Six Essential Maintenance Tips for Your Hydraulic Log Splitter

If you heat your home with firewood or if you are a professional who sells firewood, a hydraulic log splitter can be an essential piece of equipment. A log splitter can be expensive, and to safeguard your investment you need to take care of it. Here are some essential maintenance tips to keep your hydraulic equipment in good repair.

1. Keep the Fluid Clean

If you are using your hydraulic wood splitter for the first time of the season, you should put in new hydraulic fluid. Ideally, you should have removed the old fluid at the end of the last season. Unfortunately, if the fluid is old or contaminated, your splitter won't work as well.

Additionally, contaminated fluid can lead to rust or corrosion on the internal parts of your splitter or even issues such as motor failure.

2. Replace Loose Hoses

Every time you use your log splitter, you should look it over, and in particular, you should look at how the hoses are connected. If they are loose, try new couplings. That can fix a lot of issues.

However, if the hoses are frayed or breaking, you need to replace them. Remember, these machines use a lot of pressure, and if the hydraulic fluid comes out of the hoses, it will be pressurized. It can come out at such a force that you can even get hurt. Beyond that risk, when you lose pressure out of your hoses, you don't get the pressure you need in your axe blades.

3. Lubricate the Ram

The ram is the large column that moves through the machine and pushes the axes forward. This part has to be lubricated to work. If you let your ram dry out, it won't work as effectively, and it can become rusty. If rust has already formed, check the seal to ensure that the rust has not started to degrade that. If so, you may need to contact a professional who does hydraulic equipment repairs and see if they can replace the seal. If the seal is okay, take some time to remove the rust from the ram. Do that with some steel wool and then lubricate as soon as you are done.

4. Sharpen the Blades

The sharper the blade, the easier it will be for your splitter to split wood. If the blade is dull, that forces the other components to work harder than they need to, and that can lead to damage throughout your machine.

To sharpen the blades, very carefully use some steel wool to remove any build up from the blades. Then, use a metal file for the actual sharpening. Work in the direction of the grain.

5. Stay on Top of Issues

If you notice any other issues with your splitter, don't ignore them. Instead dig a little deeper and try to figure out the issue. For example, if you see leaking fluid, you may need to replace seals on your pump. If your system is shaking, the motor may have issues. Don't ignore the issues or they will only get worse.

6. Let the Wood Dry Before Cutting

You can cut freshly harvested wood with your hydraulic log splitter, but if you want to protect your equipment, you should try to avoid that. Fresh wood tends to have a lot of moisture and resin. The resin can build up on your blades, making it harder for them to cut through new wood. Additionally, cleaning the blades can be hard work. Fresh wood can also dull your blades. 

If you just work with seasoned wood, this process is easier. Simply cut down your trees with your chainsaw, and then, give those logs a while to season before running through through your splitter.