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Question DetailsAsked on 9/6/2017

I have a generator that I let gasoline sit in it over the years, how can I clean the generator?

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1 Answer


Be srue whatever you do to remember that gas is highly flammable and the fumes are explosive in higher concentrations, and cleaning a tank one time does NOT eliminagte the fumes - gas will still evaporte out of the metal and from the seams.

And don't forget to dispose of old gas and cleaning liquids properly - many public landfills will take up to 5 gallons of contaminated gas free per week or day, from household sources.

Depends on how long it sat (and how hot an environment) - I have started and run equipment which has sat 10-15 years with fuel stabilizer in it and for about 5-8 years without by just draining the old fuel from the tank and fuel line to the carb and putting in new. Even one piece of equipment 40 years old (with fuel stbilizer in the fuel) in an extreme arctic environment (frozen most of the year) by just gravity draining the tank and lines and putting new gas in and starting on ether. But I have also seen varnish block a carb or inlet filter on stuff that only sat a year or two outside in extreme heat - but generally a couple or even few years will not result in significant varnishing except in very hot areas or in wet areas with a lot of heating/cooling cycles (which cause the tank to "breathe" and pull in air, when then exhausts the volatiles in the fuel when it heats up and expands), providing the cap was vented but normally air tight. A LOT depends on whether it had fuel stabilizer in it and whether the fuel tank had a cap which significantly vented vapors, or only a touch. And of course, inside/stable temperature storage extends the "life" of the gas a lot.

And of course, if the tank has rusted, some people will try to clean that with chemicals or abrasives like BB's but there is a lot of explosion hazard with some of the methods, and generally a rusty tank isnot worth the trouble - get a new one.

Certainly drain any fuel bowl, replace fuel filter if cartridge type, remove and clean inlet screen and float inside the tank if possible, and drain fuel lines - if the gas flows out of the lines, just running some fresh gas or carb cleaner through it might be OK for lines - if gelled or varnished, then you need to flush them like the tank or flush clean then swab out with a small swab on a wire.

Tank - depending on size of tank and whether it is rusted and whether the sludge/varnish has formed and if it is bonded to the tank or not, sometimes you can just pour it out and slosh some Heet alcohol around to clean it. If sticky or gummed up inside after that, stages of attack (more aggressive listed later and more likely to remove the protective coating on the inside) below. If gelled/varnished you pretty much have to remove the tank to clean it so you can slosh the cleaning agent around - if just stale simple draining might do the job. These are for steel tanks - plastic depends way too much on the chemistry to say, personally I would stay with Dawn and hot water or paint thinner as the most extreme things to use, because most carb and brake cleaners and acetone will dossolve it.

1) Dawn in hot water - soaking, shaking around several rounds.

2) Carb cleaner (the spray cleaner) or brake cleaner sprayed in and sloshed around and mopped out with paper towels

3) carb cleaner (the soak type) - here we are now getting into methods which might remove the protective finish on the inside of the tank, and can also remove the outside paint

4) paint thinner

5) acetone (absolutely will peel any interior protective coating and exterior paint)

Whatever of these you try, finish off afterwards with Dawn and hot water wash, then full hot water rinse to remove any solvent and soap, then slosh Heet around to remove the water, then put in a location (outdoors) where it will dry quickly.

Another solution - if you can find a radiator repair shop in your town that still tanks radiators (tank solvent cleaning) they can get a radiator shiny clean - and generally can also restore the protective polymer on the inside - but likely about $25-50 minimum for mower size tank, more like $75-125 for vehicle size tank.

Any tank/lines you use cleaning material in I would run the generator for at least 15-20 minutes afterwards to be sure no residual solvent or water stays in the generator after it is shut down.

Another option of course - get new tank if gunked up inside and the simpler cleaning methods can't get it clean.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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