How to Start a Weed Eater

How to Start a Weed Eater

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Lawnmowers are invaluable tools that give your lawn or yard a well-manicured look. However, if you have a small or an average-sized lawn, or maybe you need to cut grass in hard-to-reach places, a weed eater or a string trimmer is a better choice since lawn mowers are quite robust to handle such tight assignments. While they’re usually more convenient, figuring out how to start a weed eater is one critical step that can help you take care of your unkempt grass to give it a revitalized appeal.

Although we will discuss this further, later on, weed trimmers usually come in three main categories, which are gas-powered, electric corded, and electric cordless or battery-powered trimmers. As the final consumer, you always have the edge to choose which type best suits you. However, when it comes to igniting your weed eater, each of these types has a specific procedure you’re required to follow. So, whether it’s an EGO, a Milwaukee, an Echo, Stihl, DeWalt, or Ryobi, this guide will discuss some simple steps on how to start your weed whacker.


Types of Weed Eaters Explained

Gas Powered Weed Eater

Gas trimmers are actually the oldest of the three types of weed eaters we’ll be covering in this topic. They come in two variants, which are the 2-stroke and the 4-stroke. The 2-stroke uses a mixture of gas and oil while the 4-stroke relies on gas only. Whichever type you decide to use, both of these variants are powered by a high torque engine that allows them to handle tough cutting tasks such as cleaning brushes and trimming tough weeds and grass.

Unlike battery-powered trimmers, gas weed eaters offer immense mobility meaning you can trim a huge area provided you have enough gas in the fuel tank. This is actually one of the greatest benefits of relying on these weed eaters over the electric versions.


Corded Electric Weed Trimmers

Although weed eaters generally come in two versions—the gas-powered and the electric versions—we’ve decided to split the electric version into corded and cordless/battery-powered variants since they tend to differ at some point.

Now, the corded-electric trimmer is one that requires a constant plug to the power outlet to work. Although they’re most suited for small lawns and yards, their convenience is inevitable so long as you have a long cord.

These weed eaters are lighter than both gas and battery-powered types as they don’t rely on engines or bulky battery packs to operate. They’re also quieter than both gas and cordless versions and they don’t emit any fumes making them environmentally friendly.


Cordless/Battery-Powered Weed Eaters

Lastly, we have the cordless versions. The best thing about these weed eaters is that they’ve tried to make up for the shortcomings of both the gas and the corded weed trimmer versions. They’ve done that by picking some of the key features of both weed eaters in an attempt to upgrade your trimming experience.

For instance, these trimmers have picked the mobility advantage from gas trimmers but have neglected the messy gas and oil mixture as well as the loud noise and exhaust fumes that come with gas trimmers. They’ve also picked the quiet operation of the corded trimmer and neglected the cord restrictions meaning you can trim any corner of your yard without being restricted by any plugins.


How to Start Each of the Three Weed Eaters

Now that we’ve discussed the three main types of weed eaters you’re likely to find in almost any hardware store, our next discussion is generally a step-by-step procedure on how to safely start each of these weed eaters.


Part One: How to Start a Gas-Powered Weed Eater

  • Step One: Clear the Area

Before you can do anything, you need to first clear the area where you’ll be working by removing any obstacles that can catch fire. Besides, since the trimmer’s head will spin immediately it’s powered, it’s wise that you remove any foreign objects that might get damaged or trigger an accident. This is actually one of the most important safety procedures that most people bypass.

  • Step Two: Put on Your Safety Gear

Once you’ve cleared the working area, the next step is to put on your safety gear which includes glasses, leather gloves, helmet, and ear protection.

  • Step Three: Inspect the Fuel Tank

Once you’ve put on the right gear, the next step is to inspect the fuel tank to ensure there’s sufficient gas to start the engine. You need to be really careful at this point as starting a weed eater with a low fuel level can cause disruptions when starting or humper the machine altogether.

In case your specific trimmer model is a 2-stroke, you’ll have to add unleaded gasoline mixed with 2-stroke oil in the ratio of 40:1. For the case of a 4-stroke model, simply add pure fuel that hasn’t been mixed with oil.

  • Step Four: Prime the Engine

Now, if your specific weed eater model has a fuel bulb (located just beneath the carburetor), you need to depress it several times to prime the engine. You can give it some time to allow the fuel to traverse through the fuel line. Some people prefer to prime the engine at this point, while others prefer to do it later on.

  • Step Five: Flip the Killer Switch to “ON” Position

Once you’re done with priming the engine, the next step is to find the killer switch and flip it On. Remember, the On/Off switch is the one that regulates the amount of electricity that’s getting to the motor. Since the motor can’t start with the killer switch Off, it, therefore, has to be turned on.

In most models, the switch is located near the shaft and it’s one of the safety features that has been added to a weed eater to ensure that it doesn’t start unexpectedly or accidentally.

  • Step Six: Switch the Choke Lever to “ON”

The next step is to adjust the position of the choke lever. There are usually two ways you can do this depending on the status of the weed eater. If you’re starting the engine cold (usually after a lengthy period of being dormant), you need to push the choke lever to “FULL”. That’s because the engine is usually at a much lower temperature than normal.

On the other hand, if you’re starting the weed eater after being in use in the past few minutes, then you’ll need to position the lever to “HALF CHOKE”. That’s because the engine is already warm and only requires a little boost to start.

  • Step Seven: Place the Trimmer on a Flat Surface

This is another critical step most people bypass. Here, you simply need to place the trimmer on the ground in a position where you can easily access the pull cord. In this position, the trimmer head shield should be in contact with the ground to prevent the trimmer line from getting into contact with any objects once the engine starts.

  • Step Eight: Pull the Cord

Although we mentioned it in step four, some people prefer to press the purge valve or the primer bulb at this point. This is, in fact, a necessary step if you’re starting the engine cold. So, just as we mentioned earlier, you only have to press it several times (about 5 to 6 times) to allow fresh gas to get into the carburetor.

Next, hold the weed eater with one hand while the other hand prepares to pull the cord. Simply pull it steadily but gently for about 3 to 5 times until you hear the engine start. In case the engine doesn’t run, you can adjust the position of the choke lever then squeeze the throttle trigger before attempting for the second time.

  • Step Nine: Allow the Engine to Warm Up

Now that the engine has started running, you need to give it some time (about 15 seconds) to warm up the engine. At this time, don’t touch anything including the throttle trigger and the choke lever.

Once the 15 seconds are over, you can now turn the choke lever off or turn it to the run position—it’s all the same. By doing this, you generally allow precise airflow back to the engine which helps to minimize fuel consumption by increasing the engine’s efficiency.

Wait for another 3 to 5 minutes to give the engine more time to warm up. After that, press the throttle trigger once to disengage the throttle lock. Once you’ve done that, your trimmer is now operational and ready to start working.


Part Two: How to Start a Corded Electric Weed Eater

  • Step One: Read the Manual

Before you can start using your weed eater, it’s always a good practice to first read the manual. Although you may think you know, you might be surprised to find your specific weed eater model being slightly different from the rest.

Also, by reading the manual, you might get some tips on the type of wire to use for the extension cord. Remember, using thin wires or an extra-long extension cord can lead to loss of some voltage on the way.

  • Step Two: Plug the Weed Eater

Once you’ve gone through the manual, the next step is to inspect the weed eater and the extension cord to ensure they were not damaged during their last use. Make sure the extension cord doesn’t have any exposed wires as this can cause electrocution or possible short-circuiting.

Once you’re done, you can now plug the weed eater into the power outlet. As you can see, corded electric weed whackers are very easy to operate. Unlike their gas-powered counterparts, electric corded trimmers only require you to plug them on the power outlet and you’re good to go.

  • Step Three: Pull the Trigger

So, once you’ve plugged the machine into a power outlet, the next step is to activate the trigger. You only have to pull it gently while keeping your eyes and ears open for any abnormal sounds. From there, your weed eater is ready to use.


Part Three: How to Start a Cordless Electric Weed Eater

  • Step One: Read the Manual

Now, if you’re using a cordless electric weed trimmer, you’ll need to go through the user manual to familiarize yourself with the type of batteries this weed eater uses. You also need to check the battery specification such as the voltage, battery size & capacity, and battery runtime & charge time. With such information, it will be easier for you to determine how far the weed eater can trim before being recharged.

  • Step Two: Inspection

Just like with our previous corded version, the cordless version will also need to be inspected to ensure it’s in tiptop condition. Inspect the various moving parts including the trimmer line to ensure there are no damages.

  • Step Three: Pull the Trigger

Once you’ve inspected everything, find some clear space where you can start the weed eater without causing any damage. Hold down the trigger and the trimmer is ready to work. The beauty of electric weed eaters (in general) is that they use the plug-and-go working technique. You don’t need to go through the lengthy process of adjusting the choke, pressing the primer bulb, or pulling the cords.

The only thing you need to take care of is the batteries and a steady power supply in the case of corded versions.


In conclusion, when choosing a weed eater, whether it’s a gas-powered, a corded electric, or a cordless electric version, your choice should be based on your preferences such as your budget and the size of your yard.

But, regardless of all that, one factor that can have a greater impact on your decision is how to start the weed eater. As you have seen, the gas-powered version is generally the best in terms of output power. However, the starting procedure is quite complex and time-consuming. This is quite different from the electric version that only requires you to plug or add the batteries and “ON” the machine goes.

Thankfully, with insightful guides such as this, you’re able to gather enough information on how to start each of the three weed eater types before making your final decision.

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