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(ARA) - Often overlooked or put off until later, preventative maintenance on mowers and outdoor power equipment should be priority number one before you begin spring outdoor projects. Preventative maintenance is essential because it helps ensure the safety of the operator, extends the lifespan of your equipment, and protects the health and beauty of your yard. When you focus on a few basics, giving your power equipment a little TLC is easier than you think.

The Fuel Factor

Getting your outdoor power equipment up and running requires the right fuel. According to Jeanine Huebner, outdoor power equipment expert at The Home Depot, using the wrong fuel, or gas that's been sitting for too long, can damage your equipment's engine. "Gas breaks down after about 30 days, so it's important to use fresh fuel," she said, "and, mark all fuel containers so you can tell regular gas from premixed fuel. For safety reasons, keep it on a high shelf where children can't reach."

If you've kept fuel in the engine's system over the winter months, it can varnish the carburetor and cause a hard start -- or prevent the engine from starting at all. If you plan to keep gas in the tank for an extended amount of time, Huebner advises pouring in a fuel stabilizer to keep the carburetor from clogging. Then, run the engine for a few minutes to circulate the stabilizer throughout the fuel system.

The Power of Clean

Keeping the mower clean is another basic principle that will improve your equipment's efficiency. First, clean under the mower deck after every mowing. Brush off air intake screens and engine cooling fins. Check the air cleaner according to the manufacturer's guidelines and keep it clear. Also, after fertilizing, wash your mower so chemicals can't rust or corrode the blades and underside.

Dunk the Dipstick

One of the most important things you can do to prolong the life of a gas-powered machine is to check the engine crankcase oil often. For a mower, it's best to check the oil before each mowing. Never run a mower when the oil level is below the add mark on the dipstick. Check your owner's manual to learn how often to change the oil. Most recommend changing it after every 25 hours of use.

Holiday Reminders

For the "forgetful" lawn care enthusiast, The Home Depot recommends using the summer holidays as reminders to check all of your outdoor power equipment. Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day are easy-to-remember milestones for taking a close look at the condition of the equipment. Check for things like frayed cords on your electric tools, dull blades, loose screws and dirty engines. It will save both time and money in the long run.

Courtesy of ARA Content