Category: tune-ups

Tune Up Your Generator For Storm Season

The time of year when thunder echos, lighting cracks across the sky, high winds crash and heavy rain pours down. Storm Season is here!

Is your generator prepared for the upcoming storms and hurricanes? A few minutes of preparation can save you from feeling helpless and out of control when the storms actually hit.

Preparing for Storm Season

Is Your Generator Storm-Ready?

Has your portable generator been sitting in storage collecting dust? If so, it's time to pull off that cover, dig out your generator and give it a tune-up before the first big storm hits. Performing some preventative maintenance on your generator before the storm season can save you time, frustration, and panic while getting your power back on.

  • Take your generator outside, away from open windows or doors, to perform a full inspection and tune up.
  • Inspect your generator for corroded or damaged parts, loose or frayed wires and anything that looks out of the ordinary.
  • Change oil at the beginning of every storm season following the guidelines in your owner's manual. Check the oil levels before and after every use, change if necessary.
  • Fill the gas tank with fresh fuel and add a fuel stabilizer to battle the effects of ethanol. Refresh with new gas every 30 days.
  • Inspect the air filter for dirt, damage or wear and replace if necessary.
  • Check the spark plug and clean or replace if dirty or damaged.
  • Inspect all bolts, tighten or replace if needed. Vibrations can cause bolts to loosen or fall off from wear and tear.

Stock-Up On Supplies

Stocking up on certain supplies can help you be prepared for extended power outages.

During the storm you may need to replace certain items to keep your generator running properly. It's best to stock up on these items at the beginning of the season so they are easily accessible during the storm. These items include: extra oil, filters, bolts, fuel, gas cans, extension cords, plugs and cover so you are prepared to run your generator for extended periods of time.

Test Your Generator

Test your generator to ensure it is working properly.

The storm hits, you run to your trusty generator and flip the switch on. Your worst nightmare comes true: Nothing happens.

Finding out your generator doesn't work during a power outage is not something you want to experience. Test your generator by plugging in a few smaller appliances such as a hair dryer, toaster, cell phone charger or etc. and run for 10-15 minutes.

Don't Let Your Maintenance Stop There

Performing tune-ups on your generator at the beginning of every season and after every use will help keep your generator ready alive during storm season. Also, testing your generator every month gives you the confidence that your generator will be reliable throughout the storm season.

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Lawn Mower Tune-Up Checklist

Opened the shed or garage - check ✓
Rolled out the mower - check ✓

Stop! Before you start the engine, let's review some basic tune-up procedures, so your mower will start the season in good health.

*This is a basic lawn mower tune-up checklist with popular procedures. Always refer to your owner’s manual for manufacturer specific tune-up recommendations.

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Jack’s Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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Five-Minute Mower Fixes Under $5

Have five bucks lying around? Instead of a $5 footlong or your weekly lottery tickets, check out these cheap lawn mower quick fixes in five minutes or less!


Changing Spark Plug

Time: 1-2 minutes

Replacing an old worn out spark plug will ensure your mower starts quickly and runs efficiently. See How to Replace a Spark Plug.

Buy a Spark Plug »

Replacing Fuel Filter

Time: 5 minutes

A new clean fuel filter will improve fuel efficiency and help prevent an expensive carburetor rebuild.

Buy a Fuel Filter »

Cleaning/Replacing Air Filter

Time: 2-3 minutes

Many air filters can be cleaned periodically before they wear out. If your mower has a foam prefilter, you can gently soak it in soap and water, then let dry. Pleated air filters can be cleaned out with a quick shot of air from an air compressor. Replace the air filter at the recommended intervals outlined in your owner’s manual. See How to Replace the Air Filter.

Buy an Air Filter »

Oil Change

Time: 5 minutes

Changing the oil in your lawn mower at the recommended intervals (refer to owner’s manual) ensures the engine components are properly lubricated and running clean during operation.

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Spring Maintenance 101: How to Avoid 99% of All Repairs

Spring out of hibernation!

Open those garage doors and unlock the sheds. Your lawn equipment is begging to hit the turf.

Whoa, but no too fast. Make sure your equipment "wakes up on the right side of the bed" by performing the right kind of pre-season maintenance.

So start getting ready by learning the tips and tricks to prevent 99% of all repairs this season.

Welcome to Spring Maintenance 101.

Lesson #1: Start and Stay Fresh

That's right guys. Fresh goes Better. Power equipment users have struggled in the past by not realizing the issues with stale fuel and the harmful, corrosive effects of ethanol (E10).

*Warning - gas has a shelf life of 30 days. That's it! Never put stale fuel into your power equipment or you'll be in the shop more than once this season. Also, manufacturer warranties do not cover any fuel-related mishaps.

Solving Fuel Problems 101:

  • Only buy a two weeks supply of gas. That way you'll be forced to go get fresh gas for your equipment as your supply runs low.
  • Always add a fuel stabilizer/additive, like Star Tron, to the fresh gas right away. This will help extend the shelf life of your fuel and decrease the effects of ethanol.

Lesson #2: Oil, Oil, Oil!

Change and check the oil at the start of every season.

Oil is the life blood of your power equipment. They want it. They need it. They thrive on it.

Most people don't change the oil at the end of the season. That's why all manufacturers recommend doing an oil change at the beginning of the mowing season. This will ensure your engine is properly lubricated when you fire it up.

Improper lubrication can damage the internal engine parts and even cause your engine to seize up. This will lead to extensive repairs you definitely don't want to do or pay for.

Solving Oil Issues 101:

  • Change the oil at the beginning of every mowing season, and at every service interval specified by your manufacturer (based on a number of operating hours).
  • For your riding mower or zero turn, replace the oil filter (if equipped) too.
  • Check the oil level before every use to see if there were any leaks.

Lesson #3: Mower Maintenance

Check the Basics: air filter, oil, spark plug, belts, mowing deck, pulleys, and spindles.

If you're keen on engine maintenance, but overlook certain structural components of your mower, you could be in for a surprise when you first begin to mow.

On your riding mower or zero turn, make sure the mower deck is level. A tilted deck will create uneven grass streaks in your lawn.

Also see if the pulleys and spindles are secure, not wobbling.

Everyone should hopefully know this next point. The blades must be sharp! Don't start off the season mowing with dull blades, or your grass will take very unhealthy turn.

Ripped edges, brown tips, and possible disease will not be a pretty sight.

Last but not least, test the electrical systems on your mower, including the deck lift, blade engagement, and drive controls. There's no use mowing if the blades won't engage.

Lesson #4: Tiller Maintenance

Take out the Tillers.

Check the Basics: air filter, oil, spark plug, and belt.

Tillers take most of the dirty work out of manually preparing the soil every year in your garden, unlike the old days when it was done by hand or by horse.

However, you must wait for the soil to be dry and warm enough, so your tiller can easily dig through the dirt.

Waiting for the ground to thaw is the perfect time to prepare your tiller. After you've checked the basics, there are a few other things you need to consider.

  1. Are the tines set correctly? Many tillers have reversible tines. One direction is used for tilling, and the other is used for cultivating (weeding).
  2. If you're using a 2-Cycle tiller, do you have the appropriate fuel/oil mixture (50:1, 40:1)?
  3. Are the tines sharp? The tine blades can become dull if used frequently in rocky soil. Give them a quick sharpening.

And finally, after every use it's very important to clean your tilling machine to remove any debris and dirt that could get in the engine.
Also cut away any weeds or vines that are wrapped around the tines.

Lesson #5: Trimmer Maintenance

Tune-Up the Trimmers.

Check the Basics: air filter, spark plug, recoil starter, and your supply of trimmer line.

Most handheld string trimmers are powered by 2-Cycle engines. These engines require a fuel/oil mixture, instead of straight gas like a 4-Cycle engine.

The biggest mistake a new trimmer owner can make is to use the wrong fuel/oil mixture. Refer to your equipment owner's manual to find out what the proper fuel to oil ratio should be.

From the engine down, look at the shaft. If you have straight shaft trimmer, make sure the shaft is STRAIGHT! A bend in the shaft could hurt the drive shaft and cause excessive vibrations. Plus it can also effect the natural operating position of the user.

Now to the trimmer head. If you see any cracks, bent components, or missing screws, replace them immediately before you start your trimmer again. You wouldn't want the blades or trimmer head to fly off and hurt anything or anyone.

Spring Maintenance 101 Homework

Sometimes it's best to be better at the basics. Especially since certain things like oil changes and keeping your gas fresh are not difficult tasks at all.

So use this Spring maintenance guide as a little helper and a reminder to stay out of the repair shop this year.

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