Cardboard Baler or Compactor Won’t Start? Check this first!

Published by William Montgomery on

Balers and compactors are key players in recycling and waste management, but ever try to start one, and nothing happens? Electrical issues are the first place to look outside of possible, obvious leaks and noises. So, what is the number one failure we typically come across?

The leading cause of baler and compactor malfunctions is electrical issues. Typically, the fuse, bridging the transformer to the controls with 110VAC, blows. Second, a loose or broken wire keeps the circuit from forming, sometimes shorting.

Now you know the first place to look, but let’s keep reading and see what to do and some other common electrical issues that may happen to prevent a baler or compactor from working correctly.

Identifying Fuse Problems Step 1

Fuses are designed to protect electrical circuits from overload. A blown fuse is usually a warning sign of an overload or power surge in balers and compactors. Regular inspections of wire terminals and connections (WITH THE POWER OFF) can often prevent unexpected downtime caused by fuses.

Fuses should be checked for signs of damage, such as scorch marks or deformation. An unusually hot fuse can also indicate a problem of too much current. A multimeter can be used to check if a fuse is blown by using the continuity function on the meter. If the fuse has no continuity, it is blown or bad and will need replacing.

See the #1 fuse that typically blows in our store: 2A Ceramic Fuse.

Loose Wiring and Connections is Step 2

Loose wiring and connections are a common but overlooked electrical issue. Constant vibrations from machine operation can allow loose wires to wiggle free over time. Inspecting and securing loose connections during regular maintenance checks can prevent problems leading to erratic machine performance or total breakdown.

Broken or dislodged wires can also result from physical wear or poor installation. Always ensure wires are appropriately secured, protected, and not under strain or pinched during installation or maintenance work.

Damaged Switches and Their Effects

Switches in balers and compactors can wear down or get damaged, causing the machinery to stop working. Regularly inspect switches for signs of wear or damage. Look for changes in switch behavior, such as a switch requiring more force to operate or not staying in position.

Limit switches have arms that swing and can get bent or get blocked. If a switch shows signs of damage, replace/ repair it promptly to prevent sudden machine failures. The limit switches are there for your safety!

The switch that is used on the machine is determined by the manufacturer. Common switches that may be used are; magnetic interlock switches, Arm & Plunge limit switches, and proximity sensors. Testing is specific to each kind. To learn more about the switches, check out our complete article on the 13 things that balers break down from.

Additional Electrical Issues That May Arise on a baler or compactor

Other potential electrical issues include power surges, voltage fluctuations, overheating of electrical components, and faulty circuit breakers.

The starter wiring and motor controls are also something to look at because they are designed to wear at the contactors. When a higher amp flow compared to the actual rated amp flow in the starter is used, it will last longer.

Examples: the electric has a long run, the starter is sized for 30A, and the FLA is 28A, but because of the voltage drop, the motor actually pulls 32A.

It is best to size the starter 30% to 50% bigger than needed. Say the FLA is 15A, then size your starter around 25A plus or minus a few amps.

Installing surge protectors, maintaining a stable power supply, ensuring adequate ventilation, and regularly testing circuit breakers can prevent these problems. Incorrect wiring or faulty installations can result in a myriad of electrical issues.

Check out our starters ready to go for your typical voltage need and HP size motor by clicking here.

Preventive Maintenance and Its Importance

A robust preventive maintenance schedule is essential to longevity. Regular inspections help identify and resolve potential issues before they become downtime. Prioritize checks for electrical components like wires, switches, fuses, and circuit breakers. Remember, prevention is always better (and often cheaper) than the cure.


Navigating electrical issues in balers and compactors can be challenging, but it’s manageable with knowledge and proactive measures. Want a more comprehensive guide? Check out our extensive article, your go-to resource for everything about balers and compactors, from functioning to troubleshooting and maintenance.

But you can fix it quickly with common sense and an electrical tester. See what testers we use on our trucks so you can compare for your needs.



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