The Return of the Flaming Mower

The Return of the Flaming Mower

It’s been a long time.  Last year, or last mowing season, I had the misfortune of blowing up my mower.  Well I nearly blew up my mower. It was close, very close.  While mowing one fine spring day last May the blades ran over a nylon cord and got caught.  I did what any responsible power tool user does in this situation, I pulled the spark plug and removed the nylon cord from underneath the mower deck. Mission accomplished!  I turned the mower back on it’s wheels and pulled the cord then …smoke…fire…”how do I get to a phone to call the fire department?”…panic…hose…water… prayer….whew!

Gas leaked out of the vent holes of the gas cap and I didn’t put the spark plug back in place.  This caused an arc that must have rivaled one of Zeus’s lightning bolts, OK not really but the electrical arc caused the fumes to ignite which caused the mower to light and gave me a fright! The mower caught on fire and all I could think of was putting out the fire so I grabbed the water hose and sprayed. I managed to get it out in a few minutes.  Just a word of advice, if you ever need turn your mower over unscrew the gas cap and place a piece of plastic over the gas tank opening and replace the cap.  That should keep the mower from losing gas.  Additionally check the mower deck for any spills and let them completely dry before starting.  Lastly replace that spark plug cap!

I took my mower to a repair shop and picked it up last Friday.  Tonight was it’s first run since the repair and it worked great!  Repairs are much cheaper than buying a new mower and I really like having the bagger attachment. Bagger’s on mowers are useful to collect those grass clippings. Most of the time I mulch the grass into the yard to rejuvenate the soil with organic matter.  That’s one reason why regular mowing is important.  With the bagger attachment I can take the clippings and spread them out to dry over new garden bed areas. Anywhere I want to add organic matter will receive clippings. Some of the clippings find their way into the compost bin to add green matter and massive amounts of compostable organic material.  The mower also makes it simple to collect leaves for composting. Just running over leaves with the mower for a short time gathers a bunch of great compostable material.

Keep in mind that a mower is a power tool and things can go wrong. The repairman said after the repairs were done that “I don’t know how you kept the fire away from the gas tank!” I was lucky, the carburator wasn’t, but I think I like it that way best!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Speaking of mowing, I asked my horticulture about mowing the grass high or low in the spring. He says hi. He tipped the scales in your favor for my mowing techniques. We’ll see how it goes. He said because of the roots specifically.

  2. Wow, glad you’re OK. The tale just makes me that much more happy to have a reel mower!

  3. I’m glad you weren’t hurt at the time, Dave, and also glad the mower seems to be working well again. 🙂

  4. You are lucky! I know a guy that when he was around 11 yrs old, had a mower catch fire for the same reason. Gas had leaked out on top of the mower. He was very badly injured. His face was completely covered in 3rd degree burns. He now lives with a very scarred face. Thats why I dont start lawn mowers. I always think the worst. Yikes!

  5. Oh my goodness, Dave, that was so scary! You are very lucky indeed, and it sounds like you may have been near the house too. Yikes! Glad I have the good old electric mower with the extension cord. The worst thing that can happen is running over the cord and flipping the breaker. That only needs to happen once to figure out to keep the cord from going under the wheels. Glad you are okay and the mower too.

  6. That must’ve been a bit scary! Glad the flaming mower is repaired. If it ever stops raining here I think our grass needs to be cut too.

  7. I'm glad that you are ok from that episode & glad you were able to get the mower repaired. A person does need to pay attention to tools for safety.
    BUT, I can't help but laugh at the way you told the story.

  8. I remember the mower story dave…you are lucky that it survived to be repaired! I am sitting here listening to the second wave of heavy rain…you know this means the grasses will be growing! gail!

  9. I’m jealous, my mower doesn’t have a bag!! I’m sure one can be attached, and I’ve just procrastinated buying one, but it was time to mow, and when it’s time it’s time ya know, so all my grass went uncollected. But round two will come before I know it, and maybe I’ll have a bag by then 😉

  10. Dave,

    Must have been a real awakening with the mower catching fire. Please be safe, even the best of us make mistakes sometimes. My granddaddy always said “if you are not making mistakes you are not doing anything”.

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