As autumn brings a chill to the air, you can depend on the deciduous trees in your yard to begin to drop their leaves (hey, that’s why it’s called “Fall”!). While the raining leaves can look quite beautiful as you gaze out the window while sipping cider and nibbling on a doughnut, you know you’ll eventually have to clear those leaves off your lawn and driveway. A leaf blower can make light work of this, but if the blower has been stored in your shed for the past ten months, you may be disappointed to find it won’t start as expected.
Why won’t the leaf blower engine start?
While some homeowners rely on electrically-powered leaf blowers for fall clean-up, many prefer their equipment to be powered by a two-cycle gasoline engine for faster and more efficient yard maintenance. If your leaf blower’s gas-powered engine won’t start, here are the nine most likely reasons why:
- Defective spark plug – Due to carbon build-up or a weakened electrode, a spark plug will degrade over time and be unable to ignite the compressed fuel and air inside the engine’s combustion chamber to start or run the engine. You can use an ignition tester to help determine the strength of the spark plug, but it’s probably easier to simply replace it with a new one, something we recommend doing annually.
- Restricted carburetor – Old or bad fuel can leave a gummy residue inside the carburetor creating a restriction. This will prevent the proper ratio of fuel and air from entering the cylinder which can cause the engine to have trouble starting. You should always make sure you keep fresh fuel in the tank and use a fuel stabilizer to help preserve its quality. You can try cleaning the carburetor ports with a dedicated carburetor cleaner, or WD-40, to clear out the restriction, but if the clog is particularly bad, you may need to purchase a new carburetor.
- Clogged fuel filter – That gummy residue that can clog a carburetor can do the same to the fuel filter. Simply replace the filter with a new one to solve the problem. Again, this is something that is recommended anyway as part of the engine’s annual maintenance.
- Broken rewind spring – If the starter’s rewind spring is broken, the rope won’t be able to recoil onto the pulley, making it impossible to rotate the flywheel to induce the electricity needed for the spark plug to ignite the fuel to run the engine. While many rewind springs can be replaced individually, it may be easier to replace the entire recoil starter assembly.
- Malfunctioning recoil starter – The recoil starter itself may be malfunctioning and unable to engage with the blower engine crankshaft. If this is the case, you should replace the entire recoil assembly.
- Clogged spark arrestor – The spark arrestor is a thin metal mesh designed to prevent sparks emitted by the engine from exiting the muffler and potentially starting a fire. Over time the arrestor can become clogged with debris and affect engine performance. You can try cleaning the arrestor with a wire brush or replace the part with a new one.
- Dirty air filter – By restricting the air coming into the carburetor, a dirty air filter can prevent the engine from starting as well. Yet another part that should always be replaced annually or whenever it is visibly soiled.
- Defective ignition coil – Since the ignition coil is designed to send voltage to the spark plug while the engine is running, the spark plug will not be able to ignite the fuel to keep the engine running if the ignition coil is defective. As with the spark plug, you can use an ignition tester to help determine if the coil has failed and requires replacement.
- Broken flywheel key – The flywheel key is a small metal piece which fits into a slot in the crankshaft and engages with the flywheel. It is designed to break if something obstructs the blower fan blade or flywheel to prevent damage to the engine. Over time, the key may become worn and break on its own. In either case, the key will need to be replaced with a new one in order for the crankshaft to rotate the flywheel to start and run the engine.
Other possible leaf blower problems
In addition to the engine parts that can fail, there are other parts as well that can interfere with proper leaf blower operation:
- Faulty on/off switch – Many leaf blower models will have an on/off switch that will need to be set to the “on” position before the engine can be started. If the switch is faulty, it may prevent the engine from starting.
- Broken throttle cable – If your leaf blower uses a throttle trigger to accelerate the engine, but the trigger appears to have no effect, it’s likely the throttle cable has broken. The throttle cable, as well as other trigger handle components, can be replaced individually to solve the problem.
- Damaged blower fan blade – If you notice the strength of the air flow coming out of the blower tube is reduced, the blower housing may be clogged with debris or the blower fan blade may be damaged. New fan blades are available for purchase for practically all leaf blower models and are relatively inexpensive.
Find the right leaf blower parts with Repair Clinic
Repair Clinic stocks all the parts you need to maintain or repair your leaf blower’s engine to ensure it will start every time you need it to. For a complete list of parts that match your leaf blower, enter the equipment’s full model number in the Repair Clinic website search bar. You can then use the part category and part title filters to narrow the results down to identify the specific part you need, whether it’s a spark plug, carburetor, rewind spring, ignition coil, blower fan blade, blower tube, or throttle cable. Repair Clinic carries leaf blower parts for all the top brands, including Craftsman, Echo, Homelite, Husqvarna, Poulan Pro, Ryobi, Toro, and Troy-bilt, but you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing the exact part that matches your leaf blower model.