Winter is knocking at our window. In a few days, everything around us will not remain the same. Thermometers will be going to below zero degrees Fahrenheit in winter, and life will become lifeless.
Suppose you are a woodworker or a construction guy who has to use pneumatic tools every day. In that case, winter will significantly impact your life because pneumatic instruments are usually designed to work at 40°F or above.
When most of the pneumatic tools manufacturers recommended not to use any air tools totally in winter, it becomes difficult to continue your profession then. Obeying this restriction is easy for the weekend warrior or DIYer, but hard for serious contractors who need to continue their work across the year for their livelihood or who have an unfinished job that must be completed in the winter.
Needless to worry, though! If you know how to maintain pneumatic tools in the winter, it's easy to survive. If you properly maintaining your tools during the winter, you might not get 100% productivity from your devices, but you'll get enough breakthroughs to continue your work; that's for sure. So, keep your eyes on our next thousand words, where we're going to explain how do you stop pneumatic tools from freezing?
Let's dive with us.
How Does Cold Weather Affecting The Pneumatic Tools?
Before we jump into the maintenance issues of pneumatic tools, let's examine how actually the cold weather affects the pneumatic equipment.
We all know that the pneumatic tools get their driving strength from compressed air. Since this driving force comes from air compressors, it is a must-have system for operating all the pneumatic gears. However, extreme cold weather in the winter makes these compressors vulnerable, too.
When the compressor inhales air from the atmosphere, it simply inhales the air that contains moisture. Now, if the temperature of the surrounded atmosphere falls below the compressed air dew point, the inner air is concentrated and forms ice, which affects the working power of the compressors severely.
Frozen condensate also creates water blockage within the air compressor accessories and the tank. As per the rules of the phase transformation, the volume increases when the water turns into ice. Thus, if ice accumulates in any part of the air compressor such as a valve or controller, it can be destroyed and even exploded in extreme cases.
Similarly, if you leave the air hose outside where the temperature is below the freezing point of the water, the ice forms within the tubing. Once the ice is deposited within the pipe, it blocks the flow of compressed air, causing a serious drop in the pressure. Continuous frosting and defrosting of the lines may cause breakage too.
If the condensed air passes through the air tools, the exhaust vent of the tool may be getting blocked, resulting in low performance or damage to the equipment.
So, it is clear, using pneumatic tools in the winter have various hazards. Let's keep eyes on how you can avoid those and continue your work.
How To Maintain Pneumatic Tools In The Winter:
If we look around us, as a woodworker, we find the most popular pneumatic tools are air compressors and nail guns. So, it will be worthwhile if we know how to maintain pneumatic tools in the winter and their accessories mentioned earlier.
Without further ado, let's find out the remedies on how do you stop pneumatic tools from freezing?
As the air compressor is one of the most vital pneumatic tools, we need to know how to keep air compressor from freezing in a well-manner.
First, you can try to use some sort of air dryer in the compressor system to remove enough water vapor to keep the airline dry and lessen the condensation process.
Sometimes the use of an air dryer is not enough to avoid condensation. In that case, the most effective way to save your air compressor in the winter is to drain out the accumulated water after a specific interval. It is also necessary to follow the protocol when the compressor is used in damp or humid climates like cold weather.
To do this, simply open the drain valve, which is usually located at the tank's bottom. When doing this, make sure the tank is under some pressure - then take care to close the valve(s) securely until the air stops leaking. NOTE: never try to use pliers to twist the valves as it may damage those.
If possible, in order to keep your air compressor in working condition, keep it in a room where the temperature must be maintained at around 45°F. To do this, you can use a room heater. You can also put your compressor in a continuous run cycle if the system allows.
You may also add a little antifreeze substance like ethylene glycol (EGW) or propylene glycol (PGW) in the tank. It actually helps you to delay the process of condensation and keep the air free from frost.
We believe that following the above one or a combination of several processes will help you prevent your air compressor from freezing. However, before taking any steps, please read the instruction manual carefully. This way, even in the coldest weather, you can continue your woodworking or other construction work without a problem.
Please see the video below to get more ideas on this –
As an air compressor, you can take one or several steps to protect your air hoses too. You can use an air dryer (desiccant or membrane type) to remove all water vapor and keep your air hose from freezing. But this process is not very feasible for a framer like industrial users as it's a bit of pricy.
The best solution to keep your air hoses from freezing is to put some oil with antifreeze at the beginning of the hose (not at the end). Keep it in mind that the fittings are usually more prone to freeze than the hose. So, keep a propane torch for them to heat up when necessary.
You can also insulate your pipe with some kind of insulator to protect it. And must store your hoses at a warmer place or wooden box after daily use.
Nail guns or air hammers are the most popular and usable air tool for woodworkers. So, you must take care of it in the wintertime for long-lasting use. Let's check some tips on how to keep nail guns from freezing as below.
Lubricate To Protect Moisture Deposition:
The comfortable and best way to protect your nail gun freezing is to use antifreeze oil. Adequate lubrication can protect your guns from freezing by stop build up condensed water. If the temperature is gone below zero, you must start your nail gun only after applying the appropriate lubricant and rest it for a few moments. Kilfrost Pneumatic Tool and Antifreeze Lubricant will be a good choice to absorb the airline's water, depressing the freezing point, thus eliminating freezing.
Note: Do not use automatic transmission fluid, hydraulic or motor oil, and bearing or axle grease in your pneumatic tool as they may crack or break the O-rings.
Use Cold Resistant Air Hose:
Air hoses are the main ways of transmitting compressed air to air tools or nail guns. So, using a cold-resistant tube may give you an improved experience of fastening in the winter. Hoses made with rubber have enough flexibility against a wide range of temperature changes. However, they are a little bulky. So, the great alternative is a hybrid tube made of polyurethane, rubber, and PVC, offering decent cold weather resistance. You may check out this YOTOO Polyurethane Recoil Air Hose, which can withstand between the temp ranges from -40° F to +150° F.
Choose A Cold Resistant Model:
There are different brands of nail guns on the market that offer a wide range of temperature resistance. Choosing a tool from those brands may give you an extra shield in the winter. For example, Paslode 905600 XP framing nailer can provide you the opportunity to operate as low as 14°F (-10°C).
Store In A Warm Box:
It is best practice to store your nail guns or air tools in a warmer place during the interval of operation and at the end of daily use. For that, you can use an insulated wooden box along with a heat lamp. Also, try to keep the frost off from both the compressor's air intake and the air exhaust on the tool.
Keep in mind, do not use your air tool in cold weather directly unboxing from the warm box, or when it was left in cold condition whole the night as both may occur fumbling nails.
Besides the above, you should also follow the regular maintenance procedures to get the optimal performance from your nail gun and other tools round the year.
Standard Maintenance Recommended For Air Tools:
It is difficult to follow the daily maintenance procedures in a workshop where a pile of different tools is randomly used. So, preparing a checklist will help you to maintain regularity.
Let's get a short overview of this-
- Check all parts are sound and good
- Check for loose screws and tighten them properly (if any)
- Check lubrication level and viscosity (internal and external)
- Oiling – your air tools twice in a day, or at least once
- Clean the filters regularly and change when appropriate
- Check whether there have any leaks in the airline or not
- Check out all seals, gaskets, O-rings, couplers, etc. are in good condition or not and replace if necessary
- Ensure correct air pressure during operation
- Draining receiver tanks at the beginning and end of the day and shut off the switch when not in use like in the night
- Keep cleaning the feed system
Note: While doing these maintenance procedures, always try to follow manufacturers' instructions.
Now you know how to maintain pneumatic tools in the winter as well as throughout the year. If you can adopt them, without a doubt, you'll get an enhanced long-lasting output from your gears.
However, if possible, in the winter, you can consider using gas-operated or cordless equipment built to work at low temperatures in order to achieve improved efficiency and prevent all these difficulties.
Finally, be careful about yourself. Must wear hand gloves to protect your fingers from freezing. As at the below zero temperature, it is easy to lose control of your finger, leading to a serious accident.