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.