Pneumatic nail guns have revolutionized the construction and DIY building industries, but they require careful maintenance to function correctly and safely. Don’t neglect the following steps for maintenance, especially in the winter months when low temperatures and moisture can wreak havoc with pneumatic tools.

Accidents Do Happen

In a recent discussion about nail gun safety, the organization reported that hospital emergency rooms and clinics across the US see and treat nearly 40,000 nail gun injuries each year. No doubt, some of these incidents involving the incorrect use of nail guns, and worker injuries can also be attributed to other circumstances such as falling debris, scaffold malfunctions, and other mishaps.

However, poorly maintained nail guns are a common cause of serious puncture wounds, especially on the hands. Experienced contractors and handymen know that the risk of injury can always be mitigated by diligent equipment maintenance. Read the user manual and know your tool, the various parts and what kind of maintenance is required. Furthermore, be sure to adjust your tool maintenance regime to the weather.

Everyday Maintenance In The Winter

It is considered best practice to avoid using pneumatic tools in temperatures below freezing. But sometimes the work has to continue regardless of the weather conditions. Using a nail gun can become even more taxing when working in the cold because there is the likelihood of fumbling for nails or controls with freezing fingers. Here are a few simple tips that will keep your nail gun in great working order during the cold season – and they just might help you avoid accidents and injuries on the job as well:

  • As you should every day in every season, check for loose screws and tighten them. Check the safety and the trigger to make sure they are moving freely.
  • Be diligent about emptying out the moisture build-up in the air compressor after each use to avoid freezing. Both automatic and manual valves can freeze so do this in a warmer area.
  • Pay attention to the storage and positioning of power cords. Cables are more fragile when frozen; use a weather proof cable if you can and leave main feed lines uncoiled.
  • You would normally use a few drops of pneumatic tool oil on the air fitting area of your nail gun daily. When it is colder, use a lubricant that is specially formulated for use in the winter months, or consider an in-line antifreeze product such as Killfrost to prevent blockages.
  • Take extra care when you store your nail gun for the day. If you store your tools overnight in a cold area, give them a chance to warm up before you use them. If you store your tools in a warm area but work in the cold, temperature changes can make frost develop in switches and other moving parts. Consider running heat lamps on an unheated job site to keep the air compressor warm.

Be Aware Of Industry Best Practices

Consult with your industry association to confirm best practices for winter use of pneumatic tools. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Staple, Nail, and Tool Association (ISANTA) all provide a wealth of information about nail guns, trigger mechanisms, and operator safety.

Operating a nail gun safely during the winter months requires attention to everyday best practices as well as adjustments to account for cold and wet conditions. Don’t expect business as usual with your pneumatic tools when temperatures plunge. Instead, take a bit of extra time to properly prep, maintain and use your equipment in order to enjoy a working day that is less likely to be interrupted by accident or injury.