There is nothing quite as annoying as a lawn mower that won’t start. There are many reasons that this might happen from being in storage for too long to poor maintenance or faulty parts. However, starter fluid is a viable way to diagnose a problem and get your mower working as it should.
If you aren’t sure how to properly use starter fluid, then this guide will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll cover what start fluid spray is and where to spray starter fluid. So let’s get started.
Lawn mower starter fluid is a mixture of hydrocarbon, carbon dioxide and diethyl ether. It is extremely flammable and volatile and normally comes in a pressurized can that you can spray.
When you use the aerosol in the presence of carbon dioxide, this lawn mower starter fluid will react and mix with air as it atomizes itself towards the direction of the spray.
There are several reasons that you might want to use starter fluid for your lawn mower. Primarily, you would use it when the lawn mower is difficult to start. Compared to something like a car engine, lawn mower engines are pretty small. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re simpler and oftentimes, you will find that they are more difficult to diagnose.
Your mower will have either a two cycle or a four cycle engine that may have one or two cylinders. When the lawn mower won’t start easily, there could be a range of problems including spark plugs that won’t work and bad fuel.
You would use starter fluid to get your mower engine to start. This product may work well when you need to cold start the mower or if it has been out of use for some time.
When the engine needs to start in cold weather, this can be immensely difficult but start fluid gives it the boost it needs. Moreover, you might use starter fluid when you need to figure out an underlying problem.
Where To Spray Starter Fluid In A Lawn Mower
Knowing how to properly use starter fluid is essential if you own a gas powered lawn mower. There will likely come a point in time when you need to use it and it’s a useful skill to have under your belt. Before we take a look at where to spray starter fluid in a lawn mower, let’s see what tools you’re going to need.
- Starter fluid
- Collection pan
- Grip pliers
- Cleaning cloth
1. Find The Air Filter Housing
The first thing you will need to do is to take off the engine cover or lift the hood, depending on the mower. Riding mowers will have a hood whereas a walk behind mower typically has a series of clips, bolts and latches that must be undone in order to take off the cover.
Now you will need to look for the air filter housing. There should be a black box that has a fin-like opening; this is where the air filter and air intake are located. These bring air to the carburettor.
2. Remove And Clean The Air Filter
You will now need to take the air filter out and give it a good clean. Start by removing the cover from the air filter housing. Usually, this will be held in place with latches so it is relatively easy to take off. However, since it is made from plastic, you will need to be careful not to break it.
Once the cover has been removed, take a look around for the air filter. This will be either a paper or foam filter that is covered in mesh so it’ll be pretty easy to spot. Take the filter out of the housing by removing the bolt. This is where you will need a torque wrench. Again, take care to handle the air filter gently to avoid breaking it.
Now you have the filter out, it’s time to clean it. Keep in mind that, if you have a paper filter, this cannot be cleaned and must be replaced instead.
However, if you’re using a foam filter then it is possible to clean it. You’ll start by getting rid of any mud or other debris that’s visible on the filter. You can simply tap this off. Depending on how much time you have, you might clean the filter using dish soap and water; just make sure to let it fully dry out before you put it back in your lawn mower. If you’re in a rush then you might dry clean your filter using a vacuum cleaner.
Another viable method for cleaning the air filter is to use compressed air. However, you must be careful when doing this so that you don’t cause any damage.
While foam filters can usually be cleaned, there will come a point that they need to be replaced. If you find that the filter is damaged then this is a sign that you’ll need to get a new one. Make sure that you choose a filter that is compatible with your lawn mower.
3. Find The Carburetor
Your next job is to find the carburetor. In a lot of cases, this will be behind the air filter housing. Look for the fuel line that runs from the gas tank and follow this; finding the carburetor this way will be super simple.
You can buy a carburetor cleaner which is great for spraying onto the outside of the carburetor. However, you can also spray this into grooves and notches before cleaning them using a cloth. When the carburetor is kept clean, this will help to make sure that the lawn mower starts much more easily.
4. Spray The Starter Fluid
Once you have cleaned the important parts of your lawn mower, as detailed above, you will now be able to spray the starter fluid.
Start by cleaning the housing backplate with general cleaning fluid and a clean cloth. Make sure this is dry before you move onto the next step.
You’ll now need to find the air intake duct which can be located in the housing backplate where you will see a small cutout. This is where you will spray the starter fluid. You can use a decent amount so don’t be shy here and as you spray this, the fluid will get into the carburetor.
5. Start The Engine
With the starter fluid inside your mower, it’s time to start it up. If you have an adjustable throttle, then adjust this to the halfway point and bring the choke full out. The reason for this is to increase the fuel intake, making the engine (hopefully) easier to start.
Use the pull cord to start the mower up. Since you have used the starter fluid, it should start right away and now is a good opportunity to take a look at what’s going on. Your mower might keep running without shutting off and this is excellent news. However, you will likely find that it stutters and then stops.
6. Diagnose the Problem
After looking at what happens when you start the engine, you will be able to figure out what’s causing the problem. There are two things that might happen.
Firstly, it could be that the engine starts but then dies again within a few seconds. In this case, the problem is likely to do with the carburetor. You’ll need to make sure it is properly cleaned and adjusted. However in some cases, you might just need to replace it.
If the mower runs for longer than three seconds but dies shortly after then the problem is probably to do with the fuel. It might simply be a bad batch of gas or there could be water or dirt mixed into it. You will need to empty the fuel tank and the carburetor and refill it with fresh, clean gas.
As we mentioned, starter fluid is highly flammable so it should be used with caution. It’s a good idea to use this product in a well ventilated area. Also make sure that there are no open flames that could cause the fluid to go up.
Since this is a highly flammable product, it’s also best to use it when your mower engine isn’t too hot.
You will need to make sure that you protect yourself when using starter fluid and eye protection is a must. However, you should also put on a pair of safety gloves to avoid the starter fluid making contact with your skin. If you do get any in your eyes or on your skin, wash the area with clean water and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
What Is Causing Your Lawn Mower Not To Start?
Working out what is causing your lawn mower not to start can feel like a difficult process. But with starter fluid, you are more easily able to diagnose the problem.
Typically, the issue will either be with the carburetor or the fuel fitler and looking at how long it takes for the mower to stall will tell you which of these it is.
While diagnosing the problem at home should be relatively easy, there may be times that you can’t do this. In this case, you will need to take the mower to a professional.
Can Starter Fluid Be Used On A Diesel Engine?
Starter fluid is not suitable for use with diesel engines. This is because the method they use for igniting the fuel isn’t the same as other engines so starter fluid won’t be effective. What’s more, this product might even damage your engine so it should be avoided.
If you’re having problems with your gas powered lawn mower not starting then using starter fluid should help you figure out why this is. It’s a great product for diagnosing problems but it’ll also help just to get the motor up and running in challenging situations like cold weather.
It’s important to spray the fluid in the right place and our step by step guide tells you everything you need to know. Do keep in mind that starter fluid is a flammable product so should be used with extreme caution.