I enjoy writing tutorials on how to fix things you can find around the house.
How Do You Turn Off an Edger, Trimmer, Blower, or Other Small Engine When the Off Switch Isn't Working?
In this article, I'm going to tell you exactly how to turn off a small engine, like that of an edger or a trimmer, when the off switch (sometimes called a kill switch) is not working. Chances are you're covered in disgusting lawn debris, dirt, and grime while frantically trying to figure this out while your small engine burns up in the backyard, so I'll get right to the point.
Difficulty Level: Extremely Easy
Materials Needed: None (maybe a small bucket and a shop rag)
Experience Level: Beginner
Example: How to Turn Off a Gas-Powered 2-Stroke Engine on a Redmax Edger (Pole-Style/Stick)
In this example, I'm going to assume the edger is running, and you've already tried moving the kill switch into the off or stop position and the engine did not turn off. This means you have a problem. If you have not tried to use the off switch, that is the intended way to turn off the edger. Just move the switch to the off or stop position and the engine shuts off.
What to Do: Step-by-Step Instructions
The following steps will outline exactly what to do if the off switch is not working. This plan is followed by a contingency plan.
- Verify that the off switch does not work by trying it a few times.
- Hold the edger securely, or rest it on a flat surface.
- Do not rev the engine by pulling the trigger that turns the blade!
- Move the throttle to the "cold start" position (pictured below).
- The "throttle" is that switch you have to flip before pulling the start cord. It usually indicated by a "cold start" and "warm start" label, sometimes a turtle and rabbit icon is used, etc. Typically you have to rev the engine in the "Cold Start" position (turtle), and then fire the engine up in the "Warm Start" position (rabbit). Usually this is a lever with an "up" or "down" position. Sometimes it is a pin that is either in or out.
- With the throttle in the "cold start" position, pull the trigger that would normally rev the engine and turn the blade and hold it down.
- Hold the trigger down/in with the throttle in the "cold start" position until the engine shuts off.
- What this does is "choke" your engine out and forces it to stall. This will effectively turn your engine off and will not (should not) damage your engine if you only have to do it once, or maybe a few times. I do not recommend using this method to turn off your edger's engine on a regular basis!
- Now your engine is off. You're done!
Plan B: I Don't Feel Comfortable Choking My Engine with the Throttle Method You Described Above
Is there another way to do it? Yes, there is. You can let the machine burn all of the fuel and it will eventually turn off. You can expedite this by using the following method:
- Lay the edger on a flat surface.
- Make sure the area is clear of dogs, animals, or small children.
- Get a small bucket.
- Have a shop rag in your good hand.
- You are about to open the gas cap while the engine is running. Be careful! This is potentially dangerous.
- Clear your body of the gas tank's opening direction and turn your head away from the opening.
- With the rag covering your hand and the gas cap, unscrew the gas cap with slow, even pressure.
- It should come off easily and without issue. But still, exercise extreme caution while performing this.
- Carefully tip the edger over and pour the contents of the gas tank into the small bucket.
- Do not replace the cap. Do not touch the contents of the gas tank.
- Sit the edger off to the side somewhere and let it run itself off.
- This will turn your edger off as well. You're done!
Caution: Your Edger (or Small Engine) Needs Repairs!
This article will help you turn off your edger, even if the kill switch doesn't work, but that doesn't solve the bigger problem. Why isn't the off button working? It's probably something simple, and if you're feeling handy you can probably take the casing off and make sure the wires are connected properly. Otherwise, for most of us, I recommend taking it to your local lawnmower/small engine repair shop. It should be a simple fix for them.
My Personal Experience and Source for the Method
Story time: Driving home, Redmax stick edger in tow, I'm excited to edge back the overgrowth making my sidewalk the visual bane of our little street corner. I was apprehensive about purchasing a used piece of lawn equipment, but I did a little on-site research and determined I was getting a good deal, so I made the purchase. Dwayne, the lawnmower repair guy, demonstrated the edger and I liked it. Sweet!
Done edging, I wipe the sweat from my face, lean up against my truck's tailgate, and casually flip the off switch to the "stop" position. I furrow my brow. The engine did not turn off. What the hell? I think to myself. I toggle the on/off switch back and forth a few times. The motherf*** piece of sh** edger will not turn off! That $%@#%^ lawnmower guy ripped me off! *&^*&!!
I raged for a few moments then started trying to figure out how to turn the damned thing off. I couldn't figure it out. I walk into my house, traipsing dirt, fresh grass cuttings, and grime into the house, and start rattling through Google search pages. Nothing. Nothing!
So, I dump the contents of my edger's gas tank into a bucket and let it run itself out. I'm pissed. I leave a terse message on Dwayne the lawnmower repair guy's voicemail, and schedule a meeting. One of his technicians showed me how to choke the engine out, which helped create the inspiration for this article, and then fixed it.
It was a wiring issue, naturally. But the actual cause is beside the point. I was frustrated that no simple how-to article existed on what must be a fairly common problem, so here you go. I decided to create one for you.
Be peaceful on your way.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Time Spiral (author) from Florida on May 17, 2013:
Thanks for the tip, Jetmech!
jetmech0417 on May 17, 2013:
A faster, and safer way to kill the engine is to simply pull the cord off the spark plug. The kill switch basically works in the same way, by interrupting the electrical power being sent to the plug.