How to get the most out of your blower

June 14, 2021 -  By
Replacing worn-out parts before they actually break down can help prevent downtime in the field. (Photo: Stihl)

Replacing worn-out parts before they actually break down can help prevent downtime in the field. (Photo: Stihl)

To get the most out of their blowers, contractors should do maintenance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, according to Jack Easterly, Husqvarna’s professional brand manager for handheld equipment. Including simple visual inspections to check for cracks and loose screws and more in-depth tasks like cleaning the machine’s cooling system, regular and consistent maintenance can keep blowers operating at full capacity day in and day out.

“Blowers are tools that contractors use to make money, and they need to operate at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” Easterly says. “In general, it’s best to be proactive when it comes to blower maintenance, as reactive maintenance creates downtime and lost productivity.”

Michael Bedell, owner of Bedell Property Management in Milford, Mich., has four backpack blowers and says he prefers this style because of their power. He adds that it is also more comfortable for his crews to wear a backpack blower than it is to carry a handheld. Bedell’s crews use their blowers year-round for spring and fall cleanups, blowing snow off sidewalks in the winter and more. Bedell Property Management provides 40 percent maintenance, 35 percent design/build and 25 percent snow and ice management services to an 85 percent residential, 15 percent commercial clientele.

“For the work we provide and the size of properties we typically service, we need that mix of power and comfort,” Bedell says.

Bedell does a “deep once over” on his blowers each year before the start of the busy spring season. This includes replacing filters, changing spark plugs and checking components like gaskets and fuel lines. Every six to eight weeks, the blowers get washed and visually inspected. They are checked thoroughly again before fall cleanups begin.

“Blowers play the biggest part in fall cleanups, so we replace parts to prevent downtime, so we can make the most of the short window of good fall weather,” Bedell says. “It’s best to replace any parts or components that are showing wear before they snap.”

Limiting expenses
Bedell allocates money for maintenance in his budget each year and says preventive maintenance helps him stay true to his budget goals by limiting unexpected repairs. Regular maintenance helps keep his crews safe by ensuring all equipment is operating properly at all times. Preventive maintenance also saves Bedell a lot of frustration because he knows his crews always will have the equipment they need to get the job done.

“To show up to a job and not have equipment function correctly can turn a good, profitable day into a bad day or a business loss,” Bedell says. “If you don’t schedule maintenance, your broken-down equipment will schedule it for you.”

Jeff Cartwright, owner of Cartwright Landscaping in Richmond, Va., has 10 backpack blowers and a few smaller handhelds, including two battery-powered models. He says the type of blower his crews use depends on the size and scope of the job. For example, backpack blowers are great for cleaning up large areas quickly, while handhelds are better for small, tighter areas. Cartwright Landscaping is a $1 million company that provides 60 percent design/build, 30 percent maintenance and 10 percent other services to high-end residential clients.

Cartwright says his crews inspect their blowers once a month and change the air filters at that time. Each year, they use Stihl tune-up kits to replace the spark plugs and the fuel pickup lines. For blowers that are showing a decline in production, Cartwright will have a dealership adjust the intake and exhaust valves, which he says can bring a lot of life back to a blower.

“We use our blowers every single day, so they get a lot of wear and tear,” Cartwright says. “We try to use each blower for two years and want to make sure they last.”

Jean-Pierre Dermendjian, technical training supervisor for Stihl, agrees that preventive maintenance helps contractors maximize their investments.

“Taking proper care of equipment will pay off in the long run,” Dermendjian says. “No contractor wants to be in the middle of a job and have their blower die because they didn’t replace the $10 air filter six weeks ago. Preventive maintenance pays off in dividends, helping the machines last for years.”


Battery-powered blowers can require less maintenance and release no emissions. (Photo: Ego)

Battery-powered blowers can require less maintenance and release no emissions. (Photo: Ego)

All charged up
Maintaining a battery-powered blower really couldn’t be simpler, according to Mike DeMaira, product manager of outdoor power equipment for Ego.

“With regard to battery-powered blowers, there is really very little maintenance required for use and storage,” says DeMaira. “Since there is no oil or gas required to operate, there is typically less maintenance to worry about when it comes to battery-powered equipment in general.”

DeMaira says the most important thing to do with battery-powered blowers is to make sure the air intake is clean and free of debris. This step will ensure optimal airflow for maximum push force and optimal cooling of the motor. Battery terminals should also be kept clean and free from any moisture to avoid corrosion and poor connectivity between the blower terminals and battery. When storing battery-powered blowers, DeMaira says to avoid keeping them in extremely hot or cold conditions over long periods.

“If storing lithium-ion battery packs for longer than 30 days, be sure to keep them in a location free of moisture where the temperature is below 80 degrees F,” he says.

Jeff Cartwright, owner of Cartwright Landscaping in Richmond, Va., has two handheld battery-powered blowers in his fleet. These blowers run much quieter than gas-powered models, so his crews use battery-powered blowers when they need to be cognizant of noise. Cartwright also likes that these blowers do not require fuel and do not produce emissions.

Cartwright agrees with DeMaira that there is virtually no maintenance associated with his battery-powered blowers. He says the most important thing is to keep the batteries charged — an hour and a half of charge time provides about an hour and a half of run time — and to make sure crews keep track of the batteries. They can be costly to replace.

“The best thing about maintenance of our battery-powered blowers is that there really isn’t any,” Cartwright says. “That is a huge asset of a battery fleet.”

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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