Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Start – What To Do

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It's time to mow the lawn. You get the lawnmower out—a Craftsman lawn mower that's served you well. But on this particular day, you just can't seem to get it to start. What could be wrong? If that's what you're wondering, we've researched the matter for you! 

Like most machines, it won't be easy to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong. A lawnmower could stop working for many reasons. To find out what's going on in your specific situation, we'll need to narrow our options. The common causes a lawnmower won't start are: 

  • Dirty or bad fuel
  • Fuel isn't reaching the engine
  • Dirty air filter
  • Loose, dirty, or disconnected spark plug
  • Clogged carburetor

As you can see, there are many reasons why your Craftsman lawn mower is having trouble starting. If you can believe it, there are still more problems that aren't on the list above. Those are some of the common issues that users face. However, if those parts aren't causing you trouble, you'll want to explore your options. We discuss this and more further ahead. 

Photo of a man mowing a very large lawn with a look of misery on his face, Craftsman Lawn Mower Won't Start - What To Do

What Would Cause a Craftsman Lawn Mower Not To Start?

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why your Craftsman lawnmower won't start. It could range from a fuel problem to something as simple as a filter cleanup. Troubleshooting without knowing where to start is the biggest concern. If we want to get to the root of the issue, we need to take small steps. 

We can check what's wrong by checking the easiest issues to fix. Then, we'll move on to the more complicated areas. It might mean getting a replacement part or working with components you're not familiar with. 

Regardless, before you start the process, you want to be in a well-ventilated area. In addition, here's a list of tools you'll need depending on the issue: 

  • Starting fluid
  • Fresh gasoline
  • Ratchet and deep socket
  • Spark plug tester
  • Compression gauge
  • Shop rag
  • Fuel-safe container
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Carburetor repair kit
  • Replacement carburetor

Without further ado, let's get to troubleshooting!

Troubleshooting Craftsman Lawn Mower

Lawn mower cutting green grass in backyard, garden service

The engine in a lawnmower needs three things to start: fuel, a spark to ignite the fuel, and compression to drive the piston. To find the problem, you'll need to determine which one of these three is causing the issue. As mentioned above, we can start by eliminating simple ones. 

Dirty Air Filter

The air filter is one of the parts that anyone can easily neglect. In your case, if you've owned the lawnmower for some time, it might be a matter of forgetting to replace or clean it. Air needs to be filtered before moving into the carburetor to mix with the gas. 

Since you're working with dirt and grass, an air filter can clog in no time, meaning the air won't be able to go to the carburetor. If we want to eliminate this part from our list of potential troublemakers, you can start by removing the air filter cover.

Then, take out the air filter. Depending on your model, you will either find a pleated paper filter or a foam filter. 

You'll need to consult your owner's manual for cleaning instructions if you find a foam filter. Is it slightly discolored? Simple taps on a hard surface should suffice for cleaning. 

If it's discolored entirely, you'll need to replace the filter. 

Testing for Fuel Problems

Once you've cleaned the filter, you can eliminate fuel as another suspect with a quick test. Spray starting fluid through the air filter opening to the carburetor. Then, try to start the lawnmower. Did it turn on briefly before going off? This indicates the lawnmower has fuel problems.

If it didn't turn on, you'll have to check the spark plug or the compression system. 

Diagnosing the Fuel Problem

The first spot you want to check is the gas. It isn't uncommon for the gas to become contaminated with water or dirt. The most common sign of contaminated fuel is a lawnmower that won't start. But if you want to make sure this is the problem, you have two other methods. 

You can disconnect the fuel line and let a bit of fuel drip on a piece of metal or wood. There's water in the fuel if it beads up. Next, check the inside of the tank by lighting a flashlight inside. Globules or bubbles are a sign that it is contaminated. 

Draining the Tank

Now that we know it's contaminated, draining it is the next step. First, locate the fuel connection. It will have a clamp holding it closed. Then, place a container approved for holding gasoline under that connection. 

Release the clamp using pliers. Pull the fuel line off. The fuel should be draining into the container. For disposal, you'll have to contact your local fire department or hazardous waste recycling center for instructions.

If you find debris in the fuel, you'll have to clean the fuel tank entirely. Rinse it out completely with water. Then, let it dry fully before you place it back onto the lawnmower. 

Fuel Line

At this point, you can also check the fuel line for problems. Check for cracks and clogs. If cracks or clogs are present, your lawnmower was most likely not receiving fuel. Replace it if you see signs of damage. 

If it's a matter of clogs, clear them with a pipe cleaner. Once these two parts are in the clear, we can move along and inspect the carburetor. 

How Do You Get to the Carburetor on a Craftsman Lawn Mower?

Before we move onto this component, we'll have to know how to get to it first. To get to the carburetor, you'll need to: 

  1. Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug. 
  2. Locate the air filter housing. Take the cover off.
  3. Remove the air filter.
  4. Use a nut driver to remove the screws from the air filter base.
  5. If you haven't followed the steps above, you'll first need to drain the fuel tank. 
  6. Next, release the starter rope from the handle. 
  7. Take your nut driver and remove the screws from the blower housing. 
  8. Remove the blower housing.
  9. Now we have complete access to the carburetor. It should be held in place by two bracket arms. Disconnect it from the carburetor adapter. 
  10. There will be rods connected to the top of the component. Disconnect them. At this point, it should be disconnected from the lawnmower completely. 
  11. Lastly, if you haven't already, remove the fuel line.

Following the steps through text isn't always ideal. So, here's a YouTube video demonstrating how to do it: 

To Replace or Fix?

If you've found that the carburetor is giving you trouble, it might be time to replace it. However, that depends on the extent of the damage. If it looks fixable, you can order a repair kit to get it working good as new. Otherwise, it might be better to buy and install a new one. 

The reason is that it requires good mechanical skills. Still, if the carburetor for your specific lawnmower costs too much, it might be better to consider fixing it. 

Spark Plugs

Another culprit for a lawnmower that won't start is the spark plug. It's one of the easier parts to inspect. First, remove the spark plug wire and remove the spark plug using a ratchet. 

If there are cracks on the ceramic insulator, it indicates you need a replacement. Regarding the metal part, if you see too much carbon or oil buildup, it also points to getting a replacement. If it's in working condition, here's a test you can perform on it: 

How Do You Start a Craftsman Lawn Mower?

To get the most accurate results, it's probably best to consult the owner's manual on starting the lawnmower. However, if you've lost it or need a refresher, let's go over a general guide on starting a Craftsman lawnmower. 

  1. Engage the choke lever. You can find it near the blower housing or near the handle.
  2. Engage the bail arm. It's the second handle near the top of the lawnmower.
  3. While holding the bail arm down, pull on the pull start. You'll need to pull quickly with force. 
  4. If it doesn't start on the first try, keep pulling it. Once you hear the engine running, you're good to go. 

As always, guides are always better with visual representation. Here's a YouTube video to help: 

Why Is It So Hard To Start My Lawn Mower?

After trying the solutions above, you might find that it's still hard to start the lawnmower. As some suggest, a clogged fuel filter could be causing the problem. You'll need to replace the fuel filter and drain the tank. Then, refill it with fresh and clean fuel. 

Is There a Trick to Starting a Lawn Mower?

If it's getting harder to start your lawnmower, it might tempt you to look for the cheat codes. After all, who doesn't want a lawnmower that can start at your will?

Luckily enough, there is a trick that some users have success with. It involves tilting it to the side and then pulling. Here's a YouTube video demonstrating how it works: 

Final Takeaway

A Craftsman lawn mower is one of the most reliable mowers a person can own. But, like any machine, it does have its hiccups. We hope you find the information above helpful in your search for a fix! 

Before you go, are you in need of help in other areas? We have multiple guides giving you an idea of what to do! So, if you have the time, check out our other posts: 

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