7 reasons leaf blowers don’t start and how to fix each one

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Homeowners that have a yard to maintain love leaf blowers and the convenience they provide in clearing fallen leaves. The convenience of having a leaf blower can quickly turn into worry when you try to start your leaf blower and it refuses to turn on. When this happens, some people toss away the leaf blower while others take their broken machine to a mechanic. But most of the time, the reason for your leaf blower not starting up can be easily fixed at home without requiring professional help. So what are some of the major reasons for a leaf blower not starting up?

These 7 reasons can cause a leaf blower, not to startup:

  • Bad recoil starter
  • Bad sparkplug
  • Clogged or damaged carburettor
  • Old/expired fuel
  • Bad fuel filter
  • Clogged/damaged air filter
  • Clogged spark arrestor
7 reasons leaf blowers don’t start and how to fix each one 1

All of the above-mentioned reasons can cause a leaf blower to stop turning on completely. Since leaf blowers require an electric motor or an engine to produce airflow, a lot of things can go wrong with them. And to fix a leaf blower that isn’t starting, you have to go through each of the reasons mentioned in the list to get to the root of the problem. This is why in this article we are going to elaborate on the reasons that cause a leaf blower to not start and how you can diagnose and fix them, so keep reading.  

1. Bad recoil starter

Recoil starter, also known as the pull starter, is used to start gas-powered leaf blowers. It consists of a rope and a pulley mechanism that turns the leaf blower engine over and starts it up. It is not difficult to imagine that if something goes wrong with the recoil starter it can be impossible to start a leaf blower. Now, there are a couple of things that can go wrong with the recoil starter which can result in your leaf blower not turning on. Some common recoil starter issues that can prevent your leaf blower from starting are:

Damaged or tangled pull cord:

Pull cord is the string that you pull which turns over the engine of your leaf blower. After regular usage, the pull cord might get broken or get tangled onto itself or other components inside the pull starter housing. When this happens, you won’t be able to properly pull the cord to start your leaf blower engine. If you notice that the pull cord has gotten harder to pull than before, or it doesn’t pull at all,  it might be because the cord is damaged or tangled.

Fix: You can easily replace the damaged or tangled up pull cord with a new one to get your leaf blower to work again. You can replace the pull cord by following these simple steps:

Note: Remove the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug before starting the repair.

Step 1. You have to access the recoil starter assembly to replace the pull cord. Refer to your leaf blower’s user manual to know the exact location of the recoil starter of your gas leaf blower.

 Step 2. Use a pair of pliers to untangle and remove the bad pull cord from the starter assembly. Also, remove the pull cord from the pull handle as well.

Step 3. Insert the new pull cord in the hole in the recoil starter pulley and tie a knot to secure the pull cord in place.

Step 4. Wind up new the pull cord in the same direction as the old cord so that when the cord is fully wound onto the pulley it points towards the hole in the recoil starter housing.

Step 5. Pass the pull cord through the hole in the recoil starter housing and attach the pull handle back to the end of the starter rope before reassembling the leaf blower.

Spring or the pulley is damaged:

If your leaf blower’s pull cord is stuck in the pulled position and it is not retracting into the recoil starter housing then you won’t be able to start your leaf blower. This can be caused either because, the pulley on which the pull rope winds up on is jammed, or the spring that winds the pulley is damaged.

Fix: To fix this issue you have to replace the whole starter assembly. You can do that with the help of following steps:

Note: Remove the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug before starting the repair.

Step 1. Remove the leaf blower housing using the method explained in the previous section.

Step 2. Unwind the pulley to remove tension from the spring so that the spring doesn’t shoot outwards when the damaged recoil starter assembly is removed.

Step 3. Undo the screw holding the pulley in place and carefully flip the recoil starter housing so that the recoil assembly is pointing downwards. Gently tap the recoil starter housing on the table to make the old mechanism fall out of its slot along with the spring.

Note: It is important to remove the starter assembly using this method because when the spring is removed from its place inside the housing it rapidly unwinds and might cut or damage your hands.

Step 4. Place the new recoil starter assembly inside the housing, making sure that the spring fits into its designated slot. Tighten the screw-up and wind up the pulley a few times and release it to make sure the spring is winding and unwinding properly.

Note: Make sure the new recoil starter assembly has the cord properly attached to the pulley before winding it onto the pull cord and putting it through the hole in the starter assembly housing.

Step 5. Secure the starter assembly housing back onto the leaf blower and give the pull cord a few pulls to make sure everything is working as it should.

2. Bad sparkplug

Your leaf blower’s engine requires adequate spark inside the cylinder to start up. But if your leaf blower’s sparkplug gets damaged or gets too dirty, it won’t be able to produce any spark and your leaf blower won’t start. Checking the sparkplug of your leaf blower is an important part of regular maintenance.  Sparkplugs require regular maintenance and replacement to perform properly. If you haven’t replaced your leaf blower’s sparkplug for a long time and now it is not starting up, then chances are, it is due to the worn or damaged sparkplug. Luckily, replacing a sparkplug is extremely simple and you can buy a new sparkplug for your leaf blower from almost any small engine parts store.

Fix: In order to remove the sparkplug of your leaf blower, you will require a sparkplug socket. Sparkplug sockets have a rubber that protects the body of the sparkplug when removing it. Make sure you have the correct sized sparkplug socket according to your leaf blower’s sparkplug before starting the repair:

Step 1. You might have to remove the engine cover of your leaf blower before removing the sparkplug, but in most leaf blowers, the sparkplug can be removed without taking the engine cover off.

Step 2. Remove the sparkplug boot from the sparkplug by either pulling it backwards or by twisting it gently.

Step 3. Use the socket wrench to loosen up the sparkplug by turning the sparkplug in the anti-clockwise direction. If the insulation around the centre electrode has collected carbon or the tip of the electrodes seems damaged, you will have to replace the sparkplug. Now, in order to make sure that you replace the sparkplug with the correct type of sparkplug, take the damaged sparkplug to the small engine store and get the correct replacement sparkplug. Make sure to carefully cover the sparkplug hole so that debris or moisture doesn’t get into the sparkplug hole.

Note: If you don’t have a gap tool to set the gap between the electrodes of the new sparkplug, ask the mechanic at the small engine store to set the correct gap for you.

Step 4. Place the new sparkplug inside the sparkplug hole and turn it clockwise using your fingers until the sparkplug has threaded onto the hole. Then use the sparkplug socket to secure the sparkplug in place.

Step 5. Reconnect the sparkplug boot onto the sparkplug and turn on the leaf blower to make sure it runs properly.

3. Clogged or damaged carburettor

The carburettor is the heart of your leaf blower as it pumps gas and air into the engine, which in turn causes the leaf blower to start and run. But if the carburettor is clogged due to debris, or any of the internal components of the carburettor have gotten damaged, your leaf blower will refuse to start. While leaf blower carburettors don’t get damaged quite often, they do get clogged up if the fuel is left inside the carburettor for a long time and it is not used.  The fuel will evaporate leaving behind deposits that clog up the carburettor. Sometimes your leaf blower might start working by simply adjusting the air-fuel mixture using the adjustment screws but if that doesn’t fix the problem you might have to replace the carburettor. Of course, you can also try to clean the carburettor, but it is best to replace the whole thing since leaf blower carburettors aren’t too expensive.

Fix: It is recommended to replace the whole thing if you see signs of visible damage to the carburettor. But if your leaf blower’s carburettor doesn’t seem cracked or dented in any way and you have the time, you can disassemble the carburettor and clean it using a carb cleaner. Either way, the first thing is to remove the carburettor before doing anything and here is how you can do it:

Step 1. In almost all leaf blower models there is an air filter on top of the carburettor so to remove the carburettor you have to remove the air filter cover. Remove the air filter itself and then undo the screws holding the plastic housing in place to take the carburettor off.

Step 2. Before removing the fuel lines connected to the carburettor, take a picture of the fuel lines so you can remember which fuel lines connect to which inlet when reconnecting the carburettor.

Step 3. Remove the fuel lines from the carburettor and now you have two options. You can either disassemble the carburettor and clean it up with the carb cleaner to clear up any blockages. Or the other thing you can do is buy a similar brand new carburettor and connect it to the leaf blower

Note: When installing the new carburettor make sure to adjust the air-fuel mixture using the adjustment screws and connect the fuel lines in the same way as they were connected when you took the carburettor off.

Step 4. Install the air filter and the filter cover back on the leaf blower.

4. Old/expired fuel

One of the more common things that can cause a leaf blower to not start is bad fuel. People usually leave fuel in their leaf blower’s fuel tank when storing the leaf blower for winter and the fuel goes bad inside the fuel tank. And when they try to start the leaf blower with expired fuel in the system, the leaf blower either doesn’t start at all or dies down after running for a few seconds. Luckily, fuel tanks of leaf blowers are easy to drain and you can do it by yourself. You can drain the bad fuel and clean out any residue left behind by evaporated fuel, and after putting fresh fuel in the fuel tank, the leaf blower should start without any problem.

Fix: You can follow these steps to get rid of expired gas from your leaf blower:

Step 1. Remove the sparkplug wire from the sparkplug and then locate the main fuel line that is coming out of the fuel tank of your leaf blower. Remove the lid of the fuel tank to release any pressure.

Step 2. Take a bucket or a bowl and remove the main fuel line from the carburettor. You might have to remove a small clamp that secures the fuel line onto the carburettor to remove it. Make sure to point the fuel line towards the bucket so you don’t spill any of the bad fuel coming out of the fuel tank.

Step 3. Tilt the leaf blower to drain all the fuel out and use a flashlight to look inside the fuel tank making sure there is no fuel left inside the fuel tank.

Step 4. You also need to drain expired fuel from the carburettor and to do that, remove the air filter and locate the screw on the bottom of the carburettor. By loosening this screw, the fuel will start draining from the carburettor.  Make sure you have the bucket ready to catch all the bad fuel.

Step 5. After the fuel stops draining from the fuel tank and the carburettor, simply reconnect the main fuel line to the carburettor and tighten up the screw at the bottom of the leaf blower before reconnecting the air filter.

Step 6. Fill the fuel tank of your leaf blower with clean, properly mixed fuel and your leaf blower should fire up.

5. Clogged or damaged fuel filter

The fuel filter is mostly located on the inside of a leaf blower’s fuel tank and its job is to filter out debris and other particles present in fuel before sending it to the carburettor. It is not uncommon for the fuel filter to get clogged or stop working properly due to dirty fuel. In fact, replacing the fuel filter at regular intervals is a part of the regular maintenance of a leaf blower. A clogged fuel filter will stop letting fuel through it resulting in your leaf blower failing to start.

Fix: luckily, fuel filters in leaf blowers are easy to replace and you can replace or clean a clogged fuel filter with the help of following steps:

Step 1. First of all, you have to remove the main fuel line going from the fuel tank to the carburettor and carefully empty the fuel tank. Make sure to collect all the fuel in a clean container and put it somewhere safe, away from any sources of fire.

Note: For some leaf blower models, you might have to remove the fuel filter in order to access the fuel line.

Step 2. With all the fuel drained out from the fuel tank, look inside the fuel tank to find the fuel filter. You can use a flashlight to locate the fuel filter. The fuel filter is connected to the main fuel line that you just removed from the carburettor, so gently moving the fuel line can also help you find the fuel filter.

Step 3. Use pliers to remove the clogged fuel filter from the fuel tank and either clean it up using gas and a soft toothbrush or attach a new fuel filter to the fuel line and insert it back into the fuel tank.

Step 4. Connect the main fuel line back with the carburettor and secure it in place, then reinstall the air filter if you had removed it.

6. Clogged or damaged air filter

Gas leaf blowers have a combustion engine that requires both fuel and air to run. You can’t expect a leaf blower to run on unclean air. That is where the air filter of your leaf blower comes in and filters the air before supplying it to the carburettor and the engine. If a leaf blower is constantly used in dusty conditions, the air filter of the leaf blower can get clogged with debris or dirt. Similarly, leaf blower air filters can develop cracks that get filled with debris resulting in little to no air getting to the carburettor. And as we mentioned earlier, a leaf blower engine cannot start without clean air.

Fix: Regularly checking and replacing the air filter of a leaf blower is part of regular maintenance and should be done after regular intervals. But if you haven’t replaced the air filter of your leaf blower in a while here is how you can do it:

Step 1. Leaf blower air filter housing usually has plastic screws that can be removed by turning the screw anti-clockwise. Carefully remove the air filter cover and put it on the side.

Step 2. You will find the air filter under the air filter cover and it can be removed easily by pulling it out.

Step 3. Place the new air filter in the air filter housing and then place the air filter cover back in its place.

Step 4. Tighten the plastic screws of the air filter cover to secure the cover in place

As we mentioned above, the air filter cover has plastic screws to hold it in place and these plastic screws can break if you apply too much force when tightening them. Not to mention that it can be nearly impossible to find a replacement air filter cover screw. So make sure to avoid over tightening these air filter cover screws when replacing the air filter of your leaf blower.

7. Clogged spark arrestor

Spark arrestor is a small screen located at the end of your gas leaf blower’s exhaust, and its job is to prevent sparks from exiting the engine. Spark arrestor stops hot particles from coming out of the exhaust and causing a fire or burning the user’s skin. But if the spark arrestor collects too much debris, it can get clogged and prevent exhaust smoke from exiting the leaf blower’s muffler. This can result in the leaf blower failing to start since there is nowhere for the exhaust smoke to go.

Fix: It is important to clean the spark arrestor screen often to prevent it from getting clogged. And you can unclog your leaf blower’s spark arrestor by following the steps explained below:

Step 1. To remove and clean the spark arrestor, you have to access the muffler of your leaf blower. And in some leaf blowers, the muffler is hidden under a cover while most leaf blowers have an open muffler. So if you have a leaf blower that comes with a muffler cover, remove the screws holding the muffler cover in place in order to access the muffler.

Step 2. Carefully remove the spark arrestor from the muffler and clean it using a brush until you can see through the spark arrestor screen.

Step 3. Once cleaned, reinstall the spark arrestor back onto the muffler of your leaf blower and place the muffler cover back on the leaf blower.

Some leaf blowers have spark arrestors that are threaded onto the muffler tip and you can remove them by turning them anti-clockwise. With these types of spark arrestors, you might have to use a small wrench to loosen and remove the spark arrestor from the muffler tip.

Other issues that can cause a leaf blower to not start

Just like gas leaf blowers require gas to run, battery-powered leaf blowers require a healthy battery to start and run and if the battery of a cordless leaf blower becomes weak it can fail to turn the leaf blower on. One additional component to check if your gas leaf blower doesn’t start is the fuel lines that supply fuel to the carburettor. If the fuel lines have become clogged, the supply of fuel to the engine will stop and the engine will not start. Lastly, if you have a corded leaf blower and it is not starting up, it is an indicator that there is an issue with the wall socket or the power cord itself.

Conclusion

A leaf blower is a simple machine that makes it easy for the owners to repair them at home. If a leaf blower fails to turn on, you can go through the above-mentioned reasons and test each one to pinpoint the exact cause that is causing the problem. Almost all of the fixes we have provided in this article are cheap and easy to do and you don’t require any special tools to do them either. One thing to be mindful of is to make sure the replacement parts you are installing in your leaf blower to fix the issue are the same as the ones you removed from the leaf blower. Because not only will installing the wrong part on your leaf blower cause the part not to fit, it can also waste a lot of valuable time and money. So always take the old part with you when buying the new one to make sure that you buy the identical replacement parts to fix your leaf blower.