Hey, man up and maintain your lawn
mower. It's easy. While your at it, get your kid out from behind the tablet and into the yard. Hands-on, baby. Here's a few things we do.
Step 1: New Season, New Spark Plug
If your lawn mower is coughing and sputtering, this is a good place to get it to not do that. Take a deep socket and remove the existing plug. Bring it with you to the hardware store or home center. Depending on where you go, you might have to Rosetta Stone your old spark plug model # with a new spark plug model #. Check the book there or ask the guy. Might as well bring in all your plugs and replace them at the same time---string trimmer, blower, etc.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Blades Are Sharp
Sharp blades work better than dull ones on every lawn mower in the universe. Before wrenching off the blade, pull the spark plug wire off. Let's just say I heard a story once about a guy who didn't. He spun the blade, the motor compressed once and, well, Hiya lefty...Anyway, I like to sharpen on a sanding station (mine's a Ryobi). Match up the bevel of the lawn mower blade to the belt, then sharpen. Wear eye protection.
Step 3: Get the Gunk.
The friction of built-up grass on the blade an under the mower deck makes the mower work harder, do less and frustrate you more. It's like the mountain of processed food in your colon. Get rid of it and life is better. Our go-to tool for this is one of our always-go-to tools, our Hyde multi-tool. Get one and you'll use it every project, and not just on the lawn mower. Promise.
Step 4: Check Wheel Height.
Cutting too low not only torches the grass and is begging weeds to grow, it pointlessly strains the mower too. Raise it to 3-inches---you're not cutting a green for the Master's---and let sharp blades do good work.
An extra note: If you leave your lawn mower leaned over for too long during maintenance, you may flood the air filter with gas. So don't leave it up-ended any longer than you have to. If you do flood the filter, either dry it out for a day or so or get a new one.
Step 5: Watch This Video
Check out all the steps to maintain your mower in this video.