What to do if your blower won't start

Fix the problem yourself in a few steps

Inspirations / How to


Estimated reading time 5 minutes

When we think of leaf blowers, we tend to associate them with piles of fallen leaves in the corners of the garden. But a blower or blower-vacuum cleaner doesn't just pile up or collect leaves: it can save you time and tidy the garden, making the lawn healthier and the driveway safer. It can also speed up composting, reduce the volume of green waste, clear up after gardening and DIY jobs, and clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools. Last but not least, it can also collect olives, hazelnuts and so on.

In short, it is a versatile helper both in the garden and in the countryside. That’s why it can be a downright nuisance if your blower won't start. Often the cause is something that you can locate and fix on your own, but at other times you’ll need a technician’s help. In any case, you need to learn to recognise the symptoms of the problem, just like a doctor does. So, let's find out how to revive a blower that won’t start.

What to do if a petrol engine blower won’t start?

To make your petrol engine blower start first-time, follow the start-up procedure precisely. All it takes is a moment’s distraction to cause a start-up failure, for example by leaving the on/off switch turned off. So, with the engine cold, proceed as follows:

  • Lock the throttle to the idle position.

  • Fill the carburettor with fuel using the primer.

  • Set the machine’s on/off switch to the ON position.

  • Close the choke lever (or starter).

  • Place the blower on the ground in a stable position.

  • While keeping it still, pull the starter cord until the first firing sound is heard.

  • Open the choke lever.

  • Pull the cord again until the engine starts.

  • Keep the engine idling for a while before accelerating: your leaf blower is now ready for work.

Check that the fuel tank isn’t empty: if necessary, add fuel. If there is fuel but it is old and degraded, drain the tank and refill it with fresh fuel. In the case of two-stroke petrol engine blowers—such as the Oleo-Mac BV 901 and BV 163 backpack blowers and the BV 250 manual blower-vacuum cleaner—the petrol and oil in the mixture must be in the correct proportion (2% oil).

To resolve the problem of fuel degradation, you can buy alkylated fuel, which is more stable than standard mixture, or add a petrol additive.

If your petrol engine blower won’t start, or stops after a few seconds, the cause might be the spark plug failing to spark because it is too dirty, or because the electrodes are too far apart, or simply because it has reached the end of its service life. In the latter case, it should be replaced with the spare part recommended in the blower's user and maintenance manual. Otherwise, you simply need to clean it and correct the distance between the electrodes.

Did you find the spark plug wet? If so, it means that the blower engine is flooded, i.e. too much fuel has entered the combustion chamber. Dry the spark plug and follow this procedure to unflood the engine:

  • Open the choke lever.

  • Pull the starter cord several times (about 20) to clear fuel out of the combustion chamber.

  • Refit the spark plug and attach the boot cap.

  • Set the on/off switch to the ON position.

  • Start the blower as usual, keeping it accelerated (the choke lever should remain open, even if the engine is cold).

Blower still won’t start? Here's what to do:

  • Set the on/off switch to the OFF position.

  • Disassemble and clean the spark plug again.

  • Turn the blower upside down, so that the spark plug hole is facing down.

  • Pull the starter cord repeatedly: the remaining fuel should come out of the spark plug hole.

  • Dry the spark plug housing and refit it.

  • Set the on/off switch to the ON position, then restart at full throttle and with the choke lever open.

What if your blower starts but doesn’t work properly?

Does your blower start but give off smoke or fail to accelerate as it should? Does your blower not rev up or, on the contrary, does it rev up too quickly? In all these cases, the issue might be poor carburetion: this happens if the fuel-to-air ratio is off, i.e. the carburettor is running rich (delivering too much petrol) or lean (too much air).

Inadequate carburetion is caused by a number of possible problems: a dirty air filter (if extremely dirty it can prevent the engine from starting), a dirty fuel filter, impurities in the fuel or, if you make up the mixture yourself, an incorrect petrol-oil ratio. In all these cases, you can easily fix the problem by removing the filter to clean or replace it, or by draining the tank and adding new, clean fuel that is suitable for your engine type. Otherwise, the problem might require adjustment of the carburettor: to set it and check that the adjustment system of your Oleo-Mac blower is working properly, contact your nearest service centre.

One last thing about the spark plug: by observing it after cleaning it, you can find out how well your leaf blower (and any other type of gardening tool with a petrol engine) is mixing the fuel with air: we talk about this in detail in our article on chainsaws that stop after starting. This shows that taking care of gardening tools not only keeps them running efficiently and safely for a long time, but also prevents nasty surprises. We therefore advise you to read our tips on how to maintain a blower-vacuum.

The new BV 163 petrol engine blower has extra features compared with standard blowers. Using the add-on kit, you can turn it into a mistblower for spreading liquid- and powder-based synthetic or natural pesticide treatments: find out how to convert a blower into a mistblower and how to take care of the vegetable patch and garden with natural treatments.

Whether your blower is battery operated (like the Oleo-Mac BVi 60) or has a petrol engine, it is a handy workmate in the garden all year round, but especially in autumn: here you will find all the jobs to be done in October in the garden. Not sure whether a battery-powered blower will give you enough running time? Here you can find out, complete with a practical test, how much you can get done on one battery.

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