Your Leaf Blower Won’t Start : What’s Wrong? How do You Fix It?

Leaf blower won't start.
What do you do if your leaf blower won’t start? (Above : TORO 51988)

What do you do if your Leaf Blower won’t start? Why won’t it start? What’s the problem? Can you fix it or do you need to take it to a repair center. We expect our tools to work and when they don’t, if the beginning of a long day.

A leaf blower that fails to start can be infuriating and a frustration, to say the least. This article should help ease of all of that. I’m going to take you through all the steps in diagnosing and resolving staring issues for leaf blowers.


Leaf Blower Won’t Start : Now What?

If your leaf blower won’t start, you need to take a step back and gather your thoughts. Continuously pulling on a recoil starter, when the engine is obviously not firing up, is going to make the situation worse. You’ll most likely end flood the engine.

Before you follow the checklist of what to do when a leaf blower won’t start, let the machine rest for a while. Calmly go through all the starting procedures. Is the ignition switch in the on position? Is the fuel valve open? Have you primed the fuel line? Is the choke on (in cold weather)? Is their gas in the tank and has it been correctly mixed with 2-stroke oil? If you’re using a 4-stroke leaf blower, then you don’t need to use 2-stroke oil. Often, we have missed a simple step in starting the leaf blower. We end up panicking, thinking there’s a problem with the machine. It helps to check the basics before looking for more complicated problems.

VIDEO | Your Leaf Blower Won’t Start…

If you’ve answered yes to all the above questions, tug on the recoil starter 2 -3 times. You may be lucky and the failure to start might have been a small oversight in the normal procedure. If not, don’t be alarmed, we’ll now go through all the steps you’ll need to take. This should help you get your leaf blower started.

There are three basic requirements for any gas engine to start and run properly. These are fuel, air, and spark. So, it’s best to check through these basics engine functions methodically. In most cases, a failure in one of these aspects, are the cause for a non-starting engine.


Stale fuel is the most common reason why a leaf blower won’t start. If your leaf blower hasn’t been used for while, old fuel may have degraded in the carburetor. It will leave a sticky residue which prevents the engine from starting. You’ll need to drain all the fuel from the system. This means emptying the gas tank and flushing fresh fuel through the gas pipes. Once you have uncontaminated gas in the tank, clean the carburetor. Using carb cleaner from a can is the easiest way to do this. Follow the instructions on the can and remember that it may take a while for the engine to fire up immediately after using this type of carburetor cleaner.

Other faults relating to fuel supply can be a blockage in the fuel lines or the carburetor. Replacing or cleaning the fuel pipes would be the best course of action, and cleaning the carburetor, as described above. If your leaf blower has 2-stroke engine, make sure that you always mix the fuel and oil at the correct ratio. An incorrect fuel to oil ratio may prevent the engine from starting properly and could also cause long term damage.


Fuel and air are mixed in the carburetor in order for it to ignite. Air flow to the carburetor is, therefore, as important as fuel. Insufficient air supply to an engine is usually caused by a clogged air filter.

Leaves and other debris are constantly being sucked into the air filter, which removes this debris to prevent harm to your engine. Cleaning your air filter regularly with warm soapy water is highly recommended. Once a month is a good idea. As a quick fix, you can try using a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt from the air filter. When removing and refitting the air filter, check for obstructions in the air inlet pipe. Leaves, and larger debris could be obstructing the air flow to the filter.


Ignition of the fuel and air mixture requires a spark. The ignition system on your leaf blower consists of a spark plug, ignition coil and spark plug (HT) wire. All of these components need to be checked and any problems rectified.

Start by removing the wire from your spark plug. Check that the wire and boot are in good condition, cracks in the insulation are an indication that it needs replacing. Blow into the boot, as dirt can cause the electric current to be broken and not reach the spark plug.

Now remove and visually inspect the spark plug. Any signs of damage mean that the spark plug needs to be replaced. A common cause of spark plug failure is a crack in the ceramic insulation, so check carefully for this and replace the spark plug if necessary.

If the spark plug is black and sooty, carbon on the electrodes may cause a weak spark, or no spark at all. You can clean the black carbon residue from the electrodes using a small piece of sandpaper.

If the spark plug is wet, the engine has been flooded. This means that excessive fuel has entered the combustion chamber without any ignition occurring. In other words, unburnt fuel is preventing the leaf blower from starting. If you notice flooding, tilt the engine so that the fuel in the chamber can drain out of the spark plug opening. Allow the spark plug to dry before refitting it.

If a visual inspection reveals no obvious reason why there is no spark, you’ll need to test the spark plug. I recommend using a spark plug tester. This is much safer than placing the spark plug against the engine head and pulling on the recoil starter, which can result in a nasty shock if you happen to touch the engine whilst doing this.

A faulty, or damaged spark plug will need to be replaced. When installing a new spark plug, ensure that the electrode gap is correct according the manufacturer specifications. Also make sure that you tighten the spark plug with correct amount of torque.

You should also check the wiring from the ignition “on/off” switch and that the switch makes contact when in the on position. If, after checking all the items listed above, you still have no spark, you may have to replace the ignition coil. You should contact the service agent to ensure that you install the correct coil; or have them replace it for you.


Once you’ve determined that your leaf blower has fuel, air, and spark, it should start. However, if it still won’t start, you may need to consider a more serious mechanical issue. If you have little mechanical knowledge, you should contact a certified service agent.

Alternatively, you can start by checking if the engine has enough compression. If you don’t feel much resistance when you pull the recoil starter, this is probably because of low compression in the engine. You may also feel air blowing from the engine, or air being sucked in around the engine. If the engine is working properly, air should only be drawn into the intake manifold via the air filter housing. Air should only leave the engine through the exhaust manifold which leads to the muffler. Any other leaks could be an indication of bad compression.

A common cause of poor compression is an incorrectly fitted spark plug. If the spark plug is not properly tightened, air will enter the combustion chamber through the spark plug opening. Check that the spark plug is correctly tightened. Whilst doing this, be cautious not to over-tighten the spark plug as this can cause damage to spark plug or the thread in the engine head.

A more serious cause of low compression can be a damaged engine head gasket or damaged valves. Repairs of this nature need a high level of mechanical skill. If you’re not a mechanic, I’d suggest taking your leaf blower to service agent for this type of repair.


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