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Why Is My Leaf Blower Bogging Down? Troubleshooting Guide


Leaf blower bogs down

When a leaf blower is bogging down, meaning it’s choking out or even dying when trying to run at full power, it can be frustrating and a little perplexing. But the truth is there are a few simple reasons why this happens and they are usually fairly easy to fix.

So, why is my leaf blower bogging down? The most common issues related to a leaf blower bogging down originate in the air filter, fuel filter, carburetor, or spark arrestor. This is usually noticeable when increasing the throttling. Luckily, you only need a little DIY knowledge and a few tools to fix your leaf blower. 

I want to make sure that you have a logical, systematic troubleshooting approach to this. So I’m going to break down each of the reasons why your leaf blower may be bogging down, tips to identify the problem, and the processes to fix it.

Ready, let’s go!

Air Filter Issues

This is the first place we need to look at. Handheld gas-powered equipment like leaf blowers often run on a two-stroke, air-cooled engine. Air filters are an essential part of the process. They allow external air to flow into the engine.

Since debris and dust can be extremely detrimental for your engine, the air filter has the task of capturing any particle that can be damaging. The problem is, they clog up and essentially suffocate your leaf blower.

A dirty air filter will prevent air from flowing into the engine where it is mixed with the fuel to initiate the combustion process. A motor that can’t get enough air will run roughly and lose power (sourceOpens in a new tab.).

How to recognize and solve issues related to a dirty air filter

A dirty air filter is one of the most common causes behind a leaf blower that is bogging down: the air is enough for the engine to idle, but as soon as you switch to full-throttle, the machine will stall. All we need to do is replace the air filter.

To do this, start by opening the air filter cover. Once it is visible, you can have a look at it. If it is torn, dirty, or presents cracks, it is time to get a new one! You can consider washing it with soap and lukewarm water. Let it dry thoroughly before mounting it back on. Honestly, they are really inexpensive and so I recommend just replacing it.

Note: If you have stored your leaf blower for several months, it’s a good practice to check the filter before starting the engine. It might have accumulated debris and dust over time. As a general maintenance rule, you should change the air filter once a year.

Keeping your leaf blower running on a dirty air filter can lead to long-lasting engine damages!

Fuel Filter Issues

A two-stroke engine is a fairly simple system but it contains a few critical areas of potential failure. One of those is the fuel filter.

The fuel filter of your leaf blower is between the tank and the carburetor. Its main task is to prevent any debris and residues that could be in the fuel tank from entering the engine of the leaf blower through the fuel line.

A fuel filter can become dirty or clogged if old fuel has remained in the tank or line for prolonged periods. Over time, the moisture in the fuel will evaporate, and the remaining sticky substance will attach to the net of the filter, causing it to clog.

It also catches impurities that are often found in gas purchased at the pump.

How to recognize and solve issues related to a dirty fuel filter

If the fuel filter is dirty or congested, your engine will not receive enough fuel. Such a problem can result in a loss of power and reduced performance (sourceOpens in a new tab.).

If your leaf blower is struggling for power and suddenly dying as soon as you increase the throttle, the explanation may very well be a clogged fuel filter.

To replace a fuel filter, follow the following steps:

  • Start by draining the old fuel that might still be in the tank
  • Detach the spark plug and the fuel line from the tank
  • Remove the old filter (your model may require a tool to do this but some don’t)
  • Replace the old, used filter with a new one
  • Reattach the various components

For the best maintenance, manufacturers will suggest replacing the fuel filter once a year. I also want to strongly encourage you to consider using a commercial premix fuel instead of gas from your local pump station. Read this in-depth review of the damage that ethanol can cause to small engines.

Carburetor Issues

Due to its intense activity, the carburetor of your leaf blower is the component most likely to suffer from regular use.

Similarly to cars, the carburetor of your leaf blower is where the magic happens. It’s where the fuel mixes with air creating a combustible mix that is then ignited during the compression stroke by the spark plug (sourceOpens in a new tab.).

A carburetor has the task of creating the perfect ratio between the air and fuel. But if the air filter or the fuel filter is clogged, or there is debris in the carburetor itself, this process will fail. So you see, it’s all interdependent.

How to recognize and solve issues related to the carburetor

There are several issues that can cause a carburetor to be a source of failure for your 2-stroke engine. But if you have verified that the air and fuel filters are not dirty or clogged, and your leaf blower is still bogging down, you should check the carburetor.

The most common issues and solutions with a 2-stroke carburetor:

IssueSolution
The carburetor is dirtyThis issue is easily solvable just by emptying the leftover gas, opening the carburetor, and spraying it with suitable carb cleanerOpens in a new tab. (Link to Amazon). Reattach all components before using your leaf blower again. The spray will do its job while your leaf blower is working.
The carburetor has crackedIf while cleaning the carburetor you notice and crack or breakages, you will need to substitute the carburetor entirely. While inexpensive, you might consider seeing a technician.
The carburetor is out of adjustmentIf you need to tune your carburetor, start by finding the “low” and “high” adjustment levers. Calibrate them so your leaf blower can produce the highest performances while limiting smoke. You will know that you have tuned it correctly when the blower can rev fluently.

Here’s a comprehensive walk-through video on how to clean a carburetor in a leaf blower from Steve’s Small Engine Saloon:

How to Adjust or Tune the Carburetor on a Leaf Blower - Video

Spark Arrestor Issues 

Spark arrestors are screens that block debris from escaping the engine. Ignited fuel in the combustion chamber can exhaust high-temperature particles. These can cause fire hazards if they accidentally land on dry leaves or wood.

In most States, spark arrestors are mandatory for any outdoor gas-powered tools, even if they tend to lower the engine’s performance. The most common problem with spark arrestors is that they can become dirty and cause the engine to stall.

How to recognize and solve issues related to the Spark Arrestor

While they can seem complex components of your leaf blower’s construction, spark arrestors are simple to clean and replace. Usually, they will need maintenance after 40 to 60 hours of use. You can remove any extra debris and dirt with a wire brush and soap.

Here’s a quick video from eReplacement Parts on how to do this:

How to Clean a Spark Arrestor Screen on a Small 2-Cycle Engine--A Quick Fix

Conclusion

Even if you are not a DIY expert, don’t let a leaf blower that’s bogging down defeat you! Handheld 2-stroke engines are easy to maintain. If yours has been bogging down after a few minutes of use, there can be many reasons, which are reasonably simple to solve.

Just remember these critical points of failure:

  • Make sure the air filter is clean
  • Ensure the fuel filter is not clogged (and use a premium premix fuel)
  • Check the carburetor for gummed up fuel or impurities
  • Clean the spark arrestor if it’s clogged

If you’ve gone through these checkpoints and the leaf blower is still not running as it should, it may need to be serviced by a professional. In most cases, however, one of these issues is going to be the underlying cause.

I recommend learning more about the age and quality of fuel you are using and how it can impact your 2-stroke engine’s performance. Read Does Premix Fuel Go Bad? HomeMade Vs Commercial Gas-Oil Mix.

Paul Brown

Paul has a two-acre yard on red clay soil in Southeast Texas. He knows exactly what the challenges are to nurturing a thriving yard in difficult soil. He takes a practical approach to yard improvement and enjoys putting best practices and “golden rules of lawn care” to the test. Click here for Paul’s author page

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