How to Keep String Trimmer Line from Sticking

Landscaping is a love-it-or-hate-it activity, but if you want to keep a great-looking lawn, you’re going to need an effective string trimmer. Without one, keeping your lawn immaculate can be a serious chore.

However, you may end up with an issue where the string trimmer line sticks or hangs up during operation, which can make it harder to get the job done. 

You must load the string properly into the head of the trimmer to keep the string trimmer line from sticking. The “bump-to-release” feature on many trimmers allows you to give yourself more string when it starts to run low without having to stop trimming operations, but if the string isn’t loaded correctly, it won’t spool out as intended. 

Maintaining your trimmer correctly can help prevent you from dealing with a sticky trimmer line. Keep reading to learn more about how to keep your string trimmer operating right. 

What Causes String Trimmer Line to Stick? 

There are many different reasons why your string trimmer line may begin to stick. Here are a few of them: 

  • The trimmer line doesn’t fit the diameter of the spool housing: There are specialized trimmer lines such as serrated lines that can make trimming activities easier, but some of these lines are thicker and may not fit correctly in all trimmer spools. Make sure that the trimmer line you get is compatible with the spool on your trimmer before purchasing it.
  • The trimmer line is crossed on the spool: If the trimmer line becomes crossed on the spool while being loaded, this can cause it to refuse to come out during trimming. Be sure to load trimmer string onto the trimmer straight without crossing over the lines to avoid this problem while trimming.
  • The trimmer line is too short to bump: If you let your string shorten while trimming until it recedes into the spool housing, it’ll get stuck, and then you’ll have to stop all of your trimming activities to open the housing and try to fix it. So, it’s important to keep an eye on your line and make sure you bump out more if you see that it’s getting low during trimming. 

You must take care to bump out your string carefully. Trying to bump out trimmer string on the ground and holding the trimmer to the ground for too long in the process can result in a “burn-out,” which rips grass right up out of the lawn. Kind of the opposite effect of the immaculate grass you were going for!

The Right Equipment Keeps Your Trimmer Line from Sticking

Landscaping equipment and tools are a world where you get what you pay for, and going with a cheaper trimmer line or trimmer can ultimately result in more mechanical failures (such as a stuck trimmer line).

If you invest the extra money in a high-quality trimmer, you’re less likely to get stuck dealing with a subpar machine that eats up trimmer string. 

There also isn’t that much money to be saved with buying cheap trimmer line and trimmers. Not only does it increase the likelihood that you’ll get your trimmer line stuck, but you’ll also be more likely to break the trimmer head entirely, necessitating a full replacement.

It’s a much better philosophy to get a more expensive machine from the start with a better warranty and a better reputation—you’ll save yourself the hassle and expense of having to replace a junky trimmer later. 

Two of the strongest brand names in handheld trimmers are Stihl and Echo, which are similar in quality because the components of their machines come from the same manufacturer. Many landscapers and other professionals hold these two brands up as generally more reliable than other off-brand trimmers found on the market. 

The Right Trimmer String for the Job

Investing in a high-quality trimmer string as well as a high-quality trimmer can go a long way towards making sure you don’t get your trimmer line stuck.

Not only can you prevent hang-ups with a high-quality trimmer line, but you’ll also have a lot less hassle and delay from having to stop a trimming job to re-string the trimmer when the line breaks. The cheaper the line, the more likely it is to stick or break in the spool housing. 

While a cheap spool of trimmer string may allow you to bump out new string more quickly, you’re also likely to eat up string faster. While it might seem like a good deal financially to invest in a cheaper trimmer line up front, in the long run, you may end up having to spend more money either in replacing broken line or—worst case scenario—having to replace a worn-out trimmer. 

Here are a few high-quality strings that can help prevent you from getting your line caught on your trimmer: 

It’s definitely worth it to invest in some good trimmer line upfront. You won’t regret the decision when you make it through a full day’s worth of landscaping without having to break down a piece of equipment and try to repair it mid-job. 

Trimmer Maintenance Keeps Your Trimmer Line from Sticking

Another thing that keeps your trimmer line from sticking other than choosing the correct line and equipment to work with is to maintain your trimmer properly. With proper maintenance, mechanical failures like a stuck spool happen less often during operation, especially if you do a lot of landscaping work and put your trimmer under a heavy load. 

Here are some of the maintenance tasks you need to perform to keep your trimmer’s spool operating in top shape:

  • Clean the trimmer thoroughly after each use.
  • Keep the trimmer out of inclement weather such as rain or sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Change the air filter roughly every 90 days.
  • Keep engine fluids topped off.
  • Replace the trimmer’s spark plug as necessary.

The thing about machines is that the better they’re taken care of, the fewer problems you’ll have to deal with when operating them. That’s why machines that have been lovingly maintained for hundreds of years still work, while machines that are neglected can break down in a matter of months.

It’s a good idea while maintaining your trimmer that you always open the housing and keep an eye on how much string you have left on the spool.

If it looks like you’re running low on trimmer string, you should re-spool the trimmer during routine maintenance rather than having to stop what you’re doing in the middle of a landscaping job and break down your trimmer while it’s hot and dirty. 

Making sure that the trimmer has enough line installed is an important factor in keeping your line from getting caught, especially if you have a trimmer with a “bump to release” feature. Without enough trimmer line in the spool housing, that bump to release feature won’t work. 


Getting high-quality trimming equipment and making sure that it is kept in good condition is crucial for avoiding mechanical failures like a sticking trimmer line. Not only can this problem be very aggravating in the middle of a landscaping job, but it can also potentially break the head of your trimmer and force you to buy a new one. 

For that reason, getting a strong trimmer line, learning how to load it and bump it correctly, and making sure your trimmer is kept in good shape can keep you trimming longer without technical difficulties. 

Peter Toth

Hi! I'm Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I've created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

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