How to keep your lawn mower carburetors clean.

Professional lawn care business owners really need to be on top of their equipment preventative maintenance. The more they stick to a schedule of checking and replacing parts as needed, the less down time they will have and the more money the will make because of a lack of break downs. Now you may change your oil and your air filters but what do you do to help keep your lawn mower’s carburetor clean? That is the question asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and it shed a lot of light on the issue.

“Does anyone clean their lawn mower or line trimmer carburetors regularly? For general equipment maintenance I oil change, change air filter, spark plugs, batteries, fuel filters, oil filters, and blade changes. I am curious though if there is any other in depth maintenance people go about doing, especially to keep their carburetors from gumming up.”

A second lawn care business owner said “As far as cleaning the carburetor, it should only be disassembled and cleaned under these conditions (**NOTE: If you are not completely comfortable with either of these steps, just take it to your favorite small engine shop and let them do it! It will probably be cheaper in the long run.**):

A. If the engine is not getting fuel. Basically, if your engine starts and runs correctly there is no need to clean the carburetor. In this case, just make sure you run a fuel stabilizer through your machine. I am not a big fan of using most of the carburetor cleaning products that you put in the gas. All they are is primarily concentrated alcohol which is typically the biggest problem with carburetors anyway so it makes no sense to pour more of that kind of carburetor problem creator in your gasoline…..

First try to start the engine (make sure the mower has gas in it!!). If it will not start when choked briefly, your carburetor may need to be cleaned. Keep in mind that if your mower has set over winter it may start harder than it did last fall (if it starts at all) if it was not properly winterized. Try giving the engine a shot of starting fluid. If the engine still does not start there may be a deeper problem. If it starts but will not continue to run even with the choke “on”, then your carburetor may need cleaned. Try starting it several more times before you decide to clean the carburetor. Only go to the next step if: 1. your engine will not start and continue to run after several attempts, 2. if you are comfortable doing so.

B. ONLY if you are comfortable disassembling small components! If you are not comfortable disassembling small components do yourself (and your mechanic) a big favor and DO NOT try to disassemble your carburetor!!!! Keep in mind that carburetors have multiple small parts that need to be installed in the correct sequence and properly adjusted. If you are not completely comfortable with this step, do not perform it!

If you intend to clean your carburetor yourself you need to: disassemble it, make sure you don’t lose any parts, spray the inside of it with carburetor cleaner, wipe out what you can, and blow it out with compressed air. Now reassemble it and in stall it.

If it still does not start there may be a deeper problem than you can repair. And in some cases a brand new carburetor is only $30-50 so it is not worth messing with them. In other cases, carburetors are priced more in the $50-350 range so don’t assume a carburetor will be cheap in the event you destroy your old one or lose parts from it!

As far as using fuel additives while your engine is running, I have mixed reviews on it. Let me tell you, as with anything else, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Another words, if your engine runs fine without using such additives, then don’t use it. If you do use it, then run all the gas out relatively soon (preferably within a few weeks but definitely don’t let it sit over winter, etc.).

Now, as far as using a fuel stabilizer year around, yes I do that. I have found by using a fuel stabilizer, I end up saving myself a lot of problems and money especially if my fuel ends up sitting in a piece of equipment for longer than I expected it to.

Another trick I do is mix 2 cycle mix oil in all my gas, even my 4 cycle gas. Now in my 4 cycle gas I mix it at a lesser rate but I still mix it in. Check the label on the 2 cycle mix oil, I recommend using one with a fuel stabilizer added in it which helps add a little extra upper cylinder lubrication. If mixed at about half the rate that you would mix it for 2-cycles, it will not smoke. It will NOT cause carbon buildup and will not cause any engine problems.

As a matter of fact, it may save you considerable engine problems if you use one with a Teflon additive. I have seen chain saws that were scored, become functional again thanks to such oil usage. However, I make sure to use a product with both additives and not just a generic 2 stroke oil mix especially in your 4 cycle engine gas!!”

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