Leaf Blower Keeps Shutting Off? A Troubleshooting Guide


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There’s nothing worse than getting all prepped to go outside and do some yard work, and you go out, and the leaf blower keeps shutting off. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

To help you with your leaf blowing adventures, I thought it prudent to put together this quick and straightforward reference guide on the leaf blower troubleshooting. It covers common problems found with both electric and gas-powered tools.

And so, without further ado, I bring you leaf blower operation symptoms and fixes. No more will you need to worry about you are leaf blower malfunctioning. At least you won’t have to worry about how to troubleshoot it. Let’s dive right in.

Leaf Blower Operation Symptoms And Fixes

In this quick reference troubleshooting guide, we will look at the three basic types of leaf blowers: corded electric,  cordless electric, and gas-powered.

Electric leaf blowers will be the simplest to troubleshoot, while our gas-powered tools can be slightly more troublesome.

For convenience, I’ve broken down the troubleshooting guide into Gas-Powered and Electric leaf blowers.

The Leaf Blower Keeps Shutting Off

Symptom:

Gas-Powered:

The leaf blower starts runs for a short time and then stops.  The engine sounds normal until it stops.

Electric:

The leaf blower starts and stops shortly after starting.

Probable Causes And How To Repair:

Gas-Powered:

The following are the three most common problems found in gas-powered leaf blowers that cause the engine to stop after running a short time.

  1. The fuel filter is clogged.  When a fuel filter becomes partially clogged, it will allow a trickle of fuel to the engine. It means that the fuel existing in the lines starts the engine allowing it to run momentarily before the fuel supply decreases to the point where the engine stops. If the fuel filter is damaged or faulty, a replacement part will need installation. Sometimes the fuel filters can be maintained and cleaned, though, so check with the machine manual.
  1. Spark plugs or ignition wiring is damaged. Over time, spark plugs can become corroded and require maintenance. They can be cleaned with a wire brush but must be checked with a gap spacer to ensure the proper gap distance. A bad spark plug can shut down an engine at any time.
  1. The gas cap vent is plugged. All gas caps have to allow air into the gas tank. That way, as the gas is used, a vacuum does not form in the gas tank. If the gas cap breather plugs, the fuel system will stop allowing fuel to move to the engine due to the vacuum of pressure in the gas tank after a short time running.

To test, immediately after the engine dies, open the gas cap carefully.  If you hear a sucking noise, like air rushing into the gas tank as soon as you crack the seal on the cap, then you know the cap is faulty, and replacement is necessary.

Electric:

When an electric motor runs for a short time and then stops, only a couple of things can cause it.

  1. The motor is a brush-style motor, and there is brush damage.  Sometimes when the brushes on an electric motor wear out, it can cause the motor to run and then stop.  Usually, this means the motor needs replacement in the case of most electric leaf blowers.
  1. There is a short in the electrical system. A loose wire, terminal, or connection can cause an electric motor to stop suddenly.

To repair, start at one end of the circuit and move along the circuit, checking every connection along the way.  Always check the on/off switch.  It is a standard part of the electrical system to break down.

To test any part of the system without power attached, you can use a voltmeter set to continuity (resistance). If you undo the wires to a switch and put your leads to the contacts, switching the switch should show on the voltmeter that there are infinite amounts of resistance when off.  When on, the resistance should almost instantly drop to zero.  If it shows resistance when the switch is on, the switch is shot and needs replacement.

Tip: You can get a good voltmeter here on Amazon.

The Leaf Blower Dies When Given Gas

The next common issue with leaf blowers applies strictly to gas-powered units.

Symptom:

Gas-Powered:

The leaf blower starts fine, but when given gas, it stops or sputters to a stop.

Electric:

Not applicable to this problem.

Probable Causes And How To Repair:

Gas-Powered:

The most common causes of this annoying issue with gas leaf blowers are filters and air/gas mixture.  Let’s take a look at the probable causes and fixes.

  1. The air filter is clogged.  If an air filter is clogged, it may allow enough air through for the engine to run at idle. However, as soon as one hits the gas, the engine requires more air. If the air filter is clogged and unable to deliver the amount of are required to combust the higher gas flow fully, then the engine will sputter to a stop.
    To repair this common issue, consult your owner’s manual to see if the air filter can be cleaned and play through a maintenance service. If the filter is damaged or too clogged to attempt recovery, get a new air filter; they’re not usually costly.
  1. The fuel filter is clogged. Similar to the air filter, if the fuel filter is clogged or partially clogged, it may allow just enough gas through the system to allow the engine to run at idle. However, soon as one opens up to gas, if it can’t get more gas and gets too much air, the engine will sputter to a stop. Again remove the fuel filter and clean it if possible (consult your owner’s manual). If the fuel filter cannot be cleaned or serviced or the fuel filter is damaged or faulty, replace it.
  1. The muffler is clogged. On the other end of the air part of the fuel system, similar to the air filter allowing air in, is the muffler allowing air out. Sometimes Mufflers can be damaged or become clogged themselves. Over time, carbon can build up inside a muffler, which causes it to clog. Cleaning a muffler as part of the engine’s routine maintenance is advised. When a muffler is too old or corroded to be cleaned, it will require replacement.
  1. The carburetor is malfunctioning. Sometimes the carburetor which controls the engine’s air to the gas mixture can become Out Of Tune. Sometimes a gasket inside the carburetor requires replacing, so a carb kit and rebuild are likely needed. After testing the other components in the air in the fuel system that we previously mentioned, if none of these is the troubles’ culprit, it is likely the carburetor.
Electric:

Not applicable.

The Leaf Blower Bogs Down

Like the leaf blower dying when you give it gas, a leaf blower runs a little rough at idle. As soon as you touch the gas, it bogs down; this is very similar to the leaf blower dying, as mentioned above.

Symptom:

Gas-Powered:

The leaf blower starts runs but runs slightly rough, and as soon as you adjust the gas, the leaf blower bogs down and stops.

Electric:

Not applicable.

Probable Causes And How To Repair:

Gas-Powered:

The most common cause for this particular scenario is the spark arrestor on the leaf blower. The spark arrestor is a part of the exhaust system and can often reside at the blower’s front, where the exhaust ejects. These are Esters become built up with carbon very quickly.

To repair this issue, remove the spark arrestor on the exhaust system and clean it thoroughly with a wire brush. And ensure that after cleaning, use some compressed air before reinstallation to remove dust.

Electric:

Not applicable.

The Leaf Blower Won’t Start.

It is an incredibly annoying problem when the leaf blower won’t start at all. It can happen with both gas-powered and electric as well.

Symptom:

Gas-Powered:

When a gas-powered leaf blower doesn’t start, the pull cord is fine, feels fine, but the engine won’t turn over.

Electric:

When powered, nothing happens.

Probable Causes And How To Repair:

Gas-Powered:

Several items along the fuel or electrical systems can stop your leaf blower from starting.  Here are the most common culprits:

  1. Clogged filter(s).  If the fuel or air filters are severely clogged and not allowing the engine to breathe or receive fuel, the engine won’t start.  Check all the filters and clean them as required.
  1. A damaged ignition system. If the spark plugs, ignition wires, or ignition coil are faulty, the engine will not start. Check your spark plug(s), wires, and ignition coil for damage. If damaged, replace components as required. Spark plugs can be cleaned with a wire brush but may require re-gapping if the spark plug gap has changed (it can happen from using a wire brush too forcefully to clean build-up off the spark plug).
  1. Old gas is clogging the engine. Suppose the leaf blower sat for extended periods with gas in the system. In that case, the gas could evaporate, and the left-over gas can become thick and sticky. This sticky left-over gas can gum up the carburetor, not allowing the gas mixture’s proper air. It can prevent an engine from starting. Check the carburetor and rebuild/clean as required.
Electric:

If an electric leaf blower won’t start, there is a problem with the electrical system. Check the power supply for proper operation. One can use a circuit tester for corded units (or plug something else into the extension cord to ensure it’s providing power) and use a multi-meter to check the batteries on cordless units. Just make sure the voltmeter is set to DC setting for the batteries. Use all proper PPE and precautions when checking any electrical circuit.

The most common culprit for electric leaf blowers is a faulty battery. If the battery is still good, the next most common culprit is the on/off switch.

Need To Replace Your Leaf Blower?

If your leaf blower is merely irreparable or maybe just really old, beat up, and just not working so great anymore, then maybe it’s time to replace it.

After extensive research on leaf blowers, we’ve concluded that the Husqvarna backpack model and the Makita battery powered model are our two top picks. These two machines have extensive reviews by customers and have both received excellent ratings. After testing, both units worked well, weren’t as noisy as thought, and delivered extraordinary power and performance.

Check out the Husqvarna 360BT here on Amazon.

Check out the Makita leaf blower kit with 4 batteries here on Amazon.

Lars

I am always happy to share all my knowledge about how to keep your garden in good condition and make it special.

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