Common Spreader Problems

Seed spreader full and sitting on a lawn
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-300

There are several different types of spreaders available for spreading various materials in various ways and each of them come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here, we’ll look at a few of the more common problems found in the two most commonly used spreaders.

Broadcast Spreader

Also known as the rotary spreader, this is the most common type of spreader and comes in many sizes, ranging from small lawn spreaders to huge manure spreaders. For lawn spreaders, the rotary arm is turned as the wheels turn. A common problem with this spreader is that, in order to always have an even spread, the user must walk at exactly the same pace through the entire yard. Changing speed will not only affect the distance the material is thrown, but also how heavily covered the area is (greater speed means greater spread but thinner coverage).

Another common problem is you have a limited control of the spread when it comes to the edge of your lawn, flower beds in the middle of the lawn, etc. The best way to solve this is to have an extra hand walking alongside you with a board to block seed from going past a certain point.

For larger broadcast spreaders, such as manure, salt and sand spreaders, the spinning arm (known as an impeller) has its own motor and turns at a set speed. The biggest problems with these, especially those that attach to tractors and trucks, is they sometimes fail to work due to connection issues. Double check all connections and make sure all wires are plugged in where they need to be (especially the ground wires), look for breaks, frays, and corrosion.

For all broadcast spinners, emptying and cleaning them out after each use is important to keep them in good working order, no matter the size. It is best to do a dry cleaning, as moisture can cause certain materials to stick or clump and will lead to even larger problems. Also, lubricate any moving parts whenever necessary to keep parts from rusting.

Drop Spreader

spreader spraying seeds on lawn

The second most common spreader, the drop spreader, uses simple gravity to spread the product. The most common problem with drop spreaders is they usually offer less accurate control over how much material is dropped, which often results in the material being spread too heavily. If your drop spreader doesn’t offer settings for different sizes of seeds or fertilizer, or only has minimal settings, you can simply move faster for smaller seeds so that they spread thinner.

One common problem, both in drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders, is moisture; many materials such as sand or fertilizer will clump together when they get moist. Be sure your spreader is completely dry before putting in your fertilizer or other material.

There is a similar problem in manure spreaders, though the moisture comes from the manure itself. Even after it dries, it has a tendency to remain clumped up. To work around this, the only real solution is to buy a high-end manure spreader that grinds and breaks it up before being dropped on the rotary arm.

For more detailed information on how to solve problems for your spreader, it is best to look at any troubleshooting tips in your owner’s manual, or contact the manufacturer.