Walk-behind mowers are the most popular of all yard machines. Rotary-style gasoline-engines account for most of the market. Today’s mowers usually start with just a single pull of a recoil-type starter, or with a battery and simple twist of a key.
Improved deck and blade design have enhanced mulching ability. Mulching returns nutrients to the soil and eliminates the labor of bagging or raking. For example, “kickers” beneath the decks of Toro’s Super Recycler mowers keep clippings suspended longer to be cut more times. Special blades with multiple edges are also available to cut grass into finer pieces for quicker decomposition or less volume if bagging.
Walk-behinds are now safer than ever. The better units have a blade-brake clutch feature. The blade-brake clutch feature works in that when you let go of the bail to stop to empty a collection bag, or to pick up an obstacle, the blade safely stops but the engine continues to run. This feature eliminates the need to restart the mower, unlike blade-brake systems that kill the engine.
The 3-in-1 walk-behind mowers offer three cutting options: bag, mulch, or side-discharge. The bag option delivers a manicured look, while the mulching option makes sense if you want to feed the lawn. The side-discharge options is best when you want to spread larger clippings onto the lawn. The 3-in-1 walk-behind mower allows the flexibility to adapt to conditions.
Walk-Behind Mower Maintenance Basics
- Always remove the spark-plug wire when cleaning your mower, changing blades, or working on the engine.
- Use a spark-plug socket wrench to remove a spark plug for inspection or replacement. Use a replacement that is pre-gapped for your engine, or set the gap with an inexpensive air gap adjustment tool.
- Apply copper anti-seize lubricant to the spark plug’s threads to make future removal easier. Use great care when reinstalling to prevent cross-threading the spark plug, which is expensive to repair.
- Keep your engine’s cooling fins free of debris. A small dowel works well for this task.
- Tap a dirty air filter on a hard surface to remove loose debris, and use an old paint brush to remove loose dirt.
- Replace an air filter if it can no longer be cleaned. Wipe dirt out of the housing and its cover before you reinstall a cleaned or new air filter.
- Prevent leakage from the gas tank when tilting the mower to access the underside by placing a plastic bag over the opening, under the cap. Follow the operator manual’s instructions on tilting the mower for service because which side is facing up and how far you tilt it can matter!
- To remove (or reinstall) a blade, insert a wood block to keep the blade from turning as you apply pressure on the blade fastener.
- If sharpening your own blade, use a file to remove equal amounts of material from each side, and check the balance as shown.
- Reinstall the blade with the sail (curved edge) “up” towards engine. Use a torque wrench to tighten the blade fastener the torque specified in your manual.
- Use a putty knife to remove caked-on clippings from the underside of your mower deck. This will improve bagging and mulching efficiency.
- Do not use stale gas (gas more than three weeks old). Drain the stale gas into a gas can and add it to your car’s gas tank to safely dispose of it (the small amount will cause no harm). To drain, shut off the valve in the gas line, loosen the hose clamp, and remove the hose. Put one end in the can and reopen the valve.