Should lawnmower blades spin freely?


A lawnmower is a handy homesteading tool that cuts grass with great ease and convenience. Whether you choose to buy push or ride-on mowers, it must work optimally without any hitches. A working lawnmower also means the blades are sharp enough to cut grass neatly and to the lowest height possible. Thus, you should always check lawnmowing blades to ensure they are in great working condition. But what if blades in your John Deere mower won’t spin?

Should lawnmower blades spin freely?

No, lawnmower blades normally should not spin freely as they are connected directly or indirectly via belts or other means to the engine. Only when the lawnmower has a clutch, the blades may run freely. If they don’t, it means that there is a fault in the transmission. The blades should move freely in the housing and not touch the sides anywhere.

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Blades that produce a crackling sound when spinning sound alarming.  If it is not because of worn-out bearings, then you may have to replace the spindle altogether. Based on the answer above, more questions come to mind. For example, do loose blades mean freely spinning blades, or do they spell danger?  What if the blades are too tight to spin? How do you fix them? These are hard-gripping questions that bother many homesteaders.  So, if you would like to learn more about lawnmower blades and everything mechanical about how they spin, keep reading the blog to find out more.

Loose mower blades-What it means and how to fix them

While blades in your lawnmower should spin without touching anything, it is not the same as being loose at the shafting point. The catch here is that loose blades are a disaster in waiting. Thus, you should tighten them before it is too late to do anything. Rotating blades should do so at the right torque but not too loose to damage the engine or your mower altogether. In a nutshell, loose blades are a recipe for an accident. So, here comes the next question.

How do you tighten loose blades in a lawnmower? Well, with a torque wrench, you should realize an ideal fix. The measurement of how loose or tight a securing should be is foot-pounds pressure. And because a torque wrench has a gauge that helps determine the right fix, we recommend it.  Before you start fixing loose mowing blades, take note of the type of mower you have. Is it a riding or push lawnmower? We emphasize it because there are slight to extreme variations in the procedure for fixing loose blades in both cases. Let’s take a look at each of them separately.

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● Fixing loose blades in push lawn mowers

When tightening loose blade in push mowers, you should follow the following steps:

– Step 1: Empty the gas tank:

Start by emptying a gas tank using a hand siphon or run it dry if the content is less than a quarter.

– Step 2: Turn the mower over:

Turn your mower upside down so that the oil fill cap/tube faces upwards.

– Step 3: Place a wedge between the blade and deck:

Fix a wooden wedge between the mower blade and deck. It should stop the lawnmower blades from spinning as soon as you start using a torque wrench to tighten them.

– Step 4: Attach the socket:

Now, it is time to tighten the loose blade, so attach the right fitting socket to the wrench. With that, adjust foot-pounds pressure to 30. You should also check the wrench user manual for guidelines.

– Step 5: Tighten the blade:

Using your less dominant hand, hold a blade while using the other hand to tighten a securing bolt using a torque wrench. The wrench should click the set time.

– Step 6: Turn the mower back to its wheels:

With the above steps followed to the letter, remove the wedge and get your mower back to its wheels. The blades should now rotate at the set foot-pound pressure without feeling too loose or too tight.

● Fixing loose blades in riding lawn mowers

 When it comes to tightening loose blades in riding lawnmowers, here is the procedure you should follow:

– Step 1: Park your lawnmower:

Park your riding lawnmower on flat ground in your yard, garage or driveway.

– Step 2: Raise the mower deck:

Raise the deck to the highest possible position then turn it off. Make sure the key does not remain in the ignition.

– Step 3: Loosen the bolts:

Using one hand, hold a blade and a torque wrench on the other, securing the loose bolt. Tighten it until you hear a click. Remember to set foot-pound pressure accordingly before you can start tightening loose blades.

– Step 4: Repeat:

Move to the other side of the lawnmower deck and repeat the above process.

Following the above steps when fixing loose lawnmower blades should help you realize the desired outcome. In the end, the blades should rotate without vibrating.  You can turn the spindle by hand or use a drill.

What to do if lawnmower blades won’t rotate?

Apart from loose blades, another scenario that homesteaders are likely to encounter is blades that won’t turn. Often, you wonder if they are too tight to spin. So, the next question is, how do repair mower blades that fail to spin? Well, we did some homework on that too, and here is the procedure for a quick fix:

● Check the deck and deck belt for faults:

Mower blades that won’t turn even after engaging blade controls could mean the deck is the problem. Thus, you should ask, is the deck broken? While its location varies depending on the type of mower, lowering it should be the first step toward repair and maintenance. First off, wipe grass debris from the deck belt before removing the cover.

You should inspect it for wear and damage.  Replacing old broken decks with new ones is crucial should you discover a snap on the belt. If there are no issues with the deck belt, no problem. Move on to the next component, which is the drive belt of the engine. You should only take this step if the blades still do not spin. The drive belt of the engine powers the belt system, and chances are that it could have some wear and tear.  Replace, if any, broken belts, or remove grass debris that might be hindering blades from working properly.

● Checking blade clutch for faults

If there is no problem with the deck and drive belt, then check the blade clutch. Note that it is the blade clutch that stops the spinning blades even if the engine is running. You must engage the controls. Find the blade clutch attached to the crankshaft under the engine. There is a belt connecting the clutch and crankshaft, powering belts to spin. Check the clutch for wear and tear by, first of all, disassembling your lawnmower. Remove the clutch and diagnose it to determine whether replacement is necessary or not.

● Check safety switch:

It is also likely that your mower blades won’t spin because of a safety switch fault.  Safety switches trip when there is a problem with the main switch. You can locate them on the clutch, operator’s seat, and clutch or the transmission. It depends on the type of lawnmower. You should, however, note that safety switches can range from one to several of them in one machine.

Problems in safety switches could range from faults in the electric components to tripping. Discovery of either call for a quick fix. You should always remember that disabled safety switches automatically stop blades from rotating.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the most important thing is to have lawnmowing blades that work efficiently. Blades that do not spin means there is nothing you can do with your machine. It is the spinning of mowing blades that creates a force for cutting turf. Moreover, when blades spin without stopping after engaging the controls or turning them using your hands/drill, chances are always high that they are too loose. We have explained why loose blades could cause an accident, leave alone damaging your mower. Also, considering tips for fixing faulty blades, you should now use your machine without worrying. After all, nothing gives a homesteader greater confidence than having a few DIY tips under the sleeves.

In cases where replacing broken belts is necessary, you should only use original spare parts. Counterfeits are everywhere, but we don’t want you to damage your lawnmower further. Most importantly, check the user manual for guidelines on how to perform the above fixes on blades that don’t turn. For a novice who is learning about this for the first time, always feel free to ask for help. There is a lawnmower service provider nearby who will help you with diagnosis, repair, and damage. You would better be safe than sorry.

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