One of the most frustrating aspects of mowing your lawn is the grass clippings sticking under the deck or clogging the bagger chute. I’d like to tell you that there’s a fix that can avoid the need to actually clean under the deck and the chute by hand, but I can’t. However, you can make it less of a problem by using a lubricant on the deck after you clean it.
Why Grass Clippings Clump When You Mow
When you mow your lawn a push mower creates masses of little grass clippings that fall onto the lawn. When the grass is wet or too long the clippings fly up and stick to the underside of the deck and blade. The bagger chute can also be affected.
The clinging clips can cause the mower’s blade to dull and can cause the blade and the area under the deck to rust. This could happen because the grass is wet due to a previous shower or thunderstorm. However, this can also occur in hot and dry climates because grass retains moisture. Some times the rust can cause enough damage to the metal of the mower that you’ll have to replace certain parts.
The lawnmower losing suction can also cause grass clipping to clog the chute. A good sign that this is occurring is that the bag that catches the clipping doesn’t get as full as you would expect and it takes longer to mow. In this case, the bag may be unaligned with the chute causing debris to collect and ultimately clog the system.
The mower’s engine can also contribute to the problem. If the engine is worn, it may work harder than normal. The strain can wear out the engine even more and could result in the need to acquire a new mower. A well-maintained engine will allow you to run it at full throttle and can minimize the accumulation of the clippings.
The use of lubricants including WD40, TITESEAL, non-sticking cooking spray, Teflon, or Silicone can break down large accumulations of clippings and could prevent rust. However, the blade and the deck need to be clean before you spray these formulas onto the mower.
Cleaning Under The Deck, The Chute, And The Blade Of The Mower
The process of cleaning the mower involves:
• An inspection
• Wash and rinse
The process of inspecting the under side of the deck and blade can be difficult or not depending on the type of mower you’re using –- a push mower or a riding mower.
When it comes to a push mower, you need to consider the location of the gas and oil tanks. Both are commonly located on the top of the mower. To inspect the under side of the mower, you will have to tip it over. Notice the exact location of the gas and oil tanks before you tilt the mower. Make certain that the gas and oil tanks are securely closed. It may be best to be cautious and empty the gas and oil tanks before tipping the mower to ensure that there is no spillage onto your lawn or driveway.
For riding mowers, you will have to be familiar with removing the cutting deck. This can be a bit tricky. Each brand’s model has a similar configuration, but instead of guessing, it’s best to refer to the owner’s manual before undertaking the task. Place the deck on wooden blocks to relieve tension and so that you can work more efficiently. The cutting deck of a riding mower is heavy and so you may not be able to handle it by yourself. It’s best that you enlist the assistance of someone else.
Be sure to either block the blade with a wooden block or take off the blade if you are dealing with a push mower to avoid cutting yourself.
Once the under portion of the deck is exposed, scrape off the grass debris with a screwdriver, or a paint or putty scraper. If the debris is caked on fairly securely, then loosen it by spraying the deck with a detergent or some kind of solvent. Once the area has been treated, let it sit for a while before you start scraping the clippings.
Wash And Rinse
The wash and rinse process requires a garden hose that is connected to a faucet. You may need an adapter on the hose to perform the washing process.
If you’re dealing with a push mower, then after you have done a thorough job scraping off the deck, you’ll need to wash and rinse the area. Collect a towel or sponge to scrub away any excess debris. You know you’re done when you observe clean metal all the way around the blade. Don’t worry about a few clippings that may remain. They won’t damage anything.
If you have a riding mower then follow these steps:
1. Locate the mower’s wash port. It is a small connector on the topside of the deck.
2. Connect the hose with an adapter to the wash port of the mower.
3. Lower the deck to the lowest position to keep the water inside. This will allow the cleaning to be more efficient and thorough.
4. Turn on the water and the mower. For the wash port to work properly, the blade must be spinning. This helps to disperse the water through and out of the deck. You will need to sit in the seat to start the engine and you’ll have to stay put for a few minutes to assure that there is a thorough cleaning.
5. Once the deck and blade are clean, turn off the mower’s engine as well as the water.
6. Once the deck and blade are dry, apply the lubricant. The lubricant will allow you to wait longer to clean the mower.
There are a number of things you can do between washings to assure that the under portion of your mower stays clean. They include:
• Mowing more frequently.
• Don’t mow when the grass is wet due to rain. It’s best to wait until the driest part of a day to take on the task of mowing the lawn.
• Use a high-lift blade. These blades will accelerate the circulation of the clippings so that more of them land in the grass catcher or bag or back on the lawn.