A lot of people don’t even realize that there’s a right way and a wrong way to tip a lawn mower up. I know I didn’t a few years ago. But if you’re the proud owner of a gas mower, there most certainly is. A quick and simple rule is as follows: The side that the carburetor and air filter is on needs to be up. If it’s down, that’s when you will have some problems to deal with.
So…Tell Me…What Happens If You Tip The Lawn Mower The Wrong Way?
If you tip up your mower with the carburetor and air filter down, things can get messy and gravity is your enemy. If you quickly realize your error and flip the mower back to a neutral position, you might be ok, but if you leave it tipped over the wrong way for any period of time the oil (and likely the gas too) that is sitting in the mower’s crankcase will not stay put.
Gravity will prompt it to make its way through the engine cylinder, the piston, through the carburetor, and into the air filter. And I’m not talking just a little bit of oil. Your air filter will likely be absolutely soaked in oil and no longer usable.
And when that happens it’s honestly almost impossible to clean up – there’s no degreaser that exists that will be able to help. Your only option will be to get a new one. So unless you want to be replacing your air filter every time you tip your mower up, make sure you tip it up the right way.
Anything Else You Should Know?
In addition to a compromised air filter (the most common thing that that happens if you tip your lawn mower the wrong way), it’s possible that your spark plug could have been contaminated by either oil or fuel. This happens if the combustion chamber is flooded with too much oil or gas (read this for more info on how to start a flooded lawn mower). In extreme cases, this can stop the engine from cranking over.
What to Do If You Do Tip Your Lawn Mower the Wrong Way
If you’re faced with a situation like the one we just described above, there are a couple of things you will need to address in all likelihood.
Change Your Air Filter
If your air filter is completely saturated in oil, leaving it in place is not an option. Your mower’s engine needs the right amount of air to pass through the filter to burn with the fuel. A filter soaked in oil won’t allow that; it’ll smother your engine and your mower will either splutter and struggle to maintain consistent power or it may not start at all. You might also see your mower start-up and then cut out or blow black smoke (quite an alarming sight!).
The solution is simple. Buy a new air filter. And make sure you clean up all oil residue from the case/cover too so leftover oil doesn’t make its way into the new filter.
Clean the Carburettor
If you’ve swapped out the filter for a new one, but your mower either still won’t start or isn’t running smoothly, it could be that oil is blocking or partially blocking the carburetor. You’ll need to clean it as best you can.
The first thing I’d try, as it’s far less time-consuming and complicated, is to spray some carburetor cleaner in the throat of the carburetor, and then try to start the mower. If you can get it to run, that might clear any oil residue that has been left behind.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to remove the carburetor and give it a thorough cleaning, but I’d only attempt to do this if you’re comfortable with doing this kind of thing. If not, I’d recommend you look for a repair shop locally and have them take a look.
Remove Spark Plug and Clean
If the combustion chamber flooded and your mower won’t start up, you will want to remove your spark plug and give it a clean. Wait a few minutes before reconnecting and you should be good to go.
Final Thoughts: Just Tip Your Mower the RIGHT Way
Tipping your mower the wrong way is a mistake that only takes a second to do, but can potentially cause you a lot of work. Not to mention you’ll be out of pocket. And when it’s so easy to avoid finding yourself in this situation, there’s really no excuse. Just tip your lawn mower the right way from now on!