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Home > Small Engines > What to Do When a Small Engine Lacks Power

What to Do When a Small Engine Lacks Power

By Karin Mangan
What to Do When a Small Engine Lacks Power

Any number of issues, ranging from a clogged air filter to a blown or damaged head gasket, could cause a small engine to lack power.

- Air filters should be checked after every 25 hours of use. Replace dirty paper filters and wash foam filters in hot, soapy water.

- Spark plugs are another common source of trouble. Clean or replace spark plugs with excess carbon deposits, noticeable because of their black color, on the electrode.

- Check the adjustment of the carburetor. Tighten the "high speed" screw located on the bottom of the carburetor, but not so that it's so tight you can't unscrew it with your fingers. Then back out the screw 1½ times. Check the "idle" screw located on the side of the carburetor. Screw it in until it is finger-tight, then back out the screw 1 time.

- Replace old fuel with new mid-grade automotive gasoline.

- Is the exhaust port clogged? Remove the muffler and pull the engine over until the piston skirt blocks the exhaust port. Use something soft to scrape away any carbon. Be careful not to scratch the piston skirt, which could cause piston damage and reduce compression.

- An overheated engine can damage or blow the head gasket, which is a thin piece of material located between the engine block and the head that creates an air-tight seal between the two surfaces. Compression necessary for engine combustion can be lost when this occurs. It can also cause leak in the exhaust or coolant depending on where the break is.

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