How to Clean a Small Engine Carburetor in 10 Easy Steps

If you use power tools regularly, or even only occasionally, from time to time you will have some kind of problem related to the engine. This can happen with a lawnmower, a hedge trimmer, a chainsaw, and any number of power-operated tools that use small-sized engines for power.

A good number of these problems are in some way due to the small engine’s carburetor and its performance. Many times, the carburetor just needs a good cleaning. Even if you are not a mechanic and have little or no experience mechanically with small engine maintenance, fear not! You can clean the carburetor on your power tool and save yourself quite a bit of money when doing so.

How to Clean a Small Engine Carburetor

How to Clean a Small Engine Carburetor?

Follow our easy guide to clean the carburetor on your small engine.

Necessary Tools

  • Clamps
  • 2 Empty containers (one for gas collection and one for the carburetor)
  • A screwdriver that is a 4-in-1
  • An adjustable wrench
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Nut driver
  • A set of sockets and ratchet
  • PPE vapor respirator
  • PPE Plastic gloves

Necessary Materials

  • Aerosol lubricant
  • Liquid carburetor cleaner
  • Stiff wire
  • Bucket and mesh basket if not provided with the carburetor cleaner

Considerations Before Beginning Your Cleaning:

  • Did my power tool sit for a long period with gas still in the fuel tank?
  • Was it stored during winter with fuel still in it?

This is the most cited reason for repairing small engines. Old fuel left in the tank of a small engine for a prolonged period will gum up the engine and perhaps corrode it. If the carburetor is indeed the problem, follow our step-by-step guide to cleaning it.

Step 1: You need to start the engine up or make an attempt to. The fuel tank should contain some gas, and that the fuel valve needs to be turned on. Also, check to verify that the engine’s spark plug is good. Spray a bit of aerosol lubricant or carburetor cleaner into the carburetor and turn on the engine.

If your small engine turns on but coughs or sputters, and then maybe shuts down, there is a problem with the fuel. If you attempt to turn the engine on several times and nothing happens, the engine may have a more serious problem and you need to consult a professional mechanic.

Step 2: Check the carburetor for fuel. You will now need to clamp shut the fuel line. Take the spring clamp and press it.Slide the clamp backward along the fuel line. Remove the fuel tube from the carburetor’s nipple. Pour any gas inside into a container. If absolutely no gas flows out of the fuel tube, this indicates that the fuel line itself is blocked or the fuel filter is plugged.

Step 3: It’s time to remove the carburetor from the engine. Using a nut driver or a ratchet and socket you need to unscrew and remove the two bolts that are holding the carburetor to the engine. Make sure to disconnect the throttle cable where it connects to the carburetor linkage. Place your carburetor inside

a container in case any gas is still flowing or dripping from it.

Step 4: Open the bowl of the carburetor and perform a visual check for any type of corrosion. If you find that the carburetor shows corrosion inside, it will, unfortunately, need to be replaced with a new one. This is necessary because, despite a good cleaning, corrosion will continue to clog small orifices and the jets, thus restricting the flow of fuel.

Step 5: Disassemble the carburetor. Here it is helpful if you take photos because they will assist you in reassembling your carburetor correctly, especially if this is your first time doing a thorough cleaning.  Start removing parts from the bottom of the carburetor with the bowl, then follow with the floater, needle, etc. until you have disassembled it completely. Keep your parts in one place like a clean towel or in a container to prevent their misplacement or loss.

Now it’s time for the cleaning. It is a good idea to wire together with the larger parts of your carburetor and place them in a bucket filled with carburetor cleaner. The smaller parts should be placed in a mesh basket and placed in the bucket as well. (Many liquid carburetor cleaners are sold with a basket to facilitate the cleaning process.) Allow the carburetor parts that you are cleaning to soak in the cleaning liquid for at least one full hour.

Step 6: Remove the parts from the cleaner.Using water, rinse them thoroughly to remove the residual cleaner. Once rinsed they need to be dried completely. A compressed air gun is perfect for blowing the parts dry.

Step 7: Now using your photos as a guide, reassemble the parts of your carburetor.

Step 8: Remount the carburetor onto the small engine and fix it by tightening the bolts.

Step 9: Refer to your owner’s instruction manual to adjust the idling speed of your power tool.

Step 10: You are ready to use your small engine power tool to get those necessary chores finished.

A Final Consideration

An often-repeated question when it comes to cleaning a small engine carburetor is if it should be rebuilt. If you decide that you want to replace O-rings or gaskets and rebuild your carburetor, this can be done if there is no apparent corrosion inside the carburetor.

When you disassemble the carburetor set aside the parts you wish to replace and use a carburetor repair kit to match these parts to your old ones. New parts will not require cleaning with the original carburetor parts. When you reassemble, replace the old parts with the new parts from the kit.

You should note that rebuilding a carburetor is not necessarily less expensive than buying a new carburetor. Plus, a new carburetor offers all new parts. If your carburetor is in bad shape consider replacing it entirely, and in any case, compare the cost of a new carburetor to a carburetor rebuilding kit before making your final choice.

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