Picture this: it is a bright summer morning, and you are looking forward to dealing with the grass on your lawn and make it look beautiful. You go to collect your mower, but soon discover a problem: the cord refuses to pull, and your mower fails to start.
If you have been through a similar situation, you are not alone. Stuck cords seem to be a notoriously common problem among lawn mowers, and it leads to plenty of frustration because you might not know what is wrong with your mower or whether it needs replacement.
The good news is resolving the problem is relatively easy, as long as you can determine the issue behind it. Otherwise, you will not cut any grass until you resolve the problem.
How does a pull cord operate?
The mower cord is connected to a hub, and this hub spins when you pull the cord. In turn, this spins the blades of the lawnmower, and the crankshaft as well. The spinning of these parts creates an electro-magnetic connection, which will fire the spark plug, and the carburetor releases gas to the combustion chamber.
The gas will then ignite, and the engine switches on. Every time you pull the cord, a recoil spring within the motor housing rewinds it back into its original position. When the system adjusts everything correctly, the cord should not have any slow or remain in a stuck position.
Reasons for stuck cord
There are two possible reasons behind this, and the behavior of the cord will indicate where the issue is. They are:
- If the cord is moving sluggishly or slowly, this indicates debris or blockage in the top housing of the motor
- If the cord is completely stuck, then there might be damage to the cord, or it is caught by a component of the housing.
If this happens, then you should unscrew the screw that is on the top of the motor housing. This will give you access to the pulley disc and cord to examine the problem.
Solving the problem
If you notice there is a significant resistance when you are trying to pull the cord, the automatic brake is the first place to check. The reason is that there are many mower models that will stop the engine automatically, so you will need to press the lever down and hold it in place before you pull the cord.
If your mower does not have this kind of setup, the blade might be experiencing issues due to blockage from debris and grass. The blade has a direct connection to the starter coil, so it will refuse to start if there is a problem. If this is the case, then remove the wire from the spark plug, angle the mower, and use a flat bar or screwdriver to remove any debris. These also include plastics and roots, which gum the blade.
If there are issues with recoiling
You might notice that the cord is crossing over itself after you pull it and it is in the course of rewinding, and this makes it get stuck. If this occurs, gently pull it to free any knots that have formed, and allow it to slowly rewind.
If this fails to work, then open the engine housing and remove the starter, in order to loosen the tangles. You can also check to see if there are any displaced or broken springs, which are also a cause of the cord failing to rewind. Before doing this though, make sure to consult your operator’s manual – since the procedure of removing the engine housing will vary among models.
Repairing the recoiling
The good news about removing the starter is that it is not hard, and only takes a few minutes. Make sure to check for the instructions from your manual, and use a socket wrench or screwdriver to deal with it. Once you remove the starter, check for tangles on the rope and remove them by rewinding, then reset or replace the spring.
For you to replace the spring mechanism, you will need to separate the starter cover from the hub by removing the cord itself. After you replace the spring, you can then wind the hub, insert the cord into the holes on the cover and hub, securely form a knot, and allow the hub to slowly rewind before placing the cover. See our guide on how to replace the pull string.
In case you ever encounter issues with stuck cords, you do not need to panic. It is a problem you can solve easily, especially when you know what the problem is. Hopefully these tips will help you to solve the problem as quickly as possible.