Fall Leaves & Flow Aids

With the change of seasons and chilly fall temperatures taking hold across the Midwest, it’s time to winterize the lawn mower and break out the leaf blower. Harnessing the power of wind feels pretty awesome and I can clear my yard much more efficiently–and without a sore back and shoulders–than with my trusty old rake.

However, that big wind and rain inevitably rolls through and knocks just about every last leaf out of most of the trees–except that one. There’s always that one stubborn tree that holds out well beyond reason–and I end up with a yard coated in a thick layer of wet, heavy leaves. 🍁

Wet leaves

The leaf blower gives a valiant effort and does alright at first but once those wet leaves start rolling up into a pile, momentum and progress slow to a sloppy wet, soppy halt. Time to grab the rake out of the corner of the garage after all.


As I drag those leaves across the yard, I think about those big industrial jet-pack leaf blowers you see people clearing commercial properties with. Or, my neighbor down the street who’s just a badass leaf-blowing pro. If my blower had just a little more oomph, a little more power, I feel like I’d be able to get the job done - rain or not.


When you are blowing the leaves using a round discharge nozzle, the effect on the leaves is powerful but focused only in a small area. As the leaves pile up, get wet, etc., it’s more difficult to “get under” the pile in order to promote movement. If you want to make it easier to move the wet, piled-up leaves, your best bet is to spread out the flow of air using a diffuser nozzle. This reduces the intensity of the airflow but tightens the stream to allow the air to get under the leaves and break the cohesion with the patio or driveway.

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Leaf Blowers & Air Cannons

The same is true when moving bulk materials in different types of applications. It’s hard to command the wind to do my bidding with my leaf blower without thinking about the air cannons we manufacture. While not used to clear a lawn of leaves (although I’d like to see what that’d look like), there’s a parallel to my struggles with wet leaves. If it’s a dense material that needs to get a powerful punch to get it moving, it’s best to use a round pipe
discharge. However, if the material contains moisture and tends to adhere to a surface, it’s more effective to use a fan-style nozzle in order to shear the material from the surface you want to keep clean. Many nozzle types are available to meet the different needs of material flow.

Air cannons are an effective flow aid tool


Air Cannon Nozzle Patterns Help Efficiently Clear Different Material BlockagesSimply blasting air at stubborn material isn’t enough to ensure that you get that material to go where you need it to. There’s an art and a science to applying the right amount of force in the right way to get the job done effectively.

The first bit has to do with force output; how forceful the wind you’re throwing at the material is. To move wet, heavy, sticky, or compacted material, you’re going to need to adequately motivate it to do so with the appropriate shove. In storage silo applications, the material will either bridge over the outlet or rathole down the center of the silo. In these applications, it’s best to deliver a concentrated blast (through a pipe) which will break the bridge or bust through the rathole and allow the silo to empty as it was designed.

The other half of the equation has to do with how that blast of air is delivered. That’s where our nozzles help ensure that all that wind we’re harnessing does precisely what we need it to do. Shaping that blast of air… in an application like a hopper or a transfer chute. Material can get built up over time and stick to the wall of the hopper or the bottom of the chute. If you try to remove it with a pipe, chances are you’ll just blow a hole in it. You need a little finesse in this case. Using a fan-style nozzle to shear that material and break the cohesion of the material to the surface of the metal. I wonder if a fan jet nozzle on my leaf blower might help gain some lift on those leaves.

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