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1 October 2020

Common problems with leaf blower vacs

Our expert guide on how to avoid common leaf blower problems.
Adelaide Gray

Whether it's a blockage in the nozzle or a broken tube, issues with your leaf blower can be frustrating. 

We've looked at some common leaf blower problems and suggested ways to avoid them, to help save you time and money on repairs.  

Are you constantly fixing your leaf blower? It might be time for a new onehead straight to our best leaf blower and vacuums.  

Leaf blower won't turn on

There's a number of reasons why your leaf blower might be failing to start up, and it typically depends on what fuel your models uses – petrol, electricity or battery.

Old fuel left in your petrol leaf blower

If you’ve had your leaf blower in storage over the summer, old fuel could well be the problem.

Fuel does not age well, and can start to deteriorate within just 30 days. If it’s too stale, it won’t allow the machine to start properly. When this happens, all you need to do is to remove the old fuel and refill with a fresh batch.

Old fuel can also become thick and gooey and lead to a blockage in the carburettor. Fixing this could be as simple as cleaning the carburettor if the problem isn’t serious, or if it’s worse than expected you may need to rebuild or replace it.  

The fuel filter might also be blocked by stale, gunky fuel – in this scenario the filter will need replacing.

How to avoid: Remove old fuel before planning to store your blower over a long period of time.

Problems with your spark plug

Spark plugs can easily become damaged or worn. When this happens, it’s likely that the leaf blower won’t start up and you’ll need to replace it.

Sometimes the plug can just be a little dirty or have disconnected. Give it a clean and clip it back on and you should be good to go.

How to avoid: If you use your leaf blower a lot, try to replace the spark plug at the start of each season.

Blocked air filter

Air must be able to move in and out of the engine for the blower to start – this is normally done through an air filter.

If the air filter becomes clogged with dust and dirt it will stop the air flowing, therefore preventing the blower from turning on.

How to avoid: Clean the filter after around 10 hours of use and then replace it when it becomes too dirty to clean.

Other issues include:

  • blocked spark arrestor
  • broken recoil starter.

Broken power cord

If your electric leaf blower isn't starting up, check that the cord and the plug are in working order. If that’s all fine, it might be the electric motor. Get this looked at by a professional.

Problems with the cordless battery

If a cordless leaf blower won’t turn on, make sure it’s fully charged. If it is, then you might need to replace and recharge the battery. Other reasons include:

  • blocked motor
  • broken fan
  • faulty power supply.

Leaf blower vacuum blocked

Leaf blower vacs have a fan that sucks up and shreds leaves. However, the fan can easily be blocked with twigs and clods of wet leaves.

How to avoid: Try to pick up leaves on dry days when they will be collected and shredded more easily. If there's lots of other debris such as earth mixed in, it might be quicker in the long run to pick this up by hand.

Discover the best and worst leaf blower brands, according to our field tests and surveys of owners.

Bag attachment broken

Many leaf blower vacuums have either a twist attachment or clips to keep the collection bag in place. In a Which? member survey, around one in six respondents reported having issues with a broken bag attachment.

How to avoid: Empty the bag regularly – a heavy bag will put more pressure on the attachment. Try to keep the bag clean, as it can get clogged with dust and soil. It's also best to collect leaves on a dry day, as wet leaves makes the bag very heavy.

Collection bag torn

Most collection bags are made of fabric and can get very wet after picking up leaves filled with moisture. If they're not dried out properly before being stored away, they often rot. 

How to avoid: Try not to over-fill the bag – it will help it to last longer. After you've finished using it, give the bag a rinse out and then hang it up to dry before it goes back in the shed.

Leaf blower tube cracked

Stones and other hard debris can sometimes ricochet against the tube if they accidentally get sucked up, cracking the plastic. The tube can also become brittle over time, making it less study, especially if it's stored in a cold shed.

How to avoid: Be careful to pick up only leaves with your leaf blower vacuum. If in doubt, blow your garden rubbish into a pile and then pick it up by hand. 

You should also only store your tools in a frost-free environment.

Leaf blower fan failed

The fan in your leaf blower not only sucks up the leaves, it also shreds them. A few members in our survey told us the fan broke when stones were picked up, or was damaged when being unblocked.

How to avoid: Avoid sucking up stones, twigs, wet leaves and other debris that will clog the fan. Also, take your time to pick up leaves and let the vac shred gradually to save time spent clearing the fan.

If you need to buy a new model, discover the best one to buy in our leaf blower and leaf blower vac reviews.

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