Tip of the Day: Drain the carburetor bowl on your lawn mower to protect the engine

Consumer Reports News: October 07, 2009 12:54 PM

As we covered in "Is Fuel With an Increased Level of Ethanol a Problem for Small Gas Engines?" there's growing concern over the effects that gasoline-ethanol blends like E10—that's 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol—might have on small, nonroad engines on lawn mowers and tractors and other outdoor power equipment.

If you're concerned about the possible effects ethanol might have on your gas-powered mower or other equipment that will sit for long periods in storage—including a string trimmer or leaf blower—remove the remaining fuel from the tank and then empty the carburetor bowl before you stow gear for the winter. The simple project will help keep your gear in good working condition.

Even if you've run your equipment dry as part of your usual end-of-season maintenance steps, some fuel can remain in the bowl of the carburetor. If you don't drain the bowl, you might see some of the telltale white residue and related corrosion associated with ethanol blends. Four-cycle engines in particular seem prone to the buildup, although two-cycle engines can also suffer from the problem.

To empty the carburetor bowl in your mower:
• Run the engine dry, then let the machine fully cool.
• Locate the carburetor bowl. It's a cylindrically shaped device with one or two bolts on the bottom (shown). If there are two bolts, the off-center one is a drain, which you can use to get rid of any fuel without removing the bowl; place a container beneath the carburetor and remove the bolt. Any fuel present should trickle out.
• On some engines, such as the Tecumseh carburetor shown, the single bolt is for removing the carburetor bowl itself. Also while holding a container beneath, remove the bolt, pull off the bowl, and drain it. Wipe out the inside of the bowl.
• Whether or not you need to remove the bowl, it's a simple task to drain it and tighten everything back up.—Ed Perratore | | Twitter | Forums | Facebook

Essential information:
If you're in the market for a new snow blower, read our latest report on single- and two-stage gas and electric models and updated free buyer's guide and ratings (available to subscribers).

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