Log splitter, whether an electric log splitter or a petrol log splitter, can save you a lot of time and effort if you have been splitting logs for firewood with an axe. While chopping your own wood for fuel can be immensely satisfying, especially if you’re using wood from your own trees, manually splitting logs with an axe can tire you out quickly. Thanks to wood splitters, you can have all the firewood you need without breaking a sweat.
A log splitter is essentially a mechanical version of a person with an axe. The machine has four basic parts: the engine, hydraulic oil pump, valve and hydraulic cylinder. A four-stroke engine provides the power needed by the log splitter. The engine is then hooked up to the hydraulic oil pump. Pipes connected to the hydraulic oil pump supply a constant stream of high-pressure oil, which is fed to the valve. The operator uses the valve to propel the hydraulic cylinder to split a log. Other parts of the log splitter are the tank that holds the hydraulic oil and a filter for keeping the oil clean.
Log splitters are powerful machines, but require constant maintenance for it to function safely and properly. Just like people need exercise to maintain their fitness, wood splitters need to be maintained to remain in top condition. Whether you’re shopping for a log splitter or already own one, it’s important to know basic maintenance practices. Here are a few tips so you can enjoy your log splitter for a long time.
1 – Read the manual
I hope you didn’t throw away the manual when you got your log splitter. One of the simplest but most important things you can do is to read the owner’s manual from the beginning until the end.
The manual should have all the information you need to know about your log splitter: technical specs, user instructions, maintenance guidelines and safety precautions. It’s important to heed the instructions and warnings within the manual to ensure safe and proper splitter operation.
Not all log splitters are designed in the same way, and you should know the particulars of your specific model. One thing that could be good for one splitter may not be effective for another.
2 – Check the hoses
Wood splitters are powered by hydraulics, and you’ll find a few hoses and pipes running the length of your machine. These are the hoses that lead from the hydraulic oil pump to the valve, and they provide the fluid required to create pressure.
The fluid within the pipes are flowing at an extremely high pressure, reaching as high as a several tons per square inch. If you think there’s a leak somewhere in the system, do not attempt to feel around the piping. The high pressure fluid leak, even out of a small hole, is enough to pierce your hand.
Use a stiff piece of paper like a playing card or cardboard to check for leaking hydraulic fluid. Slowly hover the card around the piping until the leak rips through or discolours the card. Replace the hoses once you’ve isolated the location of the leak.
3 – Examine the hydraulic fluid
Check the fluid reservoir for signs of water from time to time. With constant use of the log splitter, water can accumulate in the hydraulic fluid over time. The contaminated fluid will reduce the log splitter’s performance and efficiency. While you may not notice it right away, the machine will slowly but steadily degrade in function. Check for milky grey discoloration in the fluid, and drain and replace with new fluid if found.
4 – Grease the ram
Always keep the log splitter’s ram generously greased. A properly greased ram is essential in keeping the splitter functional and efficient. Make sure every nook and cranny is greased, as a dry ram will quickly invite rust to form. Rust can damage the hydraulic seal, which will make for disastrous consequences. Sand off any rust formation, clean it, and apply more grease on the area.
5 – Inspect the engine
If your log splitter is powered by a gas engine, keeping it in good shape is essential in its operation. Not just good operation, but starting the splitter outright. Make sure the oil is clean and full, and all valves and the crank shaft are lubricated.
See if the carburettor, the part responsible for the engine’s proper combustion, is in good condition. Replace the spark plug as needed and see if the plug gap and electrodes are in good shape. Keeping the engine in top form is just as important as a functional hydraulic system.
6 – Listen
While the log splitter is running, try to listen for any unusual sounds or exaggerated vibration. If something sounds or feels different, it’s a sign that one or more components are failing.
The vibration can only come from the pump and engine. If you sense more vibration than usual, then there could be a problem with either or both parts. Have it inspected by a professional if necessary.