Discovering that your wood chipper machine is not working can put you in a tight spot. Does the engine run slowly, or won’t start at all? Does it leak gas? Or perhaps the engine is running, but the chipper still won’t turn on. It can be an unnerving experience, but it’s not the end of the world. Knowing how the machine operates will enable you to use quick DIY troubleshooting techniques to fix the chipper. This is a short guide on how to diagnose and fix various wood chipper problems.
There are various reasons why a wood chipper may stop working. In most cases, it’s a tiny problem that makes your chipper perform poorly. Here’s a look:
1. Blunt or worn out blades
Every tree care expert will tell you the significance of maintaining and changing wood chipper blades regularly. The most common cause of wood chipper problems is blunt or worn-out blades. If you have used it over a long period of time this could be the problem. It could also be that you’ve already sharpened the blades many times, and they are just not suitable for the job anymore. Either way, if you are not keeping up with your chipper knives, expect unsatisfactory chip quality.
If your wood chipper is not working correctly, check the blades before panicking. If the blades are not more than 28mm, switch them out for new ones.
2. Worn out anvil
Another cause of unsatisfactory chip quality is a worn-out anvil. The anvil is one of the most overlooked chipper parts. The anvil is a stationary metallic bar on the chipper housing that supports the logs as they get chipped. It is therefore essential that the anvil fits properly and is conditioned well for optimal chipping functions. Signs of a worn out anvil include:
- Poor chip quality
- Widening gap between the blade and anvil
- Uneven chunks of wood
- Excess dust
Maintain the anvil as often as you maintain your chipper engine. Try rotating it to see if it works again; if that fails, consider switching it out for a brand new anvil. It’s recommended to switch out the anvil for a new one every 3 or 4 sets of replacement blades. Also, check the distance between blades and anvil; it shouldn’t be wider than the recommended size. You should adjust the distance so your machine runs better, saving on fuel and the number of trips to the dumpsite.
3. Drive belt is worn or damaged
If your engine is running, but the chipper does not spin, the drive belt may be worn or damaged. Even if the engine is working, the chipper blades will not spin if the drive belt is damaged or slipped. It is common for the drive belt to wear out over time due to overuse, and it will most likely need to be replaced at some point during your machine’s life.
Take off the drive belt cover and check the drive belt, then put it back in if necessary. The belt should be switched out for a new one if it is severely worn or broken. The correct number for the replacement part can be found in your user manual.
A worn-out drive belt can cause poor ejection from the spout. In this case a replacement is necessary. This can also transpire if the belt has become slack. In this case, adjusting the drive belt will fix the issue.
4. Faulty driveshaft
The driveshaft connects to the blade assembly. It’s in charge of rotating the blades just like the crankshaft spins the flywheel. A drive belt connects the flywheel and driveshaft, transferring the crankshaft and flywheel spinning motion to the driveshaft, making it turn the blade assembly.
In case the drive shaft is broken, the blade assembly will spin slowly or not at all. The bearings within the driveshaft system can also wear out or break, preventing the driveshaft assembly from rotating. Your driveshaft may need to be fixed or replaced if it is keeping the blade assembly from rotating.
5. Engine does not start properly
Your chipper won’t work if the engine runs poorly or fails to start at all. Here are some common reasons for why the engine is not starting correctly.
The spark plug is damaged or worn
You should check the spark plug in your machine for signs of damage, such as cracked porcelain insulator, burnt electrode, or massive carbon buildup around the electrode. Get a spark plug tester to determine if your spark plug is faulty, too. If there’s no strong spark between the spark plug tester’s terminals when you crank the engine, the plug is defective, and you should consider replacing it.
Defective ignition coil
For the engine to start, the ignition coil must send voltage to the spark plug. In case of a defective ignition coil, the engine won’t start at all. Replacing the ignition key can fix the issue. However, make sure the spark plug is in good condition because even if you replaced the ignition coil, but the spark plug is damaged, the machine won’t work optimally.
Broken flywheel key
The flywheel key is a small metallic piece that’s inserted into the crankshaft to engage the flywheel. If the engine abruptly stops, the key shears in half, preventing the engine from damage. Once broken, a replacement is needed; otherwise, the engine won’t function the next time.
Another reason why your chipper won’t work is if the engine doesn’t get enough fuel or any at all. Check the carburetor for clogs that keep fuel from reaching the engine.
There are carburetor cleaners to eliminate clogs, deposits, and debris. You won’t even need to pull the carburetor from the engine. Apart from a clogged carburetor, other causes of engine performance issues include stale fuel, deteriorated oil, and a dirty air filter. Maintenance is essential; give your chipper engine annual tune-ups. Also, ensure that the carburetor choke is closing properly.
Defective start switch
Is the start switch on your machine hard to turn or working intermittently? Then consider replacing it. There’s a millimeter test for figuring out defective start switches. When in the ‘On’ position, the switch contact should be open, and vice versa.
Faulty recoil starter
Another cause of engine problem is faulty recoil starter. Take apart the starter assembly to check if the recoil starter is functioning as it should. Pull the rope on the starter to see if tabs spread from cam and pulley grab onto the engine’s hub, making it turn. And when you let go of the rope, the tabs should pull back, so the rope rewinds onto the pulley. If you don’t see these events, your coil starter is faulty and should be replaced.
Common Troubleshooting Questions
How do I stay safe while troubleshooting my wood chipper?
Wood chippers are dangerous machines; safety is key no matter how much money you are trying to save. Before looking into your machine, disengage the clutch, switch off the engine and give the drum time to reach a complete stop. Furthermore, put the drum lock pin in place, remove the battery, and keep the key with you at all times.
How long do wood chipper blades last?
A wood chipper blade that’s single-sided can last 25 – 50 hrs. between sharpening, and it can be sharpened three times for a total of 75 – 150 hrs. of use. On the other hand, a double-sided chipper blade has twice the life of a single-sided chipper blade, lasting between 150 and 300 hours on average.
How do you unplug your wood chipper?
To unplug a chipper plugged into the disc housing, you must dig out the chips and wiggle the disc until it releases. To free up the disc, I sometimes use a large crescent. If your wood chipper clogs up often, take out the bed knife and ensure it is rounded off and has a sharp edge.
Bed knives should be hardened, and ground square, or they should be replaced entirely. Of course, your disc knives must be razor-sharp as well. That means you should replace them when they become dull; knives can become dull in as little as a few days. Throw anything that has been swept up into the chipper. Sweepings are taken straight to the truck. Also, adjust your bed knife for proper clearance.
Wood chippers are available in various styles and configurations. But no matter the brand, proper maintenance is key for safety and reduced fuel expenses. In most cases, you can diagnose chipper problems on your own and save a few dollars. Obviously, safety comes first. Always make sure the machine is fully disengaged and switched off before inspecting it for problems.