Winter Tool Storage
When winter rolls around, we think about keeping ourselves warm, along with our houses, but we don’t give much (if any) thought to the tools stored in the garage, shop or shed. That can be an expensive mistake. Many tools can suffer damage of one kind or another by being kept in the cold all winter long. Here are some tool storage suggestions for protecting your investments.
Hand Tool Storage
Most hand tools will not suffer damage from being stored in a cold garage or shed. Freezing temperatures, however, can make many metal or plastic parts brittle and particularly susceptible to breakage. To avoid this, get into the habit of taking hand tools out of cold storage before use; let them sit inside the house for an hour or more before use.
Also keep in mind that metal tools can rust. Big swings in temperature and humidity can accelerate that process. If you are worried about rust, try to find a good spot inside the house for tool storage. Alternatively, apply some rust protector to all metal surfaces.
Power Tool Storage
The biggest problem you can run into regarding power tool storage in winter stem from plugging in a cold tool and operating it before it has a chance to warm up. This causes a big, rapid temperature swing from very cold to very hot, which is a stress that will cause some tools to suffer an early death.
Tools containing grease or oil should be allowed to warm up before starting. The lubricants just aren’t as effective as they need to be when cold. Pneumatic tools often come with instructions on which oil to use in cold weather.
Cordless Power Tool Storage
Try to keep cordless power tools and their chargers inside during cold weather. Freezing temperatures seem to accelerate battery discharge, and many cordless tools come with a warning that the chargers simply won’t work when cold.
Heating the Garage
If you have some source of heat in your garage, shed or shop, turn it on for awhile before turning on any power tools. You might also want to consider keeping the heater on throughout the winter; all it really needs to do is maintain a temperature above freezing.