I purchased a small engine inverter generator. It obviously has a carburetor and a choke valve. I just put in the oil and oiled the foam air filter element and am ready to break in the generator with variable resistive heater load.

According to the instructions, if the generator does not start after the first pull (with choke on), I should turn off the choke valve for the next three pulls.

However, if the generator did not have any gasoline inside, neither in the gas tank nor in the carburetor float bowl, and I just fueled it up, do I still try to start with choke valve on for first pull and off for three pulls? Or does this "pull only once with choke on" rule apply to a generator having fuel in the carburetor float bowl?

I think that in this case it might take some time for the fuel in the tank to reach the carburetor float bowl. This will happen in N pulls of the starting cord but I do not know the value of N. If N is for example 2 (so that on the first pull the float bowl is dry and only on the second pull it has fuel), then having the choke on for the first pull only doesn't do the effect as I'm choking with a dry float bowl and then trying to start an unchoked engine with a full float bowl.

So, my understanding is that in this case it might be beneficial to pull with choke on for the first N pulls where N is the value needed to fill the carburetor float bowl, and then if it doesn't start perhaps there's something wrong with my starting technique such as pulling too slowly, and I should practice my starting technique with the choke off to avoid flooding the engine with fuel.

So, does any user of small engines know how many times I should try pulling with a choked engine if I just added fuel to a dry engine (with dry carburetor), and if it doesn't start in that number of pulls then turning off the choke for further 3 trials?

Or am I thinking this incorrectly that the float bowl would fill only during pulling the cord -- does it instead fill immediately when I pour the gasoline?

Of course one option would be to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. If it's true that in this case N=2, then the worst thing that will happen is that I pull with choke on for 1 pulls (engine doesn't start due to a dry float bowl), with choke off for 3 pulls (engine doesn't start without choke but this will surely cause the float bowl to become full), and then again with choke on (which should finally allow the engine to start).

1 Answer 1


I think you're overthinking it a bit. Just follow the directions.

As far as fuel in the float bowl, if the fuel tank is above the carb (which I believe is the case ... especially if it doesn't have a primer bulb), the float bowl will already be full via gravity (as long as the fuel cutoff, if there is one, is turned on).

I think the main reason why they state to only try and start it with the choke on for one pull is so you don't wash the cylinder with fuel. This can clean any oil on the cylinder and cause premature wear.

  • Oh, it seems I incorrectly understood it uses a pump and not gravity. In this case, following the instructions seems to be correct -- if the float bowl is already full, then having choke on only for the first pull is correct.
    – juhist
    Commented May 16, 2022 at 14:37

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