assigned automatically. Also, if a crew member notices an issue, an alert gets sent to all necessary parties to handle it promptly.
After all, an ounce of prevention is worth acres of neatly mowed turf that visitors can enjoy.