Why Does My Trimmer String Keep Going Back In

If you’re fed up with the trimmer line on your weed eater disappearing back into the spool when you’re out clearing the yard, you’re not alone! It’s a common problem that affects most gardeners now and again, so just why does your trimmer string keep going back in?

The most common causes of trimmer string going back in are either the string not being wound tight enough on the spool, or allowing it to become tangled during winding. Other likely reasons are using the wrong string size for your weed eater or degraded line due to age and storage conditions. 

But don’t worry, whatever the cause, it’s easily fixable. In this blog post, I’ll provide tips to help solve the issue including how to properly load the trimmer spool and check for the right tension of the string to prevent it from ever happening again. 

So grab a cup of your favorite brew, sit back, and let’s get started.

Possible Causes of the Trimmer String Returning to the Spool

Before I dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand the possible causes of the problem. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Inadequate winding – If the string is not securely wound around the spool, it can easily come loose and return to the spool.
  2. Tangled line – If the line gets tangled while you’re winding it on, then it will not be able to feed out properly and eventually disappear back into the reel.
  3. Overwound spool – If you try to load too much string onto the reel it will not be able to feed out properly to start with.
  4. Incorrect string size – Using the wrong size string for your trimmer can cause the string to go back in, as it may not fit or be able to spin as it should.
  5. Worn-out string – Old, frayed string can cause it to disappear back into the reel eventually as it breaks. Age can even cause the line to ‘melt’ together over time meaning it doesn’t auto-feed anymore.
  6. Improper Feeding Technique – Most weed whackers these days have a ‘bump feed’ mechanism where you bang the head on the ground to feed some more line out. If you don’t do this properly then the line will eventually break off and go back into the spool.

Tips On How To Properly Load The Spool

Now that I’ve identified possible causes, let’s discuss how to properly load the trimmer spool to avoid the inconvenience of the string constantly returning back into the head.

First of all, read the manual for your machine to familiarize yourself with the recommended process, and make sure you choose the appropriate string size when buying new line from the store.

Different trimmer models often only take certain sizes. For example, a battery-powered model may only take 0.065-inch string or less whereas, with a petrol version, you can use anything up to 0.095-inch line or above.

Choose good quality professional grade line as there’s usually not that much difference in price compared to cheap products, but better quality trimmer strings wind and perform so much better than low-cost versions.

When you come to load the new string, make sure you wind it in the same direction as indicated by the arrows on the spool after latching one end in the hole on the inside of the reel. It’s also important to wind it tightly while maintaining an even tension, but not too tight! It takes practice but once you get the hang of it you will find it pretty straightforward.

Try to keep the winding fairly even as you go and avoid allowing the string to crisscross itself too much as this can cause it to stick.

Make sure you leave enough line outside the spool, 6 to 8 inches, to allow for easy loading of the string into the trimmer head. This gives you plenty to pull through the feed holes.

How Much New Trimmer String Should I Use?

Most spools take around 12 feet of line but this may vary between models, so always check your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.

You need to get this right as if you use too little then it will not last very long, but if you use too much then it can cause the line to stick on the spool.

The best way to measure it out is to gauge how far it is from one hand to the other when you have your arms outstretched to the sides. If this is around 6 feet for instance, then you just measure out two lengths of line for a spool that takes 12 feet.

Other Useful Tips and Tricks to Maintain the Trimmer String

In order to maintain your trimmer string and help it to wind properly on the reel, it’s important to follow these additional tips:

  1. Storage – Store your trimmer in a dry place, away from extreme temperatures, out of direct sunlight, and keep the string wound tightly around the spool. Unused reels of line should be soaked in a bucket of water during the summer months to prevent it from degrading. I wrote about this in more detail here.
  2. Replacing worn-out string – Do not continue using worn-out string as it can cause additional problems, including returning to the spool. Check regularly and replace it if it looks old, sticky, or frayed.
  3. Avoid hitting hard surfaces – Hitting hard surfaces such as rocks, curbs, or a fence can cause the trimmer string to break and return to the spool.

Additionally, if your trimmer string keeps breaking no matter what you do, this article can help you to determine the cause. 


To wrap up, I’ve covered the possible causes of the trimmer string returning to the spool, and tips on how to properly load the reel. Understanding how to do this correctly is crucial in avoiding frustration and ensuring a smooth trimming experience.

I’ve also included a few other useful tips and tricks to maintaining trimmer string to get the most use out of it and for better performance.

Now it’s your turn! Go ahead, apply these solutions, and look forward to trouble-free weed eating. Happy trimming!

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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