Leaf Blowers 101
If you live anywhere near a tree, chances are you own a leaf blower or have thought about buying or borrowing one. While a stroll through the outdoor equipment department of your local home improvement store can raise more questions than answers, owning a leaf blower is becoming an important part of home maintenance. Not just for the Autumn clean-up season, leaf blowers have an important role in the appearance of your property year round.
Autumn is here–break out the leaf blower!
Leaf blowers are designed to blow leaves, grass and other lawn debris into a pile for raking, into the woods or off the property. They are also used to blow driveways, and hand-held models are necessary in cleaning gutters, “sweeping” garages and basements and removing spider webs and dust off a house.
Has anybody seen my leaf blower?
There are three basic types of leaf blowers, each with several varieties. The lightest (and least expensive and least powerful) are hand-held leaf blowers. These are usually electric or are petrol-powered with either a 2- or 4-cycle engine that uses a petrol/oil mixture (similar to chainsaws). More powerful is the backpack model. This fits on the user’s back, like a backpack and is petrol powered. The flexible hose is easily maneuvered to blow at different angles. Finally, there are walk-behind models that use petrol engines. These are the most powerful, but least flexible of all the types, best for large or heavy-duty jobs.
Electric handheld leaf blower
Hand-held models typically have a plastic nozzle that is usually not flexible, but because the unit is small and light, it’s easy to manoeuvre. Backpack models are heavier, but the flexible hose allows users to blow hard-to-reach spaces (under porches, for example) more easily than other models. Push blowers have variable speeds and a chute that can be angled to blow either to the side or forward.
Electric leaf blowers have the limitation of being tethered to an electrical outlet. With hand-held and backpack models, the weight of the leaf blower is paramount, particularly if you plan on using it a lot. The higher the MPH (miles per hour) the blower is rated, the more powerful it is. With petrol-powered walk-behind models, the higher the horsepower, the more quickly large jobs will be completed.
In a world without leaf blowers …
Leaf blowers are loud, and because they’re used close to the body, wearing ear protection is mandatory. They are also powerful and can propel objects (rocks, sticks, etc.) at an alarming velocity, so not only is eye protection also recommended, all blowing should be pointed away from houses, cars, people and pets. Because of the noise, many communities have enforced bans or restrictions on leaf blowers.