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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cutting the grass is always a chore, but some of you may have found using your lawn mower is even more of a challenge lately. It turns out your grass cutter could have a gas problem. The extra ethanol that has been added to fuel over the past few years has caused some major issues for folks with vehicles and machinery, like lawnmowers.

Hughes Waren mows his lawn about once every two weeks, but says cutting the grass lately has become a huge hassle.

“It’s been stalling out, not performing at the highest level as it has been in previous years,” said Waren. “I didn’t know what to attribute it to.”

James Lewis, a small engine repairman in Wilmington says the problem is in the fuel.

“Fuel isn’t what it used to be,” said Lewis. “It’s not exactly what it used to be five years ago with all of the additives they put in it.”

Lewis says the extra ethanol can be very damaging to lawn mowers, causing the carburetor to rust faster and making the engine harder to start.

“The ethanol that is in the fuel will sit into the fuel tank and sit into the carburetor and it’s caused big problems, whereas two years ago they could sit for five to six months,” said Lewis. “Now we need to get everyone to run their outdoor equipment every two to three months.”

Lewis says business has been booming. He says this year alone his mechanics have replaced more than 200 carburetors on lawnmowers because of ethanol. He advises folks to run their outdoor equipment at least every two months or completely clean the fuel out of after it’s been sitting for a while. He says there are some products you can buy that help to counter act the ethanol, which can be found at most small engine repair shops.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest7969

    SHOULD be a lawsuit somewhere on somebody for cramming ethanol down our throats. BOATS are where some of the most expensive repairs are being made…we had a boat that had a fiberglass tank….it started off with the fuel line turning to mush..I mean it was like play-doe…sticky and if it weren’t for the threads in it you could pull it apart and start molding with it! Took it off and pulled the tank out….the ethanol had MELTED the fiberglass resin…boat shop said they see it all the time!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    …unless you’re a corn farmer.

    Right now, ethanol production consumes about forty-percent of the American corn crop. Next year, the government will require oil companies to blend in even more ethanol, and when you consider the impact of Midwestern floods and Sothern draught on this years crop, don’t be surprised to see the cost of gasoline start rising because of the cost of ethanol (along with crude oil). We have already seen increases in everything from cereal to meat to anything containing corn syrup because of “ethanol competing with eating.” Regardless of diverting a large portion of our crop land to energy production, we may soon be importing ethanol, just as we import oil.

    That assumes, however, that the federal ban on importing ethanol expires along with the billions in subsidies we currently still pay to subsidize the ethanol industry and oil companies to blend it in.

    The only thing funnier than Dick Durbin defending free cellphones for welfare recipients is a “fiscal conservative” like Charles Grassley explaining how ethanol subsidies are so essential to the nation. As is the case in all industries, we need to get the government out of their bed and let them sink or swim on their own. If the American ethanol indistry cannot compete, it needs to fold.

  • Guest28451

    Not to mention burning corn for fuel raises the price of feed for animals and ironically it raises the price of corn tortillas which really upsets the illegals. But here’s the other issue how about drilling and getting the oil we have here. There is 200 billion barrels in the ground in the US with the Bakken oil shale in the north central US as well as the oil sands out west. Also somebody needs to explain to me why Obama killed the pipeline deal we had with Canada to be able to import and buy from them more so and less from the middle east . Oh and if we got the oil shale we could be EXPORTiNG to others like china and even EUrope instead of them having to buy from Russia but I guess we wouldn’t want to damage our relationship of kissing the Russians butt since Obama took over. The guy sold out eastern Europe while trying to build a missle shield to stop rogue middle eastern attacks but the Russians cry foul and we give in. Enough is enough quit selling our sovereignty to the middle east and Russia and when we could seriously cut the trade deficit with China instead we end up more a more in debt to them. I’m disgusted!!!

  • A friend of mine used to call the alcohol you drink “stupid juice.” Is the alcohol you burn in your engine “smart juice”?

    Ethanol is a pretty good fuel. For the same volume, it’s got about 62 percent of the energy of gasoline. Said another way, it takes 1.6 gallons of ethanol to do the same work as a gallon of gas. Of course, we don’t use pure ethanol; we mix it with gasoline in various ratios. E10 is 90% gas and 10% ethanol. In parts of the country they are going to a new standard, E15, and there is some controversy there.

    The problem is for a hundred years we’ve designed our bikes and cars to run on gasoline. It’s only relatively recently that we’ve included ethanol, and there’s a lot of infrastructure to change. New vehicles don’t (or shouldn’t) have problems, but on older vehicles ethanol can soften or degrade some non-metallic parts like O-rings, gaskets, hoses, plastic fittings and even gas tanks. The more ethanol in the gasoline, the more we’ll see these problems.

    Ethanol is usually produced by fermenting the sugars in plant materials and then using fractional distillation to separate the ethanol released in the fermenting process from the other materials. This introduces another variable, as the ethanol that results from fractional distillation is actually 95% ethanol and 5% water. It’s possible to refine ethanol to very near 100% purity, but that’s too expensive for fuel use.

    That water presents additional problems. Ethanol can’t be stored and moved through the same equipment as petroleum products because water causes corrosion and oxidation (rust). Similarly, the internal parts on some carburetors, fuel-injection systems and fuel pumps can become corroded.

    So ethanol is a useful fuel that can replace some of the petroleum fuels we’re used to. Its problems have more to do with our gasoline-oriented infrastructure than with ethanol itself. But there’s a deeper problem with the ethanol we use in the U.S.

    Almost all of our ethanol is produced from corn. We know how to grow corn, and we grow an amazing amount of it-enough to feed ourselves and our livestock, and to make a lot of our fuel. But is it the best crop for making ethanol? To determine that, there’s a useful scale called EROEI: Energy Returned On Energy Invested.

    In the case of corn, we know that it takes energy (in the form of liquid fuels, electricity or natural gas) to plow and harvest, to pump water for irrigation, to make the mash that will be fermented, to distill the ethanol from the result, to ship the ethanol, to blend it with gasoline and, finally, to get it to the gas stations. And there are other energy inputs: Many fertilizers and insecticides are produced from petroleum. It takes energy to build and maintain the plants and equipment, storage and transportation facilities for the ethanol industry.

    We know how much corn ethanol we produce, and we add up all the energy used in producing it. Put in the form of a fraction it looks like this: Energy Returned/Energy Invested. What’s the result? In study after study going back to the 1980s, the EROEI for corn ethanol is very close to 1/1. That means that it takes approximately one unit of energy (from various sources) to make one unit of (corn ethanol) energy.

    In Brazil, most ethanol is made from sugar cane, which is easy to grow and yields a lot of sugar-much more than corn does. EROEI for Brazilian sugar cane ethanol is about 8/1, meaning it yields 8 times the energy that goes into making it.

    If corn ethanol yields only as much energy as goes into it, how can the industry survive, or justify itself financially? It survives because it’s subsidized. There are government subsidies to grow the corn and to make the ethanol. We (the taxpayers) also pay the oil companies a 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy to add it to gasoline. That subsidy may expire soon, but don’t bet on it.

    The corn ethanol industry can make a lot of money from subsidies. What it can’t do is make net energy-make more energy than it uses. Maybe corn ethanol as fuel is indeed “stupid juice.” It certainly doesn’t seem smart to produce a fuel that doesn’t provide net energy.

  • Guestasdf

    This is another great idea by the liberals!! Why can’t they just completely take over our lives? We’d be so much better off.

    This ethanol idea comes from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 by the Dumbocrats in congress. Then, an “alseep at the wheel” president Bush signed it into action. The percentage of ethonal in the gas will eventually increase. Equipment with small engines, motorcycles, atvs, lawnmowers, etc are not built to run on gas and ethanol blends. Point being, whether they have a D or an R by their name, you can rest assured the elected officials in our out of control government do not have your best interest in mind.

  • Guest 12345

    I had my lawn mower serviced earlier this summer (walk behind Murray, 4 cycle, B&S engine). My carb was full of particles and rusty. The technician advised

    -use fresh fuel each time
    -do not store gas longer than a month
    -use the mid grade gas instead of the 87
    -add a fuel stabilizer to the gas can then add the mixture to tank
    -empty gas from tank before storing (I know this is something many already do in the winter, but I have been neglectful in the past)

    I hope this helps anyone who doesn’t know, if any of this is inaccurate or there are other tips let me know. Also, this is not for 2 cycle.

  • fireofenergy

    Peak everything is approaching and we don’t have enough jobs.
    What do we do?

    Use machines to create jobs…
    I believe the EROEI for solar is around 10. If we “put aside” 3 parts of that toward exponential growth of automated solar factories, ALL the problems would be solved.
    Advanced machine automation could create about 600,000 square miles of installation jobs, globally! That’s assuming solar power alone is used to power 10 billion people at the western standard (including not having to waste energy on spinning generators and end use efficiencies such as electric cars, more insulation, led lights, etc).
    Obviously, people would charge too much to make enough arrays to cover 1% of Earth’s landspace, but they wouldn’t charge too much to install them!
    I did some basic and simple math (which is about all I know) and came to the conclusion that “normal” solar panels would require 2% of Earth’s land space AND would cause negative albedo… it emits more infrared than the land it covers. I realize that we could power 100 times the people on clean energy… if it did not waste (or emit) heat in the process.
    Nuclear, if done with a molten fuel (and without dangerous high pressures) could really blow away solar… in EROEI. Such “better and safer nuclear” still would waste about 55% of the energy as heat (and generate waste heat from the decay of nasty stuff for some 300 years).
    Gallium arsenide solar dishes concentrates such high temps that the laws of physics states that it (the unused 70% of sunlight) can re-emit in the visible, and less infrared, which can be reflected back toward the sun unimpeded by the infrared absorbing (and re-emitting) CO2 and other GHG’s.
    I demand this solution!
    It takes care of unemployment, global warming and excess heat (which is about 1% of fossil fueled forcings). These 2 axis solar dishes need no thermodynamics, produces no GHG’s (except at first stage during manufacture) and even reflects some of the excess heat byproduct. This means that global population could, convievably grow well beyond what is presently imagined, to many tens of billions, living off of machine (and home made) hydrophonics and “grown meat”.
    There should be no reason to not be able to build automated battery factories, as well as for all the parts of the solar dish.


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