It can be frustrating when your leaf blower has a starting problem. The leaf blower makes your tasks a little easier.
Without it, you’ll have to use a lawn rake or push broom to get the job done. This will not only take more effort on your part, but it is time-consuming as well.
A Homelite leaf blower won’t start when it isn’t getting sufficient air, fuel, and spark.
Before performing any repairs, take the precautions listed in your operator’s manual. This includes removing the spark plug boot, waiting for the engine to cool, and making sure all parts stop moving.
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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.
Homelite Leaf Blower Starting Problem (14 Potential Causes)
If you haven’t performed maintenance on your leaf blower in quite a while, you should at least replace the maintenance items at this time to ensure you are starting with a good air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug.
1. Wrong Choke Setting
The choke restricts airflow to the engine. This allows the fuel and air mixture to run rich with more fuel and less air.
The choke lever must be placed in the FULL CHOKE position to start a cold engine. After the engine warms, the lever must be adjusted to the RUN position to allow more air to mix with the fuel to keep your Homelite leaf blower running.
When the choke isn’t used to start a cold engine or is used when starting a warm engine, your leaf blower may fail to start.
How to start a Homelite leaf blower with a COLD engine:
- Depress the purge bulb until you see fuel begin to fill the bulb. The purge bulb does not need to be full.
- Move the choke lever to the FULL CHOKE (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 FULL CHOKE (closed) and the RUN (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.
SOLUTION: Check your starting procedure to ensure you are using the choke to start a cold engine and not using the choke when starting a warm engine.
2. Incorrect 2-Cycle Oil Mix
Homelite leaf blowers require a gasoline and oil mixture at a 50:1 ratio. Without oil mixed with gas, the engine will not be properly lubricated.
Adding a straight gas to your leaf blower will result in permanent damage which may result in having to purchase a new Homelite leaf blower. Straight gas runs extremely dry and will cause the engine to seize.
When creating a 50:1 fuel mix for your Homelite blower, use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 (regular) and maximum ethanol content of 10%.
Add a 2-cycle premium oil like Ethanol Shield recommended by Homelite. You can also use an equivalent 2-cycle oil for air-cooled engines that is ISO-L-EGD and JASO M345 FD certified.
Stay away from standard motor oil and 2-cycle outboard oil.
1 GALLON 50:1 FUEL MIX = 1 gallon of gas + 2.6 fl oz. 2-cycle oil
2 GALLONS 50:1 FUEL MIX = 2 gallon of gas + 5.2 fl oz 2-cycle oil
You will find more information on choosing and mixing the right fuel in this guide on Homelite blower gas and oil.
SOLUTION: If you have the wrong fuel mixture in your leaf blower, drain the fuel tank and refill it with fresh fuel mixed at the correct gas-to-oil ratio.
3. Old Gas and Oil Mix
A lot of types of gasoline you find at the fuel station include ethanol. This is an alternative fuel that is often made from corn or other high-starch plants. This fuel is added to make gas a little environmentally friendly.
While ethanol is a good option when it comes to helping the environment, it is not good to run in your Homelite 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.
SOLUTION: If you have old fuel sitting in your leaf 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.
Some 2-cycle oils include a fuel stabilizer. Some additives will only stabilize fuel for up to 30 days while others may stabilize it for up to two years.
If the oil you choose doesn’t list how long it works to make the fuel stable, don’t assume it will work longer than 30 days.
If you choose to use a pre-mixed ethanol-free fuel, you do not need to add a stabilizer.
4. Plugged Air Filter
The engine requires clean air to start and run. When the air filter becomes plugged with dirt and debris, sufficient air isn’t able to pass through the filter keeping the engine from getting the air it requires to start.
The air filter is a maintenance item that should be checked before operating your Homelite blower. The filter is crucial to protecting the engine, but it can also be the cause of overheating and damage if it is very dirty.
I recommend replacing the air filter once a year or when it becomes very dirty or damaged. You must also check and clean it regularly to keep it in good condition.
SOLUTION: Check the air filter. Clean or replace it if needed.
Follow these instructions to clean your Homelite leaf blower air filter:
- Remove the air filter cover and remove the air filter.
- Inspect the filter. If it is extremely dirty or damaged, replace the filter with a new one. Proceed with the instruction if the filter is in good condition and a little dirty.
- Rinse the filter with water until the water runs clear.
- Squeeze the filter to remove water.
- Allow the filter to air dry.
- Place the clean filter inside the filter housing.
- Reattach the air filter cover.
If you find your air filter is bad and you don’t have a replacement filter on hand, NEVER operate your blower without one even if it’s only for a short period of time to finish up a job.
Allowing small particles to enter the engine will cause engine wear and damage. That small filter is providing protection to your engine.
5. Dirty Spark Plug
A dirty spark plug that has a buildup of carbon or oil may prevent the spark needed to start the blower. A cracked porcelain, burnt electrode, incorrect electrode gap, or loose wire can also be a problem.
SOLUTION: 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.
6. 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 Homelite leaf 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:
SOLUTION: Replace a 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, 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.
- Place the filter in the fuel tank and reinstall the fuel cap.
7. Bad Primer Bulb
A cracked primer bulb that won’t fill up with fuel won’t function correctly to get fuel to the carburetor.
SOLUTION: Replace with a new primer bulb.
8. Clogged Fuel Line
Old fuel sitting in your Homelite leaf blower can leave behind gummy sticky deposits that restrict fuel flow.
SOLUTION: Replace a fuel line in the leaf blower when it is cracked, kinked, or clogged. You can attempt to remove a clog in a fuel line by removing the line from the blower.
Spray carburetor cleaner into the fuel line to loosen the clog and follow this by blowing compressed air into the line to remove the clog. Repeat spraying carb cleaner and blowing air through the line until the clog is removed.
9. 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 Homelite fuel tank.
A good indication you may have a fuel tank vent problem is when your leaf blower begins to run 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.
If it starts and runs fine after removing the cap, reinstall the cap and allow the engine to run to try to replicate the problem to confirm the fuel cap vent is the cause to your starting problem.
SOLUTION: Purchase a new fuel cap when you find the old cap is no longer venting properly.
10. 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.
SOLUTION: 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. It may actually be less expensive to have the carb replaced instead of paying the labor to have the carburetor cleaned.
11. Bad Recoil Starter
A recoil is used to start a Homelite 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.
SOLUTION: 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.
12. 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 Homelite blower to fail to start.
SOLUTION: Identify a bad ignition coil using an ohmmeter to check for a break in continuity. Replace the ignition coil if you find a break.
13. 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.
SOLUTION: 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.
14. 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 Homelite Leaf Blower
- Turn the switch to the on position.
- Move the choke lever to the 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.