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Air Tool Maintenance: How To Keep Your Air Tools Running In Top Performance

5 Air Tool Maintenance Tips For Your Shop

Often overlooked is how well a shop's pneumatic tools are operating. Most operators and shop foreman's alike typically think, as long as the tool is spinning, it is working at peak performance. 

Whether your shop is large or small, air tool maintenance should be of top priority to keep your air tool's performance and operating costs in check. 

Every tool is a little bit different in what is required, however they all share a few very basic and easy things that can keep a tool in tip top performance. 


Maintenance Tip 1: Use Pneumatic Tool Lubricants

All pneumatic tools require some form of air lubricant typically injected either into the air line or a couple of drops daily into the air supply. This provides some direct lubrication to the air motor itself. However, some tools, such as die grinders or disc sanders, have gearboxes, cams or other mechanisms that are not lubricated via the air supply. These places require a suitable grease or gear oil. Always consult the tool's manual for proper lubrication types and frequency. 


Maintenance Tip 2: Use Proper Air Pressure

Run the tool at its specified pressure, which can be found in the tool manual. A lot of shops will just set a main regulator at 90 or 100 psi and leave it. This may work for a majority of tools, but the ones that require more or less will be running either too fast or too slow. This severely effects the air tool life and performance which equates to lost productivity due to downtime. Running the recommended air pressure on your air tools not only ensures that the tool will give the proper performance, but it will run the tool at the proper RPM designed for the tool and the accessory attached to it. This may mean adding individual regulators at each station.


Maintenance Tip 3: Clean Tool Inlets & Outlets


Keep the inlet and outlet clean and clear of debris or blockages. The air inlet is easy, visually inspect that no dirt or dust has collected there when the tool was disconnected from the air supply. Many people forget the tools exhaust however. On some tools, like orbital sanders, they feature a muffler assembly that periodically needs to be changed. This muffler assembly, while designed to muffle and disperse the air exiting the tool, is also makes a great filtration device for oil and particles. After a while this creates a blockage and thus reduces flow.  Replace air motor muffler assemblies on a prescribed timetable for optimal performance. 


Maintenance Tip 4: Maintain Adequate Airflow

Maintaining airflow is intricate part of keeping an air tool fed with plenty of clean air for proper operation. Compressor size, piping, coupler and plug size, and even the way the air distribution system is routed can all have major effects on how efficiently an air tool operates. Our sister company Finish Systems has a great article, that goes in-depth, on the value of proper air distribution no matter what the shop environment. Not only does having the proper air distribution system help the tool but it reduces the operating cost of the most expensive component, the compressor.


Maintenance Tip 5: Proper Air Tool Training

Probably the most overlooked is basic training and a good maintenance plan for you air tools. Clearly posting or having available to employees a maintenance schedule or routine for the station that is operating a pneumatic tool will pay dividends in lower operational costs as well as tool downtime which also results in lost productivity.

If you are in need of some new pneumatic tools for grinding, sanding or polishing, check out our selection of tools here

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