How To Unblock A Garden Shredder

No matter how careful you are, at some point, the shredder will get blocked. This is such a common problem that garden shredder manufacturers have added a reverse spin to the shredder blade disc to unclog the system.

As soon as you notice it’s blocked stop adding any more material into the hopper. Turn the power off. Reverse the direction, turn it back on, it should now run freely. That is the standard quick fix that works 9 times out of 10. If it doesn’t work after reversing the spin, you could have a blockage.

How To Unblock A Garden Shredder In 6 Easy Steps

Here’s how to unblock a garden shredder in 6 easy steps. You will need an adjustable spanner, allen keys, screwdriver, and wear protective gloves, goggles, etc.

  1. Locate The Blockage
    We know it has a blockage because it will not pull any more material through. We can see it’s not easily visible, so we need to start taking the shredder apart. 
  2. Make The Shredder Safe To Touch
    Unplug it if it’s an electric model or remove the spark plug cap if it’s a petrol shredder. So there is no chance of the blades spinning and causing you injury.
  3. Remove The Hopper And The Flywheel Housing
    Using a spanner or allen keys (depending on the make and the model), remove the hopper and the flywheel housing, and look for any blockages near the blades.
  4. Dislodge The Blockage
    Once you’ve located the blockage, remove it by hand if possible. If not you can probably pick away at it with a long-handled screwdriver.
  5. Replace The Flywheel Housing And The Hopper
    Once the shredder is reassembled, switch to reverse mode and turn on the machine, it should now be running freely.
  6. Switch To Forward Mode
    Now return the switch to forward mode and check for any blockages.

The design of the garden shredder is such that there isn’t too much to go wrong with it. If it still won’t work, you could have burnt out the motor. If that is the case, you’ll probably find it cheaper to replace the shredder as opposed to replacing the motor.

As long as you switched the shredder off as soon as the blockage was noticed, there should be no problem with the motor.

Always check your manufacturer’s handbook before self diagnosing any potential problem. Maybe it was just the blockage and once you’ve cleared it, the machine will not start for a set amount of time (safety cut-out feature).

How To Prevent Blockages In The Future

  • Check the handbook that came with your shredder, it will tell you the maximum diameter of branches that can be safely passed through the shredder.
  •  Never exceed this limit under any circumstances. 
  • Alternate between greenwoods and dried woods to give the shredder a chance to move the pieces through without clogging.
  • Never put large clumps of grass into the shredder, grass is one of the main causes of blockage in shredders.
  • Keep the blades sharp enough to deal with the material going through it.
  • Resharpen the blades every 25 usage hours or once a year whichever comes first.
  • Replace the blades after 3 resharpening sessions, otherwise they can become too thin and brittle.

Still Can’t Unblock It?

If you still can’t unblock your garden shredder after reading this guide, you may need to consider buying a new one. If that’s the case, be sure to check out our buyers guide here.

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