How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter (Steps + Illustration)

The lawn mower air filter traps dust and other forms of dirt from the air before it gets into the engine. Over time, the air filter gets clogged, which makes it ineffective in protecting the engine. Fortunately, the air filter can be cleaned or replaced.

A visual inspection can first confirm a dirty air filter. In good condition, the filter should appear white and clean. If it appears brown or black, this is a telltale sign that you should clean or replace the lawn mower’s air filter.

When a lawn mower air filter is soaked in oil or clogged with dirt, it blocks the engine from receiving sufficient air for fuel combustion. As a result, you’ll notice the following:

  • Decreased engine performance – Low amount of oxygen in the fuel reduces the fuel’s ignition and burning rate for power production.
  • Lawnmower smoking black – This happens due to burning the rich-fuel mixture in the engine.
  • Noisier engine than before – With clogged air filters, your lawn mower will become louder than before, or you may notice strange sounds from the engine.
  • Trouble starting the lawn mower – The engine does not easily start without air, fuel, and working spark plugs. You will have a problem starting your lawn mower if one of them is compromised.
  • More fuel consumption – More fuel goes unburnt so you will notice reduced runtime of your lawnmower.

How to Clean Lawn Mower Air Filter

Start by going through your owner’s manual. This will help you know whether you should clean or replace your lawn mower air filter.

  1. Turn off the lawn mower engine and disconnect the spark plug cord. This is to prevent the engine from accidentally starting when working.
  2. Next, remove the air filter housing and proceed to remove the air filter and tap it on a hard surface to remove loose dirt and debris. Be careful not to damage or tear the fibers.
  3. Wash the foam or dual-element filter with hot water and a grease-cutting soap. Rinse it and use a paper towel to drain as much water as possible.
  4. Clean any dirt or debris from the rubber gasket that seals the air filter to the carburetor and inspect if there are any tears or damages for a replacement.
  5. Dab the filter with clean motor oil, but not too much to drip off. If you accidentally sprinkle too much oil, wrap a paper towel around the filter and squeeze out excess oil.
  6. Fix the air filter back to its place on the carburetor and put the housing back on.

Should you clean or replace lawn mower’s air filter?

Lawnmower air filter comes in two main types: foam air filters and dual element filters consisting of foam and a paper filter. Both types of air filters can be cleaned if their entire component is still intact and should be replaced if there are tears or holes in their fibers.

Briggs and Stratton – a leader in producing small engines for lawnmowers and other garden tools, recommends servicing the air filter system every 25 operating hours and more often if you work in dirty conditions.

To be sure of what you need to do, go through the owner’s manual. Every lawn mower manufacturer has its terms and conditions for cleaning and replacing air filters.

Final Thought

Besides cleaning or replacing the air filter, cleaning a lawn mower’s carburetor is also an important aspect of engine maintenance. If you operate your lawn mower for longer without cleaning air filters, chances are that the carburetor is also getting clogged, and there is a need to clean it.

You must also clean your lawn mower before storage, replace spark plugs every season, and change the engine oil as the user manual recommends. By doing this, your lawn mower engine will remain powerful for years and years.

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