Mom needs help with Honda lawn mower

shankins123(7aOKC)April 22, 2007

I am newly-divorced and need help with our lawn mower! It is a Honda Harmony 215, around 10 yrs old (I think)...any way, there was just a tiny bit of gasoline in it from over the winter, so I added some new; oil looked fine; air filter was clean; put a new spark plug in (thinking that would help)...nothing has helped.

When I start the mower, it may take 2 or 3 pulls, but it starts just fine. The idling is not smooth; kind of runs up and down. When I engage the blade and put the handle down it dies most of the time. If I AM able to engage the blade, I may mow for a minute or so and it dies. I cannot move the lever off of "choke" either or it dies. This is getting old! I have to stop and start around 50 times to get the yard mowed.

I'm not savvy to terminology, but I have looked at the manual online...if anyone has any ideas what I can do (short of taking this mower in to a repair shop), please let me know.

Thank you

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Is the fuel shut off valve fully open?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:25PM
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Best thing to do is drain the fuel from the the carb bowl drain into a small pan. (10mm wrench) Drain enough to see that the fuel is clear and no water or old yellow/ orange fuel remains. Beyond that, further carb service would be required.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:57PM
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Honda's have very picky carbs, Have a pro clean the carb,the fuel has "varnished" over the winter ,and the carbs main jet is plugged or restricted reducing fuel flow, causing a "lean condition" which means no fuel is a avaiable when under a "load condition"....sid another way the engine is starving for fuel. Good Luck Jim

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Hmm...don't yet know where the "fuel shut off valve is". I did drain the fuel completely previously (small amount of orangish fluid) and then I started with fresh fuel. Having "a pro clean the carb"...guess there's no way for me to clear that myself? What should a general spring tune-up (and carb cleaning) run? I live in the Dallas metroplex, so I'm sure I could find a shop, but have no idea what this sort of thing runs.
Thank you for your postings.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 1:01AM
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mattv21(z9 Houston)

The fuel shutoff valve - if the mower has one - would be in the rubber fuel line that connects the gas tank to the carburetor. Tomplum meant to drain the fuel from the float bowl of the carburet, not just the gas tank. This is sort of the "staging" container where the carb stores an ounce or two of gasoline before it enters the actual metering system in the carb. It's probably full of the same stale, varnished, nasty orange gasoline. There's a real possibility that one or more passages in the metering is partially blocked by gummy leftovers, too. It would be worth draining the float bowl to let fresh gas enter, and then trying to run the mower to see if that is enough to cure it. Turn the fuel shutoff valve to "off." Remove the nut on the bottom of the carburetor that was previously mentioned and let the bad gas run out. The fully open the fuel valve again and see if you can get it running. Just having good fresh gas in there might be enough to clean it out and get it running again...maybe.

People can clean their own carbs out if they are comfortable removing the carb from the engine and taking it apart. So you have to decide what your comfort and ability levels are. I personally find removing the carburetor to be the hardest part of the job. I'm not familiar with Hondas, but Kawasaki and Robin (two other Japanese mower motors) just have two nuts holding the carb to the cylinder head on two studs. They would likely be 10mm wrench size. Remove the air filter assembly, then remove those nuts (the easy part), and remove the linkage rods (the pesky part IMO). The carb just slides off the two studs. Now remove the float bowl. Then, down inside a cast-in tube you'll probably find a brass main jet that can be unscrewed with a straight-blade screwdriver. Take that out. Use Gumout or other carb cleaner (not brake cleaner) to clean the small hole in the jet. It should be perfectly round. Then go to town on all the small holes you can find in the casting and emulsion tube (a tube with a bunch of small holes in it). Reassemble everything and your mower should run nicely.

Note that I'm not guaranteeing you can do this (disclaimer), but rather giving you an overview of how to do it so you can decide if you want to try it. OTOH, many shops can do this (this is a _very_ common problem, so they do these repairs a lot). I don't know how much they should charge you, since I'm not in the business.

Most important: Once you get this fixed, do yourself a big favor and add Stabil or other gasoline stabilizer to the gas can when you refill it, every time. This will help keep the fuel from going bad like this, and you won't have the problem again.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:55AM
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mattv21...thank you! I'm going to see what I can do myself first from your excellent instructions. After that, my folks are coming to town this weekend and I may work on it with my dad...if all of that fails, I can always fall back on the repair shop option. Thank you also for your tip about Stabil to lessen my headaches in the future.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 9:04AM
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mattv21(z9 Houston)

I always think it pays to have an idea of how a repair procedure should go, even if you're taking it a pro to fix it. That way, you have a lot better idea of what the tech _should_ be doing and charging. BTW, on second thought I'd say that a general guideline for a professional mechanic would be 30-60 minutes of labor for this job. But there are actual pros here on the site who might provide better insight into any/all of this. Another thing I thought of: knowing how to do the job is half the battle, and having the right tools is the other half. You'll probably can do this job with a 10mm combo wrench (open end on one side, closed on the other) and a couple of sizes of flat and phillips screwdrivers. You would probably enjoy it more if you have a ratchet drive and deep 10mm socket to go with it. Last thing: it's obviously important not to lose the smallish parts from this carburetor. So once you have it off the mower, you would want a clean place with good light where it won't be a problem for a little gasoline to spill out (you can't avoid that). So the kitchen table probably won't work, but a small table outside or in the garage with some newspaper spread out for protection would.

Good luck, and try to feel the zen of doing your own repair work!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 9:17AM
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slag(lawrence, ks)

I have a 215. Its difficult to remove the carb on these because there isnt enough clearance on the deck to do so without removing the left stud on the engine block and then pivoting the carb up a bit and then sliding it off. Good chance you will ruin the metal/rubber gasket or paper gasket as well between the carb and engine or carb and air cleaner housing. They do bevel the deck slightly to remove one of the two bolts on the carb bowl but not to remove the one holding the bowl on altogether which is why you have to remove the stud.

Bottom line. If you aren't comfortable working on small engines and having to remove linkages, air cleaner housings, hoses, studs, etc, you should probably enlist the help of a handy neighbor or take it somewhere.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:41AM
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This can be confusing to many, but if you open the fuel bowl drain with the fuel valve open, you will drain the tank and carb, which in this case is a good idea. Replace the drain bolt, put two ounces of auto fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank, then fill it with fresh fuel. The next day, start the mower.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Sometimes a new tank of gas will help clean the fuel lines/carb as mentioned. I have found that sometimes a mower with a primer bulb will continue running if you press the bulb when the motor seems to be quiting. After several priming squeezings (while the engine is running) it seems to smooth out and will run fine. The primer is flooding the carb with gas when it isn't getting enough and stalling out. Once the engine warms up a bit and the fuel is flowing to the carb and being fed into the engine it will not be an issue anymore. This seems to have happened when the engine sat for a long time without StaBil added or being drained and the engine started until the lines/carb ran dry.

A carb rebuild at the shop is still a bunch less money than buying a new Honda mower.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 3:40PM
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"Hmm...don't yet know where the "fuel shut off valve is".

In the owners manual, go to the part about "starting the engine" USUALLY- it'll have a diagram with the valve depicted.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 3:54PM
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Wow...I appreciate all of the help! Looks like my Saturday will be an interesting one; I'll keep you all posted.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 4:59PM
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Well...thanks to all...I did what I could, a neighbor did what he's been delivered to the local repair shop. It'll be about 2 weeks, but it should be repaired and ready to go...with really good maintenance from now on!! Just thought I'd post an update.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 12:51AM
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Hello all.

Hi shankins123. Please don't forget to add Stabil to your fuel. Have you located the fuel shut off valve yet? :)

Good day.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 2:48AM
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Hello all.

Hi shankins123. Did you get your Honda Harmony 215 repaired?

Good day.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:18AM
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I have the same exact problem after being away in Atlanta for two years. Did not use stabilizer. What did the repair shop cost and how did your mower work this year. Thanks,Delta Don

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 10:49AM
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Let me start off by saying I learned a lot about lawn mower carburetors from this post. Thank you all.

In the end, I may have been able to clean mine, but ended up buying a brand new carburetor for ONLY $19!!!! I emptied the old gas and cleaned the gas tank. I also got a set of new gaskets, and now the mower runs just fine.

I don't have a tachometer to check the speed, but it sounds similar to the old carb. Its really tough getting to the adjustment screw behind the air filter and another hose that sites in front of it.

Thanks again for all the info.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:33AM
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Hey jclagreca
I also have an old Honda Harmony 215 (at least 13 years old bought from Home Depot) with almost identical problems as Mom described. I might need to replace my carburetor as well. May I ask where you bought your brand new carburetor for only $19 please ?
Thank you for your help.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:08PM
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Assuming a GCV160, here:

Find your engine number and go from there. GCV carbs go from #15 to $19.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 12:06PM
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Thanks, dpunisher, for the info. After taking the mower to 3 different places and receiving quotes of anywhere between 2-3 weeks and between $120-$320 for the repair, I ordered a new carb for $25 shipping included. It arrived in 3 days, I changed it out in about 20 minutes, and now the mower is purring like it's brand new!

This thread has been a wealth of information on what to do and what not to do. Thank you to all who have added to it.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:52AM
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