We’ve all been there. You’ve been through winter and your lawnmower has been sat in the shed the whole time.
Spring has come and it’s time to get back into the garden and spruce it up, starting with a good trim of your lawn.
You go to dust off the mower and get it started, but nothing happens. Is it fully broken? Or is it just a symptom of it not being used for a couple of months?
Either way you definitely want to find out.
There are several reasons why a lawnmower might not start. Some are really simple, like just needing the oil changed or excess grass cuttings clogging the blades. Some issues are more complex and can lead to part replacement which can be costly.
This guide will give you some troubleshooting tips to help identify problems, as well as share some maintenance tips to prevent future problems.
There are a few different issues you might run into while cutting your grass (if you even get that far).
The Mower Won’t Start
If it’s a petrol mower that won’t start right off the bat, then your first port of call will be to check the fuel.
Even if it’s still full from before winter, change it out for some fresh petrol to make sure it’s ready for use.
Next up is checking the spark plug. Make sure this is clean and tightly secured. Disconnect and reconnect it to make sure the connection is tight.
Finally you can check the air filter. If it’s dirty and clogged this may prevent the mower from starting, so cleaning this off might fix this. However it’s possible the filter needs to be replaced.
If it’s an electric mower then it’s worth checking the fuse.
Your Mower Loses Power During Use
This can again be a symptom of a dirty air filter so cleaning this out may fix the problem.
This can also happen a lot when cutting tall grass. This leads to the blades getting clogged very quickly if you’re trying to cut it really short, since the longer grass will wrap round the blades and stop them spinning.
Raising the cutting height of your mower can help prevent this, since then the grass cuttings are much shorter and are less able to clog the blades.
Another issue related to the above is simply a build up of debris and grass clippings in the blades. Cleaning the underside out will prevent this kind of issue.
The Mower is Struggling to Cut Grass
This issue is similar to the previous, except instead of the mower dropping out, it still runs but just can’t seem to get anywhere with the grass cutting.
As before, a build up of debris and/or old grass clippings can reduce the cutting power of your mower, as the blades will be less effective. Cleaning the underside will potentially fix this.
While you’re checking for clogs, the side discharge chute is a good place to investigate as well. This can quickly become clogged if you don’t keep on top of it and will prevent your mower from cutting effectively.
Another reason for this is that the blades could have dulled over time. Sharpening these up will definitely improve the cutting power.
While you’re doing this is a good time to check if the blades are actually loose as well. These can be tightened up if so.
Your Mower Is Starting to Smoke
This may look terrifying, but in a lot of cases it’s not that serious.
If it’s darker coloured smoke, this is OK. This is usually caused by your oil chamber being too full, or oil leaking into the exhaust when tipping the mower.
The smoke here is then just caused by the oil burning off. This isn’t a huge issue but it’s probably best to sit back until the smoke stops to avoid breathing in the fumes.
If the smoker is lighter in colour, then this is a different story and your mower needs to be seen by a professional.
These are some of the more basic and obvious troubleshooting tips that can often be sorted by quick fixes.
There are of course more serious issues that will need replacements.
Potential Repairs & Replacements
As with a lot of equipment, there will be issues that simply require a replacement part to fix.
Like I mentioned in the previous section, often issues arise from dirty/clogged air filters or dirty/loose spark plugs.
Sometimes simply cleaning these parts won’t cut it and they need to be replaced to have your mower back in working action.
Issues are sometimes caused by the fuel just not reaching the engine. This can be difficult to check for but one method is to check the spark plug after several pulls of the starter cord.
The plug should be quite damp, though if it is wet then the engine is flooding which is not good. (On a warmer day this test isn’t as reliable since any fuel will evaporate and the plug will appear dry).
If there is no fuel getting to the engine, then there are a number of reasons for this.
Dirty air or fuel filters which might need to be replaced. There are several components to a carburetor that can become worn over time and need replacing as well.
If there is water in the fuel tank this will be a serious issue as well. You can check this by shining a torch to see the globules of water in the fuel itself.
You can drain the tank and soak up the water left at the bottom with a cloth or sponge.
Some more technical replacements and repairs are more suited to a professional, especially if you’re unsure.
Maintenance and Fault Prevention
As far as maintenance goes, it’s similar to a lot of fuel powered appliances.
Regularly checking the oil and changing it every so often is a must to keep the mower healthy.
Checking the air filters before each use is good too to prevent clogging and keep the mower running efficiently.
Before each use it is good to check the fuel too as a lot of times it’s possible to forget to fill the fuel tank! As mentioned before, checking the fuel is especially important if you haven’t used the mower in a long time.
Keeping the blades sharp is also key so regularly checking to see if the blades are dull is necessary.
Following these smaller maintenance tips should help keep your mower in good working condition and mean you encounter issues less often.
As you can see, there are a lot of different issues that prevent your mower from starting (or even stop it running during a cutting session).
Most of these will be easily fixed and can be checked visually which is a big plus.
If you stick to the maintenance advice given as well, then you’ll be able to use your mower with fewer problems!
As always, if you’re unsure, check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Good luck with the grass!