Fast and Easy Fix for Your Generac Wheelhouse 5500 / 5550 Portable Generator – Part 2


Alright, I have all the parts and tools I need to get started.

As I said in the previous post, I am going to perform a quick engine tune up (i.e. change oil, spark plug, etc.) first before overhauling the carburetor.


Here are some things to keep in mind before getting started:

  • Work in a well ventilated area;
  • Place protective covering under the generator (I used heavy duty trash bags) to protect the surface from fuel contamination;
  • Wear pair of Nitrile, Latex or Vinyl gloves (I cook a lot so I don’t want my hands to smell gasoline all day);


I attempted to clean the carburetor while it was still attached to the engine (evidenced by pictures of me removing a carb fuel bowel first). My hindsight suggestion? Completely remove it before disassembling for cleaning.
Please note that most pictures were taken when I was initially cleaning the carburetor, not when I replacing various parts like gaskets, etc.

STEP 1 – Remove the spark plug cable, turn off the ON/OFF circuit breaker switch and turn off the fuel supply valve.
STEP 2 – Using a 5/16″ socket to remove two mounting screws holding down the air intake cover. Remove the air filter.

STEP 3 – Move the choke lever to CLOSED position. Make sure the handle notch is lined up with a small notch on the metal plate and gently pull it up (fig.1.3). Do not use excessive force. If it does not come up, double check to make sure notches are lined up and try again.

STEP 4 – Using a 12 mm socket to remove two nut washers holding down the metal air intake shroud/housing. Remove the shroud and set it aside.

STEP 5 – Pry off the breather tube from the air filter housing by gently rocking it back and forth. Do not use any sharp objects.

STEP 6 – Using a pair of adjustable pliers, squeeze the hose clamp tips to open (fig.2.1) then slide it up. Gently pry off fuel hose from the fuel inlet (fig.2.2).

STEP 7 – Gently pry off the hose from the fuel inlet (fig. 2.2). Please note that some gasoline may drip out.

Please note that above pictures have fuel bowel already removed. As stated before, I would suggest following the steps outlined below without removing the bowel first

STEP 8 – Now we need to detach the carburetor from the engine by removing two long carb hold-down bolts. Just a fair warning that the Torx heads on these bolts are made from soft brass. Since soft brass is fairly easy to strip or crush, you want to use an external Torx to remove these bolts. If you do not have it, you can buy the E5 external Torx bit in this this Neiko set. (read my review here). Whatever you do, be careful as these bolts are not available!

UPDATE: you can now purchase replacement (Briggs and Stratton OEM Part # 694869 ) bolts are now available here for purchase.
If you are in a crunch, you can try using a 4 mm regular socket with a tiny piece of paper towel wrapped around the Torx head (to remove free-play). You SHOULD NOT use pliers because there is no good way to grip the head securely without crushing or stripping it.


STEP 9 – While holding the detached carburetor in one hand, slightly rotate it to gently unhook the governor spring wire (thin) and a throttle linkage cable (thick) (fig.2.4).

STEP 10 – Using a flat (slot) head screwdriver, remove two screws and washers that are holding down the carb fuel bowel (fig.3.1). Be careful as it will hold about 2 oz of gasoline. Also, there will be a loose spring inside (fig.3.3). This is what keeps the internal plastic components (float, gasket-float bowel) in place. Make sure to keep it in a safe place. Note how in fig.3.2, you see reddish deposit on the bottom with some flakes. These are deposits from a stale gasoline. Use a small amount of carb cleaner to clean them as much as possible.

STEP 10 – A large plastic piece that is now visible is called a float (fig.3.4). Carefully slide out the hinge pin using a straight paper clip. One end of the hinge pin is crimped so it can only slide out in one direction so if you cannot easily slide it out, try pushing it in the other direction.

STEP 11 – Once a float is detached, there will be a small gray “needle valve pin” (fig.3.5, fig.3.6 and fig.3.7). This needle pin either opens or shuts the fuel valve so it is critical that tip needs to be free of any debris. Be careful as the tip is made of rubber and it will pop off easily (and very easy to lose!). Using some fresh gasoline mixed with carb cleaner (2:1 ratio), clean off all gunk (as stated previously I do not like using straight solvent on plastic pieces as it may chemically degrade plastic components) so what I did was to dip some cotton swabs in the mixture clean off the gunk. Fig.3.8 is the end result of that cleaning which took about 20 minutes.

STEP 12 – The remaining round plastic piece (gasket-float bowel) channels the gasoline flow. Note how the inlet and outlet ports are clogged with junk (fig.4.1 and fig 4.2).
STEP 13 – The inlet also has a small (ceramic) piece with an O-ring that gets open/shut by a needle valve (fig.4.2 and fig.4.3). Gently pop it out by using a Q-tip with firm force. DO NOT use an awl or any sharp, pointed objects which can enlarge the hole or worse, crack it.
STEP 14 – Using a thin wire, clean off as much gunk as you can, not just the hole but all surrounding area (fig.4.4) If there is gunk left, needle valve cannot seat properly which will flood the engine (which is what happened after my first clean attempt).

STEP 15 – This is what it looks like after thorough cleaning (fig.5.1 and fig.5.2).
STEP 16 – To pop the ceramic flow control piece back in, I used a small piece of leftover 12 AWG electrical wire. You can also use a Q-tip, but make sure you hear the “click” to ensure that the O-ring has been seated properly.
STEP 17 – On to cleaning the carburetor itself. VERY Carefully remove the O-ring seal and put it aside (Fig.5.3; BTW, if you are attempting to clean your carb that is still attached to the engine, it will be fairly impossible for you to re-mount this O-ring so you may *not* want to remove the O-ring).
STEP 18 – Using a carb cleaner, carefully and thoroughly clean all holes and grooves (I also used Q-tip to scrub the gunk off). Pay special attention to the inlet port where fuel enters the carburetor chamber. I ended up using Q-tips soaked with straight carb cleaner (no plastic inside the carburetor) to clean the inside, making sure to not leave behind any Q-tip remains.

Carb cleaner can unexpectedly shoot out in different directions or even deflect back at you. Make sure to WEAR EYE PROTECTION and preferably a long sleeved shirt

STEP 19 – Now that all parts have been thoroughly cleaned, it is now time to reassemble the carburetor and re-attach it to the engine. Just use reverse steps to reinstall, making sure to install the retainer spring before seating the fuel bowel (fig.6.1 through 6.8).

The overhaul is not complete. Turn on the generator switch (marked as “ON” or “I”), open the fuel supply valve, set to full choke and pull to start. Hopefully that will get it to start up right away! My older generator actually sounded like it ran much better than my new Briggs and Stratton Storm Responder generator!

Portable generators produce lots of carbon monoxide that is colorless, tasteless and does not smell. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep it away from your house and make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are positioned near it

Final Thoughts

Overhauling a carburetor seems taunting at first but if you have some basic skills, it really isn’t that bad.

After replacing or cleaning the carburetor, make sure to test your generator every month (every 2 weeks during hurricane season) with electrical load for at least 30 minutes.

Also, constantly rotate your stock of gasoline (use stale gas for your car).

If you are currently using extension cords for your generator, you may want to read my post titled, “How I Connected My Portable Generator to My Home” which outlines what I did to hook up my portable generator to the main load center with a generator interlock kit.

Well, that’s it for me 🙂 If you found this article to be useful, can you do me a favor and sign up for my newsletter? The signup form is found at the top of the screen on the right side.

Thanks and good luck!


46 thoughts on “Fast and Easy Fix for Your Generac Wheelhouse 5500 / 5550 Portable Generator – Part 2”

  1. I am looking for the run on and off switch for the 55oo and 8500 generator. I can’t find it on the exploded parts list. I need the part number so I can buy it. Mine is getting very hard to switch.

  2. @Roy-

    If it’s a lighted rocker switch, part # should be 697854 (see here). If it is a non-lighted version, part # should be 795333 (see here).

    How can you tell if it doesn’t work? Non-lighted version has solid red color; lighted version has sort of translucent look to it

    Good luck

  3. Great resource thanks for the information.
    My wheel horse will run great for hours but will just shut off like the switch was turned to the off position. With one pull it will restart and run fine. The oil level is good. Any thoughts what would cause this?

  4. @Mike-
    Interesting question you got there.

    How often does that happen? Does it happen consistently (i.e. runs for 3 hours then shuts off every time). When you restart, does it run fine until gas runs out or does it shutoff again?

    My initial guess is that your gasoline (or the tank) has moisture in it but would need more info.


  5. I had the bad gas problem. I purchased and installed the carb overhaul kit, followed your instructions step by step and it didn’t start. Man was I pissed…then i remembered I have to open the fuel hose with the little lever. It started on the first pull!!! Awesome instructions. Thank you so much!!

  6. @John-

    Whew! 🙂 It sure does feel awesome to get that fixed by yourself, doesn’t it? Great job!

    PS. When you do monthly startup testing, make sure you put actual electrical loads on it. Otherwise, you might find that your genny works fine, but does not produce electricity.

  7. I have a generac 5500. it will not start at all. I checked for spark and changed spark plug still nothing. it is full of oil I have good gas flow just not getting spark. how can bypass the oil safety switch and the on and off switch . I need help. thank you

  8. @Bill-

    If it does not start at all, I would focus on cleaning that carb first before anything else. My article has detailed steps for you to follow; many others have either used carb rebuild kit or replaced the carb and fixed the generator.

    Let me know how it turns out.


  9. I have a wheelhouse 5500 will not start I bought the overhaul kit i opened the the bell where the float is and a small jet or something was sitting on the bottom I cant figure out where it goes its round 1/4 inch about with rubber ring and whole in center

  10. First, thanks for the step by step instructions.

    As luck would have it the small detachable grommet piece (fig 4.3) fell out as I was taking the carb apart and I have guessed several times where it goes and generator keeps flooding out (step 14).

    Where does the thing belong and is it on the float side or gasket side?


  11. Hi Wayne-

    Thanks for the question. Before we get started, please note that Wheelhouse 5500 was made with two different types of carbs: Niki and Walbro.

    In addition, you should also check the carburetor housing to make sure that your model number is 697978 (its stamped next to the breather hose).

    The item you describe sounds like the “Main Jet” which is installed in the “Tube-Fuel Transfer” plate (see fig 4.1 through 4.4).

    The part I am describing is shown in Fig 4.3.

    Examine it carefully (preferably under a magnifying glass to see if the O-ring is in good condition (no cuts, scores, etc.). I am bit concerned that something was damaged for it to free float around (it has an o-ring that gets clicked into the housing).

    Also take a look at the Tube-Fuel transfer plate (part # 698780) to see that is is in good condition.

    If any parts of the tube-fuel transfer plate are cracked (especially the fuel inlet (center part) where the main jet resides, your options are either to purchase the carb replacement or purchase the (replacement fuel transfer tube. The replacement carb costs around $94 bucks. The latter option costs around $51 bucks+.

    If you know for sure the tube-fuel transfer plate is damaged and if you can return the overhaul kit, I would definitely consider replacing the carburetor.

    If the main jet is in good condition, I would try clean it and re-install it (I describe how I did in steps 13 through 16).

    If it is in bad condition, you will need to replace it:

    There are two different parts, depending on the date code: Part # 843099 which used after code date 08051300 or Part 792296 (replaced the original part number 699732) which is used before code date 08051400.

    Best bet is for you to contact Briggs & Stratton tech support to get the exact model number you need.

    Let me know how you make out.


  12. Hi Dave

    I think you asked the same question as Wayne (see my comment on November 2 at 4:15PM)?

    The main jet gets pushed in to the center hole on the tube fuel transfer plate.

    As I stated to Wayne, I would be concerned about main jet simply falling out as it gets “clicked” into place and should be difficult to push out.

    I would carefully inspect both the tube fuel transfer plate and the main jet for any damage.


  13. Hi Kevin
    Thanks for all the great info…
    I just got me a used 5500. and its not wanting to start. I replaced the spark plug and still didnt start. I took it back to where i bought it an i think they traded out v the new one i had in it with an old used one as when we pulled it out again it looked as if it were old and used out? Could you enlighten me? Also c s n you tell me what type /size spark plug is the corrrect one?

  14. @Julianne-

    Can you tel me what you mean by “..I think they traded out v the new one…”.

    Also before you purchased it, did they turn it on to show you that it worked?

  15. Hi Kevin. Just seen ur message. Sorry fir the typo. I was. refering to the pawnshop trading out the new spark plug for an old one… Go figure as they even drained the 2gal of gas i had put in it.
    To ur question No they did not start it before i bought it because it needed new gas lines which i also replaced however they guarenteed that it worked and they had it running . rolling eyes.

    As for their B.S you could say i got it for free as they traided it out and the other one they could start but we could… So to make it short i got an onan and this one

  16. Just broke out the old Wheelhouse 5550 after a 10yr+ sleep in the garage, in honor of this new hurricane approaching. Of course, it would not start. I followed your process to clean out the carb and she started on the second pull after the cleaning. Great detail and great instructions. Many thanks!

  17. Hey Dale-

    Thanks for your comment. And yes, Wheelhouse 5550 is built like a tank, isn’t it?

    Wherever your are, please stay safe!


  18. Great job and write up. I just went thru the same exact process with TWO of these Generac 5500’s.

    If anyone out there has left one of these generators sit more than 2 months with gasoline in them, then you WILL NEED to take the carb apart as outlined in the great write up above.

    I know, because we were using ours on a construction site for 4 months (these are almost bulletproof BTW) and then put them up for right at 2 months. Pulled them out, and they simply wouldn’t start. New gas, new plugs, nothing. Pulled one of the bowls and it was full of red flakes and gunk.

    Knew right then and there the carbs had to be removed and cleaned. Took about and hour for both generators, but both fired up on the first pull after cleaning.

    Thanks again!

  19. I replaced the carb and it started on second pull. The governor will not pull the idle down. I disconnected the governor lever and there is no tension to pull the rod back when running? It has not been started in over 4 years. Help, please!

  20. @Ray-

    You are probably missing one of two springs. Just above the pullcord, there is a plastic shroud (has the on-off-switch).

    Unscrew about 4-6 screws and gently lift it out of the way. It is surprisingly bare inside. Here is what you should have (this is a picture of my current storm responder 5500, which is virtually identical to wheelhouse 5550).

    I could not find these parts through normal channels (i.e. amazon, briggs, etc.), bu was able to locate a vendor (

    Now, I have no relationship with this site so please check with them before making a purchase.

    let us know how you make out after the repairs are done.

  21. hello, I really do not know who to address this question to in reference to one of the pics above I would like to know can I replace the fuel emulsion tube and or where can I purchase one, I have a nikki 698305 carb from a briggs/stratton 204417 10 hp engine generator that I bout through ebay tried to get it running with no luck, after finding out that it the carburetor was tampered with and internal;ly components damaged. Thanks in advance for any advise.

  22. Hi Oscar-

    Sorry to hear about your carburetor problem. As far as I know that emulsion tube is NOT user replaceable.

    I ended up replacing my carburetor with a new one. You can read here to see how I did it.

    The article references Briggs and Stratton 591378 replacement card (you can buy one here). Though the product description page does not specifically says it replaces Nikki 698305, other users seems to have done the replacement without issues (read one post here).

    I know the replacement carb is bit expensive (around 100 bucks), but the generator runs like new after this repair was done.

    Please let me know if I can help you in anyway. Good luck.


  23. 5500 WheelHorse Generac , generator . I took off the carb and cleaned ~~ the butterfly inside was locked so I took it out and got it to open and close ~~ need to know if a show and tell on to show connections from tank to carb. All broke taking off.
    Nikki carb is there a rebuild kit in case one is needed?

  24. Hi Paul-

    You left two separate questions so I am not clear on what you are looking for. Can you re-phrase your question for me?

  25. Kevin,

    Excellent write-up and very insightful. It was very thoughtful of you to take the time to document everything. I purchased my WheelHouse 5500 back in 2004 and have used it on and off over the years without a problem. Recently, however, I had some issues that needed resolution. BTW, my generator came with a Nikki carb that looks near identical to yours but my carb model number is 698305.

    I have a couple of things I’d like to add which might be helpful. First, in your parts list you have the float bowl gasket incorrectly identified as part #698781. The correct part number for your Nikki and mine is #695426…don’t ask me how I discovered this. 😉

    In reference to those who are having a problem with their carb flooding due to the bowl float mechanism not working there are only three things likely to cause this: (1) it’s most likely the float needle valve is worn, damaged or not seating correctly, (2) the float bowl gasket could be damaged or (3) the fuel transfer tube is damaged. The fuel transfer tube is the disc shaped white plastic part that the bowl float attaches to. The fuel transfer tube part number for our carbs is #696142 and it comes with a float bowl gasket. My carb was flooding because of a damaged fuel transfer tube. The tube does not break on its own and should normally not need replacement. I damaged mine because I had attempted to resolve a non-start issue I was having and had decided to drain the bowl by taking it off while the carb was still attached to the engine. Bad idea and here is why. The fuel transfer tube must be installed up against the main body of the carb in a precise location. That is, while it is physically possible to install the fuel transfer tube in probably 5 different positions all but one is correct as the ports on the main body of the carb must align with the port holes on the fuel transfer tube. Specifically, you’ll know you have it properly aligned when the fuel inlet tube from the fuel hose is directly aligned opposite the float need valve port. The reason why it is a bad idea to remove the fuel bowl while the carb is attached to the engine is that you cannot easily see how the port holes aligned if by back luck you rotated the fuel transfer tube to a location other than the correct one you are going to have a problem. Like I said, there are probably four other locations where it will install and feel like it is on correctly and there are a number of locations where the plastic fuel transfer tube will get damaged because it is getting crushed in any number of incorrect positions. This is what I did because I could not see how I was installing it incorrectly and I inadvertently cracked it. Again, always remove the carb before messing with the fuel bowl.

    The other thing I wanted to point out is address the issue of the engine will not fire up even though the carb is working correctly. Recall that not only do you need fuel for the engine to fire up but you need spark too. If you aren’t getting spark and do not understand why do not forget that this generator has a low oil protection circuit that is supposed to suppress the spark (by grounding the ignition coil) to kill the engine if the circuit detects that a low oil condition will likely damage the engine if it is allowed to continue to run. Most people who know about the low oil protection circuit will unplug the wire going to the low pressure (LOP) sensor and typically if the LOP sensor has failed then unplugging it will allow the engine to create spark. The part that a lot of people do not know about which is part of the low oil protection circuit is the low oil shutdown module (LOSM) which is typically a small silver colored cube but might be black plastic too. If the LOSM craps out then unplugging the LOP sensor alone will not fix your no spark problem. To bypass a LOSM failure you will need to unplug it from the ON/OFF switch. If you look on the back of the ON/OFF switch you will not there are three terminals not two like you would expect. One of the terminals connects to the LOSM. Simply unplug the LOSM from the terminal and this will completely bypass the low oil protection circuit. Note that failure of the LOSM is very common. Ask any equipment repair shop. The LOSM typically costs $50 to $70 and most folks figure they rather unplug the LOSM rather than buy a new one only for it to crap out again. Keep in mind that with the LOSM unplugged your generator will no longer be monitoring for a low oil condition therefore it will be especially important to check you oil level frequently. Hope this tip helps someone out and you may want to integrate this info somewhere into your write-up.


  26. On a 5550 generator wheelhouse what is the gap setting on the spark plug.

  27. wheel house 5550 I stated the generator the other day finally got it started came back the next day in the garage the fuel tank was dented any ideas? hurry hurricane Irma is gonna hit soon

  28. @ nick-

    Gas inside cans or tanks expand in the hot weather and contracts in the cold temp (usually overnight). I see it all the time in my plastic gas tanks but I have never had that happen to a metal gas tank? Did you fill the gas up to the cap (which does not leave any space for the gas to expand)? Maybe fill it about 3/4 way? I would also inspect the dented area to make sure there are no punctured / creased holes.

    I pray that you guys will be safe!


    I am looking for a parts list & user manual for awheel house 5550 with a briggs & stratton engine . We cant remmber how long can it run before the oil needs to be changed . Arnold

  30. @ Dave-

    Carb needs an adjustment. I do not have pictures but it is done by taking off the fuel bowel and adjusting the screw

  31. Any advice on how to remove the screws for the carb fuel bowl (your figure 3.1)? The screws are soft, but put on with a ton of torque so when I try to turn them the slots are starting to deform.

  32. @ jeff-

    if it takes that much force to unscrew, screws are probably seized. i would use some wd40 to “un-freeze” the screws.

  33. @kevin
    Thanks but it doesn’t look corroded or “crudded” up. I have tried WD40 and let it sit but it hasn’t helped yet. The screws seem so tight together that I don’t even know if it is getting between the brass screw, washer, and body.

  34. @ Jeff-

    I do remember having a touch time myself, especially with screws facing down to the ground. If I recall, what I did was to tilt the generator 45 degrees by placing some stacked scrap pieces of 2x4s underneath, then found the largest flat head scredriver that will fit that also had a long shaft and thick handle.

    I then actually tried to tighten just a bit, then reversed them out. As you are already aware, those screws heads can easily get mangled so make sure to apply a lot of downward pressure when trying to turn them.

    Good luck and let me know how you make out.


  35. My name is Albert i have 5500 Briggs and stratton generator from Lowes (2004). I clean the carburetor but during the cleaning the float bowl gasket expanded and would not install correctly. Generator runs good but not sure what the future looks for next time i take it apart. Model # 030245, Rev 00
    I’m having a hard time locating parts for the generator Carburetor Float gasket and related parts.
    Can you please direct me in locating carburetor parts for this model? Thanks

  36. John-

    This generator is over 25+ years old…I would suggest ebay or craigslist..

  37. My Generator starts fine but will only run for 5-10 minutes and then stops. After cooling for 15+minutes it will start and run again fine but again for 5-10 minutes. My research indicates that the low oil shutoff may be the issue, but, there is plenty of oil. It has only run for about 3o hours and is used infrequently. I have seen notes that say I can bypass the low oil module but non show how to do it with my engine. I have one wire that runs from the low oil sensor port (its only a port not the sensor which is internal) to the power switch (three pins, LOP, Center Black, Right White). I cant find a good schematic or diagram to figure this out. Suggestions.
    Thanks, Dennis

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