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Old fuel can be hard on lawn mowers


BLOOM-Old-fuel-can-be-hard-on-mowers

(BPT) – Nothing says summer like neighborhoods coming alive with the sounds of lawn mowers and the smell of fresh-cut grass. But getting the lawn mower out of the shed and running properly can be a struggle early in the season.  You turn the key and the riding lawn mower roars to life. Then the engine promptly sputters and dies. Before tearing apart the engine or calling a mechanic, look inside the gas tank.

“Every spring, we see issues with mowers caused by homeowners using gasoline left over from the year before,” says Dwight Grosz, a small engine mechanic near Bismarck, N.D. “Over time, untreated fuel begins to break down, which leads to hard starting, poor performance or an engine that won’t start at all.”

Why gasoline goes bad                                                                                          

What causes gasoline to break down? The first thing to go is gasoline’s volatility. The lightest chemicals evaporate first, leaving a heavier gasoline that doesn’t combust properly. The engine will probably still run, just not as well.

“A more serious problem is oxidization,” says Paul Herskind, a refined fuels expert at CHS, which refines and sells Cenex-brand fuels at more than 1,400 fueling locations. “When inspecting fuel that has sat unused over the winter, watch for signs that it is darker in color and smells sour. It might have small pieces of gum floating in it. These are all signs the fuel has oxidized. You don’t want that in your engine.”

Oxidization is the result of hydrocarbons in the fuel reacting with oxygen to produce new compounds, explains Herskind. This results in gum, which can clog gas lines and filters and create deposits in the fuel system. Gummed-up carburetors can be expensive to fix and may not run properly until deposits are removed.

“Finally, there’s the issue of water contamination,” adds Herskind. Water usually finds its way into fuel tanks through condensation caused by fluctuating temperatures. Water in your engine will lead to hard starting and sputtering.

How to fix it

If your mower won’t start because you’ve been using old gasoline, you’ll need to remove the old fuel and any built-up residue in the engine. Begin by referring to the owner’s manual for service procedures.

Next, siphon out the old gasoline into a container for proper disposal. Then, if the lawn mower runs for a few seconds and dies, the carburetor might be clogged or have old fuel in the float bowl.

“When the volatile ingredients in fuel evaporate, it leaves a sticky, varnish-like substance that clogs the small jets in carburetors,” says Grosz. “Once that happens, the only solution is to use a carburetor cleaner to remove varnish deposits.”

After cleaning the carburetor, add fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to help keep the system clean.

After treating the fuel

Grosz advises going through a quick checklist to ensure your mower’s ready for the season. Consult your owner’s manual for maintenance recommendations.

First, change the oil to remove contaminants, sludge and acids. Drain the old oil out and refill the crankcase. Grosz recommends using oil manufactured specifically for smaller engines and lawn mowers, such as Cenex 2-Cycle Oil. Consult your owner’s manual for manufacturer recommendations.

Next, replace the air filter. Last, don’t forget to sharpen the mower blade and remove any grass that’s caked to the underside of the motor deck.

How to avoid future issues

“To avoid future issues with stale fuel, try not to store gasoline in tanks or containers for more than two months,” says Herskind. “If you know gasoline will be sitting for longer than that, add a fuel stabilizer. This will help prevent oxidization.” At the end of the season, use a fuel stabilizer rather than draining the gas tank, which exposes carburetors and fuel lines to water and air.

“A quality fuel stabilizer can keep gas fresh for as long as 12 to 15 months. But the stabilizer needs to be added to new gasoline,” says Herskind. “It won’t bring stale fuel back to life.”

For more helpful information, Herskind recommends reading the blog on cenex.com. “Readers are also given an opportunity to nominate someone they know for free fuel,” adds Herskind. “It is always easier to get the lawn mower started with a fresh tank of gasoline, especially if it’s free.”

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Keep your lawn mower running right


(NAPS)—A trouble-free season of lawn care begins with a lawn mower that’s easy to start and keeps on running. The key to making that happen may be as simple as doing a mower tune-up.
Why Tune Up?
According to the engine experts at Briggs & Stratton Corporation, a tune-up:
•    Helps a lawn mower start more easily and run smoother;
•    Can extend mower life be­cause of proper maintenance;
•    Reduces engine emissions, which is easier on the environment;
•    Delivers a small savings in the amount of gasoline used over the course of a season.
It’s Easy to Tune Up
There are just four simple steps to complete a lawn mower tune-up: Change the oil, air filter and spark plug, and add fuel preservative to the gas tank to keep the gasoline fresh longer. Gasoline goes stale in as little as 30 days and stale gas is one of the top reasons for poor starting.
Riding mowers may also re- quire changing the oil and fuel filters, which should take only a few additional minutes.
Help Tuning Up
Briggs & Stratton has tune-up kits with everything needed for a lawn mower engine tune-up, including exactly the right amount of oil, a new spark plug, air filter and fuel preservative. The kits are at dealers, home improvement stores and online at www.mowertuneup.com. A lawn mower tune-up is something just about anyone can do—and it does a lot for the environment.
After Tuning Up
Participating dealers also have an environmentally correct way to dispose of the used mower engine oil for free. It’s important to dispose of oil properly because a single quart of oil poured down a storm drain can contaminate a million gallons of water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If poured on the ground, oil contaminates the environment and eventually enters the groundwater as a pollutant.
Find a participating dealer at www.recyclemoweroil.com, then drop off the used lawn mower oil in any closed container. The site also offers a useful “how to” video on oil changing.

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