Cleaning Your Carburetor

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by jkason, May 2, 2008.

  1. jkason

    jkason LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    Hi all.

    As I see this as a recurring problem all the time (and I noticed a few threads with it as well), I thought I would share my info and opinions on the subject.
    Maybe this post will become "sticky", maybe not.

    1) - Spray cleaners in an aerosol can DON'T WORK. The chemicals in the product are not strong enough to clean all the junk out of the small passages. Keep some on hand anyway. More on this later.

    2) - DON'T use picks, pins, wire or torch-tip cleaners on the small passages. Those things are precision drilled (sometimes with a laser). If you make them larger, your equipment won't run correctly.

    The first step to not haing the problem with carburetors is (you guessed it) FUEL.

    Gasoline is not gasoline anymore, but a mixture of gasoline, chemicals, extenders and additives. Blame the politicians. But, that's another thread.
    What we can do about it, is USE STABILIZER. Put it every can or tank of fuel you buy. Put it in at the pump if you can. Don't wait a month, the fuel will be junk by then.
    I have spoken to a number of people in the repair business (including engine rep. guys), and we are all of the opinion that fuel starts to degrade the day you buy it (oxidization), and will be useless between 30-60 days thereafter.
    If you must store your fuel in cans (tanks, whatever), make sure they are NOT open to the air. What I'm saying is put the caps back on and make sure they are tight. The alcohol in the fuel is a moisture magnet.
    Ever get water in a fuel can and wonder how the hell it got to be so much? Alcohol is pulling moisture out of the air and into your tank. Metal cans aggravte the condensation problem.

    If you get to the step where you need to clean the carb, don't go halfway and think it will work. Do the job once, the right way. It will save you time and aggravation later.

    Turn off your fuel spigot or remove the fuel from your tank. Remove the carb from the engine. Gotta be done. Wether it takes 5 minutes or an hour.
    If you are going to do it yourself, disassemble and remove as many plastic parts as you can and ALL RUBBER/VINYL parts.

    If the inside of the carb is coverd in a white powder and the metal looks pitted at all, junk the carb and get a new one. It's oxidizing, and it won't stop once it starts.

    If you are bringing the carb to a dealer to do it, for God's sake, have the numbers of your machine and engine on hand. Without numbers, the carb is just so much paperweight.

    A Product I have used and has never failed me for cleaning carbs is HYDRO-SEAL II from the Gunk company. It comes in a 2 gallon bucket with a dunk seive. It's a mild acid (very mild) that will strip just about anything off your carb, including paint. Put the parts in the seive and let it sit for about an hour.

    Remove the parts from the Hydro Seal and spray the hell out of it with the aerosol cleaner that you have now. Get into all the passages with the spray.
    Install your carb kit. DON'T PLAY AROUND WITH THE OLD PARTS. Putting a kit in is the only way to go.

    That being said, sometimes a kit is not economically feasable, or even available (Honda is notorious for not having carb kits). Buy individual parts if you think it's worth it. Some kits cost just as much as a new carb. If it's within a dollar range that you can handle, just replace the carb.

    Reassemble your stuff, fill it up with (stabilized) fuel and go. Another thing to do if you can is put a fuel shut-off on the equipment if it doesn't have one.
    Nothing worse than pulling a carb and getting gas all over yourself or on the ground. Not to mention wasting money on spilled fuel.

    If you got this far, thanks for listening and good luck rebuilding.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Other notes; Do NOT leave fuel cans sitting in direct sunlight.
    The heat makes the fuel boil, and cap or not this degrades it as well.
  3. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    I try to use stabilizer all season but sometimes neglect it. Your post will help me to stay with the program.
  4. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029


    That's a pretty bold statement there ^^^^^^ but I guess everyone has their own opinion.....

    The average person does not need to spend money on a 1 or 2 gal can of soak just to clean one carb, I have a 5 gal bucket (not purchased by me) and hardly ever use it because I get better results from the spray cleaner (Gunk brand is junk) with a straw shot thru passages under pressure.
    Thanks to the good Ole EPA no carb soaks work as they did 20 or so years ago.

    Also, If a fuel container is stored in a enclosed building/trailer the last thing one wants to do is seal the container air tight. My 1 gal. container now holds almost 1 1/2 gals.......
  5. Breezmeister

    Breezmeister LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from South Jersey
    Messages: 1,761

    Okay, what does a can of this stuff cost ?
    How many carbs can you do with it, average ?
    How long would you say is the average time to soak a small 2 cycle carb ?
    I'm not a fan of Gunk, sell me on this stuff.
    ericg likes this.
  6. Jay19LM

    Jay19LM LawnSite Member
    from Mo
    Messages: 31

    I use an aerosol cleaner 99% of the time. If your equipment was used last year, cleaning is not much of an issue. But, just this week I got a generator in that sat for 3 years with gas in it. I was going to replace the carb it was that bad. I soaked it in Hydro-Seal for 3 days and got the carb working fine. Different circumstances require different cleaners. I have never had a problem with plastic in Hydro-Seal, but rubber will swell up 10 times its size.
    BTW. As for Honda carbs. You can buy a complete carburetor for about the same price as the bowl, float and float valve cost. Sometimes cheaper.....than the parts.

  7. jondcoleman

    jondcoleman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 181

    Any mechanics out there that would disagree with the statement about always using fuel stabilizer? Just curious. Thanks!

    Thanks for the post by the way. I have the Hydro Seal stuff too and it works great!

  8. jkason

    jkason LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    Restro: I'll agree that the soaking chemicals are not as good as 20 years ago (even 10 years ago), and that it's not really cost effective unless you are a repair shop, or do a lot (a real lot) of carb rebuilds.

    Breez: The can I bought this weekend cost $85.00, and you can do a butt-load of carbs in it before the fluid is too contaminated. (And the bucket is big enough to do a Holley 4-barrel.)

    I have found that 2-cycle carbs can be cleaned with the spray cleaners (I have never had one bad enough to soak in the dunk cleaner), usually because the 2-cycle oil has stabilizer in it.

    Jay: Yeah, I've had that happen too. Had a B&S carb from a Twin II that had to sit for a week, but it finally came clean. And yes, whole Honda carbs ARE cheaper than complete rebuild parts.
  9. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,181

    I have an Exmark with a 23HP Kawasaki engine, Model No FH680V, Serial A32283. I also have the Exmark Operator's and Parts manuals and the Kawasaki Owner's manual; however, none of those documents show the carburetor parts or an exploded diagram of the carburetor. I'd like to have that info before I attempt all of the good things suggested in this thread. Can any of you gents direct me to a website that will provide them?

  10. StevieZ

    StevieZ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 104 This website has parts breakdowns for the kawasaki engines, Just watch the spec number after the model. I used this site to figure out I had the wrong carb.

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