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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    56

    Default Ailing lawn mower

    I was wondering if any of you had an idea what might be wrong with my lawn mower. It's 7 years old, some model I bought at Lowe's, with a 3.5hp Briggs&Stratton pull-start motor. Last summer it started having a strange idling problem, where it would start, the revs would rise to normal and then they would drop to a low idle just above stalling, then back up to normal, down again, and so on. Kind of like a throb. I've changed the oil and air filter and spark plug, but that didn't affect anything. Could the carbeurator be fouled, or the fuel filter, or fuel tank be a problem? I'm just wondering if there is any simple fixes to try before I just give it away and buy a new one. Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,051

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    It's probably a fouled carb or the diaphragm inside it is no longer supple. If you're handy, you can easily get a rebuild kit and go through it yourself, if not, take it to a shop and for around $50 they'll do it for you.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,533

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    You've already invested around $25-$30 in this machine.
    It's all a question of "is it worth it?"
    A new mower with a 3.5 HP engine is around $120. In the fall, at clearance time, you can buy one for half that.
    So it's how badly you need your mower and whether or not you want to continue pouring money into your it.
    I would get rid of it and buy a new, more powerful mower. Because when I need the mower, I need it to work, not to be serviced. AND, maintain it properly, so I don't have a breakdown in the wrong time.
    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    These less expensive, and even better grades, of push mowers don't last very long these days. The motors can literally wear out after only a couple hundred hours of use (bearings, piston rings, etc.). Add to that the cost of a new blade after a number of years, etc. and the previous post is right.

    After 7 years, you've gotten a good run out of it! With that basic kind of mower (3.5 HP), it is probably better to just replace it rather than put more money into it. In the future, with regards to the carb, etc. at the end of each year, let the gasoline run down low. Add STABIL or another preservative to the small amount of gas remaining and run the mower for 10-15 minutes. Drain the rest of the gas and let the mower run out. Then, the old gas is gone, the carb is run empty, and any little gas that is left won't degrade.

    You'll have no problems at all for the life of the mower! I did this with a Crapsman (oops Craftsman) I had and it really did last 10 years!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,587

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    It sounds like you have a fuel delivery problem probably caused by crud or gum.
    Try running a good strong dose of Sea Foam through a tankfull and see if it helps. I've had good luck clearing up carb problems with it

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    Sea Foam? Is that something easy to find at a home center or should I be going to a small engine/lawnmower shop?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,587

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    Auto parts store or marine store. Pep Boys sells it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,533

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    Spruce
    I fully agree with you that it would be more economical to fix a small engine rather than replace the mower, IF the person who's asking the question knew how to do it AND IF the numbers penciled out.
    BUT, if he/she is asking how to do it, he/she probably doesn't know to fix and maintain it.
    Now the numbers: a new 3.5 HP mower is $120, not $200-$300.
    When Walmart clears them, they go for $50 - $60.
    Does it make sense for the average homeowner, who doesn't know how to fix and maintain the mower, or doesn't have the time to do it, to spend $30 on parts, then $50 at the shop, and what if the shop is 20 miles away, then a little fortune on gas - all for a 7 year old mower?
    Real DIY's will try to tackle unfamiliar repairs, because that's what they love to do. However, an average homeowner, with only 1 or 2 hours of free time on the weekend to cut the lawn, can't mess with a mower that wouldn't start or cut. Therefore, replacement is cheaper for them. And the same is true to other yard machines. Or cars: would you repair a transmission on an old car knowing that it costs more than the value of the car?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,969

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    I too am in the camp of repairing the old one.

    Seems to me a bit more maintenance than had been happening will keep this mower going until the deck rots out. An occasional cleaning along with a jigger or two of SeaFoam (great stuff BTW) in the tank will keep it purring.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,533

    Default Re: Ailing lawn mower

    Guys,
    You keep forgetting that folks who ask questions here may not always be as handy as you, may not have the free time as you, may not have the knowledge, experience and patience as you...or just prefer to have a new mower every few years !!!

    You may know how to fly a plane (in theory) because you watched pilots do it (before they started locking the cockpit door) - but does it mean you can do it? (don't ask me to join you on your first flight, if you decide to fly...)
    You may know how to fill an aching tooth (in theory), because you watched the dentist do it - but does it mean you can do it? (don't ask me to be your first patient, if you decide to fill teeth...)
    The same goes for small engines.

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