How-to Maintain Your Tools: Pneumatics | WD-40

How-to Maintain Your Tools: Pneumatics

How-to Maintain Your Tools: Pneumatics

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Pneumatic tools and equipment use compressed air to power their operation and require regular maintenance just like those running on electricity, gas, or other energy sources. Since compressed air systems are spread across many sectors of industry and frequently find their way into homes and small businesses, it’s important to know how to care for and maintain these pieces of equipment.

Routine vs. Neglect

Just like most power tools, there are two basic ways to treat your equipment: operate them until they cease to function, or perform routine maintenance to ensure your tool’s longevity. The first choice is an unfortunately common practice that can result in unnecessary expenses when parts or entire tools need to be replaced, as well as with lost time due to equipment failure. The second requires diligence and attention but proves instructive to operators and enables tools to reach their full potential and lifespan.


Application of lubrication forms a key component of preventative maintenance for air tools. The majority of pneumatic equipment failures can be attributed to inadequate lubrication and improper maintenance in this area leads to inadequate performance and unnecessary downtime. WD-40 Company knows a lot about lubrication, but in these cases it’s best to use pneumatic oils recommended by the equipment manufacturer. A good drip-oil baseline can be found with 3-IN-ONE® Professional Grade Pneumatic Tool Oil, or with air line oilers for some types of pneumatics. If your equipment uses an air line oiler, be sure to inspect and maintain the filter as well as the level of oil during use.

Care and Storage

Not all wear and tear occurs during the active use of pneumatic tools. Cleaning and storing your equipment properly can help stave off detrimental effects from dampness, moisture, and the grit & grime that comes with many operational environments. By cleaning tools before putting them away, they’re much more likely to work properly the next time you need them. Proactive care and preventative maintenance are form the touchstones of professional mechanics, but they’re practices that can be shared by anyone who wishes to treat their tools with intention and respect.

Pro Tip: Use WD-40 Multi-Use Product to protect the exteriors of air tools from rust, corrosion, and the formation of unwanted buildup from grime and debris. The WD-40® Smart Straw system features an attached straw for precision applications or an area spray to coat a cloth or rag for wiping tools before storage.

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