Have you ever left a weed eater out in the rain or just wondered if it should even get wet? I had a spirited debate with a friend recently on this very topic and, instead of relying on intuition, I decided to do some research. Here’s what I learned.
Key points to remember regarding water and weed eaters:
- A weed eater is not waterproof but it can handle some moisture if a sudden shower occurs while using it.
- If it’s been left out in the rain, there are specific steps you should take before using it.
- You should never use an electric weed eater around water.
I’ve been guilty of leaving my powered yard tools outside accidentally. It happens. We will delve into the potential issues and solutions for a wet weed eater and how to fix a weed eater that won’t start after it’s gotten wet.
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Can a Weed Eater Get Rained On?
The best answer to this question is yes, your weed eater can get rained on and still work but it’s not designed to be exposed to moisture. String trimmers are usually fine after they are allowed to sufficiently dry out but they certainly are not waterproof. Excessive exposure to rain and wetness can cause issues with the engine.
As a rule, it is best to wait until the weather is clear before operating your weed eater. If you do need to use it during a light rain, you should try and make the session as short as possible.
For example, I was recently trimming around the flower beds when it began sprinkling. I quickly finished up my work and put the string trimmer in the shop. I made sure to wipe the surface down with a rag before hanging it up. The following day when the weather cleared, I sat it out in the sun to bake for a few hours.
The truth is, short bouts in the rain shouldn’t have too big of an impact on your weed eater. But once the grass gets too wet, your weed whacker won’t cut it well anyway, so you might as well stop.
Now, there’s an important distinction here that we need to make between using a gas-powered string trimmer and an electric model…
You should avoid using an electric weed eater in the rain. As we are all aware, electricity and rain simply don’t mix. I know it’s common sense but just so there is no misunderstanding, if you have a string trimmer that plugs into an electric outlet with an extension cord, don’t use it when it’s raining. Period. Battery-powered trimmers are less of a concern in this regard.
That being said, you may still deal with moisture from morning dew from time to time. Take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some logical best practices to follow when using an electric weed eater in the morning before the dew has burned off:
- Use extension cords specifically designed for outdoor use. These types of extension cords can handle all types of weather conditions.
- Avoid indoor extension cords. They aren’t made for this type of job.
- Make sure you have the right outdoor outlets. Newer homes will have outlets specifically designed to handle outdoor weather, but older homes might not.
- It’s important to make sure that your outlets are up-to-date and can handle all types of weather, including rain.
- Keep the cord and extension cord on a dry surface.
Can You Use A String Trimmer If The Grass Is Wet?
You can do it, but the experience will be frustrating. I’ve done it… many times. Every time I have wished I had just waited for the grass to dry.
Tring to trim wet grass may result in one of these pesky problems:
- The grass will be very difficult to cut.
- The clippings will clump together.
- It could lead to your weed eater becoming clogged and stalling out, which could lead to a slew of other problems such as overheating.
- The cutting is likely to come out uneven, which is not aesthetically pleasing.
- And of course, you could get hurt by slipping on the wet grass.
Honestly, the real issue to me is cleaning the weed eater after I’m done. Wet grass and weeds clump up and stick to the underside of the guard and just make a mess. Save yourself the trouble and just wait for dryer weather.
Weed Eater Won’t Start After Getting Rained On
If you are unable to get your weed eater started after being left out in the rain, there are a few steps that you can take to troubleshoot and hopefully get it running again.
Note: It is important to make sure that you always store your weed eater out of the rain. While weed eaters can handle small bits of rain here and there, too much water will likely short out the motor or cause other problems. This will lead to a weed eater that simply will not start.
Follow these steps if your weed eater won’t start after being left in the rain:
- Wipe down the engine surface and remove any visible moisture.
- Remove the air filter and spark plug.
- Drain the fuel and pump the primer bulb several times.
- Blow out the fuel filter and fuel lines with an air compressor (low pressure). If you don’t have an air compressor, another option is to disconnect the fuel line from the carburetor and pour fuel into the tank, catching it into another can or basin as it flows through the line.
- Pull the starter a few times.
- Spray carburetor cleaner into the spark plug inlet and air filter intake.
- Thoroughly clean the spark plug and reinstall it or replace it with a new one.
- Clean the air filter and reinstall or replace it with a new one.
- Depress the primer bulb until it fills with fuel.
- Add gas/oil and pull on the starter cord several times.
This should work so long as there is no remaining moisture in the tank or fuel lines but one place that may still have a problem is the carburetor (source). I had to take one apart and drain/clean it before I could get the engine running again. So if the steps above don’t work, look to the carburetor as your next potential solution.
It’s very important to make sure that all of the water is out of the combustion system. And by the way, if you are using gas with ethanol, you may want to consider transitioning to an ethanol-free fuel since it does not attract moisture the way ethanol-based gas does.
Recommended reading: Weed Eater Fuel Dos and Don’ts: What You Must Know.
Here’s a short video where a professional landscaper is demonstrating how to get a weed eater running again after he left one of his out in the rain. He pretty much follows the same fundamental principles that I’ve outlined with a few tweaks of his own.
Why Water Causes Issues In Fuel
The reason that water is such a concern is based on the fundamental combustion process of a gas-powered engine. Fuel and air mix in the carburetor and the spark plug ignites the fuel (source).
When water is present in the mix, it lowers the combustion. This can cause the engine to sputter, misfire, and if of course if too much water is present, not start at all.
And so, we want to make every reasonable effort to remove the water from the system. Minimal moisture may resolve itself as the engine runs. It may sputter a bit for a while but eventually level off as the fuel flushes it out. But too much water will prevent the igniting process and that’s the reason we are taking the time to clean out the entire system.
Weed eaters are not waterproof, so they can become damaged due to rainfall, especially if exposed to water for an extended period of time. Luckily, a weed eater that won’t start after being left out in the rain can often be fixed with the steps I’ve outlined.
As a rule, it’s best to wait until the weather is clear, and the grass is dry to do your weed eating. And of course, make sure you are storing your trimmer out of the weather.
Additional string trimmer troubleshooting guides you may be interested in: