Spring Tune-up for Outdoor Gear

Keep your lawn mower, power lawn equipment, gardening tools and gas grills well maintained and ready to use with a few easy tune up tricks.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Spring Tune-ups for Outdoor Gear

Get the most out of your outdoor lawn and garden equipment with a few simple tune ups. Follow these easy chores to jump start your lawn mower, garden tools and gas grill to keep them working at peak performance.

To tune up a 4-cycle mower, start the engine to warm up the oil and then turn it off. Pull the wire off the spark plug to prevent it from starting accidentally. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the oil plug on the mower's underside and drain the oil into a funnel and plastic gallon container or use a disposable drip pan. Then replace the drain plug. Be sure to dispose of the used oil according to your local requirements.

Turn the mower on its side, scrape off dried dirt or matted grass and remove the blade by loosening the bolt that holds it to the crankshaft. Clamp the blade in a vice and sharpen the cutting edges with a metal file. Reinstall the blade, turn the mower right side up and fill the engine's crankcase with fresh oil.

Remove the spark plug with the adjustable wrench and take it with you to buy a replacement. Carefully screw the new plug into the cylinder head by hand, then tighten it with a wrench. Clean or replace the air filter fill the gas tank with fresh, gas and it's ready to roll.

Give all your garden tools a once-over inspection and remove any dirt and mud. Use a wire brush to remove any rust from metal parts and coat with a lubricant like WD-40®. Tighten or replace any loose screws and nuts and bolts.

Handheld pruning tools need oiling and sharpening. Give a shot of lubricant to the pivot point of the tool and sharpen the blades with a fine metal file. Sharpen the edge of shovels in the same way.

To recondition wooden tool handles and reduce the chance of splinters, give them a once over with fine sandpaper and then a rub down with a wipe-on oil finish.

To tune up a gas grill, read and follow the "Care and Upkeep" directions in the owner's manual. In general, it involves cleaning the parts and inspecting the burner. Turn the gas "off" at both the control knobs and the gas tank. Follow directions to disassemble the parts and remove the grids, briquets and hood, and disconnect the igniter wires and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Use a flashlight to inspect the burner for spiders or cobwebs that may have nested in the gas tubes. Unclog anything by poking a wire through it. Test for gas leaks in hoses and fittings with a two-to-one mixture of water and liquid dish soap. Brush it on and if bubbles appear, there's a leak. Tighten the connection and test again. Replace any damaged hoses or tubes with new ones. Wash all the interior and exterior surfaces of the grill with warm soapy water and let it dry before reassembling. Check the propane gas tank to see if it needs to be refilled or replaced.

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