Three Reasons Why Your Lawnmower May Not be Starting

Don’t Bring Your Lawnmower in for Repairs until you Check These Three Things for Easy Lawnmower Fixes

By Mark J. Donovan

Mowing the lawn is a fact of life if you own a home with a yard. One of the most frustrating situations that arise often every spring is pulling out the lawnmower for the first time and struggling to get it started.

You’ve confirmed there is gas in the lawnmower and the spark plug wire is connected to the spark plug but no matter how many times you pull on the cord to start the lawnmower engine it just won’t start. Well before you spend hundreds of dollars on bringing your lawnmower into the repair shop there are few basics things you can check and fix on your lawnmower that may cost you nothing.

Check the Fuel

First, make sure there is fresh fuel in your lawnmower. If gas has been sitting in it for several months then chances are the fuel is bad. Siphon out the old gas and put in fresh fuel. Also, if your lawnmower has a fuel switch make sure it is turned to the on position. Lastly, if your lawnmower has a fuel filter see if it is clogged. You can do this by momentarily disconnecting the fuel line from the carburetor and seeing if fuel flows freely from the fuel line. If it does, reattach the fuel line to the carburetor. If it doesn’t, still reattach the fuel line to the carburetor and then replace the fuel filter.

Check the Air Filter

Every lawnmower has an air filter for preventing grass clippings and dirt and dust from getting into the carburetor and engine. Usually there is a screw that holds a plastic cover plate over the air filter that is attached to the side of the engine. Remove the screw and examine the air filter to see if it is dirty. If the air filter is dirty and clogged it is starving the engine of oxygen, and thus preventing the lawnmower engine from starting and/or running normally.

If it is a paper air filter replace it. If it is a foam air filter clean it with warm water and detergent and then let it dry out. Then wipe it lightly with some motor oil before reattaching it to the lawnmower.

Check the Spark Plug

In order for your engine to run it needs a spark from the spark plug. Often the spark plug is located on the front of the lawnmower.

Pull the spark plug cord from the end of the spark plug and use a socket wrench to remove the spark plug. If the electrode on the end of it, the side that goes into the engine, is fouled looking, meaning wet, black and/or dirty looking, clean it with some WD-40 and a rag.

Then, using emery cloth or a very fine grit sandpaper, lightly rub the electrode to remove any carbon buildup on it. Then clean once more with WD-40 and a rag before reinstalling into the lawnmower and attaching the spark plug wire.

Clean spark plug as part of spring maintenance on lawnmower

With any luck one or more of these three fixes will resolve your problem in starting your lawnmower, and you’ll be off to the races cutting your lawn this summer.

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