For most people, performing maintenance on a walk-behind lawn mower is a piece of cake. Simply take a few safety precautions (such as disconnecting the spark plug), turn the mower onto its side, and start working.
Good luck turning a riding lawn mower onto its side, however.
These heavy-duty machines weigh hundreds of pounds. You can seriously injure yourself or damage the mower if you do it incorrectly.
But wait – there's hope! You do have a way to raise and lower your riding mower quickly and safely: with a lawn mower lift.
How Do Lawn Mower Lifts Work?
Most lawn mower maintenance lifts are designed to fit beneath the front wheels of your riding mower. With the help of wheel pads and other safety features such as locking pins, they hold the wheels in place so that you can safely raise your mower's front axle and access the most important parts that need maintenance.
Lawn mower lifts use different lifting mechanisms to raise and lower your mower, including the following:
A scissor-action lift, which allows you to pump a lever with one hand
A drill-turned mechanism, which you operate using a power drill
A hydraulic foot pump mechanism, which requires you to step on a foot pedal
An air-powered system, which connects to a shop's compressed air system
You'll find lifts that can support mowers as heavy as 750 pounds. Other lifts will be designed for lighter mowers, such as those in the 300 to 500-pound range. Always check your mower's product manual to get an idea of how much weight your lift will need to support.
You'll also find lifts that are made to raise mowers 200 pounds or lighter. These work by raising an entire walk-behind mower for easy access to the underside. Although they're great for making tune-ups on a walk-behind mower easier than ever, they're not designed to lift riding mowers.
What Shouldn't I Do When Lifting a Mower?
To the right, you can see an example of an incorrect and unsafe way to lift a riding lawn mower. We can't say it enough: do not attempt to lift a riding mower by hand.
Trying to pick up a riding mower without a lift puts you at all kinds of risk:
Broken feet or toes
Damaged lawn mower
Damaged ground or property
There are other kinds of harm you can suffer, but we think you get the idea. When it comes time to lift your riding mower for a tune-up, using a maintenance lift is safer for your mower – and safer for you.