When you’re worried about lubricant supply, it’s hard to resist stockpiling and buying stuff you may not use. That’s why we want to make sure you’re following best practices for storing your lubricants.
Dirt, debris and water are threats to your lubricants. Contaminants are attracted to your lubricants. They’re always looking for an opening to enter the containers, mix with the fluids and set up residency in your equipment. Talk about a draining relationship!
Even the best lubricants you can buy aren’t immune to poor storage conditions or management. Protect your lubricants’ service life by putting these tips to use.
1. Create a lubricant storage room
Keep your lubricants away from the processing area to minimize contaminants during storage. Designate a lubricant room to store your products that’s away from the working area. Whatever you’re producing can get pulled into the fluids, whether it’s cheese, dog food, plastic or rubber particles. Dust and debris blowing around on worksites will collect on lubricant containers. Make sure the room is climate controlled because lubricants can chemically degrade when exposed to extreme temperatures.
2. Develop a first in, first out routine
Rotate your lubricant inventory each time you receive more stock. This practice keeps older products from getting lost in the mix, so your lubricants stay fresh. Some products have shorter shelf lives (like fuel additives) than others. Writing the received date on your barrels and pails will help you track shelf life. Also, keeping containers clearly labeled will help you know what’s on hand in your storage room.
3. Don’t store barrels standing upright
Water and dust can collect on barrels and get in through loose bungs when barrels are stored upright. Barrels should be stored on their sides with the bungs at 9 and 3 positions and lids securely on. Don’t leave a siphon in the drum unless it has a cover on it, and don’t leave the pump in the drum unless it’s made to be left in the drum with a tight seal.
4. Be careful when opening containers and refilling fluids
Contaminants can enter your system each time more fluid is added. Changing how you refill fluids (i.e., opening and filling one system at a time), will reduce the amount of time the system is open. Longer drain intervals that are possible with high-quality fluids like Schaeffer’s synthetic lubricants make a difference.
Watch out for dust, debris and greasy, oily residue on your bottles, pails and barrels. Simply opening the container’s lid creates a way for contaminants to taint your fluids. Take a moment to dust or clean lubricant containers when their lids are securely closed. Don’t keep extra opened lubricants on hand in the workshop area or with equipment where dust, dirt and water can easily get in.
5. Keep caps and lids securely on containers at all times
Shoving a dirty rag in the bunghole only asks for trouble, and using a makeshift lid on an oil bottle may not fit properly. Barrels will expand and contract in different temperatures and make a popping sound. If the barrel isn’t sealed correctly, the drum popping can pull in any dirt and/or moisture that may be on the container.
6. Don’t let dispensing equipment get dirty
Any dispensing equipment you use creates an additional entryway for debris. Contaminants and lubricant residue can stick to hoses or carts as you use them. Hoses, valves and transfer containers should be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Avoid using dirty dipsticks to test the oil level.
7. Take extra care with storing grease
Keep grease tubes closed, and keep them upright in a cool, dry place. Store the tips of grease guns upright, so gravity doesn’t force your oils to separate from the thickener. Depressurize each grease gun before storing them. Don’t toss grease tubes in the back of a pickup bed where they can roll around and be exposed to the elements.
8. Get everyone on board with proper storage
Implementing and maintaining good storage habits is a team effort. Everyone must do their part for these practices to work. Think of it as preventative maintenance for your lubricants. The more you take care of them, the better they’ll work in your equipment.
The bottom line on proper lubricant storage and management: Just do it. All the work you put in will help preserve the quality of your lubricants and protect the money spent on them.