Apr 24, 2006

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tip

Left: Typical lawn mower carburetor; the float bowl is at the very bottom in this image

(Toledo, OH) Being someone who absolutely hates to pay a repair person when I can spend four hours tearing something apart myself (generally with good results, although I occasionally create some interesting home repair highlights), I thought I would share a simple maintenance tip that might save you a few dollars on repairs.

Diligent homeowners remember to run their lawn mowers in the fall until the machine has consumed the last of the fuel. This keeps any fuel from remaining in the system from degrading over the winter.

Then there are the rest of us, who remember this advice in springtime.

The problem is that the degraded gasoline loses much of its combustibility when it stagnates.

I used to struggle starting my mower in the spring until a friend taught me a simple trick. At the very bottom of most simple carburetors is what is known as a float bowl. Holding the bowl in place is usually a single hex bolt.

Using the appropriate-sized socket or wrench, loosen the bolt; keep a small bowl underneath to catch any remaining fuel. Clean the bowl and reinstall, making sure to put the float bowl gasket in place too.

You might want to take this time to replace the spark plug, oil, and air filter, as well. Place clean, new fuel in the tank, and VROOOM! Away you go.

My friend, who does small engine repair on the side, said that he often makes an easy $25 by simply cleaning out last fall's funky old gas and replacing the spark plug on mowers.

Also, that old gasoline can be recycled in with the new gas you just bought, as long as the ratio of new to old gas is at least 4:1.


Anonymous said...

Good idea Mike

Anonymous said...

i have a neighbor who buys a new mower every other year, i grab the old one from the curb on garbage night, clean the carb change the oil and sharpen the blade and it is as good as new. i offered to fix them for them before they bought a new ons, but they must have money to burn. it is not hard to find a home for a free mower after i fix it up.

Anonymous said...

My problem is not with starting the damn thing, it tends to keep reving until it ready to blow up if I dont shut it down.

I swear if I would engage the self propell lever it would shoot across my yard like a rocket!

Any advice?

Berserker said...

Hopefully Mike's small engine repar friend will hear this and get back to you.

In the meantime, check the top of the carburator. There should be a small (1" x 1/2") and maybe 1/8" thick part that is shaped like an elipse (the throttle). There should be a linkage attached to it and it pivots on a post that it is attached to it in the center of the object. Make sure that 1) The return spring is still attached, and 2) that the linkage is attached and working.

-Sepp said...

The old Carb in the picture is from a tecumseh motor and some of those older carbs have a screw with a spring on it you can depress to drain the fuel out of the bowl. My advice is to pour in the recommended amount of "stabil" in the fall which will keep the fuel from turning to varnish.

Anon, the problem is with the governor on your mower (rev limiter) Depending on what type mower engine you have, there should be a spring connected to a small lever tucked under the engine shroud. The spring has either come off allowing it to rev super high or, the spring is snagged and too tight. When the engine is off, the lever should move freely. Gotta love a Penta grad!

Stephanie said...

Thank you. That advice would have been useful last year...we chose to pay the $25 than to try and figure out how to do it ourselves.

Valbee said...

I never have to worry about this kind of problem. My yard is small and I have an electric mower that I love. :)

Lloyd said...

Regarding anonymous #2

I know a fellow who throws out his fake Christmas tree out every year and buys a new one the following year. Isn't that crazy?!?

We live in such a disposable society.

historymike said...

I used to have an electric mower when I lived in Detroit, and had a postage stamp-sized lot.

This double lot I have today must be at least 1/4 acre of grass. There is no way I could get it cut with an electric.

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nahidworld said...

A lawn mower carburetor is smaller and less complex than a regular automobile carburetor, and even a motorcycle carburetor. It works with the same principles that a car one does, only it is supplying fuel for the engine of the lawn mower instead of an automobile. Air and gasoline go in, the vapors mix, and it powers the engine with combustion.

jim smith said...

The spring has either come off allowing it to rev super high or, the spring is snagged and too tight.
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Kaieza Damien said...

Hi there! great post. Thanks for sharing a very interesting and informative content, it is a big help to me and to others as well, keep it up!
Proper lawn care helps prevent the spread of moss, weed, crabgrass and disease. It will also help prevent those ugly brown spots from appearing.

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