Troubleshooting Your Lawn Edger When It Won’t Start

If you have a high quality walk behind lawn edger (e.g., a McLane 101 or McLane 801) and properly maintain your lawn edger trimmer, you will only on a rare occasion have trouble with its operation.  I have personally gone a couple of years using an edger without experiencing any start up problems.  Just perform the simple maintenance steps that the edger manufacturer suggests (see the Operator’s Manual that comes with your edger), and you should experience the same results that I have.  Tip:  One of the most important maintenance steps is simply draining out all of the gasoline in your lawn edger at the end of the mowing/edging season and then starting up your lawn edger and letting it run until it uses up  any remaining gas in your edger until edger’s motor stops (usually just runs for a few minutes).

However, occasionally, you may experience  a problem getting your edger to start, and here are a few things you can do/check when you do.

Probably 50-60% of the time when this happens, it is the result of one of these two things: the edger is out of gas or your edger’s throttle lever is not in the “start” position.  Both easy things to check and correct!  Fill your edger with fresh gas, put the lever in the start position, and pull the cord.  Note:  If this is the first time you have started your edger since last Fall and you left gas in the edger over the winter, be sure you empty out the old gas and replace it with fresh gas before you try and start the edger.

If your edger still won’t start, my bet is that it is your spark plug.  Either the spark plug has become  “dirty” or your edger’s spark plug wire has worked loose (rarely happens but it does happen).  First, just push on the end of the spark plug cover.  If you feel it push in, the spark plug wire probably just worked loose and now that you have reattached it to the end of the spark plug with your pushing the spark plug cover on, the edger should start.

If it doesn’t, gently pull off the spark plug wire (cover) and, using a spark plug wrench – – – be sure you use the right size – – – remove the spark plug and check the action end of the spark plug to see if it has become “fouled” (dirty).   Look for a black or grey buildup.  If there is a buildup, spray on a choke cleaner and wipe off the end of the spark plug.  Do this spray and wipe a couple of times until the end of the spark plug looks clean.  After this step, I personally perform one more.  I use a small piece of very fine sandpaper very lightly on the action end of the spark plug to make sure that the buildup has been removed and that there will be a good connection.  (Note:  If your edger is using an old spark plug, you may just want to go ahead and replace it – – – they are not expensive ($3-$5 for a new one).)  Reinsert your spark plug, attach the spark plug wire/cover, and try to start your edger.  Ninety-five percent of the time, your edger should now start.

If your edger still won’t start, you may have a gummy buildup on your carburetor.  This usually occurs when you store your edger with gas in it over the winter.  If you are mechanically inclined (and this step is very easy to do), just remove the edger’s carburetor, clean the build up off the carburetor parts using a spray choke cleaner and a rag), reattach the carburetor, choke the edger, and then check and see if your edger will start.  If it does, you are in business!

If you were not mechanically inclined (and did not remove and clean the edger’s carburetor) or your edger still won’t start after you cleaned the carburetor, you need to take it to a reputable mower and edger repair shop.  Your edger may have a more serious problem.

I hope the above steps will help if you have trouble getting your lawn edger to start.  For further information on lawn edgers, you will want to read this information on the McLane 101 and McLane 801 lawn edgers.


  1. Caiden says:

    Home run! Great sulgging with that answer!

  2. Joyce says:

    Glad I’ve fnially found something I agree with!

  3. Kylia says:

    This is both serett smart and intelligent.


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