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XT250 Float Height

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I tested the float height on my 1980 XT250 which was running lean as evidenced by gray on the spark plug and hesitation when going into first.  I had to use a tube attached to the carb drain as instructed in the service manual.  It did look low, so I adjusted the float from 20.6 MM to 19.3 MM from the top of each float to the carb body.  There is no range given in the service manual.  I had the fuel screw 5 1/4 out, so I set it back to 4 turns out.  Now the thing will only run with the choke on.  Should I turn the fuel screw back out?  I figured the higher gas level in the float bowl would allow the fuel screw to be farther in.  Manual says 1-2 turns.  The pilot jet was replaced but is still #17.5 like the original.  Any thoughts on what I should do and why the fuel screw would need to be so far out?

Also, I heard a chirping but I think the exhaust is not on right.  Has happened before.

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