In our consumer-oriented world, maintenance is an overlooked issue. Even though we can all agree that regular maintenance increases the longevity and quality of any tool, only few of us walk the walk.
This applies to all areas of life—As an example, just look into your kitchen cupboard! There surely are a few knives that should have been sharpened months ago. This trend permeates throughout our household and in fact, society. Everything from our kitchen utensils to infrastructure remains neglected.
However, instead of preaching about the state of our society, I chose to look at the issue of neglected maintenance more pragmatically, and so should you—Replacement is always more expensive than maintenance. In case of power tools, very expensive.
In the following article, we shall take a look at the general maintenance procedures for leaf blowers, though many of the following tips can be applied to other tools as well.
Tools you’ll need: Whatever is needed for the disassembly of your blower—a screw driver should do the trick.
While many may find this tip obvious, or somewhat more rudely put, pointless, you will find that regular inspection of any device is crucial if you wish to maintain it effectively.
Ask any professional technician — The function of every single piece of equipment must be checked and protocoled on a regular basis—You should do this too. So, how should one carry out an inspection?
Firstly, establish your goal. To find anything wrong with the device, even if just slightly, that may in the long run cause trouble.
With this in mind, be creative and try asking yourself questions that will help you achieve just that and answering them by inspecting the blower. To give you a head start, we shall provide some that should not be missed out, with explanations.
Are all screws and bolts in their place and tightened?
Loose screws and bolts are potentially dangerous in power tools, as they may result in spectacular, yet deadly disassembly of your device while in motion.
Are there any signs of cracks on the body of the device?
While small cracks may be overlooked at first, they tend to spread like wildfire and before you know it, result in irreparable damage.
Does the blower sound as it should when powered on?
Your tools will often tell you when there is something wrong—listen carefully!
Do all the buttons work?
The function of buttons may deteriorate with use. They loosen, or lose contact, and before you know it, they just disappear! And good luck with finding replacements for buttons, fella!
Are there any leaks?
This applies to any liquids, be it from the fuel tank, engine or batteries—if there are any, something’s going wrong!
Does the battery last significantly less than it should? (excl. for cordless blowers)
Even though batteries can be recharged, they lose their capacity over time. While this will most likely not result in any damage to your device, replacing them when the time comes will improve the quality of your work.
Is the power cord rigid and stiff in all places? (excl. for corded electric blowers)
Power cords often sneakily break from the inside. While this may not be an issue at first, and require just slight manipulation to achieve contact, the damage spreads over time. Replacement charging cords can be expensive, or even unavailable.
Tools you’ll need: Water, soap/detergent, coke, brushes (preferably also tube brushes), compressed air, cloth, rags.
The easiest and most obvious way to care for your tools is to clean them. With leaf blowers, always make sure to read the user manual first and comply with it when following these tips.
It is helpful to disassemble the device according to the user manual. Inspecting what exactly you’ll be cleaning and determining its solubility will also help. We will list several recommended cleaning agents, all of which are perfectly safe, that should do the trick. However, feel free to improvise and send us your suggestions.
Pure water can be useful when dealing with the outer surface or the nozzle. It is unlikely to do damage any paint or break any part. However, take care when dealing with electrically powered blowers and consult the user manual before applying any liquids anywhere!
Water and Soap
When dealing with oil or fuel stains, nonpolar solvents are needed. While there are hundreds of options of organic solvents out there that would do the trick, most of them are carcinogenic. We therefore recommend using a simple combination of water and soap. As an alternative to soap. As a potent alternative to soap, detergents, commonly found in kitchens, should serve as well.
Yes, the soft drink. This is our bonus tip for any more “peculiar” stains that are hard to get rid of by conventional methods, most notably rust. Simply find a sufficient container, fill it with cola and leave the rusty parts in for a week or two—it works like magic!
But what do you clean with? In general, you want to use a cloth or rag where possible, as it causes the least damage. Brushes may scratch softer surfaces—use them only when necessary, e.g. the dried mud. Tube brushes—the ones with a long handle and a cylindrical head, come in handy, especially for the nozzle. Compressed air cans may come in handy as well, especially for internal parts of electric blowers, and air filters, which we shall discuss in further detail later in this article.
In addition, here are two master tips from us.
Extra soft toothbrush
Possibly the most powerful tool when it comes to hard to reach crevices. Toothbrushes are both small and mobile. In addition, they are unlikely to cause any damage.
Often neglected by men, kitchen sponges are a great compromise between the rough and rowdy brushes and rather impotent cloth. They can also absorb way more liquid and are in most countries cheaper than the above-mentioned alternatives.
Air Filter Care
Tools you’ll need: Cloth, kitchen sponge, compressed air, cleaning liquid of your choice
The job of an air filter is to protect the insides of the device from whatever may come through it, along with the air. Dust particles, dirt, even bugs and flies have their path to the engine blocked by the filter.
As the filter gets dirtier, the airflow will be reduced, and will over time result in lesser efficacy of the blower. In addition, the dirt may also impair the structural integrity of the filter. This can be dangerous. Thus, filters should be replaced every few months—how often exactly depends on your maintenance.
We recommend cleaning with compressed air, in the opposite direction of the leaf blower’s airflow. If preformed after each use, it will be the only step necessary. If not, soaking the filter in soap water, or alcohol, may help further. The surface can be scrubbed with soft materials, such as cloth or the soft side of the kitchen sponge. However, never use any brushes for the surface of the filter, as the applied force may puncture it!
With that said, despite your best attempts to keep them clean, air filters will wear. Replace filters when necessary—e.g. when their structure has changed to the point where cleaning doesn’t help.
Tools you’ll need: Duct tape (preferably reinforced)
Another leaf blower part worthy of its own header is the nozzle. While often viewed just as a piece of plastic, you may want to avoid having to unnecessarily having to buy a replacement.
The main issue with the nozzle is its material—brittle plastic. Since you are literally waving the nozzle right above the ground, it is likely that you will one day crack it, especially if working in an area with concrete. What then?
Well, whether it is a small crack or a big split, you must act right away. As we have mentioned, damage spreads!
We do not recommend using glue. While visually, the device may look fixed, as it is “together,” the crack still poses as structural weak spot and can reappear right above, or even in its original place. The only acceptable solution is duct tape.
We recommend using a reinforced duct tape—those are the ones with the lines and taping a single layer from both inside and outside over the crack, and a second layer around the body of the nozzle to give it a proper “hold.” While unaesthetically please, your nozzle will be as new!
Blower Specific Recommendations
There are several other maintenance routines that are blower type specific. We shall list them in the following section.
Flushing out old fuel
Tools you’ll need: Fuel (recommended by the manufacturer)
You may find that you often find slightly stale, dirty-looking pool on the bottom of the fuel tank of your gas blower, if you leave old fuel lying there for too long. It never hurts to flush it out and replace it with fresh fuel.
Clean the carburetor
Tools you’ll need: Pan or pot, cleaning liquid, screwdriver (possibly)
This is the part of the leaf blower that becomes particularly messy over time. In that case, remove it from the device and place in a pot, or pan. Fill the selected container with a cleaning liquid (see above for more details) and let sit for as long as needed. After that, brush any remaining left overs and let dry.
Changing spark plugs
Tools you’ll need: Screwdriver (possibly), spare spark plug
The spark plug is responsible for the ignition of the fuel. Their surface is damaged over time and should be replaced when necessary.
Dealing with weak cables
Tools you’ll need: Duct tape
While shuffling around with electrical components is unrecommended, dealing with cables in their weak spots is not only easy, but will also save you a lot if trouble, as they are ought to eventually break if untreated. The solution lies in duct taping these areas sufficiently to prevent them from bending and consequently breaking further.
Tools you’ll need: Should be judged on a case to case basis
You may be unlucky enough to one day find out that your blower will simply break. After all, things don’t last forever. So, what should you do in this case?
Don’t Use a Broken Leaf Blower
Even cases of minor damage should not be waved off—Damage spreads with use and what now may be fixable with a duct tape, can become an irreparable issue. Set your leaf blower aside for the time being and use a rake—it won’t kill you.
If your blower is still under warranty, just send it to the manufacturer! Unless you have gone digging through your device or obviously damaged it by brute force, you are most likely eligible for a free repair.
Unplug/Empty the Device
If you are unlucky and do not have a warranty, you’ll have to figure it out on your own. At this point, fuel, or even worse, electricity, flowing through your blower can only make things worse. Be sure to handle that before running any diagnostics.
Assess the Damage
Simply put—if you can’t tell what’s wrong, you won’t be able to fix it. In the case of electrical devices, you will most likely require the help of somebody more qualified than you and me either way. However, gas-powered devices are a lot more readable—Damage will show up as either something stuck, or broken, which you can often tell at a first glance.
The easiest way, though the most expensive one, is to replace the broken part. Spare parts for the more notorious manufacturers, such as Stihl or Husqvarna, can be found on the internet without much issues. However, spare parts for blowers made by smaller manufacturers can often be difficult to find. When in trouble, you should always call the customer service line for further information.
Repairing or replacing broken parts is often cheaper, though is not advisable in case you are not qualified to do so. Since there are a thousand ways to break your blower, there are thousands more ways to repair them – thus, we can’t guide you through each of them in this article. There is no shame in finding a professional to do the work for you. However, it’s usually a good idea to buy the spare parts on your own, to avoid an unnecessary price markup.