How to properly maintain your outdoor power equipment
1. Do not use ethanol-blended fuels
Using fuels containing ethanol (E10 fuel etc) in your outdoor power equipment is just about guaranteed to cause breakdowns.
While it's easy for your local specialist repairer to fix these problems, they can be easily avoided by using ordinary unleaded fuels.
If your local service station only offers E10 and premium, buy the premium fuel, or shop elsewhere.
2. Keep your fuel clean and fresh
Before you open any fuel container, make sure there's no dirt or dust around.
If using a funnel, wipe it clean and don't forget to wipe the top of your fuel container as well.
If your fuel can is looking a bit rusty, replace it with an approved plastic fuel container that meets Australian Standards.
For two-stroke fuel (where you mix oil with the petrol), only mix fuel amounts you can use within three months.
After three months, the fuel is no longer suitable for use and may cause engine damage.
3. For two-stroke machines
Always mix fuel and oil according to manufacturers recommended ratio and always use the correct two-stroke oil for your machine.
But if you can't find your book or can't remember the recommended ratio, it is safe to use 25:1 (25ml of fuel to 1ml of oil).
Remember, always add the fuel to the oil, rather than adding oil to the fuel and make sure to shake it well before each use.
4. Do not tip your four-stroke lawnmower on its side
If you do, there's a good chance the engine oil will end up in places it should never be, such as the air filter or muffler.
This results in lots of smoke (if you can get it started) and may also lead to serious engine damage.
If you need to check under your lawnmower, disconnect the lead to the spark plug, fold the handle forward and tip the machine backwards and always check for fuel leaks as soon as you tip the mower.
5. All petrol-powered equipment will be fitted with an air filter
Check your filter regularly and never run your machine without the filter fitted correctly.
Different types of filters require different cleaning methods, so check with your local specialist repairer as to the best way to keep yours clean.
6. Line trimmers
Do you find the line keeps breaking all the time? If so, have a look at the end of the broken line.
If it comes down to a point, then you've been overheating it.
To avoid this problem, remember only to cut with the very end of the line.
By doing this, not only will you save time and money, but the finished job will look much better.
7. Don't cut your grass too short
According to the experts, if you cut your lawn any shorter than about 5cm, it will take more water to keep it healthy.
This length also allows your ground to retain more soil carbon and also makes it harder for weeds to grow.
8. Lawn mowing is not a spectator sport
You wouldn't choose to throw rocks or sticks at your family members but that's what I see plenty of people doing every weekend.
Keep children and pets well clear.
If a stone shot out from under a lawnmower can smash a car windscreen, just imagine what it would do to a child's face.
Take the time to pick up any obvious rocks or sticks before you begin mowing.
9. Keep your equipment clean
Not only will it work more efficiently but it will last longer and be easier to repair if it does break down.
If your lawnmower is covered in grass, metal parts will rust a lot sooner and your engine may overheat to the point where your lawnmower catches fire.
10. Lawnmower struggling?
If the grass has grown very thick and tall and your mower struggles to cut through it, there are several things you can do.
Check to ensure the blades are sharp and correctly fitted.
Raise the cutting height to the maximum position.
Do "half cuts" (where you position the mower so that only one half is over the long grass).
This will reduce the load on the engine and allow the mower to cut more effectively.