Air Tools, like any other type of mechanical equipment, require care and maintenance if they are to continue operating efficiently and provide many years of reliable service. Compressed Air Consulting and Supply Australia offer some instructions and guidelines on how to care for air tools.
The most common causes of rapid deterioration of air tools are:
- Lack of lubrication/incorrect lubricants used
- Ingress of dirt and other contaminants
- Water in compressed air system
- Incorrect air pressure
Lack of lubrication
Air tools need to be lubricated regularly, many tools come with instructions to lubricate daily and if an air tool is being only used intermittently then an initial few drops of oil in the air inlet at the start of the day should be sufficient. Heavy usage requires heavy lubrication and if you use an air tool continuously it is good practice to unplug tool every hour and apply a few drops of air tool oil into air inlet. An alternative is to install automatic lubricators in your compressed air system.
When you are not going to be using your air tool for an extended period (anything longer than overnight), apply a good amount of airtool oil into inlet fitting(3-5 ml) and operate tool for a couple of seconds, this disperses any water present in tool and coats cylinder and rotor in oil thereby preventing surface rust internally which can cause vanes to become stuck in slots and stop air tool functioning.
Use only Air Tool oil in air tools as use of engine oil or the like will cause swelling of any rubber seals or 'o' rings causing tool to fail.
Ingress of dirt/contaminants
The single biggest killer of air tools is dirt & contaminants entering the airtool.
Do not leave your air hoses laying in the dirt and always ensure dirt and dust is wiped from the air hose socket and airtool plug before connecting tool. Alternatively there are a range of coupling covers available to protect your air hose couplings while not in use. Hornets are notorious for building their nests in air tool inlet couplings and it only takes one nest being blown into a tool to destroy it.
Using a filter/regulator in your air system prevents any rust or other contaminants which may be present in your airlines from reaching your air tools.
Water in compressed air systems
Compressed air contains a large amount of water, if this enters your air tools it flushes out any lubricants that were present and causes rapid deterioration.
The only sure way to effectively remove water from your compressed air is to use some form of air dryer. There are many types available including Refrigerated Dryers and Desiccant Dryers.
If you are not in a position to obtain either of the above it becomes even more important to lubricate tools as described above.
Incorrect air pressure
Most air tools are designed to operate at 90psi. Operating tools above this pressure may give a neglible increase in power but will cause vanes in tools to press against cylinder with much more force than the tool designers intended causing rapid wearing of both vanes and cylinders and drastically shortening the effective life of your air tool.
Always have a filter/regulator in the airline and adjust pressures to manufacturers recommendations.