By Shawn Hutchings

Most jobsites require some sort of broom or sweeper to manage loose material or debris. These sweepers help contractors and municipalities with the cleanup task requiring less effort than a good old push broom and shovel. Even the smallest of jobs can benefit from a power broom.

To dial in which sweeper would work best for your jobs you must understand that not all sweepers are the same. There are four main styles of sweepers; mechanical pick-up, pure vacuum pick-up, regenerative pick-up, and mechanical non-pickup or side cast. Each of these styles can be configured in varies sizes and options to match a specific application.

The mechanical pick-up unit can be found on most asphalt milling jobs behind a road mill. These units can pickup bigger size aggregate or debris with ease. The have a large pick-up brush that feeds a conveyor system to move material to a hopper. Although they are great at picking up large debris they often leave behind the small particles and require multiple passes to pick up everything. These units often offer high dump option to offload the picked up debris into the back of a dump truck, this is great for transporting the debris off the jobsite. Mechanical pickup units typically have the highest cost to operate.

The sweeper that works best at picking up the fine dust is the Pure Vacuum sweeper. Although it’s the best at fine dust it also can handle heavier debris as well. It uses a vacuum to pull material into a hopper much like a large shop vac. These units do require water to help keep material from going through the fan system therefore they shouldn’t be operated in sub-freezing temperatures. These units typically don’t have high dump options which can create challenges with transporting the debris from jobsite. These sweepers are best for uneven surfaces. The pure vacuum units usually carry a very low cost of operation associated with them.

The Regenerative pick-up sweeper is a general maintenance sweeper that handles medium duty applications. The sweeper uses air as well to move debris across a pickup head to pickup the material. The pickup head requires a flatter surface to perform well. On uneven surface the air pushing the debris can be rerouted through the areas not making good contact with the pickup head lowering pickup performance. The regen sweeper also requires water and shouldn’t be ran in sub-freezing temperatures. The operating cost on the regenerative unit is in between the pure vacuum and mechanical pickup sweeper and can be costly when the pickup head needs replaced.

Mechanical non-pickup or side cast brooms are used in many environments including but not limited to asphalt paving jobs, bike paths, lumber yards, feed lots, general construction sites, asphalt milling jobs, concrete plants, seal coat jobs, and race tracks; the list is endless. The mechanical side cast broom has many configurations including the front mount broom, center mount broom, and the towable three-wheel broom.

The front mount broom is great when you don’t want the machine running over the debris before the broom bristles reach it. A great example would be muddy debris or fresh ground asphalt. In both cases if a tire runs over the material, it will compact the debris into the ground making it harder to move. The front mount broom can move heavy debris fast and typically can change which side the material is moved to with a flip of a switch.

The center mounted broom is perfect for heavy duty general sweeping or highway applications. The center mounting of the broom is more protected from getting hit and the operator has great visibility of the debris movement. This unit, like the front mount unit, can displace a large amount of material very fast and doesn’t have any issues with heavy debris. It also can switch which side the material can be cast.

Three-wheel self-propelled towable brooms are designed to be a heavy-duty compact sweeper that the owner can tow without the use of an extra trailer. These units save operating cost with the absence of the trailer typically needed for towing the equipment. This unit is great for contractors or municipalities that mobilize their fleet multiple times a day or week. These units like the front mount and center mount can move material fast and efficiently side casting it to either left or right side.
Mechanical non-pickup brooms have the lowest cost of operation out of all the sweepers and can rapidly manage the debris on your toughest of jobs.
Determining which unit is best for you comes down to what application you’ll be using the sweeper 80% of the time. Purchasing a sweeper that works best for 80% of your jobs will get the most utilization from the purchase and have the biggest savings in the end.
If you are still having questions on which sweepers is right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me, I am here to help!

Shawn Hutchings is a Territory Sales Manager with LeeBoy. He can be reached at