Any home, commercial or industrial setting without power tools is probably not getting many jobs done. Even more interesting, you could have equipment and not get the best out of them. Are you wondering how this is possible? It is all about how you handle your equipment, and according to the scope of this post, how well you clean it.
You see, power tools are normally expensive and the thought of replacing them is not music to the ears of owners. Many DIYers have no idea how often to clean their tools. Some even think that too much cleaning can lead to damage.
Without doubt, most tools have warranties attached. However, which manufacturer will honor a warranty if the user has neglected the tool excessively? You need to take proper care of your equipment to reduce replacement and repair costs. While cleaning and maintenance are usually simple tasks, many users tend to ignore them. As you will find from the tips below, this is tantamount to reducing the efficiency, life and safety of power tools and other equipment.
First, what are the Effects of Dirt and Debris?
Power tools can be powder-actuated, pneumatic, fuel-powered and electric. They come in two main categories: portable and stationary. Under the portable category, you find tools such as lawn mowers, belt-sanding machines, abrasive wheels and jacks. Stationary power tools include lathe, band saw, drill press and table saw among many others.
Whichever tool or equipment you have, you will agree that oil and dirt is a common sight wherever you use the tool. They are part of the job. Even for the less utilized tools and equipment, there will be gradual accumulation of dirt and debris.
With time, dust and all manner of debris covers the exterior casing of a power tool. Some debris finds its way into the interior parts, that is, the sensitive mechanical and electrical components, and this may affect performance. Furthermore, dirty power tools and other equipment are a safety hazard to users. Do not forget the negative effect on user morale.
This post emphasizes proper cleaning of power tools and other equipment through the following eight tips.
Tip #1: Use Protective Clothing
Power tools have different types of accessories, some of which are hazardous and sharp. You do not want to expose yourself to cuts, burns and infections. As they say in industrial settings, personal safety comes first. Here are some ways the cleaner can ensure personal safety:
· Wearing suede gloves
· Wearing safety boots
· Using goggles for protection against powerful air and water jets (if at all you use these methods)
Tip #2: Use Approved Cleaning Solutions
It is important to follow manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning power equipment. This includes adhering to recommended cleaning products and methods. Cleaning your power tools correctly will keep them in good shape for longer.
Tip #3: Never Submerge Equipment in Water
At no time should a power tool be submerged in water, even if it is disconnected from power. Residual water within the tool can cause serious electrical shock hazard.
Tip #4: Dry the Tool before Storage
You have not completed the cleaning process until you dry the equipment. Moisture can degenerate your tool faster than you think. It is important to dry the equipment with an old towel, especially if you have also cleaned the power cord. You do not want to injure yourself by using a wet cord. If possible, let the tool dry out for 24 hours or longer before you can use it again.
Tip #5: Complete Dirt Removal-Do Not Ignore It
Dirt can affect tool performance immensely. It could even bring the tool to an unexpected halt. Wipe away all the dirt -metal chips, sawdust and wood fragments among others -from the tool. Blowing out the equipment with an air hose can help in eliminating particles before they settle inside. For example, debris and dust can easily accumulate inside a power sander. A jet of compressed air can clean such a spot very easily. Remember to set the pressure to below 30 psi for safety reasons.
Are you interested in cleaning small air vents, crannies and nooks? Try your old toothbrush-it can do a perfect job. To remove dirt from slotted tracks on a miter saw and other sizeable tools, consider using a vacuum cleaner. I have used it several times with amazing success.
Tip #6: Use a Degreasers
Did you know that poor casing maintenance is the number one cause of corrosion for power tools and equipment? Using a degreaser on metallic surfaces is an important cleaning step that many people overlook. Here is how to go about it:
1) Apply the degreasing agent sparingly on the surface. Please take care that none of this agent enters the ventilation or cooling apertures.
2) Give the degreasing agent time to settle, according to the manufacturer’s guidance. If necessary, wipe off the solution and apply a new one. Of course, this depends on how soiled the surface is.
3) Once the degreaser has broken down the grease and oil, wipe the surface with a soft cloth.
Tip #7: Remember To Apply a Corrosion Protector
Corrosion protection is critical if the metallic parts of your power tool are in constant contact with moisture and other factors of corrosion. One of the ways to preserve your equipment is to apply a corrosion protector. The protector isolates the metallic part of the tool from the corrosive agents, albeit temporarily. WD-40® is a popular rust prevention product that you may consider. You may also visit your local hardware stores to sample the different corrosion protection options available.
Tip #8: Never wash equipment with its power switched on
When cleaning stationary equipment, risks are higher because the controls tend to be away from the cleaner. Guards should be appropriately installed to prevent accidental activation. Most importantly, the controls should solely be under the operation of the cleaner. Similarly, for the portable tools, power should be off and cable should be unplugged when cleaning.
Nothing is more frustrating than buying an expensive power tool only for it to break down a few months later. A manufacturer’s warranty may not help in certain circumstances. Cleaning your power tools and equipment using the right methods, processes and products can be beneficial in terms of longer life, safer operation and more efficiency even when you are using it in harsh conditions such as dusty and humid workshops. While at it, remember to maintain personal safety as a priority.