How do I check if I have spark?

Hi all of you DIY’ers!

Here is a link to a great video from Don The Small Engine Doctor who clearly shows how to safely check for spark on a small engine. In the diagnosis of a small engine “no start” issue there can ONLY be 3 thinks that can go wrong to prevent the engine from starting:

  1. Electrical – No Spark
  2. Fuel – No fuel flow to create a combustible fuel air mix
  3. Mechanical – No compression in the cylinder – no power to drive the piston down.

Of course you can have more than one of these issues at a time to cause a “no start” condition but if you work through each one you will find what the issues are. By far a “no spark” / “no fuel” condition is the most common issue with a small engine “no start” condition.

How to check for spark on a small engine.


Laser Larry!




Why Won’t My Snow Blower / Lawnmower Idle At One Speed?

If your lawn mower or snow blower refuses to have a smooth constant idle speed and tends to repeatedly speed up then slow down – you have what is known as a “ Hunting and Surging” idle. This is a common occurrence with snow blowers and lawnmowers. With snow blowers this is usually because they sit all summer long stored in some hot garden shed with old gas still in their carburetor and fuel tanks. With time, the gasoline fuel will start to break down leaving a residue that can plug the small fuel circuits in a carburetor. With lawn mowers the “ Hunting and Surging” idle is usually caused by dirt getting into the carburetor as these engines operate in a much dustier environment. However, you can have the same issue if your lawn mower has bee sitting all winter with unconditioned gasoline in its tank and carburetor too!

There are 2 main fuel circuits in a small engine carburetor – the Low speed fuel circuit and the High speed fuel circuit. When one of these fuel circuits becomes partially plugged the engine no longer receives a constant fuel flow. The fuel flow becomes variable which results in the engine idle speed ” Hunting and Surging”. The only thing to do is “get the dirt out” – and that means you will need to clean the carburetor!

When cleaning a carburetor I always try to use something like “Mechanic In A Bottle” first. Just add a cap full to a tank of fuel and let the engine run for 10 minutes. If the residue isn’t too bad you will actually hear the idle smooth out and the “Hunting and Surging” will stop.


If this this does not work then you will need to remove the carburetor from the engine, disassemble it and then allow it to fully soak in “Carburetor Cleaner” for a night. The next day you will need to replace the internal carburetor parts with new parts from an appropriate Carburetor Rebuild Kit.



Okay, now that you have done all this work and finally got your carburetor clean and engine running with a smooth idle – you can prevent this issue from happening again next season by using a FUEL STABLIZER additive. Simply add the recommended amount to your gasoline and your small engine should start first pull next season!

Hope this helps !

Larry Laser

How do I get my Snow Blower ready for the winter season?

Getting the snow blower ready for the winter season is never fun! It reminds us of what’s to come, but on the lighter side it’s better to get it ready before snow flies then after!


As I have said in earlier small engine blog posts, getting the gas out at the end of the season is a must. Failing to do so will only make the task of getting your snow blower running when you need it both harder and possibly much more expensive! I have seen carburetors that have been totally destroyed by old gas, and that means just more money if you want to put the machine back in service. If you have removed the gas then it’s just a matter of giving the snow blower a once over and or a quick tune up.


At the start of each season you should change the oil (use a good quality oil 5w-30) , change the spark plug , take the bottom cover off your snow blower and check all belts and shaft bearings. Also check the main drive friction disk – make sure it is in good condition (clean, no cracks). Be sure to lubricate all moving parts BUT DO NOT LUBRICATE THE FRICTION DISK PLATE! Any lubricant on the friction disk will reduce friction and cause your drive system to fail. Both the friction disk and the rubber edged drive disk should be clean and oil free. If you need to remove any dirt or oil from the friction disk use rubbing alcohol and a clean rag. Once you have ensured all moving parts that should be lubed have been lubricated, be sure to give each belt a close visual examination and replace any belt that is frayed or cracked.


Snow blowers are a little more involved than a lawnmower as they operate in an extreme wet / cold environment. Lots of lubricant is a must as this will prevent your pulleys from ceasing up. However, make sure you lube ONLY the centre pulley bearing area and not the pulley belt surface itself as you do not want to get any lubricant on a drive or blower belt!


By doing this every season you will provide years of trouble free operation with your snow blower.


Happy Snow blowing!



How do I know if I should replace my chain saw bar?

When considering whether to replace your chain saw guide bar or not, here a few tips to look for before rushing out to buy a new one. Look for “bluing” (discoloration) on the bottom of the bar, this tells you that the bar is heating up and the saw may be out of bar oil or the bar oiler is not working correctly.


Also if you notice a sharp edge on the bottom of the bar, this is common, it is from the downward pressure on the saw while cutting wood – this can easily be fixed with a good file. If you see metal chipping around the nose of the bar, this is commonly caused by “chain slap” from a chain being too loose. If you have a damaged replaceable nose tip the bar can be saved by just replacing the nose sprocket. Sometimes you will see chipping all the way down the bottom of the bar, this can be cause by setting a hot saw down in the snow in the winter, this changes the temper of the steel and before too long you will see metal chipping along the bottom of the bar.


Also, if you notice that your saw just won’t cut straight and tends to cut to the left or right – this is known as a “ J “ pattern cut. This is likely caused by one of two things – either the groove in your bar is worn out or you are using the wrong gauge of chain for that bar.

All of these things will affect the performance of the chain saw and always remember “Your Chain Saw Is Only As Good As Your Chain!”