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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Lawn Mower: Cleaning the Carburetor

In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Scott in Wisconsin. He's been having trouble starting his lawn tractor, and when it does start it runs rough. He is suspecting carburetor problems and wonders if it needs to be cleaned.
Walter Tubbs is a John Deere Ag Tech Instructor at Arkansas State University-Beebe. He says it depends on how dirty the fuel system is. If you change the mower's filter, and it repeatedly gets dirty and the machine isn't running good, it may be time to clean the carburetor. Unless you have mechanical ability, Tubbs doesn't recommend pulling out the carburetor completely because it has complex parts, so let a professional do it. 
However,  if you do remove it, most parts stores carry solvents that will clean out the gunk.
"Once you take the carburetor apart you can put it in a little basket and you can actually soak it as long as you don't have any rubber components in there," he says. "Soak it in there for 2-3 hours depending on how dirty the carburetor is, and it'll actually eat the sediments and stuff out of the carburetor, and actually clean the component."
Tubbs warns if you leave the part in the solution too long, such as overnight, it could eat the carburetor, too.  An easier and less caustic way of cleaning it is to use a spray solvent. This is done without removing the carburetor.
"You can just spray it in through the intake system of the carburetor," says Tubbs. "Take your air filter and stuff off, and you can just spray it in right there. It's not as good as taking it apart, but if it's not real dirty, if it's just kind of a little bit of a rough idle, but it seems to run fine otherwise, it does help sometimes and does clean them for you that way."
Tubbs says there are fuel additives that can also help clean the carburetor.

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