Learning new skills is exciting and fun. Whether you are about to buy a new blower or are a fresh leaf blower owner, if you’re reading this article, you are probably already eager to get your hands on your new toy!
To avoid struggling when starting out, we’re here to guide you through your first steps!
In this article, we will cover all the basics of operating a leaf blower. We will give you all the info you need to get you started with a leaf blower, even if you have no prior experience!
We will cover everything, including what to do once you open the box, how to take care of your blower and, of course, how to use it to effectively get rid of those pesky leaves.
Your Leaf Blower Just Arrived. Where Do You Start?
Regardless of what leaf blower you’ve got, the first thing you’ll absolutely need to do is read the user manual. We know, it’s long and boring, but one should take care to go through it before embarking on his first leaf blower experience.
Unfortunately, many leaf blower instructions are model specific and unlike your manual, we have no idea which model you have bought. There’s no way around it, you need to read the user manual to get a complete picture of how your blower operates.
So, what should you do on top of reading?
- Make sure all the parts listed in the user manual are in the box. Your user manual contains a lot of useful information, including a list of items in the box your blower came in. Check that nothing is missing, including the warranty your blower comes with. Also check the blower and its parts for any damage! If you find that you are missing some parts or the blower is damaged, contact the retailer immediately.
- Gather up all the necessary personal protective equipment. Although leaf blowers aren’t exactly dangerous or deadly, operating them requires protective equipment, most importantly hearing protection, eye protection, working gloves, and reliable workwear. You should also consider wearing a dust mask if you are concerned or easily irritated by dust particles.
- Get familiar with all the parts of the blower and assemble them. Knowing your blower is key to ensure that you have a good idea of what you’re doing with it. Your user manual most likely contains an exploded view of the unit. Study it to understand what each part is, read up on what it’s for and how to use it. Once done, put your hands to good use and assemble your blower according to the instructions. That’s the best way to get familiar with it.
- Juice up your blower. Gas blowers: Buy the recommended oil/gas or mix of both and fill your blower.
Cordless blowers: Charge your battery up.
How to Use Your Leaf Blower
Once you have everything set up and know all the basics, let’s get to the meat of the topic – blowing leaves. Make sure to wear personal protective equipment and apply the basics of leaf blower safety during all of the following steps.
Inspect Your Work Area
Don’t go in blind. First, get familiar with the location you’ll be working. Figure out where all the leaves are and where you want them to end up. Make sure the area is secured and doesn’t contain anything that you may accidentally blow away or damage – open windows, drying clothes, children, etc.
If you’re an owner of a corded blower, double-check that everything is in range of your power cord and fetch an extension if necessary.
Start Up Your Blower
Both backpack and handheld blowers should be placed on a level surface. Starting blowers with electric start is pretty straight forward. Pull-start mechanisms are substantially trickier, though you should be fine if you follow the instructions in the user manual, which should consist of the following steps:
- Locate the primer bulb. It is a rubber bulb, or button, which primes the engine with small amount of gas. Push and release it several times. You should feel/hear/see the gas flowing into your engine.
- Close the choke. The control of the choke is a two-position switch, which “chokes” the carburetor and increases the flow of fuel to the engine.
- Pull the starting cord once. If the engine has not started, then open it partially, by moving it to a halfway position (this might not apply to all models) and pull the starting cord one to four times until you feel the engine is running.
- Allow the engine to run shortly so that it warms up. Then, open the choke.
If you own a backpack blower, now’s the time to put it on your back. Secure its straps comfortably but not loosely. Do not swing the blower wildly and if necessary, ask somebody for help when putting it on and off. Avoid turning the blower upside down, sideways, or worse (e.g., dropping it on your foot).
Get Down to Business
Now comes the fun part – blowing leaves.
Your goal is simple: Get the leaves from “all spots” onto just one spot, where you can easily gather them up and get rid of them.
Figuring Out Where to Start and Where to Finish
- Figure out where you want your pile of leaves to end up. This should be next to a collecting bag, compost or a container. Prepare it in advance. If you only have a plastic bag, leave it aside so that you won’t accidentally blow it away.
- If you have a large area to cover, or it is oddly shaped, you may want to divide it into sectors, each of which will have its own leaf pile. You will then clear the sectors one by one, always disposing of the leaves before moving to the next.
- Once you have found the spot where you’ll finish up with a leaf pile, go to the very opposite of wherever that is – that is where your leaf blowing begins.
- Alternatively, you may choose to blow your leaves from the edges to the center of the area. This will depend on the shape and size of your property, and more importantly, your personal taste.
Handling a Blower
- Start by walking towards the leaves, pointing the nozzle of the blower at them.
- The nozzle should not be dragged across the ground, nor should it be too high above it. As a rule of thumb, keep the opening of the nozzle above ground and below your knees. Aim in front of you, but downwards.
- While it is possible to angle the nozzle in the weirdest of ways, it is recommended to always blow in the direction in which you are walking, performing a U-shape movement with your arm around the center of your viewpoint.
- If you need to modify or angle your path, move the leaves sideways or have missed a spot, take a few steps back and approach the leaves from the desired angle. That way, you will avoid accidentally making a mess.
- Make your way to the spot where you want your pile of leaves to end up. Do not bother with a few leftover leaves too much, just accept that there will probably be some. Once you’re done, you can go and rake them up.
Getting Rid of Leaves
- Once you have your leaves piled up, turn off your blower, set it down and let it cool off.
- Dispose of the leaves either by moving them onto a compost pile, into a bin, into a bag, or by vacuuming and mulching them.
- If you are using a bag to dispose of your leaves, I recommend perching it up with a bin or a stand.
- To grab leaves easier, it may help to use tools, such as two rakes, instead of your bare hands. You may also find tools made specifically for grabbing leaves.
- If you are using a blower vac, make sure to vacuum the leaves in reasonable increments. Avoid sticking the nozzle into the pile, as it may lead to congestion.
- Be aware of the capacity of the leaf vacuum’s bag. It is always better to empty it prematurely rather than overfill it.
- Leaves are a useful biomaterial and shouldn’t be thrown away into communal waste. Check if your municipality collects organic waste, or find a way to utilize leaves on your own!
When You’re Done with The Job
- After you’re done, get rid of all the remaining leaves using a rake.
- Your blower should be cooled down before you move it to storage.
- Make sure to store your blower inside, preferably in a dry place with moderate temperature. Moisture and low temperatures during winter may cause damage to the blower.
- Clean your blower and perform all necessary maintenance checks before going on about your day.
In summary, I have explained everything you need to know about using a leaf blower. We have covered each step from when you first open the box of your brand new leaf blower, to when you’re setting it down after you’re done with the job.
Some of the topics that I’ve touched upon, such as leaf blower safety and personal protective equipment, have been expanded on in their own dedicated articles.
If you have any issues with running your blower, please refer to our article on troubleshooting.