There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a piece of lawn equipment that won’t start. 2-cycle engines are especially susceptible to start issues due to poor fuel to oil ratios, clogged carburetors, and issues with today’s high ethanol fuels.
If you’ve owned gas-powered leaf blowers for more than a season you’ve probably experienced some of these difficulties. These problems are common in small engines in a variety of tools including: lawn mowers, snow blowers, and chainsaws.
In this article we’re going to look at the most common issues that will keep your leaf blower from firing up on the first couple tries.
We’ll be taking a look at all these problems in order. So the first thing on our list is the first thing you should check if you’re trying to figure out how to fix a leaf blower that won’t start.
Check the Spark Plug
Spark plugs can become damaged, corroded, or gummed up for a variety of reasons. Your spark plug can be damaged in several ways. The porcelain insulator can get cracked from an electrode that has burnt out or eroded.
If you see that the porcelain insulator is cracked your only remedy is to purchase a new spark plug.
Heavy carbon buildup is another common cause for spark plugs to quit functioning properly. This can often be fixed by using a file to clean the buildup off the spark plug electrode.
The fastest and easiest way to see if the spark plug is the problem is to purchase a spark plug tester. This tool comes in handy when troubleshooting a variety of gas engine lawn tools including lawn mowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers, and even chainsaws.
Clean the Carburetor
The carburetor plays a crucial role in an internal combustion engine. It creates the proper fuel to air ratio that allows the fuel to combust.
If the carburetor is not working properly, the engine will have trouble starting, will sputter after starting, or just straight up die on you.
One of the most common problems with carburetors is with the use of gas with ethanol. Most gas sold in the U.S. contains 10% ethanol. This additive causes buildup within the carburetor and will eventually require cleaning.
At this point you have two options: cleaning the carburetor or replacing it.
If you’re comfortable working with your hands you can easily do either. Just check the manufacturers website to see which parts you’ll need. Typically this will include seals, diaphragms, and a couple gaskets.
Dirty Air Filter
Air filters should always be one of the first things you check when your leaf blower won’t start. Since you’re obviously blowing around all sorts of leaves, dust, and other debris, this can quickly cause the air filter to become overloaded and not supply the engine with enough air.
Air filters are inexpensive and easy to replace.
Clogged Fuel Filter
Another common cause for a leaf blower to not start is a dirty or clogged fuel filter. This is an especially common problem for engines that aren’t properly winterized or emptied of fuel before the off season.
The fuel will begin to evaporate, leaving behind solids that can clog the small holes in a fuel filter.
Replacing the fuel filter is the easiest way to remedy this problem. It’s also smart to remove ALL fuel before storing your leaf blower for the winter.
Clogged Spark Arrestor
The spark arrestor prevents the engine from emitting sparks. It’s a small screen that can become clogged with soot or other debris.
If the clog becomes bad enough it will restrict airflow from the engine and will cause it to die shortly after starting.
Luckily this is an easy problem to fix. You can either replace the screen or clean the existing one. Cleaning can be handled by soaking it in gasoline or a strong household solvent.
Check your user manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. Typically the spark arrestor is very easy to access.
Faulty Ignition Coil
A faulty or broken ignition coil is another, though less common, problem that will cause a leaf blower engine to not start.
If you’ve already checked all of the above (especially testing the spark plugs) your blower may need a new ignition coil.
Check with the manufacturer to see if you can order this part or take it to your local small engine repair facility.
The ignition coil sends voltage to the spark plug when the engine is running properly.
Worn Out Rewind Spring
If your rewind spring is worn out or broken, you’re going to have a heck of a time starting the engine.
The rewind spring is what causes the starter pull cord to retract back into the housing after you pull it.
Most leaf blowers have individual rewind springs, which are relatively easy to replace. This process is usually detailed in the owners manual. If not you can easily check Youtube for how to do this on the most popular brands.
If none of the solutions above fix your starting issues your engine might have a more serious problem.
Unless you’re comfortable with taking apart your leaf blower, the easiest way to find out is to take it to your local small engine repair shop.