How to Clean a Generator Carburetor Without Removing it?

generator carburetor cleaning

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Every combustion engine needs a specific ratio of fuel and air mixture to function, and this is the job of a carburetor.

Any dirt or debris built up in a generator’s carburetor can prevent it from running smoothly or worse from starting.

To correct things, you may need to clean your generator’s carburetor by removing it first.

However, removing a generator’s carburetor can be a challenging task, especially if you’re not very technically sound.

That brings up a question, is it possible to clean a generator carb without opening it?

Yes, generator carburetor cleaning is possible without removing it, if it is not completely clogged. You can either spray a carb cleaner directly inside the carburetor or add a fuel treatment to the fuel tank to remove all dirt and debris. However, the only way to clean a clogged or gummed-up carburetor is by taking it apart and performing deep cleaning.

In this post, we’ll talk about the symptoms of a dirty carburetor, ways to prevent your carb from gumming up, and the easiest way to clean a generator carburetor without removing it.

Before that, let’s take a look at the importance of generator carburetor cleaning.

Is Carburetor Cleaning Necessary?

The carburetor is what prepares the right amount of air and fuel mixture to be burned by the engine. Without the perfect ratio of fuel and air mixture, your engine will not function properly.

A dirty carburetor will create an imbalance in the air and fuel mixture preventing your generator from running smoothly. On the other hand, a clogged or gummed-up carburetor will stop the flow of gas and air completely, preventing your generator from starting altogether.

To make sure your generator starts and produces power whenever you need it, regular cleaning of the carb is necessary.

What are the Symptoms of a Dirty Carburetor?

From dirt from the fuel tank to improper storage, there are many reasons why your generator’s carburetor may become dirty. However, there are early signs of a dirty or bad carburetor that are easy to identify.

Here are the most common symptoms of a dirty carburetor.

1. Your Generator Won’t Start

The #1 sign of a dirty carburetor is that your engine will crank but won’t start. The dirt accumulating inside the carb creates an imbalance in the ratio of air and fuel mixture, making engine startup difficult.

Moreover, over time the accumulation of the dirt inside the carburetor blocks the passageways completely preventing air and fuel from feeding into the engine. This results in your engine turning over but not catching or starting.

2. The Generator Runs Rough

One obvious sign of a dirty carburetor is that it will make the engine run rough. As dirt or debris accumulates inside the carburetor, it creates an imbalance in the air and fuel mixture, forcing the engine to run too rich or lean.

This results in your engine misfiring or producing black smoke.

3. The Carburetor Flooding

As the passageways inside the carburetor get blocked due to dirt or gum accumulation, it restricts the flow of air and gasoline, resulting in the flooding of the carb. As the carb floods, it overflows or leaks from the carburetor bowl vents, while wetting the spark plugs.

One way to test if a clogged carburetor is preventing your generator from starting is to spray some starter fluid like the STA-BIL 22004 directly into the carb. If the engine turns or cranks but doesn’t start, it’s a dirty or clogged carburetor that needs immediate cleaning.

How to Keep a Generator Carburetor from Gumming Up?

Camping generator carburetors usually gunks up in storage between long camping seasons. To keep your carburetor clean and dirt-free, you need to perform regular maintenance.

1. Store Generator without Fuel

Fuel is the sole reason a generator’s carburetor becomes dirty and clogs up. This is especially true for ethanol-based fuel that oxidized before separating and gumming up.

To prevent fuel from clogging your generator’s carburetor, make sure to store the generator without fuel in it during long-term storage. Follow the proper safety procedures while draining your generator’s fuel tank to avoid fire-related hazards.

2. Use a Fuel Stabilizer

You can use a fuel stabilizer before storing your generator if the window between your camping trips is short. A fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL prevents oxidation in ethanol-based fuel while keeping it fresh.

The right amount of fuel stabilizer added to the gas tank of a generator can extend its shelf life to up to 2 years.

3. Never Use Old Gasoline

Gasoline degrades quickly, and when old gas is added to a generator, it can corrode and block the carb easily. Always use fresh gas and stabilize any fuel in storage to keep it fresh for a long time.

How to Clean a Generator Carburetor Without Removing it?

Fortunately, you can clean a carburetor without removing it if it is not completely clogged. However, carburetors that are gummed up need to be removed and disassembled to be cleaned thoroughly.

The inside of a carburetor has narrow passages that cannot be reached from the outside. When these tight pathways get gunged up, removing the carburetor part by part is the only way to get it to work again.

Here is an excellent video showing you how to open and clean a generator carburetor.

On the other hand, a dirty carburetor where the symptoms are in the initial stage can be cleaned without removing it. A carb cleaner like the Gumout 800002231 when sprayed directly inside the carb will clean up the inside of a carburetor and remove any minor blocks.

You can also use a fuel treatment like the Sea Foam SF-16 that when added to your fuel tank effectively cleans debris and gums in the initial stage. Both the products work well in cleaning the carburetor if used in minor cases before the carb gets clogged.

However, if the methods mentioned don’t work, the only option is to remove the carburetor and clean it. Keep in mind that dissembling a carburetor is not a straightforward task, especially if you’re not technically sound.

Calling for help and paying a small maintenance fee is better than doing it yourself and needing an expensive replacement later.


Dirty carburetors are common in camping generators as they don’t get used that often. Following preventive measures like draining the fuel tank or using a fuel stabilizer before storage is the easiest way to keep your carburetor clean.

Though a good quality carb cleaner can clean up minor dirt build-up and blockages, you need to remove the carburetor if it is completely clogged up.