Construction work during the winter months is hard on our body – and it’s the same thing with our tools! That’s why it’s important to protect and take extra care of your tools this season. Establishing a routine for your winter tool care will also help you from any job delays or downtime, so that you can continue to keep a good reputation and provide good work for your employers and clients as well. And it will save you money from having to replace any tools from the damage cold temps can inflict! Here’s our tips for keeping your tools in tip top shape this season:
A lot of us craftsmen will just keep our regular tools in the back of our car or truck, but we recommend you take the extra time to bring them indoors at the end of a workday. Even though hand tools generally are fine in the cold, metal and plastic parts are super brittle and more susceptible to cracking or breaking in freezing temperatures. Keep them in a bag that is easy to carry them back and forth from shelter to your vehicle. If you must use a cold garage or tool shack, equip the space with a small heater to help keep from freezing temperatures. And if it is damp there, use a dehumidifier!
Warm Up Before Use
If you do keep your tools in cold temps, warm them up before you use them. Lubricants like oil and grease are more effective if you let them warm up to room temperature – or about 2 hours indoors – before use. Riding right next to your car heater might be able to warm them up quicker, but don’t be false assured that a short 5-minute drive will do it – that just isn’t going to be enough!
Change the Oil
Oil used in your heavy equipment or other tools should be equal with the outside temperature so that it flows properly once it’s turned on. This means that you may need to change to a lower viscosity engine or hydraulic oil for the winter season. And depending upon how cold it gets; you may also want to use a 70 to 30 coolant to water ratio to prevent the water from freezing and causing issues in your engine. However, too much coolant will make the water pump work harder, so only do that if it’s really cold!
Keep Fuel Tanks Full
Most craftsmen know to keep their fuel tanks full, so that condensation won’t collect along the fuel lines or tank. There are treatments you can add to help thaw a frozen fuel filter and remove the moisture, but we recommend that you keep a spare filter handy. Some newer lines of equipment will use diesel exhaust fluid, which freezes at 10 degrees or below – so make sure you are able to heat and thaw the DEF if it freezes too.
Run the Battery
Equipment with batteries in them should be tested and make sure the electrolyte is at the recommended level. The battery will drain slowly if you let it sit, or if there’s debris and rust around it. If you don’t plan to use it for the winter season, take out the batteries and store them inside a dry and stable environment. And don’t try to charge a frozen battery – it will probably explode!!
If you’re looking for a job to use those tools you’re taking good care of, check out the latest job opportunities available at Madden Industrial Craftsmen! We work with top employers that are looking for talented craftsmen like you, and will help you get fulfilling work that fits your lifestyle and career goals.