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How to Service a Push Lawn Mower

A push mower is a great option for a small yard size. In order to keep your push mower running at its best all season, you should perform regular maintenance on your push mower. To keep your push mower from quitting in the middle of your next job because you skipped servicing it, read these steps.

Service a push lawn mower by checking the safety system, changing fluids and filters; replacing the spark plug; removing dirt and debris; sharpening blades; scraping the deck; and checking for loose or damaged components.

how to service a push lawn mower

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Checklist to Service a Push Lawn Mower

Your push mower should be serviced annually or every 50 hours, whichever comes first.

  • Check the safety system
  • Change engine oil
  • Replace spark plug
  • Inspect fuel lines. Replace fuel filter if you have one.
  • Check tire pressures & lug nuts
  • Clean or replace air filter if necessary
  • Remove dirt and debris from unit and engine area
  • Sharpen or change mower blade
  • Scrape the deck
  • Lubricate control linkages, pivots and wheels

Steps to Service a Push Lawn Mower

Safety Precaution: Remove the spark plug wire to keep the mower from starting while working on it. Wear heavy work gloves when working with your mower blade and latex gloves for the other work to keep your hands from getting dirty.

Collect Tools & Supplies

It is best to get all of the materials together before you start servicing your push mower.

  • Engine Oil
  • Air Filter
  • Fuel Filter (if equipped)
  • Spark Plug
  • Socket or Spanner Wrenches
  • Drain Pan and Funnel
  • Rags, Gloves, Safety Glasses, Work Surface Cover
  • Deck Scraper, Wire Brush or Metal Putty Knife

Check the Push Mower’s Safety Systems

Check the blade control handle to make sure the safety feature is working. When the handle is depressed the blades should engage. When it is not the blades should stop. Refer to your owner’s manual for any additional safety features on your push mower model.

Change Engine Oil on your Push Lawn Mower

Engine oil in your push mower should be changed every 50 hours or annually, whichever comes first. If your lawn mower is new, you will need to perform your initial oil change after the first 5 hours of use.

Push mowers don’t have engine oil filters as an added line of defense to keep your oil clean. Oil in your push mower must be changed more frequently than mowers with larger engines that utilize filters.

Most push mowers use about ¾ to 1 qt of SAE30 engine oil. Your fluid level must be kept at your manufacturer’s recommended oil level. Too much oil or too little oil can cause unwanted engine damage.

Drain Oil from Push Mower without Drain Plug 

  • Place the drain pan along the side of the push mower. Using a rag, clean around the fill cap to remove dirt and grass. Remove the oil fill cap once the area is clean.
  • Gently tip the push mower on its side with the carburetor on the high side of the mower. You are trying to get the fill hole lined up with the drain pan so all of the oil drains into the pan.
  • Allow the oil to run out of the engine into the drain pan. Use a rag to wipe up any oil drips.
  • Once all oil is drained, return the mower to its upright position. 
  • Fill with oil according to your manufacturer’s instructions until the oil level is full.  
  • Reattach the spark plug boot. 

Drain Oil Push Mower with Drain Plug 

  • Gently place the push mower on its side with the carburetor pointed to the higher side of the mower. You do not want engine oil to run into the carburetor or air filter. 
  • Locate the square or hex shaped plug located on the bottom of the engine. You will find this by accessing it from underneath the mower deck. Scrape the deck to remove all debris from around the drain plug so you don’t allow any contaminants to enter the engine area. Place a drain pan under the drain plug. 
  • Unscrew the plug by turning it counterclockwise to remove it. 
  • Allow the oil to run out of the engine into a drain pan. While the oil is draining, loosen the fill cap or dipstick to allow the oil to run out of the engine at a faster rate. 
  • Once all the oil is drained, replace the drain plug, and return the mower to its upright position. 
  • Fill with oil according to your manufacturer’s instructions until the oil level is full.  
  • Reattach the spark plug boot. 

Replace Your Push Mower’s Spark Plug

Inspect your spark plug for damage or excessive buildup on the plug. I prefer to change them out annually while servicing my push mower. Check the gap when replacing your spark plugs.

Inspect Fuel Lines & Replace Filter if Equipped

Not all push mowers have a fuel filter. If your mower happens to have one, replace it annually. The fuel filter keeps dirt from entering the fuel system. The filter and fuel lines can become clogged because of gummy buildup from old fuel.

Clear plugged fuel lines by removing the fuel line. Use clamps to stop fuel flow if your mower does not have a fuel shut off valve. With the line off of the mower, spray a carb cleaner through the line to loosen the clog. Then used compressed air to clear the clog. A can of compressed air works well if you don’t own an air compressor. Replace the cleared line or purchase a new fuel hose from your local hardware store.

Clean or Replace Your Push Mower’s Air Filter if Necessary

Push mowers use a thin rectangular air filter to filter out dirt and debris so your mower has access to clean air. Your push mower may use a paper or foam type filter. Remove the filter for the filter housing and wipe any loose dirt from the housing with a clean dry rag. Take caution to not allow any dirt to enter the air intake.

Follow the steps below to clean each type of filter. If the filter is excessively dirty or damaged, replace with a new filter. You don’t want to try to save money and make your filter last as long as possible when it isn’t in good condition.

Saving a little money can result in significant engine damage if dirt enters the engine or your filter becomes so clogged the engine isn’t able to get fresh air.

  • Cleaning a Paper Filter – Tap the filter to knock the dirt from the filter. Hold the filter up to light. If you see areas of the filter where light does not shine through, you must replace your air filter. 
  • Cleaning a Foam Filter – Wash the filter with dish soap and water. Squeeze excess water out of the filter and lay flat in the sun to dry. Once the filter is dry, use a filter oil to lubricate the filter so it is lightly covered and not dripping of oil. If the sponge filter is excessively dirty or has any tears, you need to replace it. 
  • If your mower is using a foam pre-cleaner, you must replace it if it is torn, excessively dirty or becomes dry and brittle. You can clean the pre-cleaner with warm soap and water and then lay flat to dry in the sun. 
  • Replace the air filter and pre-cleaner (if your engine uses a pre-cleaner). 
  • Reinstall the engine shroud. 

Remove Dirt and Debris from the Push Mower and Engine

Remove the engine shroud and remove all dirt and debris from around the engine and exhaust areas. Buildup around the engine prevents air movement to keep the engine cool and prevent overheating.

Refer to my guide to washing your lawn mower engine for more information on keep your engine in good condition.

Sharpen or Change Your Push Mower Blade

Dull blades will put extra strain on your push mower in addition to giving you a poor cut.  You may have noticed times when your lawn looks unhealthy with brown ends a couple days after mowing. This is likely due to operating your mower with a dull blade.

Not having a sharp blade will beat up the grass instead of precisely cutting grass blades. To continue a full service on your push mower, inspect your mower blade to determine whether they should be sharpened or replaced. If you find a blade that is damaged or bent you must replace it.

Read more about inspecting your mower blades and the different ways to sharpen your blade with my article “Inspect, Sharpen, and Replace Lawn Mower Blades”.

Scrape Your Push Mower Deck

While you are under your mower deck checking the mower blade, you need to clean the deck the best you can. Use a deck scraper or hard wire brush to scrape the old grass buildup under the deck. Keeping this area clean will give you a better cut and keep your engine from straining to pass a blade through severe grass buildup.

Lubricate Your Push Mower

Lubricate the control linkages, pivot and wheels on your push mower. Check with your owner’s manual for additional lubrication points to service on your model.

Finish checking over your push mower and secure all hardware. Continue removing all dirt on the mower and wash. Place your mower in the sun to dry or use a handheld blower to speed up the drying process. You want all components to be completely dry before storing.

Is it Time to Replace Your Push Mower?

While performing service maintenance on your push mower, you may be wondering if your lawn mower is reaching the end of its life. You could be thinking it may be time to upgrade your mower to something a little bigger and possibly with a bigger mower deck to cut down mowing time.

For a list of indications it may be time to replace your mower, read my article on lawn mower replacement.