For being such a seemingly simple, yet essential lawncare appliance, the humble lawn mower has certainly evolved into many different forms. Electric corded lawn mowers, cordless battery-powered lawn mowers, gasoline-powered lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers, and zero-turn riding lawn mowers all run on different power sources. Each requires it’s own basic care and maintenance.
Lawn mower manufacturers do their best to make their models easy to start. Still, just about everyone has a story to three about a time when a stubborn lawn mower just wouldn’t start or couldn’t get the job done.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the most common types of lawn mowers, how to start them, and some of the possible things that might make cause an ignition or activation problem.
Starting A Corded Electric Lawn Mower
A corded electric lawn mower is one of the easiest to start. There’s no combustion process or fuel to worry about. You simply connect the power cord and press the “On” button. This will engage the electric motor. Though some corded electric lawn mowers also have a separate control to engage the blades.
One possible problem with starting a corded electric lawn mower is the distance from the electric outlet power source. Extension cords tend to lose performance over distance. Especially the inexpensive ones that you see a lot at the retail level. Once you go beyond 50-feet you start to see a decrease in the available voltage. If you take your corded electric lawn mower beyond 100-feet from the outlet by plugging two 50-foot extension cords together it may not start or will perform poorly.
Starting A Battery Powered Electric Lawn Mower
Battery-powered electric lawn mowers are enjoying vigorous growth thanks to continuing improvements in lithium-ion battery technology. Here again, you have the ease of use that comes with an electric lawnmower. You simply install the correct batteries into the battery port and turn the electric motor on.
One possible starting problem you might run into with a battery-powered electric lawn mower is the charge in the batteries. If you forgot to put them in the charger, the charger wasn’t plugged in, a circuit breaker flipped during the charging process, or you don’t have the batteries properly installed, the electric lawn mower might not start. It’s also worth noting that even high-quality lithium-ion batteries still have a limited lifespan. Most will last two to three years, maybe even four. If it’s an older battery, it simply might have lost the charging capacity to power the electric lawn mower.
Starting A Gasoline Powered Walk Behind Lawn Mower With Electric Assist
Gasoline lawn mowers have a notorious reputation for being hard to start as they get older. Especially, if the weather has been cold. One way lawn mower manufacturers have addressed this is by installing an electric ignition assist system. While many of them have their own proprietary names, but most work the same way.
You plug a short extension cord into a nearby electric outlet. You then turn the lawn mower to the ignition position. With some models, you might need to turn the choke on and prime it with 2 to 3 pumps of fuel. Though some gasoline lawn mowers with electric assists system will have an auto choke.
Once you have everything set up correctly, you press the ignition button. An internal mechanism will then use the electric current supplied by the extension cord to crank the engine until it starts. You then move the control lever into the “Run” position.
Starting A Gasoline Lawn Mower With A Recoil Pull-Start
Recoil start gasoline lawn mowers have gotten a little bit of a bad reputation for being stubborn to start. With some of them, the engine is large, the recoil is stiff, and the motor is easy to flood with too much fuel.
Starting one begins with priming it. This usually calls for pumping a small bulb near the fuel tank. It forces a small amount of fuel into the ignition chamber. The number of pumps required can vary from one make and model to the next. With most, it’s three pumps, though some say five or even eight pumps. If it doesn’t tell you on the lawn mower itself, double-check the owner’s manual.
If your lawn mower has a choke, you should turn it on. Though some newer gasoline lawn mowers have an auto choke feature that takes this step out of your hands. Then engage the throttle control lever on the handle. If you don’t grip it down the motor will not turn over. This is an important safety feature built into nearly all gasoline lawn mowers.
At this point, you can firmly grasp the handle of the pull start handle and give it a good yank. Sometimes it helps to push the lawn mower away from you as you pull back to gain a little more velocity. Most properly maintained pull-start gasoline lawnmowers will fire up in the first three to five pulls.
Starting A Gasoline Powered Riding Lawn Mower
Here again, you have the sometimes fickle nature of a small gasoline engine. Though most newer riding lawn mowers, lawn tractors, and zero-turn mowers have taken a step up in engineering to make them easier than ever to start. Some feel very much like starting a car.
While there are a few with old-fashioned recoil ignition systems, most rely on a lead-acid or gel battery to deliver the initial spark for combustion. You simply turn the choke on, prime if necessary, depress the brake pedal and turn the key. When the engine starts and fires up fully, you turn the choke off and the riding lawn mower is ready to go.
Just keep in mind that most have a separate control button or lever that engages the blades of the cutting deck. In a riding lawnmower with a hydrostatic transmission, this can take away a little bit of the power when cutting uphill or mowing in reverse. So, it’s best to always start a riding lawnmower on a level surface.