Automatic weed eater heads can definitely get you around the yard much quicker than the old manual types. This is especially true when they are working as they should. But if you find yourself bumping the head and nothing happens, then you’ll need to take a closer look at the head mechanism and line.
Here are some of the problems I’ve come across with my weed eater and what I did to get it up and running again.
Why Weed Eater Line Typically Gets Stuck (The Short Answer)
Several issues can make automatic weed eater heads jam up. This can include a problem with the way the line has been installed and even the type of line. In addition, a mechanical fault such as a worn-out head, missing bump head spring, and missing or damaged weed eater eyelets can prevent line feeding out.
Weed Eater Line Stuck (7 Possible Reasons Why)
Weed eater automatic bump heads all seem to work by following the same basic principle. This means that even if you have a Dewalt or Ryobi, you’ll face the same problems. So, let’s take a look at seven possible reasons why your head could be stuck.
The Line is Too Short
Weed eaters use the motion of the spinning head and the weight of the line to advance additional line. This is done with the centrifugal force created by the rotation of the head and the weight of the line.
So, if there isn’t enough line still protruding from the head, there isn’t going to be sufficient weight to pull more line. Therefore, check how much line is still hanging from the head when you bump it. If you only have an inch or so, then this will probably be the reason. It’s important to know how long your trimmer line should be and have it set at that length when you’re cutting.
Line Installed Backward
If you take a closer look at the spool, you’ll see an arrow that indicates which way the line needs to be spooled. This is so that the head spins as you engage the auto-feed function, and the line can unwind. If you accidentally insert the line backward, then the line will try to continue spooling. So, remove the spool and check which way you have installed the line.
Line Tangled During Loading
Tangling a line on the spool is very common and can be done during both winding the spool and during operation. The tangle comes from the line getting trapped under the line closer to the spool. It basically causes a knot on the spool.
So, carefully remove the spool and see if you can pull the line off. You probably have a tangle if you find it gets jammed up. Using a different spooling technique should help stop this from becoming a problem.
The Wrong Gauge of Line
Weed eater line comes in a whole bunch of different designs and thicknesses. This is so that they can tackle jobs ranging from lightweight residential lawns to some pretty heavy-duty ground-clearing tasks.
Now, to increase the thickness of the line, you need to have a weed eater with enough power so that line can feed with centrifugal force. As an example, the Stihl FS38 consumer trimmer has 0.87 HP, whereas the FS311 professional trimmer has 1.9 HP. So, you can see there is a big difference in horsepower between models.
I recommend you look at the line you are using and check that it is the right thickness for your weed eater.
Weed Eater Thickness Grade Examples
- Light: 065 – 0.08 Inch Thickness
- Medium: 08 – 0.11 Inch Thickness
- Heavy: 0.11 Inch Thickness and Above
Worn Out Bump Head
The spool is a part of your weed eater head that needs to be swapped out from time to time. Every time you bump the head, the spool comes into contact with the ground and wears down a little. This is especially true if you use your driveway or another hard surface to bump your weed eater on.
So, take a look at the spool and check that it can still retract and feed the line. If it’s too worn down, then you’ll have found the cause of your weed eater not feeding line.
Missing Head Spring
The spring in the weed eater head is designed to return the spool back into the lock position and prevent the line from feeding. Now, if the spring is missing or installed incorrectly, then you could find that the spool isn’t able to react to your bumping the head. So, pop off the cap and check for the spring. Also, if your weed eater doesn’t have a spring and uses a different method, be sure that it’s in place and working correctly.
Weed Eater Eyelets Missing
The eyelets on your weed eater head serve two purposes: to guide the trimmer line and to hold the line in place. As a result, if one or two eyelets are missing or damaged, the line will unravel inside the head and get tangled, or the line will get jammed between the head and cap.
So, take a closer look at your weed eater head and see if both eyelets are installed and are in good shape.
Fixing a Weed Eater with Jammed Line (7 Ideas)
Leaving Enough Line
Now, there is no set rule as to when you should bump your weed eater head, but you’ll find that if you do it more often, you won’t end up having to use your hands to help the auto feed bump head. For myself, I never let the line get less than half. This is usually a pretty good marker to bump out some more line. Also, you will have less work to do if you don’t let it get too short.
Follow the Arrows
When you load up your spool, be aware of the arrows showing you which way to wind. A few times in the past, I wound my weed eater line the wrong way, and I was left puzzled as to what was going on. So, this can be an easy mistake to make.
Spool the Line Tightly
Tightly spooling up the line can avoid tangling caused by the line wrapping under itself. This little trick means you’ll only have to load the head up once, and you won’t need to re-spool later on.
Pick the Right Line for Your Weed Eater
Now, if you have a top-of-the-line professional weed eater, you can go ahead and pick pretty much any thickness line that you want. But if you have a standard homeowner model, you’ll want to check in your user manual for the manufacturer’s recommended thickness.
As an example, the manual for the Dewalt 20V Max string trimmer states that you should only use an 0.08-inch thickness line, whereas the Ryobi BC30 string trimmer manual states a 0.095-inch thickness line. So you can see, picking the correct line for your weed eater is very important.
Replace the Spool
Having a spare spool for your weed eater is always a good idea as it saves you from having to take a trip to the hardware store mid-weed whacking or could stop you from finishing the job. So, grab yourself a replacement spool and then load it up as normal. Just don’t forget to get the line in nice and tight.
Have a Spare Spring
Another item I like to have on hand is a spare spring. This also saves you from skipping the weed eating for a week and will get you straight back to work. So, just install the new spring, and off you go.
Also, if you do change the spool on your weed eater, remember that sometimes they have the spring attached. So, be sure to remove the spring before you ditch the spool, or you’ll be headed down to the store or using one of your spares.
Replace the Eyelets
Eyelets seem to go missing all the time. This is because, usually, they just loosely slot into the weed eater’s head. So, if you have a habit of taking your spool out and letting the head lay face down in the dirt, they’re probably going to fall out. If you keep losing eyelets, then this could be the reason why. Anyways, just slot in a replacement eyelet, and you’ll be ready to go.