Bewildered by weed eaters? Here s the difference between automatic and bump…
Bewildered by weed eaters? Here‘s the difference between automatic and bump feed trimmers
Why the way in which a trimmer feeds the string is important when choosing the best type of weed eater for your needs.
Choosing between the best electric weed eaters is not an easy task. As long as they succeed in cutting those pesky weeds down to size, it’s job done, right? Well, almost, but there are still some important differences to consider that could make your weed wacking even more pleasurable than it probably already is.
One of the biggest factors in selecting an electric weed eater is how it feeds the string. In this respect, there are two types of electric string trimmer to consider: automatic feed and bump feed trimmers.
The first automatically advances the string and the second requires you to tap the head on the ground to move the string along. To save you the time of worrying about which is the best weed eater for you, we’ve laid bare the advantages and disadvantages of both types of trimmer feed.
Automatic feed electric weed eaters
The automatic advancing mechanism works by sending out more line when the string gets too short. Importantly, if you have an automatic feed electric string trimmer, the last thing you’re going to want to do is tap the head on the sidewalk because it will break it and negate your warranty.
The advantages of automatic feed
The great thing with an automatic feed weed eater is that instead of focusing on the length of the string, you can pay attention to where the grass ends and the prize daffodils begin. Since you don’t have to pause to tap the head on the ground, you can finish trimming faster, leaving more time to dig out the lawn edger and fire up the lawn mower to give your garden the complete works. Automatic feed string trimmers are more prevalent in stores than bump feed trimmers, so shopping for one will be a breeze as well.
The drawbacks of automatic feed
As with any machine with moving pieces, the motor on an automatic feed electric weed eater is bound to break or malfunction at some point. If the motor still works but it doesn’t feed the string properly, you may spend a lot of time trying to fix the line feed jam. Fixing the motor on the automatic feed may be more difficult and expensive than it would be to replace the whole unit.
Bump feed electric weed eaters
With a bump feed weed eater, when you press the head of your trimmer against a flat surface, it squeezes a spring in the head of the string trimmer. This action releases string from the spool so you have a line with which you can cut down debris. The bump feed electric trimmer uses centrifugal force to pull the string from the spool.
The advantages of bump feed
When you have a bump feed string trimmer, you manually advance the string by gently bumping it on the ground. This gives you control over how much line you use. The bump feed is also a more simplified system for advancing string, so if it stops working, it’s more likely you can make repairs quickly and easily. Keep in mind that most electric string trimmers also come with a warranty.
The drawbacks of bump feed
With a bump feed electric weed eater, you’ll need to pay a little more attention and take action when it’s time to advance the string. it’s your responsibility to keep things moving. Another potential problem comes if you push down on the head of your trimmer too hard, as it can crack the spool or damage the spring. Even if you’re gentle with your string trimmer, over time the spring in the head will wear out and you’ll need to replace it.
Pre-wound spools vs. wind your own spools
If you experience feed problems, they are likely to originate with imperfections in the way the line is wound on the spool. If the line isn’t just right, the feed can jam.
DIY basics: intro to string trimmers
A string trimmer is an essential and versatile piece of lawn maintenance equipment that helps give your yard a clean, professionally landscaped look in a short amount of time.
Once you master the basics, you’ll find your grass trimmer to be both easy to use and indispensable.
Before you start yard care
Wearing the right protective gear and following the safety precautions that come with your equipment is vital when you use any kind of string trimmer or edger. Wearing appropriate clothing will help keep you safe and comfortable.
First, whenever you use your weed trimmer, always wear close-toed shoes or sneakers, long pants, and safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
how to replace re string line trimmer weed eater bump feed
Second, follow all safety instructions described in your user manual, such as attaching the debris guard at the base of your trimmer.
Choosing a string trimmer – key features
When you select a string trimmer for your landscaping needs, there are a few key variables to consider. The first is line type. Most string trimmers come with a single line that feeds from a spool. Its whipping motion provides crisp cutting action to trim grass and weeds. Single-line trimmers like the BLACKDECKER 20V MAX EASYFEED String Trimmer/Edger make it easy to wind a new line and are typically the simplest trimmers to maintain. Dual-line grass trimmers have two lines spinning from the spool, requiring a little extra effort to wind. But they offer faster cutting than a single-line trimmer and can cut more easily through tough overgrowth.
Another feature to consider is line thickness. String trimmers are designed to accommodate line ranging from.065mm (as on the 20V MAX EASYFEED String Trimmer/Edger) to.08mm.
The thicker the line, the tougher the cutting job it can handle. If you are simply trimming and edging your lawn most of the time, a thinner line will usually meet your needs.
For comfort, weed trimmers typically feature adjustable handle positions and a tool-free telescoping arm you can set the right height.
Finally, lawn trimmers like our 20V MAX EASYFEED String Trimmer/Edger offer two-speed control, providing extra power when you need it or normal power to maximize runtime.
Lawn care from trimming to edging and back
Many yard trimmers are dual-purpose, including the 20V MAX EASYFEED String Trimmer/Edger. It can be used to trim grass and weeds around trees, shrubs, or anywhere your mower can’t reach, and it can also be used to create a nice crisp edge along beds, sidewalks, or patios.
These combination trimmers/edgers let you easily flip the cutting head from a horizontal position to vertical for wheeled edging. then back again. Converting back and forth between trimming and edging takes just seconds, and you’ll appreciate the convenience of having both capabilities in your hand at all times. Plus, a 2in1 design saves storage space and the expense of a second piece of outdoor equipment.
Cordless string trimmer or corded?
Whether you choose a cordless, battery-powered string trimmer or a corded trimmer you plug into an electric outlet generally depends on where you want to use your trimmer. These different types of trimmers offer trade-offs in terms of reach, runtime, and maneuverability.
Close to home, a corded trimmer like the 7.5 Amp 14 in. Trimmer/Edger will give you unlimited runtime.
If you want the freedom to work anywhere, consider a cordless trimmer such as the BLACKDECKER 20V MAX EASYFEED String Trimmer/Edger. It enables you to work farther from home without being limited by the length of your power cord. Plus, it comes with two Lithium-Ion batteries, so you can keep a fresh battery charging while you work.
How your line feeds
As you use your trimmer/edger around the yard, the tip of the string gradually wears down, so additional string is periodically fed to keep the line at the right cutting length. Different trimmers feed the string in different ways, so you have options to suit your preference.
With bump-feed trimmers, you have to tap the bottom of the trimmer on the ground to release more line as needed. These are older feed designs and can be a little tricky to operate.
EASYFEED trimmers offer a more convenient feeding mechanism that lets you decide how much string you want released and then feed extra line with the push of a button.
Auto-feed trimmers like the BLACKDECKER 7.5 Amp 14 in. Trimmer/Edger feature the AFS Automatic Feed System They automatically sense when the line needs to be fed and do it all for you to provide uninterrupted operation.
String trimmers: your go-to tool for a great-looking yard
Choose the features that meet your needs and yard. Gear up for safety. Adjust the handle and string, and you’re ready to go with one of the most versatile and useful tools you can own for yard maintenance. Your weed trimmer/edger keeps overgrowth at bay, lets you get an even and polished look on your entire lawn, and gives you those clean edges that are the key to a well-manicured yard.
Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. The nominal voltage is 18.
Gas Weed Eater Won’t Start? Try This
Weed eater, weed whacker, string trimmer – no matter what you call it, here‘s how to get it running again.
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No matter what you call it – weed eater, weed whacker, string trimmer – chances are at some point it won’t start. Few things are more annoying than destroying your shoulder trying to start a gas weed eater when there’s work to do.
Fortunately, gas weed-eater engines are pretty simple, so most DIYers with a few tools and some basic know-how can troubleshoot a stubborn trimmer and get it running.
) Check The Gasoline
Gasoline can break down in as little as 30 days, especially today’s ethanol-containing gas.
Homeowners sometimes stash their string trimmer in the garage at season’s end without stabilizing the gas. Oxygen has all winter to break down and ruin the gasoline, leaving you with a trimmer that won’t start in the spring.
If your trimmer falls into this category, empty the old gas from the fuel tank and replace it with fresh fuel.
If your weed eater won’t start, trying removing the air filter and spraying carburetor cleaner into the intake.
) Clean The Carburetor
Once gas breaks down, varnish, gums and other debris can form inside the carburetor and clog the tiny fuel passages. This prevents fuel from reaching the combustion chamber and igniting, leaving you to struggle with a trimmer that won’t start.
Remove the air filter and spray carburetor cleaner into the intake. Let it sit for several minutes to help loosen and dissolve varnish. Replace the filter and try starting the trimmer.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, consider disassembling the carburetor to give it a more thorough cleaning.
Beware, however – taking apart a carburetor marks a point-of-no-return, of sorts. Understanding how the delicate gaskets, tiny screws and needle valves go back together can be a challenge, even on a relatively simple string-trimmer carburetor. Take pictures with your phone throughout the process to help reassembly. Clean all the openings and passages with carburetor cleaner.
If you’re reluctant to take apart the carb, visit the servicing dealer.
Remove the spark plug and use light sandpaper to clean electrode deposits to help fix a gas trimmer that won’t start.
) Clean/Replace Spark Plug
Oil deposits and carbon can foul the spark plug in a two-stroke engine if a low-quality oil is used. Deposits on the electrode prevent the plug from firing properly, which can reduce performance or prevent the engine from running altogether.
Plugs are inexpensive, so replace it if it’s fouled. If you don’t have a new plug available, clean the deposits from the electrode with light-duty sandpaper and check the gap. Consult the owner’s manual for the correct gap size.
If you know the spark plug is good, but the engine still doesn’t produce spark, the coil is likely to blame and requires replacement.
Direct compressed air from the inside of the air filter toward the outside to remove debris that may be restricting airflow.
) Clean/Replace Air Filter
A clogged air filter prevents the engine from receiving sufficient air to operate properly.
Before removing the air filter, brush away loose debris from around the filter cover and filter element. Tap rigid filters on a tabletop or the palm of your hand to dislodge any dirt or debris. Compressed air also works well. Make sure you direct air through the filter from the inside to avoid lodging debris deeper in the filter.
Avoid washing paper filters as this can collapse their micro-fine structure. Foam filters, however, can easily be washed using mild detergent and warm water.
As with the spark plug, however, replacement is often the best practice, especially if the filter is excessively dirty.
A spark-arrestor screen clogged with deposits can choke off airflow enough to prevent the trimmer from starting.
) Clean The Spark-Arrestor Screen
On many trimmers, a small screen covers the exhaust outlet and prevents sparks from exiting the muffler and potentially starting a fire.
As with plug fouling, too much oil in the gasoline, inferior oil and continued low-rpm operation can plug the screen with carbon deposits. This prevents exhaust-gas flow, which leads to power loss. In extreme cases, heavy deposits choke airflow enough to leave you with a weed eater that won’t start.
To fix the problem, remove the spark-arrestor screen and spray it with a heavy-duty cleaner, like AMSOIL Power Foam to soften the deposits before cleaning the screen with an abrasive pad. Reinstall the screen and test the trimmer.
Replace the screen altogether if it’s excessively plugged with carbon.
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Gas-Powered vs. Battery-Powered Weed Eaters
Do the loud noises from neighborhood lawn equipment ruin your quiet Saturday? Or are you more, “Give me power at any cost?” These are things you’ll need to consider when choosing between gas vs. battery-powered weed eaters.
Battery-powered and gas-powered weed eaters do the same job, so you may wonder, “What’s the difference?” Actually, power sources mean big differences in the use and performance of machines. Before you buy a weed eater, you want to know what type of machine will serve your lawn most efficiently and whether or not the noise or gas smell will bother you.
We’ll discuss the pros and cons of gas-powered vs. battery-powered weed eaters to help you decide which is best for your lawn.
- Why do I need a weed eater?
- Essential weed eater terms
- Pros and cons of gas-powered weed eaters
- Pros and cons of battery-powered weed eaters
- Which is the best weed eater for me?
- FAQ about weed eaters
Why do I need a weed eater?
Weed eaters are an indispensable power tool in the DIY lawn maintenance tool kit. These handy machines help homeowners and lawn pros cut down grass and weeds in areas that a lawn mower just won’t reach.
If you have a drain ditch in your lawn or a steep slope, a weed eater will keep the grass looking nice and neat. These machines also create that professional, finished look when you use them to create clean lines around the edge of your lawn and flower beds.
Believe it or not, battery- and gas-powered machines aren’t the only types of weed eaters on the market. You’ll also see electric string trimmers (AKA corded models that require an extension cord) and even propane weed eaters.
Electric models are popular in very small, “postage stamp” lawns, and propane models perform as well as gas. While it’s good to know there are other options, we’ll FOCUS on the more popular gas-powered and cordless models in this article.
Not only do weed eaters accomplish many lawn tasks, but they also have many names:
- Weed whacker (or weed wacker)
- Whipper snipper
- Weed trimmer
- String trimmer
- Weed whipper
- Line trimmer
- Grass trimmer
They all mean the same thing and do the same job. Here are a few brands you’re probably familiar with:
Essential weed eater terms
If you’re a weed eater novice, here are a few terms and components to familiarize yourself with as you do your research:
Gas models rely on gas and oil to power the engine. Battery-powered models rely on batteries — usually a lithium-ion battery. Both types offer brushless motors as well. Brushless motors are more efficient and less noisy than brushed motors. If you’re concerned about cost, though, know that the brushless motors are more expensive.
When you look at these power sources, gas models will label motor power in cubic centimeters (cc) and battery models will label it in volts (24V). The higher the number, the more power they offer.
Battery-powered models work well on lawns up to an acre, depending on your level of power. Use a machine with 20-40 volts for up to ½ acre, or from 40-80 volts for up to an acre. If your lawn is over an acre, you may want to consider a gas-powered machine.
Also, pay attention to rpm (revolutions per minute). Some will have a variable speed option as well (3,500 rpm, 5,300 rpm, 6,500 rpm) to save battery power. The higher rpm, the better the line will cut through thicker material.
There are four types of feed systems: bump feed, auto-feed, command feed, and fixed-line feed. The purpose of the feed system is to release more line when you’re running low.
- Bump feed: Tap the machine on the ground a few times while it’s running to get a longer string. This system is quick and easy and, if you’ve removed the guard, it gives you control over the length of your line.
- Auto-feed: The trimmer uses its own “brain” to release more line when the line is too short. This system is convenient but gives the operator less control over the length of the line.
- Command feed: When you run low on line, simply push a button or turn a dial, and the feed mechanism will release more line. This is similar to the bump feed because you can make your line as short or long as you wish.
- Fixed-line system: Buy pre-measured segments of line to load into the feed mechanism when your line runs low. This system works with fixed-line heads to load a pre-cut length of line into the machine. These heads are often ideal for heavy-duty trimmers that require thicker string.
Trimmer line (or blade)
Different trimmers will accept different trimmer line widths. (Trimmer line is the string that does all of the cutting.) Some battery-powered models accept slightly thinner line widths than gas models. Some trimmers come with the option to buy blades for tougher jobs.
You can choose from two main types of handles: loop handles or bicycle (AKA “bullhorn”) handles. Loop handles are most common on residential weed eaters. Bicycle handles may be more comfortable for larger, longer, brush clearing jobs. Try both types to see which feels more comfortable for you.
Weed eaters come with curved shafts or straight shafts. Curved shafts are for light use on a residential property, and they are great for beginners. Straight shafts are for more strenuous commercial work and sometimes come with the option to buy a blade or other accessories. Straight shaft trimmers are also easier to get under bushes. Curved-shaft models are less expensive overall.
If you have lots of brush or rocks in your lawn, pay attention to the size of your debris guard on the back of the head. Some are larger than others. You’ll want to invest in a model with a larger deflector (or purchase a kit) if this is a concern for you. Some models also come with a flip-down edge guard in the front that ensures you don’t get too close to trees and other plants.
After you’ve started the engine, you may wonder, “How do I spin the line?” There are often two control buttons above the handle. Why are there two? One acts as a safety. For example, if you mistakenly press one while you are holding the machine, the line won’t run (and you’ll be less likely to cut something unintentionally). So, when you’re ready to start weed eating, press both control buttons to spin the line.
Pros and cons of gas-powered weed eaters
Gas-powered string trimmers are the “old guard” of the string trimmer world. They’ve been around much longer than battery or electric weed eaters and have a good track record of reliable performance. Here are some pros and cons of these machines.
✓ Delivers commercial-level, all-day performance✓ Sufficient power for large properties or many properties✓ Handles tall grass and overgrowth with ease✓ Preferred choice of pros✓ Can be repaired ✓ Consistent power throughout use✓ Easy to carry gasoline with you
✗ Gas engine requires maintenance✗ Exhaust emissions may have adverse effects on people and air quality✗ Noisy to operate✗ Engine can become gummed up with old fuel or fuel without proper stabilizer ✗ Pull starters can be difficult for some homeowners✗ Gas and oil can be messy to work with
Pros and cons of battery-powered weed eaters
Battery-powered weed eaters (AKA cordless weed eaters) are the (relatively) new kid on the weed whacking block, but they’ve made quite an impression on many homeowners. Many residential customers enjoy their quiet, emission-free operation and sufficient run time.
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✓ Does a sufficient job for a small property or a single property✓ No engine to maintain✓ Batteries swap out easily if you run out of power✓ Very low noise✓ No gas or oil to replace✓ Easier to start — no pull cord✓ No fumes✓ Can use batteries from other machines from the same brand✓ No emissions
✗ Battery power dilemma — Need a recharging station if you want to weed eat all day (or have tons of batteries)
✗ Battery run time✗ Battery recharge time✗ Hard to find someone to repair✗ Power fades as battery life fades✗ Rechargeable batteries and charger may not come with the unit
Which is the best weed eater for me?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you make a decision:
What size property do you have? Smaller residential properties are ideal for battery-powered weed eaters. Larger properties not only have more space but are likely to have taller grass and brush, so gas-powered trimmers may be a better fit.
How do you plan to use the weed eater? Unless you’ve built your lawn care business around being an all-electric provider, you’ll need at least one gas weed eater in your arsenal. If the machine will only be for you as a homeowner, a battery-powered model has plenty of power.
What level of engine care are you willing to do? Gas-powered models require you to get your hands dirty. You’ll need a constant supply of gas and oil, and you’ll need to winterize it before you put it away for the off-season. If you’re not willing to do this, go with a battery-powered model.
What kind of attachments do you need? Before you make a purchase, look into which attachments (if any) your top pick offers. Common attachments include hedge trimmers, pole saws, edgers, and cultivators. Attachments save space and money and are a good investment for many customers.
Both gas string trimmers and cordless string trimmers come with a few models that are dual brush cutter/trimmers. This gives you many more options for ways to use your trimmer.
Physical considerations: As you’re shopping around, pay attention to the weight of the machine. If you don’t like to carry around heavy machinery for a long time, consider that as you shop. Gas-powered machines are generally a little heavier than battery-powered models.
See if it has other ergonomic features for ease of use or for jobs that will require more than a quick walk around the lawn. Sometimes straps and slings are helpful for those larger cleanup jobs. Straps and slings distribute the weight across your shoulders and give your arms and back a break.
Finally, consider the length of the shaft. Although some shafts have an adjustable-length feature, other machines only have one length, which could be problematic for some buyers. If you’re concerned about getting a machine that works well for your stature, go inside the store and hold several different machines to gauge weight, ergonomics, and length.
Extras: Not all battery-powered models include the battery and/or charger. In addition, you’ll probably want to buy a backup battery upfront so you can have an extra battery on days when you want to stay out in the lawn longer than one battery will allow.
Cutting width: If you prefer a wide cutting width (diameter), check this before you buy. If you’re used to a 17-inch cutting path, for example, you might be disappointed if you get home and find that yours only has a 13-inch reach.
Warranty: If this is important to you, check to see what warranty is offered. With battery-powered equipment, battery warranties may be separate. If you don’t see a separate warranty for the battery, check to see whether or not that is included.
FAQ about weed eaters
Which is the best weed eater for seniors?
For seniors or for anyone who isn’t as strong as Joe Lumberjack, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
—Weight: Look at the tool weight. Also, consider that a battery or tank of gas will add to that. —Pull start vs. battery start: With a gas model, the pull start may be an issue for some seniors. You have to put the weed eater on the ground and quickly pull up on the string. A spring-assist pull start may make starting the machine easier if you prefer a gas weeder. However, if you’re considering a battery-powered model, push a button, squeeze the trigger, and you’re good to go. —Ergonomics: You may want to invest in a special handle or shoulder strap. Even though this tool may only see residential use, these components may make even a small job that much easier. —Cost: If you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, curved-shaft models are usually less expensive. Also, look for refurbished models or seasonal sales. Generally, stores offer both great and great selection s on lawn equipment on the three summer holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day). Fall sales starting in September offer great deals (end-of-season), but selection may be more limited.
Which is the best brand of weed eater?
What brand of lawn equipment have you enjoyed using in the past? Or, what brand does your neighbor recommend? Personal experience and the recommendations of friends go a long way.
You may even ask the lawn workers in your neighborhood to see what type of equipment they use. If someone works with a tool day in and day out, they probably have a favorite brand to recommend.
Pro Tip: If neighbors or lawn crews are in short supply, call your local small engine shop. They’ve got the inside scoop on which brands they never see, and which ones come in all the time for repairs.
Which is the best residential weed eater?
Heavy-duty vs. light-duty use: If you have a small, postage-stamp-sized lawn, don’t go all out. A simple, lightweight machine will do fine. If, on the other hand, you have a standard yard, a large yard, or a backyard that looks like a jungle if you let it go, you may want to opt for a more powerful model.
Quality: High-quality machines usually cost more. If you don’t have experience with a particular brand or model, read helpful online “Best Weed Eater” guides, talk to neighbors, and read reviews.
Cost: This is a defining factor for many homeowners. Lighter use means a lower cost and vice versa. Shop sales, and do your research for a model that will do what you need at a price you can afford.
If weed-eating is not your favorite way to relax after a long week, let our local lawn care pros take the guesswork out of “Who’s going to mow my lawn?” Our reliable crews give your lawn a professional cut and edge every time.
Main Photo Credit: StrangeApparition2011 | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0