It’s summer already, and the kids have started on their vacations. Summer is a great time to enjoy being outdoors and have fun. To prepare for the holidays, the first thing you do is start mowing your lawn so that the children will have enough space to play around during the daytime.
However, the only thing wrong on a hot summer’s day is a lawnmower incident that hurts or your loved ones. Homeowners rarely consider this task dangerous, but the fact is mowers can and do cause fires. Any mower, electric or gas, can catch devastating fires that have the potential of burning down a house.
A general survey conducted across the southern suburbs of the United States found that lawnmower incidents result in over 10,000 people being hospitalized every year, out of which 7,000 are children. These accidents often lead to fatal injuries such as loss of fingers, toes, and even eyes.
As a result, we have mentioned the common causes why a lawn mower catches fire and ways to prevent it. Similarly, this article will walk you through all the lawnmower safety tips that will keep you and your loved ones from getting hurt.
Reasons Why A Lawn Mower Catches Fire
Imagine you’re mowing your lawn ahead of a big party. Everything’s going well, but suddenly, the mower breaks down, and smoke starts coming out. Within no time, your mower is on fire, and it isn’t a pretty sight. Once the mower is on fire, there is nothing you can do but prevent the fire from occurring in the first place.
There are numerous reasons why your lawnmower caught fire. Here are the most important ones:
- Fuel Hazards
- Clogged Mower Deck
- Metal Blades Contact Rocks
- Tall Grass
- Gas Leak
- Short Circuit
1. Mower Deck Clogged With Dry Grass
There are chances of your mower catching fire if the temperatures are soaring. The more hot climate, the drier is the leaves in your backyard. These dry leaves get accumulated in the mower dec,k leaving the deck clogged. The more these dry leaves accumulate inside the mower deck; they slide directly into the muffler, which can ignite a spark causing the mower and land to light up in fire.
To prevent this from happening, constantly water the area if you plan on moving on a hot summer’s day. It is advisable to mow the land early morning because of the humidity and represent on the ground. It is generally advised to prevent altogether on hot, dry, and sunny days. However, if you plan on mowing the lawn during summer, it is always best to get it serviced before summer arrives.
2. Fuel Hazards
This is one of the most common reasons why your lawnmower caught fire in the first place. If you pour fuel or fuel into a scorching engine or an engine that has been active for a long, it can ignite the vapors, ultimately setting your mower on fire. Therefore, always check the fuel and oil levels before you start mowing your lawn.
Often there are instances when your mower may run dry when in the middle of mowing. In such scenarios, always allow your mower to cool down for a minimum of 30 minutes before you get to refueling the tank. Always keep a piece of cloth handy to clean off any spills after refueling. Never store the gasoline container anywhere near the lawnmower.
Never smoke a cigarette in the vicinity of a lawnmower, and ensure that your mower is stored away from your barbecue grill.
3. Metal Blades Strike Rock
Always inspect the land/lawn before mowing and pick up stones, branches, nails, wires, rocks, or any other debris. This is because the blade inside the mower rotates at a very high speed. However, if the metal blade strikes the rock, it causes a spark and can ignite dry grass. Another scenario is if the blade strikes the rock, it comes flying off. I talked about ways to remove rocks and gravels before mowing as part of a lawn mowing prep, a while back.
Remember that the more you sharpen your blades, the more thin, weak, and worn out they become.
The weaker your blade, the quicker it’ll come off after hitting a rock. Similarly, the edge may get bent which will scalp your lawn and ultimately damage the bearings. Check to see if the blades are cracked. A cracked blade will come off the minute it comes in contact with a rock or tree stump causing fatal injuries to you and those around.
4. Tall Grass
The application of a lawnmower is similar to that of your shaving razor. The more you grow out your beard, the less effective your razor is while shaving. Similarly, if the grass is left to grow out too far, it can create clippings. As a result, particles can flow up in the mower deck and contact the muffler, which can cause a spark and ignite.
Remember that field grass is entirely different from lawn grass, and field grass tends to grow higher than the average lawnmower deck. The taller the grass, the drier it is at the top. As we mentioned above, dry grass tends to accumulate inside the deck. If your field grass grows too high, seek professional assistance to prevent a fire at once.
The average lawnmower is not built for handling field grass. However, if you mow a field using a standard lawnmower, the dry leaves can get in the muffle,r where it can cause a spark and end up leaving the entire field on fire.
If you pour fuel or oil into a scorching engine or an engine that has been active for a long, it can ignite the vapors, ultimately setting your mower on fire. Do not refuel when the engine is running or hot. Always let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes before refueling it.
Gasoline has a shallow flash point, so the heat temperature remains around 200 degrees even after the mower is turned off. Therefore, if you are refueling immediately after turning off your mower, it means that you are directly splashing fuel over the head of the engine. This can cause a spark enough to ignite the fuel and set the whole area on fire. Your mower engine generates a lot of heat, and therefore the heat dissipation must be equivalent to the heat generated. If the heat dissipation isn’t enough, then it puts your mower at risk of bursting into flames.
Similarly, the cooling fins attached to the mold can overheat due to holding too much heat closer to the engine. This ultimately leads to smoke coming out of the lawnmower and can result in your mower catching fire.
6. Gas leak
One of the primary reasons why mowers catch fire is due to a leaky gas tank. A dirty engine will make your mower struggle even harder while leaking fuel in the process. The more the gas leak, the more are the chances of oil being low in your mower. A low oil level can often cause the mower to overheat. And if the oil leaks into the fuel while the mower is active, it can ignite the mower and set it on fire.
Always keep a washcloth with you whenever you refuel or put gasoline into the mower to wipe off any spilled fuel or gasoline. In case you spill any gasoline on the grass, let it dry off before using the mower over it. If you don’t, then the spark from the mower can ignite the spilled gasoline and set the grass on fire. Therefore, it is advisable to always refuel on a hard floor. Place a plastic container underneath to collect any spillover.
7. Short Circuit
Using a frayed electric wire can often lead to short circuits. A frayed wire leads to an abnormal connection to be formed at the two nodes of an electric circuit, which generally results in circuit damage, explosion, or ignite a fire. When using an electric lawnmower, there are higher chances of the choke inside the carburetor getting severely damaged.
However, if the lawnmower is used in such a condition, the choke remains closed even when the engine starts, which floods the engine. A flooded engine ultimately means less heat dissipation and more overheating, resulting in a fire outbreak. Similarly, if the mower solenoid goes wrong, it can lead to engine overheating as well.
Therefore, you must pay attention to the temperature gauge monitor on the mower at all times to avoid fire.
Lawn Mower Safety Tips
Every year 200,000 people are injured in lawn mower accidents, 16,000 of them children. Lawnmower accidents include severed fingers, burns, and eye injuries. These simple safety tips from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, and the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons will help you stay safe this summer. Mowing the lawn isn’t rocket science. However, there are several precautions that one has to take to avoid accidents. Mowing tips include when to mow, what to wear, and what angles to take on inclines, declines, and hills. Therefore, let’s dig into the basics of lawn mower safety:
- Always mow when you can see clearly. Nighttime isn’t the right time for mowing activities.
- Never let children near the lawnmower. Make sure the children are indoors or at a safe distance from the mowing area.
- Educate children on lawnmower safety. Children should be at least 12 years old to operate a push mower and 16 to operate a riding mower.
- Never RUN and mow.
- Always inspect the land/lawn before moving and pick up stones, branches, nails, wires, rocks, or any other debris along the way to prevent them from being caught in the mower causing severe injury to people around.
- NEVER cut wet grass
- Do NOT drink alcohol or any alcoholic beverage and operate a lawnmower.
- Ensure you wear the proper gear ( steel-toed shoes, long pants) when operating a mower to keep injuries at bay.
- NEVER refuel when the engine is running or hot. Always let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes before refueling it.
- NEVER pull the mower backward towards you.
- When mowing a hill, always mow it across and NEVER up and down. If you mow a mountain up and down, there are chances that your lawnmower will roll back onto your feet or your feet slipping under the mower.
- NEVER leave the lawnmower unattended
- NEVER mow the wet lawn or mow during the rainy season when using an electric mower
- Always ensure that all four wheels of the mower are grounded.
- Always check the oil level after 4 hours of usage.
- Change the oil after the mower has been used for fifty or more hours.
- Change the spark plug after 90 hours of usage.
- Do NOT put your hands/feet under the deck of your lawnmower.
- NEVER tamper with the mower’s safety controls
- Do NOT use a frayed extension cord.
These are some of the safety tips that can prevent injuries to you and your family. Apart from these safety tips, you need to take good care of your lawnmower. Note that every mower has a different operational manner. Therefore, get to know your mower before you purchase it.
The lawnmower blade spins roughly at a speed of 180 miles an hour which is why you need to inspect the surface before you start mowing because if you hit a rock, stone, tree branch, or any other object, it will come out flying at the same speed. This can cause severe damage to you as well as those around you. It would help if you regularly took your lawnmower’s casing off to clean off all the dust, dirt, debris, and dry grass built up inside it.
Similarly, if you are injured while mowing the land, seek medical help at once. No matter how small, never overlook these injuries. Upon injury, clean the wound with soap and water to wipe out the bacteria present on the wound. Wrap it up with a bandage and get yourself to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Smaller injuries, if overlooked, can lead to fatal injuries that can often lead to multiple amputations. Always clean the blade once the job is done and disconnect the spark plug.
The Bottom Line
We hope our article was able to cover every possible cause why a lawn mower catches. Every year, countless people are fatally injured in lawn mower accidents. And a majority of these accidents are caused because of the owner’s negligence towards mower safety. Though many take it lightly, a lawnmower must be handled with caution, especially if there are children in the house.
Every lawnmower has a different operating procedure. Therefore, ensure that you thoroughly read the safety manual whenever buying a new mower. To keep yourself, your loved ones, and your precious property safe and secure, you must always be very careful and extra attentive while operating any lawnmower.