We've all heard of the scenario before. One day you go outside to finally clean up the leaves that have been loitering in your front yard the past few weeks. But when you go to start your leaf blower, the motor stalls--it's frustrating, we know. But what causes leaf blower motors to stall? There are quite a few reasons, actually. We've researched the most common ones, and in this post, we will discuss them.
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Here are the most common reasons why a leaf blower may fail to start:
- The fuel filter is clogged
- The carburetor is dirty
- The air filter is dirty
- The spark plug is defective
- The spark arrestor is clogged
- The rewind spring is broken
- The ignition coil is malfunctioning
- The recoil starter is malfunctioning
- The flywheel key is broken
- The blower fan blade is malfunctioning
- The On/Off selector is faulty
- The throttle cable is broken or damaged
If your leaf blower has been stored in your basement or shed for the past 9 months, you may be disappointed to find that it may struggle to start. With this guide, you'll be able to troubleshoot the leaf blower if you do experience issues with it starting in the future. Continue reading to learn more about how to inspect and repair your leaf blower when it won't start!
Common Reasons Why Your Leaf Blower Won't Start
1. The fuel filter is clogged
A clogged fuel filter is one of the most common reasons why a leaf blower may fail to start, especially if the leaf blower hasn't been used in several months. When you don't use your leaf blower for months, gummy residue from unused fuel may start to accumulate inside of it.
You can help prevent this by emptying the fuel after you use the blower for the last time for the season. It helps to add it to the to-do list for your blower's annual maintenance.
2. The carburetor is dirty
The same thing can happen to the carburetor. If unused or bad fuel stays inside of the carburetor for an extended period of time, it can create a gummy substance that attaches to the walls of the carburetor, causing it to malfunction. When this happens, the ratio of air to fuel becomes unbalanced and the engine will not start properly, if at all.
To alleviate this, try cleaning out the carburetor ports using WD-40 or a specialized carburetor cleaner. Once you remove any residue or debris that is causing a restriction, try starting the blower again. If the blower still does not start, you may want to continue troubleshooting the issue. However, if the clog is especially bad, it may be best to buy a new carburetor.
3. The air filter is dirty
Similar to HVAC vents, a clogged air filter can definitely spell trouble for your leaf blower. When your air filter is clogged, it will restrict any air coming into the carburetor. And if the carburetor is restricted, the leaf blower will not be able to suck in enough air for internal combustion to take place--which is needed to start the leaf blower.
Always make sure to replace your air filter yearly or when you notice that it is dirty.
4. The spark plug is defective
Your blower's spark plug can become defective when it has a weakened electrode or a buildup of carbon. The spark plug may even degrade over the years, and as a result, become unable to ignite the air and fuel inside of the blower's combustion chamber. You can purchase an ignition tester and test the strength of the plug to determine if this is the cause of your blower issues.
However, you can also replace the plug, which may be a faster method to fix this issue.
5. The spark arrestor is clogged
A clogged spark arrestor can also prevent your leaf blower from starting. This thin mesh part resembles a clothes dryer filter and is used to prevent sparks from the blower's engine from exiting the exhaust and starting a fire. As your blower ages, the spark arrestor can become clogged with grime and debris, which can hinder engine performance.
If your arrestor is clogged, try cleaning it using a small wire brush. You can also replace the filter for about $10.
6. The rewind spring is broken
Sometimes the rewind spring can break on your leaf blower, which can cause issues with the spark plug. When this happens, the flywheel that rotates to induce electricity for the spark plug cannot function. While you can replace the rewind string by itself, it will be much easier to replace the entire assembly for the recoil starter.
This is a fairly easy and inexpensive fix. You can typically find this assembly available for around $20, and replacing it should take no more than around 15-20 minutes.
7. The ignition coil is malfunctioning
The ignition coil is probably the most important component when it comes to starting your leaf blower. Its sole purpose is to send voltage to the blower's spark plug to ignite the fuel and air inside of the engine. If the coil is defective, you will hear a light clicking sound when you try to start the leaf blower.
Just as with the spark plug, you can purchase an ignition tester to determine if the ignition coil is malfunctioning and in need of a replacement.
8. The recoil starter is malfunctioning
Sometimes the starter recoil can malfunction and lose its ability to engage with the engine crankshaft inside the blower. The recoil starter comes attached as part of the recoil assembly and can be replaced fairly easily.
You will usually find the recoil assembly available more readily than the recall starter by itself. This is another quick and easy fix that you can perform yourself in 30 minutes or less. You will need a screwdriver to remove the previous assembly and install a new one.
9. The flywheel key is broken
While this issue may be less common than others, the flywheel key may have broken on your leaf blower, causing it to malfunction. The flywheel key is a tiny sheet of metal that fits inside the crankshaft and works in tandem with the blower fan blade to prevent damage to the blower's engine. Its sole purpose is to break if an object obstructs the fan blade.
However, over time the flywheel key can become weak and simply break apart on its own. If the key breaks, it will need to be replaced before you will be able to start the blower's engine again. You can usually purchase a flywheel key for under $7.
10. The blower fan blade is malfunctioning
Sometimes the blower fan blade can break down and start to malfunction. The first sign of this will usually be a weakened airflow coming out of the leaf blower tube. Where is it was strong and powerful before, it made now be very weak, and unable to blow leaves away.
This usually happens when the housing around the blower fan becomes clogged or damaged. You can buy a new fan blade easily as many of them can be used universally for different leaf blower brands and models. This part is fairly inexpensive and doesn't take long to replace.
11. The On/Off selector is faulty
The on/off switch of your leaf blower can also become faulty at some point. If you noticed that the selector switch is sticking, delaying the start, or working only half the time, chances are that it has become faulty. Most of the time, if the selector switch becomes faulty, the leaf blower itself may need to be replaced with the new model.
12. The throttle cable is broken or damaged
Some leaf blowers use a throttle cable that helps to accelerate their engine. As the leaf blower ages, the cable can wear down and eventually break. The cable can be purchased individually for about $7-$12. You will need to open up the back assembly of the leaf blower to replace this part, but it is a very simple and easy fix.
How Do You Unflood A Leaf Blower Motor?
When the carburetor on your leaf blower becomes flooded with gas, the leaf blower will not start at all. If you find that your blower will not start after pulling the string anywhere from five to six times, it's probably because the carburetor is flooded. This is probably the most common reason for leaf blower starter failure. The good thing is that this is usually a problem that you can fix on your own within a few minutes. Here are the steps to unflood it:
- First, unscrew the cover from the air filter using a flat head screwdriver.
- Remove the cover from the air filter and pulled it out of its compartment.
- Take your screwdriver and insert it into the intake valve of the blower's engine. This forces the butterfly valve to open wider for maximum air intake. Once there is enough air to match all of the gas in the chamber, the spark ignitor will be able to light it.
- Remove your screwdriver after 5 or 10 seconds and replace the air filter cover. Next, try to start the blower again. If you are successful, allow the blower to run for about 1-3 minutes before you use it.
How Do You Clean A Fuel Filter On A Leaf Blower?
You can clean the fuel filter on your leaf blower in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Here are the steps to do it:
- Take out the blower's spark plug to prevent any sparks while you're cleaning the filter.
- Place the choke knob on your blower to the middle position.
- Locate the fuel filter and remove its cover and screws.
- Use a rag to brush away any dirt and debris from the filter, then place it under warm water to clean. You can also use a bit of dish soap if it is especially dirty.
- After you rinse the filter, set it on a paper towel or rag to dry for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Once the filter has dried completely, place it back into the blower and re-attach the cover.
How Long Should A Leaf Blower Last?
On average, you can expect your leaf blower to last anywhere from 7-10 years. However, this may vary by brand and leaf blower model.
What Are Some Of The Most Reliable Leaf Blowers?
There are several leaf blowers available for any type of job. Whether you are looking for something inexpensive or something powerful and easy to use, there is a blower out there for you. Let's look at a few of them.
Litheli Cordless Leaf Blower
This Leitheli blower is perfect if you are looking for a blower with a long-lasting design--this blower is powerful and lightweight at the same time. You shouldn't have to worry about your shoulder getting tired after using this blower for 15 minutes.
Greenworks Pro Cordless Blower
If you are looking for something for more heavy-duty tasks, this is the blower is for you. It has an 80-volt battery and can reach a full charge in 30 minutes. This blower is quiet, versatile, and super easy to use.
Worx Turbine Corded Electric Leaf Blower
This Worx blower is one of the best affordable options on the market. It only weighs about 6 pounds and it has the power of a super blower. This blower can get the job done in no time--and without breaking the bank.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that, in this guide, you have found the solution for your leaf blower that won't start! Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts: