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SOLVED! 14 Reasons a Craftsman Leaf Blower Won’t Start

Leaf blowers are great items to not only keep your lawn free of leaves, but also to blow off the patio, dry off the lawn mower, and more. It doesn’t do any good when you can’t get it started.

A Craftsman leaf blower won’t start due to a wrong choke setting, plugged air filter, clogged fuel line, dirty carburetor, plugged fuel filter, plugged fuel tank vent, bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, bad recoil starter, plugged spark arrestor, or old fuel.

Keep reading for additional items that can cause your Craftsman starting problem. Follow the safety instructions found in the operator’s manual. This includes waiting for the engine to cool and removing the spark plug wire prior to performing repairs.

Craftsman leaf blower won't start

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Reasons a Craftsman Leaf Blower Won’t Start

There are routine maintenance items that can prevent a blower from starting when they aren’t replaced regularly to make sure they stay in good condition.

These maintenance items that should be replaced annually are the spark plug, air filter, and fuel filter.

Wrong Choke Setting

First, check for airflow issues. The choke is used to restrict airflow. The choke lever must be placed in the start position to start a cold engine.

This engages the choke and reduces the amount of air passing through the carburetor throat. The engine receives a higher concentration of gas and less air required for a cold engine to start.

Once the engine warms, the choke lever must be adjusted to the run position so the choke is no longer engaged. This is so the warm engine receives a sufficient amount of air to keep running.

Starting a Craftsman Leaf Blower:

Depress the purge bulb until you see fuel begin to fill the bulb. Move the choke lever to the start (closed) position. Pull the starter handle a few times until the engine sounds like it’s about to start and run.

Move the choke lever 1/2 way between the start (closed) position and the run choke (open) position. Pull the starter handle until the engine starts and runs. Once the engine is warm, move the lever to the run (open) position.

If you fail to close the choke to start a cold leaf blower and open it when it’s warm, the blower will not start or stay running.

Clogged Air Filter

The air filter is an essential part designed to protect the engine from wear. The air filter keeps dirt from passing through the filter.

When the filter isn’t cleaned or replaced regularly, it can become so plugged with dirt that the engine isn’t able to get sufficient air. A lack of air will keep your blower from starting.

To ensure the filter remains in good condition, I recommend replacing the air filter once a year. Check the filter and clean it regularly throughout the year.

Replace an air filter when it is extremely dirty or damaged.

  • Clean a Craftsman blower primary foam air filter:
    • Remove the filter from the housing and brush off the dirt.
    • Wipe out any dirt from the air filter cover and housing.
    • Inspect the air filter and replace it with a new one if it is extremely dirty or damaged. If it is in good condition, proceed with cleaning it.
    • Wash it in a mild dish soap and water solution. Rinse until the water runs clear. Squeeze excess water out of the filter and lay it flat to dry.
    • Once dry, lightly coat with SAE30 engine oil. Squeeze excess oil out of the filter.
    • Reinstall the filter.
    • If the blower also uses a pre-filter, do not wash or add oil to the pre-filter.

Incorrect 2-Cycle Oil Mix

A Craftsman 2-cycle leaf blower requires gas and oil mixed at a ratio of 50:1. The oil adds the required lubrication for the engine to run.

NEVER use straight gas in your blower. Gas runs extremely dry and will cause the engine to seize. This often causes damage so severe you are better off just purchasing a new leaf blower than attempting to repair it.

When creating a 50:1 fuel mix for your blower, use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 (mid-grade) and maximum ethanol content of 10%.

Add a 2-cycle premium oil or an equivalent 2-cycle oil that is ISO-L-EGD and JASO M345 FD certified. Craftsman offers two types of 2-cycle oils: Craftsman universal 2-cycle oil and Craftsman full-synthetic 2-cycle oil.

50:1 = 1 gallon of gas + 2.6 fl oz. 2-cycle oil
50:1 = 2.5 gallon of gas + 6.4 fl oz 2-cycle oil

A great option to reduce fuel problems and extend engine life is a pre-mixed fuel. This is an ethanol-free blend of oil and fuel that is ready to pour into your leaf blower’s fuel tank.

You can purchase 50:1 premixed fuel online or at your local hardware store. I like to stick with fuels from reputable OEM brands like Husqvarna, ECHO, and STIHL. I’ve seen some problems from running some aftermarket fuels.

You will find more information on the right fuel and how to mix it here.

Old Fuel and Oil Mix

Old fuel sitting in a leaf blower will cause starting problems. This is because gas begins to break down as soon as 30 days after purchase.

Most gas includes ethanol. Ethanol is an alternative fuel made from corn or other high-starch plants. It is added to gas to make it a little more environmentally friendly.

While ethanol is a good option when it comes to helping the environment, it is not good to run in your Craftsman blower.

Ethanol can have negative effects on the fuel system and its components including leaving behind gummy deposits and attracting moisture to the fuel.

Fuel degradation may leave behind a varnish that restricts the amount of fuel getting to the engine which may cause the blower to fail to start.

Because of the negative effects of ethanol, never use fuel with an ethanol content greater than 10%. Avoid fuels sold as E15 and E85 as they contain up to 15% and 85% ethanol respectively.

If you have old fuel sitting in your blower for longer than 30 days, drain the fuel tank and fill it with a fresh gas and oil mix.

Add a fuel stabilizer like Sea Foam Motor Treatment to stabilize the fuel, clean the fuel system and reduce moisture in the fuel.

Dirty Spark Plug

A dirty spark plug that has a buildup of carbon or oil may prevent the spark needed to start the blower. Cracked porcelain, burnt electrode, incorrect electrode gap, or loose wire can also be the problem.

Remove the spark plug and inspect it. Replace a dirty or damaged spark plug with a new one. Make sure the spark plug is gapped to the manufacturer’s specification and securely attach the spark plug boot.

If the spark plug appears to be in good condition but is a little dirty, you can attempt to clean it using a wire brush.

Plugged Fuel Filter

Like the air filter prevents dirt from entering the air intake, the fuel filter prevents dirt from entering the fuel system.

The fuel filter on a Craftsman blower can be found inside the fuel tank attached to the fuel line. It strains the fuel as it enters the fuel line to keep any dirt or debris in the fuel tank from getting sucked into the fuel line.

This filter should also be replaced each year for the average homeowner. Check and change your fuel filter by following these steps:

Replace a leaf blower fuel filter:

  • Wipe around the fuel cap to keep any dirt from falling into the fuel tank when removing the fuel cap.
  • Remove the fuel cap.
  • Use a clean bent wire to hook the fuel line and pull the fuel filter out of the tank.
  • With one hand securely holding the fuel line and ring clip, pull the filter out of the fuel line with the other hand.
  • Install a new fuel filter by inserting the male end into the fuel line making sure the ring clip is securely holding the fuel line to the filter.
  • Place the filter in the fuel tank and reinstall the fuel cap.

Bad Primer Bulb

A cracked primer bulb that won’t fill up with fuel won’t function correctly to get fuel to the carburetor. Replace with a new primer bulb.

Clogged Fuel Line

Old fuel sitting in your Craftsman leaf blower can leave behind gummy sticky deposits that restrict fuel flow. Replace a fuel line in the leaf blower when it is cracked, kinked, or clogged.

Plugged Fuel Tank Vent

The fuel tank vent allows air into the tank. Without a vent, the fuel tank will create a vacuum that won’t allow fuel to leave your fuel tank.

A good indication you may have a fuel tank vent problem is when your leaf blower runs for a while and then runs sluggish, shuts down, and won’t start until you remove the fuel cap to allow air into the fuel tank.

You may even hear the vacuum release when removing the cap.

It then shuts down again after running for several minutes with the fuel cap in place. The fuel tank vent is installed on a line that comes out of the fuel tank.

Purchase a fuel tank vent when you find the old cap is no longer venting properly.

Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor regulates the amount of fuel that is mixed with air to create combustion in the cylinder. Old fuel will gum up and clog the carburetor so it no longer functions as designed.

If you are a little mechanical you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor. Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carburetor cleaner to clean it.

If the carburetor does not function after being cleaned, you may need to rebuild it or replace it with a new carburetor.

Small engine dealers can also clean it for you. However, find out the labor rate and charge to clean the carburetor. Compare that to a carburetor replacement. The price may not be that different.

Bad Recoil Starter

A recoil is used to start a Craftsman blower. The string can become unstrung making it hard to start. You may also find a bad pulley; loose or missing spring; or broken clips that will keep the recoil start from working correctly.

You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged, such as the clips or the pulley, you may be better off just replacing the recoil assembly.

Failed Ignition Coil

The winding on the ignition coil can separate and short out. When this happens, the spark plug won’t get the voltage required to create a spark. This will cause your blower to fail to start.

Identify a bad ignition coil using an ohmmeter to check for a break in continuity. Replace the ignition coil if you find a break.

Plugged Spark Arrestor

The spark arrestor is a small screen that can get plugged with soot. A plugged spark arrestor will interfere with airflow which may keep the leaf blower from starting.

Remove the spark arrestor and clean it with a wire brush. If you are unable to clean it sufficiently, replace it with a new spark arrestor.

Flooded Engine

Another problem you may have is flooding the engine after you tried to start it initially. This can happen when the choke is in the closed position and the starter rope was pulled too many times.

It can also happen with the switch off and the starter rope being pulled multiple times or when the primer bulb is pushed too many times.

How to Fix a Flooded Engine on a Craftsman Leaf Blower

  • Turn the switch to the on position.
  • Move the choke lever to the run (open) position.
  • Press the throttle trigger while pulling the starter rope over and over. This can take anywhere between 5 and 15 pulls before it starts. Your leaf blower engine will sputter first. Continue to pull 2 to 3 more times and it should start.