Choose the Right Leaf Blower for You
As leaf blower owners have since discovered, the leaf blower is not a one-season tool. In the winter, it can remove light snow from cars and walkways. During the rest of the year, it can be used to blow water from walkways, swimming pool decks, and rain gutters, and to blow both wet and dry leaves into piles for bagging or mulching. Professional landscapers declare the blower to be their single most valuable piece of equipment; it saves more time in commercial maintenance than any other tool.
Gas vs. Electric
Leaf blowers come with either electric or gas-powered engines. The electric leaf blower is limited by the length of the cord and the possibility of becoming entangled in shrubbery, but it has the advantages of instant power, relative quietness and no fussing with fuel mixing or engine maintenance. However, electric blowers offer a smaller range of power options than do gas-powered blowers.
Gas-powered blowers range from the small, two-cycle-engine, handheld or backpack models to the larger, four-cycle-engine models. Their main advantage is that they allow unrestricted movement.
To determine what type of blower to buy, consider how much of the year you need it for, the size of your yard, the weight of the debris to be blown and what size and weight equipment you can use comfortably.
Leaf blowers generally are rated by the air speed or air volume they develop. Air speed, which normally is stamped on the engine, ranges from 100 to 250 miles per hour. Blowers with high air-speeds are for moving large amounts of debris quickly; those with low air-speeds are excellent for clearing leaves without disturbing bark mulch or for blowing leaves away from newly seeded lawns.
The greater the air speed, the heavier the engine. Small handheld blowers usually weigh 10 pounds or less; backpack models range from 15 to 30 pounds; and the wheeled models, which are not self-powered, weigh from 200 to 250 pounds.
On many models, you can adjust the air velocity, usually by varying the engine speed with a throttle built into the air hose or by adjusting air vanes in the hose. On some models, you can reverse the air stream to draw leaves and other light materials into attached bags.
Follow safety precautions when using a leaf blower. Keep your hands away from hot mufflers; wear ear and eye protectors, as required; and never direct the air stream at other people or at animals. Ear protectors are commonly needed if you’re using the noisier gas-powered models. You don’t need protective goggles for general snow or leaf removal, but you do when working in dusty conditions or in tight corners where sticks or small stones may be stirred up.
Electric models require only minimal engine maintenance. If an electric engine does malfunction, take it to a qualified repair person. For gas engines, follow the maintenance and tune-up steps for either the two-cycle or four-cycle engines.
Consult your owner’s manual for tips on cleaning.
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