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Air Tool Maintenance

General tips

Low air pressure reduces the speed of all air tools, wastes mechanics' time, and causes expensive delays. Make sure the air compressor is properly designed to deliver a minimum of 90 PSI to a running tool.

Wear safety glasses when using any power tool, including an air tool, and never take any risks with your eyes.

In shops with long lengths of hard piped airline, make sure there is an in line water drain in these lines and drain the air compressor tank daily.


Properly maintaining a tool will ensure it performs according to manufacturer specifications and will extend its operating life. Correct maintenance will ensure manufacturer warranty coverage in the event of damage or failure and will allow you to spend more time working profitably.

Improperly caring for a tool will prevent it from operating at its best, reduce the life of the tool, and possibly void the manufacturer warranty. Incorrect maintenance will also increase the cost invested in the tool over its lifetime; repair costs will increase, and revenue will be lost when when the tool is inoperable.


The most important preventative maintenance for any pneumatic tool is oiling, which helps maintain the tool's internal components. Tools should be oiled according to their use, and oil should be applied directly to the air inlet.

If the tool is used infrequently, apply a large amount of oil into the inlet and apply a short burst to the trigger mechanism. This will allow the oil to enter the motor.

If the tool has an oil bath style dynamic pin clutch, follow the manufacturer guidelines on the frequency and quantity of oil application. 30 weight non-detergent motor oil is used for this type of tool.

In line oilers do not provide enough oil to properly lubricate a tool on their own.

It is impossible to over oil a tool because any excess oil will blow out of the exhaust. Most tool manuals recommend applying a couple drops of oil every day, but in most cases this is not enough to reach the air motor. 10-20% of the tools we repair under warranty have no broken parts or problems other than dry and gritty air motors. Oiling the tool over the exhaust with a rag will fix these tools.

It is most important to oil a tool after it is finished being used for the day. Rust builds up when water sits on steel, and so the most important time to oil a tool is when it is not in use.


Read the manufacture guidelines for the frequency and quantity of grease application. Often these directions recommend applying a small amount of grease once a month or other simple instructions. Over greasing can cause excess friction and hinder the tool's operation.

Accessories Use and Safety

When selecting the correct accessory to use with an air tool, carefully check the following points.

Make sure the accessory is rated to run at or above the maximum rated speed of the air tool. Air tool manufacturers specify this speed in their catalogs and operating instructions. In particular, accessories for abrasive tools, impact wrenches, nut runners, ratchets, air hammers, and scaling hammers must be correctly rated to the air tool. Using an accessory in excess of its rated speed is quite dangerous.

Accessories should be of the correct size and design for the air tool and be in good working condition. Use of worn or incorrect accessories may reduce tool performance, create excessive tool wear, and cause real hazards.

Accessories should not be modified in any way.

Always carefully follow any mounting and fitting instructions for all accessories.

Always disconnect the tool from the air supply when changing accessories, guards, or other fittings.

Always use the proper hose and fittings for an air tool. They are essential for top performance, and an otherwise good air compressor can be choked if the wrong piping and fittings are used.

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