It’s a common story – and one you may even have experienced yourself. You watch as the trees begin to change color at the start of the fall, knowing that once the leaves begin to drop, you can turn to your trusty leaf blower to power through the work when the time comes.
Except when the time does come and you try to fire up your blower for the first time of the season, nothing happens.
It’s not unusual for leaf blowers to have problems starting after spending most of the year packed away in the shed, but the good news is, in many cases, the problem is nothing too serious. Here, we give you the top 9 reasons why a leaf blower won’t start.
1. Old fuel left in your leaf blower
Perhaps the number one reason why a leaf blower won’t start up at the start of fall is due to old fuel.
Gasoline doesn’t age well, and even if you leave it in your leaf blower for just 30 days, it may already have deteriorated to the point where your machine won’t start properly – so you can imagine what will happen if you leave the fuel in the engine for six months or more.
With time, some of the liquid will evaporate off – and after sitting unused for over half a year, the fuel in your machine will probably have turned to a thick sludge. If this has happened, you simply need to remove the old fuel and refill with fresh fuel.
Rather than allowing this to happen, you should always remember to remove old fuel before storing your blower long-term. This way, you won’t have to face this problem the following year.
2. Clogged carburetor
This problem is one that often happens for the same reason as described above. If fuel sits for too long, it becomes thick and viscous, and if you try to use it, this dense goo can block the carburetor.
Check the carburetor to see if this is what has happened. If it has, you can either clean the carburetor (if the problem is not too serious), rebuild the carburetor (if the problem is more serious) or replace the carburetor completely (in the worst-case scenario).
Again, to avoid this problem, remember never to leave fuel sitting unused in your blower for long periods.
3. Clogged fuel filter
One more problem related to old, sticky fuel is a blocked fuel filter. Check to see if the fuel filter has been blocked by gunky fuel. If it has, this will prevent the blower from starting so you’ll need to replace the filter.
4. Oil-gas mix
If you have a blower with a two-stroke engine and you don’t use it for a while, the oil and the gas in the fuel mix may begin to separate. You can resolve this issue by just giving the tool a good shake before you start it. This is a very simple trick and always worth a try.
Of course, this only applies to 2-stroke engines – if you have a 4 cycle leaf blower, this won’t help at all.
5. Spark plug
After fuel related problems, problems related to the spark plug are probably the next most common reason for a leaf blower to not start, especially when using it for the first time at the start of the season.
Spark plugs can easily become worn, damaged or dirty – and if this happens, your leaf blower won’t start.
If it is not connected properly or just a little dirty, you can clip it back into place or give it a quick clean and it should work again. However, if the insulator is cracked, the electrode is burned or there is a large carbon build-up, you will need to replace it.
Spark plugs are not expensive, and it is good practice to replace them at the start of the season anyway – and even more often with tools that see heavy use.
6. Air filter
If the air filter becomes blocked, it will prevent fuel and air mixing correctly in the engine, and eventually, this will cause the blower to stop working.
Unlike most of the issues we’ve looked at so far, this is something that will happen with use rather than disuse. You can prevent it by regularly cleaning the air filter – and if it becomes too dirty or clogged to clean, you should just replace it with a new one.
7. Primer not pumped
When starting a gas leaf blower, you need to pump the primer before pulling the starter cord. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble starting it. Pump the primer about five or six times and try pulling the cord again to see if this is the problem.
Always read the user manual to make sure you know how to start and use your blower correctly.
8. Clogged spark arrestor
The spark arrestor is a screen designed to prevent the blower from emitting sparks. If it becomes clogged, the machine won’t work. Remove it and clean it with a brush to resolve the problem.
9. Broken rewind spring
The spring that rewinds the starter cord can break, which will result in the cord failing to rewind after each pull. If this happens, you will need to replace the spring with a new one.
Reasons why non-gas-powered leaf blowers won’t start
If you have a battery powered leaf blower or a corded version, there are fewer reasons why you might have difficulty starting your machine.
Check all the most obvious things first. Is it plugged into a power outlet? Is the power switched on? Is the battery fully charged?
If you have read the manual and are sure you know how to start it correctly but are still having problems, you might need to take your electric leaf blower to a repair shop to have it looked at by a professional.
Read the manual – and be systematic
If you are having problems starting your leaf blower, make sure you read the manual and that you know exactly how to start it. The next step is to go through all the possible issues one by one, starting with the most simple and obvious, to eliminate them in a systematic and methodical manner. This will allow you to isolate the problem and then – hopefully – to fix it.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.