Bent Lawn Mower Blades: How to Avoid, Identify and Replace
A well-mowed lawn is so much more than a nice piece of grass. Different grass varieties thrive at specific lengths, but all are healthier when cut more often, because shorter blades aren’t competing for air, rain and sun. Mowing often also helps keep pests at bay and adds value to your property. One thing that will put a damper on your landscaping efforts, however, is bent lawn mower blades. Of course, the best scenario is to avoid this altogether, but you know what they say: hits happen. When they do, be prepared to identify the problem and fix it correctly — and safely.
When Stuff Hits the Fan
Bent blades are a big headache. You should always seek to minimize the possibility of running into trouble by following a few simple guidelines: Know where all the permanent obstacles are — tree stumps, drop-offs, sprinkler heads, etc. Before taking off, give the lawn a thorough visual sweep to locate any surprises like rocks, pinecones and toys. It’s a good idea to not let the grass get so long that it hides things in the first place. Mow often, and stay alert and free from distractions (including free-roaming children and pets). Set the correct cut height for the grass type and terrain, and don’t oversharpen your blades. The thinner they are, the more prone they are to breakage.
If you suspect any damage, do not continue mowing until you’ve identified and solved the problem. Even something like a slightly bent blade can quickly damage the engine and body, not to mention destroy your lawn. There are a few signs that point to a bent blade — an uneven cut, bumpy handling, strange grinding noises and the mower stalling. Those aren’t 100 percent the blade’s fault each time, but it’s an easy place to start. If your mower stalls and you do see a bent blade, you’ve probably also sustained damage to the crankshaft and will need engine repair.
Luckily, a bent blade by itself is easy enough to fix. Just replace it! Don’t attempt to straighten it yourself. Assuming you’re not a machinist, you won’t get it to spec. To replace it, start by taking safety precautions. Disconnect the battery (if it has one) and remove the spark plug. Ensure all covers and caps on fluids, such as fuel and oil, are tightly covered, and place the mower on its side (not the side with the carburetor). Make sure the new blade is the size specified in your owner’s manual. Speaking of manuals, read yours and always follow procedures as laid out there. Usually, the removal is pretty straightforward. There’s a stud with a nut in the middle of the blades. Remove this nut and the blades should come right off. Put the new blade(s) on the same way and tighten the nut securely. Make sure the mower is in a safe and open space before reconnecting the battery and spark plug.
Not so bad, right? Just make sure this simple task doesn’t turn into a big, complicated fix after not taking care of it immediately. Of course, always make sure to exercise extreme caution when working with a machine meant to spin sharp blades at 200 mph. You can never be too careful.
For more information on lawn mower blades, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.