How to Troubleshoot a Weed Trimmer That Will Not Start

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Troubleshoot your malfunctioning Weed Eater garden appliance.
Image Credit: DonNichols/iStock/GettyImages

Weed trimmers make it easy to keep your landscaping looking great. While convenient, this lawn care tool can sometimes fail to start, forcing you to troubleshoot the tool. Electrical or fuel problems rank among the most common reasons why a string trimmer doesn't start. Troubleshooting the tool corrects these problems and ensures ideal conditions for using the appliance. If you can't figure out the problem on your own, you might need a technician to diagnose and fix the problem.

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Electric Weed Trimmer Appliances

Step 1: Check the Plug

Follow the power cord to the electrical outlet. Make sure all three prongs are fully inserted and the outlet is switched on, if possible. Disconnect any extension cords that haven't been approved for use with your string trimmer type; they might not be rated high enough for the electrical demand.

Step 2: Test the Outlet

Test the outlet with a lamp. Check your circuit breakers or fuses if the bulb doesn't light. An electrical fault or power surge could have tripped the breaker or blown the fuse regulating the weed trimmer's circuit. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse and try the appliance again.

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Step 3: Review the Starting Procedure

Ensure you're following the correct starting procedure. Some models might require you to hold down the safety switch before you press the "Start" button. The safety button or lever prevents kids from starting the appliance. Check your instruction manual for the exact starting instructions.

Step 4: Empty the Collection Basket

Empty the grass collection basket, if necessary, and check to make sure nothing is blocking the blades. Always unplug your string trimmer before examining the blades or trimmer head. Brush away any sticks or compacted grass gathered around the blades and try the appliance again.

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Gasoline Weed Trimmer Appliances

Step 1: Check the Fuel

Top off the fuel tank if it's running low. The motor could be struggling to start despite a small amount of gasoline remaining in the tank. Empty out the gasoline in the tank if it's more than a few months old; water or dirt could be contaminating the fuel after a long period in storage. Make sure you use the right gas-to-oil ratio for the weed trimmer.

Step 2: Change the Spark Plug

Change the spark plug; the engine won't fire if the spark plug isn't working. The exact location of the spark plug varies by appliance, but it's usually located on the side of the motor. Unscrew the spark plug and take it your local hardware store for reference. Screw the new plug into the slot, reconnect the rubber boot and try again.

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Step 3: Replace the Fuel Filter

Check the fuel filter to see if it's clogged with dirt. The fuel filter is usually located inside the fuel tank or fuel line. A dirty fuel filter prevents the engine starting or idling correctly. Replace it if necessary.

Step 4: Review the Starting Procedure

Ensure you're following the correct starting procedure. Prime the engine and move the choke lever to the full choke position, if you're starting it cold. Hold the throttle trigger and pull the starter cord. Start a flooded or warm engine by moving the choke to the run position before pulling the cord.

Step 5: Empty the Collection Basket

Empty the grass collection basket, if necessary, and make sure that nothing is blocking the blades. Brush away any sticks or compacted grass gathered around the blades and try the appliance again.

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Jon Stefansson

Jon Stefansson has been a professional writer since 2009. He is currently freelancing as an advertising and web copy writer for several Canadian and American clients. Stefansson graduated from Staffordshire University, England, with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. He has freelanced for several British radio stations as a news reader and sports producer.