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9 Oct 2020

10 things you should never do with your leaf blower

Which? reveals the main things to watch out for when you're using your leaf blower this Autumn.

A leaf blower can make short work of one of autumn's toughest garden tasks - if you use it properly.

See below for 10 leaf blower mistakes you should avoid when you're clearing your drive this month.

Already a leaf blower expert? Go straight to the best leaf blowers we've tested to find your perfect model.

1) Buy the wrong type

You'll never get the most out of your leaf blower if you buy the wrong type for your needs. You should first decide if you're after a standard leaf blower or a leaf blower vacuum.

Once you've picked between the types, you should choose your power source.

  • Petrol -These are powerful and can run for hours once topped up with fuel, but they're heavy, noisy and need more maintenance.
  • Corded electric - They're often cheap and lightweight, but the cord means they're only suitable for smaller gardens.
  • Cordless -These tend to have the power of petrol, but they're easier to use and store. Once you've factored in the battery though, they can be an expensive choice.

See all our leaf blower reviews to find the best model for your garden.

2) Use it when it's raining or recently rained

Autumn showers are all too common, but it's best to wait for a run of dry days before you use your leaf blower or leaf blower vacuum.

Trying to blow wet, stuck-on leaves off your drive will be an arduous task. And if you have a cordless leaf blower, the battery might run out before you've finished.

Damp leaves are even worse news for a leaf blower vacuum. They can clog the fan, stopping any more from being sucked up, and mounds of wet leaves weigh down the collection bag which could cause the bag attachments to break.

3) Use the wrong technique

It might be obvious, but going against the wind will quickly undo all of your hard work on your drive and garden. Before you begin, work out which way the wind is blowing so you know where is best to direct the leaves.

Then start by using a sweeping motion to blow leaves into piles. You'll find it easier to push the leaves in the middle of your garden or drive rather than the edges. Once collected, you can either mow the leaves, store them for compost or suck them up (if you have a blower vacuum).

4) Suck up stones or larger debris

This is a big no-no for a leaf blower vacuum. Stones are often the culprit behind several leaf blower vacuum faults - they can ricochet around the tube, cracking the plastic, or even break the fan completely if they're sucked into it at speed.

If you don't know if there are stones in a large pile you're about to vacuum, it's worth taking the time to pick through it by hand to avoid an expensive mistake.

5) Select the wrong speed setting

Some pricier leaf blowers such as the Stihl SH56 CElet you change the blowing speed. This will help you make short work of the stubborn leaves cluttering your driveway, but make sure you don't leave it on the maximum setting when you blow your flowerbeds, or you might end up ruining your borders.

6) Leave fuel inside your petrol leaf blower

As is true of all your petrol garden tools, your leaf blower needs to be emptied of fuel before it goes into storage. Petrol starts to deteriorate after just 30 days, which might stop your model from starting until you've replaced with new fuel.

That's not the worst that can happen though. Old, gunky petrol can block the carburetor. Cleaning might make it good as new, but you may also need to repair or replace your leaf blower.

7) Forget to clean the air filter

A clogged air filter will stop your leaf blower from turning on. We recommend cleaning your filter after around 10 hours of use.

If it's too dirty to clean, then it's time to replace the filter.

8) Overfill or fail to dry your leaf blower vacuum's collection bag

Your leaf blower vacuum's collection bag needs to be treated carefully. Make sure you empty it regularly so it doesn't get too full - this weighs down (and eventually wears out) the clips.

It's also best to wash out your bag and leave it to dry completely before it goes into storage. Missing this step could lead to mould growing or the bag ripping, rendering it useless next leaf-falling season.

9) Only use it for blowing leaves

A leaf blower is for life, not just for autumn. While it's true that you shouldn't blow wet leaves, you can afford to use some creativity when it comes to garden tasks.

We've found leaf blowers effective on clearing snow from a path and blasting dirt off a car boot.

10) Pick the wrong brand

When we surveyed leaf-blower owners, we found that some brands are much more reliable than others. While some keep going for years without developing a fault, others break down soon after you've bought them, leaving you high and dry when the next lot of leaves fall.

To make sure you choose a durable brand that customers love, read our guide to the best leaf blower brand to buy in 2020.