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How to start a leaf blower

How to start a leaf blower
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve recently purchased one of these handy gardening appliances, or switched from an electric to a gas-powered model, you may well be wondering how to start a leaf blower.

We’ll take you through what you need to do, whether you have an electric corded, electric cordless, or gas-powered leaf blower. From getting familiar with how your new leaf blower operates, to ensuring you don’t flood your engine when you’re starting it up, we’ve got the expert hints and tips you’ll need when it comes to using your leaf blower safely and correctly. 

Plus, we’ve spoken to a gardening expert for their advice on what to do if your leaf blower won’t start. So the next time your leaf blower struggles to roar into action, you’ll know what is likely to be causing the problem and how to fix it. 

Leaf blowers are the ultimate gardening tool. Not only can they tidy up your backyard quickly and effortlessly, but they can also come in handy for drying your car, and even clearing snow from around your property.

If you’re considering buying a leaf blower for your backyard, or you’re in the market for an upgrade, our buyer’s guide to the best leaf blowers has the latest models to take a look at. From electric to gas, lightweight to heavy-duty, you’re sure to find the right model to suit you. 

How to start a leaf blower

What the expert says...

Jenkins says: “The number one reason a leaf blower won’t start up again is due to old fuel in the tank. Many people leave their leaf blowers for months on end without using them. When they come to use them again, they find that debris has built up in the fuel tank or that the fuel has deteriorated. Always make sure you empty the tank if you know you won’t use your leaf blower for a month or more.”

Before you get started, read your user manual. This may seem like a needless step if you’ve used a similar model before, but fuel ratios and operation can change from model to model. Make sure you’re familiar with every part of your leaf blower before you start it up.  

Whatever type of leaf blower you’re using - electric corded, cordless, or gas - make sure you’re plugged in correctly, have plenty of charge in the battery, or plenty of fuel in the tank. If you’re filling up with fuel, add the recommended amount of fuel and ensure the cap is secure. 

Gas-powered leaf blowers come with one of two types of engines:

• 2-cycle engine (2-stroke)

• 4-cycle engine (4-stroke)

Although they start the same way, the fuel they use is different. A 2-cycle engine requires a mix of gas and oil, while a 4-cycle engine requires gas in the fuel tank and oil in the crankcase. Whichever you’re using, make sure you correctly measure the amounts and always double-check your ratio of oil to gas in the user manual.

For gas-powered leaf blowers:

Step 1

If your leaf blower has an ‘on’ switch, make sure you’ve switched it to ‘on’.

Step 2

Partially open the choke by pulling the cord a few times before you hear the engine start up.

Step 3

Press the primer bulb a handful of times to prime the engine - some models will require three or four pulls while others will need at least five or six.

Step 4

Place the leaf blower on the ground so that it’s secure. Ensure you have a firm footing and press down on the unit with one hand.

Step 5

Pull on the starter cord with your other hand carefully, returning the cord slowly to its starting position so that it doesn’t become tangled. Don’t pull it all the way out or it might break.

Step 6

Once you feel the starter cord engage, give it a brisk, strong pull. Let the engine run for a short period - around 30 seconds. For models with a semi-automatic choke, you don’t need to make any adjustments. However, if you have a manual choke, put the choke into the ‘run’ point. Start tidying up those fallen leaves.

Best leaf blowers

(Image credit: Bosch)

For electric corded leaf blowers:

Step 1

Make sure your cord is long enough for the area you intend to cover and that the cord and plug are in good working order. If you need to use an extension cord, make sure it is weatherproof and polarized, to reduce the risk of shocks.

Step 2

Ensure you fully seat the cord on the plug, and ensure you check this regularly during operation. Don’t run the extension cord through puddles or wet grass. Don’t run the extension cord through puddles or wet grass. Use the cord lock device if your leaf blower has one. Attach the cord to your appliance and turn on your leaf blower to get to work.

For electric cordless leaf blowers:

These operate in the same way as an electric corded leaf blower, except they are powered by a battery. Ensure your battery is fully charged and secured in the appliance before turning on the leaf blower by pressing the ‘Start’ or ‘On’ button. 

Once you have your leaf blower started up, get familiar with the settings, power, and airflow before you use it to tidy up fallen leaves. Too much power can make a bigger mess than what you started with. 

What to do if your leaf blower doesn’t start

We spoke to MyJobQuote (opens in new tab) gardening expert Fiona Jenkins, for her tips on why your leaf blower may not be starting up, and what you can do about it. 

• The primer bulb isn’t pressed enough: Fully press and release the primer bulb around 10 times. This will help to get fuel into the carburetor. 

• Leaf blower has run out of fuel: You must make sure the tank has the right amount of properly mixed fuel before starting. 

• Old or improperly mixed fuel: If the fuel has been sitting in the tank for over 30 days or if you think it might not be mixed right, drain the tank and add some fresh fuel.

• Dirty air filter: A blocked or dirty air filter can cause problems with starting up, so be sure to check it and clean it if needed.

 Flooded engine: If the engine is flooded, squeeze and hold the throttle. Pull on the starter rope in a steady and controlled motion until the leaf blower starts. 

 Spark plug problems: Remove and inspect the spark plug. If it’s corroded, blackened, or damaged, replace it. Spark plugs usually need replacing after about 100 hours of usage.

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Joanne Lewsley
Customer Advisor, Vacuums, Cleaning and Air Quality

Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands and websites, including BabyCentre UK and Medical News Today. 


You can read more of Joanne's work and get in touch via her website: https://www.joannelewsley.co.uk/

With contributions from