For most people tools are something you use and then put away, there’s very little thought to maintenance unless you’re a professional. It’s very likely you don’t consider greasing your tools as a priority and it’s likely that they wear out quickly.
Poor maintenance is one of the main reasons why your tools don’t last. But it’s such a waste of money when your tools can often be cleaned and maintained to last longer. Power tools need grease just as much as manual ones or they can seize, rust, and break. Just like a car your power tools have motors that need maintenance.
Tool Grease Properties
Tool grease comes in several forms and you’ll need to have the right grease for your tool or you can actually damage the mechanism. This is especially important in impact drivers because the viscosity of the grease and the heat capacity can cause more wear if it’s incorrect.
Similarly, if the grease is too thin it can cause heat buildup and damage. Any tool that has a hammering mechanism needs a tool grease that is designed for that purpose. The viscosity of the grease also affects the life of o-rings because the additives can affect the rubber or silicone and break them down. It’s also important not to mix different types or brands of tool grease for the same reason.
When choosing grease there are four things to focus on – base viscosity, additives, consistency, and thickeners.
Grease vs Oil
There’s a long-running debate whether oil or grease is better for your tools. Oil lubricates immediately and it is more free-flowing than grease which means it can reduce unwanted heat. The problem is it’s also so thin that it can end up flowing right out of your tool.
Grease has superior performance because you need less of it so you’ll be introducing fewer additives into your tools. This also means that worn seals won’t be under so much pressure which lowers the chances of leakage and also means that even if the seals cause exposure the grease won’t leak out and create a risk of internal exposure.
Grease also acts as its own sealant to prevent particles and water from getting in. Certain additives also only work well in grease as they would cause settling if added to oil which would then cause the motor to seize.
Oil will pick up these particles and will need to be changed more frequently than grease and refilled while grease will only need periodic packing. Grease is also more environmentally friendly as it’s less likely to cause contamination through improper disposal.
What happens if you don’t use it?
Depending on your tools the worst case scenario is that they will break and need to be replaced. Over time a lack of grease in a mechanism causes heat deterioration, and the build-up of particles will cause the grease to thicken and create greater resistance which will eventually cause the inner mechanism to jam or snap.
Inside most motors have two brushes, carbon blocks that spin around the armature of the motor. Over time friction causes these brushes to wear which means electricity isn’t conducted as well and the small particles from these brushes become stuck in the inner workings of the motor grease.
This can cause two things, either the motor will quit working as the resistance builds since it is too thick, or it will cause the grease not to circulate as well leaving metal exposed to rust and potentially rubbing against other metal parts. When metal rubs on metal it causes heat, friction, and will eventually cause the parts to fail.
How often to use Tool Grease?
Your tools should be greased once a year regardless of type. This will help minimize water and debris building up. It’s actually a common misconception that if you do it more often it will prevent rust but you’re actually giving the tool more opportunity to be exposed by doing so.
The only exception for this is professional tools that get frequent use. For tools that are used heavily, daily greasing may be required.
Impact wrenches are the main tool that will need regular lubrication and you’ll have to lubricate all the grease fittings. Make sure you refer to your manual if you’re not sure how to do this or consider taking your tool to a professional maintenance service instead of damaging it.
For Air Tools
Greasing is not just for electric tools, air tools also need regular greasing. The motor inside has a polished surface much like a car engine and it can still be damaged by air, rust, and contaminants to cause wear and reduce performance.
You can also minimize the need to grease air tools by making sure your hose coupling is clean and that the hose isn’t worn. Anything that has dirt of dust in the coupling will allow that to get into the motor and transfer contaminants.
Couplings often end up on the floor and are the number one way of getting contaminants into an air tool. There’s also a gap between the air rotor and motor so lubrication will help prevent water or condensation forming in that partition and prevent air loss should there be any cracks in the housing.
Greasing your tools will help prolong their life and make them more efficient. Many tools are greased for life which means you actually don’t need to grease your tool (refer to the manual for this information if you’re not sure).
Many tools have a small spot where you can use a needle grease gun to add grease to the motor without dismantling the tool. Properly maintaining your tools will prevent them from stalling, locking up and breaking.
This is especially important if you’re working towards the end of your tool life as the grease that came with it from the factory will be showing more wear and there may be more debris inside.
Some of the common tools that you have in your house and where you use the tool grease.
- Pressure cooker
- Microwave Woven
- Recumbent Exercise Bikes etc