Design Notebook

Don’t wait until springtime to get your mower checked

With some simple maintenance now, your mower will be humming right along until next fall

Special to The TribuneFebruary 6, 2013 

Get your mower tuned up now so when you need it in the spring and summer you won’t have any problems.



    SAFETY FIRST Good eye protection is often overlooked, but an important precaution to take when using power tools like saws and trimmers. Ear protection is also a good idea. And if you’re operating a chain saw, a pair of safety chaps could be a lifesaver.

    SAW AND TRIMMER TIPS Maintenance for a chain saw includes putting in fresh fuel (after draining old fuel), checking the spark plug, checking the air filter, and sharpening the chain if needed. Issues with gas trimmers usually involve a problem with the fuel.

    A GREENER LAWN Electric and battery-powered lawnmowers are low-maintenance, eco-friendly options for people with small to average-sized yards. Mid-Coast Mower & Saw can sharpen blades on these mowers, but only services the brands they sell due to parts accessibility.

Maybe it’s Murphy’s law at work when the mower won’t start each spring, just when you need it the most. Then again, maybe not. Margaret Wicks, who owns Atascadero’s Mid Coast Mower &Saw with husband Rick, says there are afew simple steps to take to make sure outdoor power equipment gets up and running without problems.

One simple maintenance job is to check the spark plug. The second and most commonly overlooked precaution is to use fresh fuel.

“If it’s been sitting around since last fall, the fuel starts to deteriorate,” said Wicks. “If it’s in there long enough, it starts to get gummy.

If your machine uses a gas/oil mixture, it will need to be drained after 30 days and replenished. But that doesn’t mean you should store the machine empty. That could cause the diaphragm and hoses to dry out. If replacing fuel seems like too much of a hassle, Wicks recommends SEF, an ethanol-free small engine fuel that is better for long-term storage.

Once you get your mower going, you might notice that you’re getting a ragged cut, or grass that is yellowing at the ends. In this case, it’s likely you will need to have your blade sharpened. While you’re at it, you might consider getting a tune-up.

“Even if it’s running well, it’s never a bad idea to have it serviced to see if there are any problems that are coming on,” she said, noting that machines that see heavy use should be serviced annually.

Mid Coast Mower & Saw sells a dozen brands of outdoor power equipment that range from commercialgrade to those designed for the homeowner. The shop also services most types and brands of equipment including mowers, chain saws, trimmers, blowers and tillers.

Now is a good time to get that tune-up or repair done. Wait a couple of weeks, and there might be a significant wait.

“We could be booked 150 or more jobs ahead when things are really starting to rock and roll,” said Wicks.

The shop is forced to turn away certain jobs during its peak season. For instance, because of space constraints, it is not able to service riding mowers during this time. The same goes for brands of equipment that the shop does not carry.

So before the season is in full swing, Wicks recommends taking the time to give your equipment a check-over and some fresh fuel. Start it up to see if there are any problems, so if Murphy’s law does strike, at least there will be someone available to help.

Mid Coast Mower & Saw is at 8710 El Camino Real in Atascadero, 466-2323,

Reach Rebecca Juretic at

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