Why Is My Hedge Trimmer Not Working / Not Cutting / Smoking?

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You might run into one of these common issues while trimming hedges. Whether your hedge trimmer is smoking, not cutting, or not working at all, keep in mind that these are common problems that can be easily prevented with proper maintenance and care.

Why Is My Hedge Trimmer Not Working?

There can be a number of different reasons why your hedge trimmer is not working, and figuring out what the problem is will allow you to quickly fix it and start your yard work. One major problem with hedge trimmers is that they simply won’t start, which can be very frustrating.

One of the most common reasons why a hedge trimmer won’t start on is because there is a problem with the spark plug. If the electrode is damaged or burned away, there is a lot of carbon buildup, or the insulator is cracked, then the spark plug needs to be discarded and replaced right away to see if that is the problem.

Another common issues is that the carburetor on the hedge trimmer may be clogged, which means that fuel can’t travel through the equipment to start the hedge trimmer. Cleaning out a clogged carburetor is easy, but, sometimes, replacing the entire carburetor is the only way to take care of this problem.

Issues with the rewind spring can easily prevent the hedge trimmer form working. When you try to start the hedge trimmer it is the rewind spring that makes it possible to recoil the starter rope and start the engine. Replacing the rewind spring is often all that you need to do, although, sometimes, it can be easier to replace the entire recoil assembly.

Finally, problems with the fuel filter may be to blame. Clogged fuel filters make it almost impossible to start a hedge trimmer. Draining all fuel from the fuel tank and replacing the filter is the only way to take care of this problem. source

Why Is My Hedge Trimmer Not Cutting?

Just like there are many reasons why your hedge trimmer may not start, there are also a number of reasons why it may not be cutting properly.

The first reason why your hedge trimmer may not be cutting correctly is because the blades on the equipment are blunt. The only way to deal with this problem is to have them sharpened. Because it is imperative that they remain at the right cutting angle, it is very common to hire a professional to complete this job.

best gas hedge trimmer

Frayed branches are a clear sign that the blades on the hedge trimmer are blunt and need sharpening. If branches are being split and frayed instead of being cut, then it’s time to consider sharpening the blades.

Another problem with hedge trimmers involves the twigs or branches being caught between blades or stopping them from moving at all while cutting. This can be really frustrating, but the reason is fairly obvious and can be addressed for better cutting.

When this occurs, it is simply because the lower and upper blade have detached. When a hedge trimmer is used on a regular basis, it will cause wear and tear to the blade spaces. Over time, these spaces can fail and will need to be replaced to ensure that the blades cut properly. source

A more obvious reason why a hedge trimmer won’t cut through branches is if there is debris that has been lodged between the blades. It’s easy to remove this debris, clean the blades with a damp cloth, and then lightly oil and lubricate the cutters to prevent this from happening again.

Why Is My Hedge Trimmer Blade Not Moving?

If the hedge trimmer will turn on, but the blade won’t move, then there is likely another culprit that will need to be addressed. Problems with the clutch, gearbox, or blades can prevent the hedge trimmer blades from moving.

A broken clutch or one that has been improperly tensioned will easily stop the blades on a hedge trimmer from moving. If the clutch is broken, then it needs to be replaced for the hedge trimmer to work again. Otherwise, professionals can easily adjust the tension on the clutch. Using the right part number when replacing a clutch is important so that the hedge trimmer doesn’t experience further damage.

Photo by Peter Beukema

Another common problem is when the gearbox has worn or stripped gears. The gearbox and the blades are directly attached to each other. Over time, and with normal use, it is common for the gearbox gears to become damaged, and replacing them can often take care of the problem.

Damaged blades on a hedge trimmer are unlikely to move at all. Any debris or twigs that have become lodged in the blades will prevent them from moving freely and can easily cause them to lock up. Bent teeth will also stop the blades from moving. Bent teeth can easily occur when the hedge trimmer is dropped on the ground or accidentally hits something hard, such as fencing, when it is on.

A common, less serious cause of stuck hedge trimmer blades is the sap of previously cut twigs sticking to the blades and causing them to lock up. After every use, make sure you spray the trimmer blades with something like WD40. Alternatively, there are specialized lubricants that are designed to fight the sticky tree saps available on the market.

Why Is My Hedge Trimmer Smoking?

Smoke from a hedge trimmer is never a good sign and can even mean that the hedge trimmer is beyond repair or that it simply needs some care to work its best again.

The best thing to do when a gas hedge trimmer starts smoking is to immediately turn it off and let it cool down completely before trying to address the issues. Since the problem is likely with the motor, letting the hedge trimmer cool is important to prevent injury.

gas hedge trimmer cutting blade

The main reason why a hedge trimmer will start smoking is because the motor has died and needs to be replaced. Often this smoke is black, which is a sign that you have a combustion problem. While this can be annoying, it doesn’t usually mean that the hedge trimmer is going to die. It is often because you are burning off little bits of extra fuel or debris.

On the other hand, white or gray smoke can be a clear sign that there is an issue with the motor. This occurs when there isn’t enough lubrication, which can quickly damage your engine. Another problem that can cause this is when you have worn out carbon brushes in the motor.

Stopping right away at the first sign of any smoke is important so that you can determine the problem and make necessary repairs.

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