How to Lubricate Caster Wheels
With the ability to hold and move considerable weight, caster wheels are essential to many businesses and industries but often go overlooked and underappreciated. To help maintain them, you should know how to lubricate caster wheels, so they last longer and save you money.
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Benefits of Regular Caster Wheel Maintenance
If you want your caster wheels to last a long time, provide them with regular check-ups, cleaning, and maintenance. Here are the benefits of properly caring for your caster wheels:
- Better performance: With regular maintenance, your caster wheels glide smoothly across the floor. You're less likely to damage whatever they're carrying.
- Longer life: With constant usage, your caster wheels slowly suffer wear and tear, which shortens their life. With regular maintenance, you reduce the rate at which that occurs.
- Increased safety: Broken or damaged caster wheels pose a safety threat to your workers and your property. Checking them regularly ensures you identify and fix any safety concerns before it's too late.
- Cost savings: Repairing or replacing a caster wheel can involve considerable expense. If you catch problems before they become serious, you can save money on repairs and replacement.
- Environmental friendliness: When you reduce how often you have to replace your caster wheels, you're benefiting nature by reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
How to Clean and Lubricate Caster Wheels
You should know how to lubricate caster wheels and do it every six months. If you use your caster wheels constantly or they bear more weight than they're designed for, consider lubricating more often. Proper lubrication requires the following process:
- Gather materials: You'll need two soft clothes, a suitable lubricant like WD-40, a small brush (or toothpick), and rubber gloves.
- Clean: Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe off any dirt on the caster's surface.
- Lubricate: Spray lubricant onto every moving part of the caster.
- Brush: Use a toothbrush or toothpick to reach the nooks and crannies.
- Wipe: Wipe away any excess lubricant with a separate clean, soft cloth.
To determine whether your caster wheel needs early lubrication, turn it upside down and see how easily it swivels.
Your caster wheel might need cleaning more often than lubricating, especially if you work in a place that accumulates a lot of dust, dirt, and other debris.
If there are larger or sticky items on the wheel, such as chewing gum or labels, do not place them in water. Rather, use a butter knife to gently scrape off the debris. If hair is stuck under the wheel, use tweezers to pluck it out.
To facilitate the cleaning, you can use a screwdriver to remove the wheel. Wipe down the entire wheel, including the inside and outside wheel cover, with a clean damp cloth. If the wheel still needs cleaning after removing the sticky pieces, soak it in warm soapy water for five to ten minutes, then rinse under cold tap water.
Make sure every area of the wheel is completely dry to avoid rust or corrosion. You can use a blow dryer for extra certainty. Put the wheel back on and line up the threads to avoid damage.
Other Care Considerations
In addition to learning how to lubricate caster wheels, consider these other care methods to maximize how long your caster wheels last.
As part of your normal routine, inspect your caster wheels at the end of every work week. Look for the following signs indicating that they need further attention:
- Wear and tear on the caster's body and wheel
- Any dust, dirt, or other debris that has accumulated and might affect how the wheel can swivel or perform
- Loose or missing parts
If you use a lot of casters as part of your work, it might not make sense to spend time checking them every week. In that case, check them at least once a month, or after particularly heavy use.
Inspect Hardware Fasteners
Fasteners are responsible for holding the caster wheel together. If they're loose or broken, your caster won't function as well or could break apart completely. A proper inspection includes the following:
- Checking for damage, including bends, breaks, cracks, holes, corrosion, or rust
- Securely tighten all pieces to avoid potential loosening
- Immediately replacing any damaged fasteners
The swivels are responsible for ensuring your wheel moves smoothly and in every direction. If the swivel looks dirty, clean it using the following process:
- Remove the caster from its mounting
- Dip a small brush or toothpick in rubbing alcohol and clean the swivel
- Air dry the caster before reinstalling
Caster Tension Adjustment
You'll know your caster tension needs adjusting when pushing the casters feels like a weight-training exercise. Loosen or tighten the screws holding the caster until it moves as you desire.
Frequently Asked Questions About Caster Wheels
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked caster wheel questions.
Can I Stop My Wheels From Squeaking?
Squeaky wheels often result from a lack of lubrication, debris in the wheel, or aging. You can stop it from squeaking by cleaning and lubricating the caster wheel. If you notice extensive damage or corrosion, consider replacing it.
Why Won't My Caster Rotate?
Casters become stiff when the pieces rub together, debris lodges within the wheel, or it begins to rust. Clean and lubricate the wheel and replace it when you notice rust.
How Do I Fix My Wobbley Caster?
Your caster can wobble from a loose fastener, worn-out swivel, or broken wheel. Examine the caster to determine the issue and either tighten the loose pieces or replace it.
Does My Caster Wheel Need Replacement?
You can tell your caster wheel needs replacement by the following signs:
- Damage and wear: Over time, wheels can suffer chips and cracks, or they can go flat. Such damage requires replacing the caster wheel.
- Noise: Squeaking and noise are normal when the wheel needs more lubrication. However, if it continues to produce excessive noise even after you lubricate, you need a new caster.
- Poor mobility: If your caster frequently sticks or jams, won't move in the direction you want, or feels like you're moving a ton of bricks, first check the fasteners, lubrication, and tension. If poor mobility persists, replace the wheel.
- Rust or corrosion: Rust and corrosion on your caster wheel can cause safety issues if it runs into a person or object. You can use proper cleaning techniques to remove the rust, but if the damage is irreversible, make your workspace safe by purchasing a new caster.
What Type of Caster Do I Need?
When you're looking for a new caster, use the following criteria to determine what you need:
- Load capacity: How heavy is the equipment you need to haul? Make sure the caster can handle it.
- Application: If you use the wheel outdoors, consider one resistant to water and other harsh conditions.
- Material: While rubber wheels provide ample cushioning, they're less durable and versatile than polyurethane wheels.
- Locking: For consistency and safety, your new caster should use the same locking mechanism as the old one.
You Deserve the Best Caster Wheels
Whether you're seeking information about shock loading on caster wheels or need more maintenance tips, Caster Central provides quality information and quality products. Now that you know how to lubricate caster wheels, you're ready to make sure they last.
When you need specialized or industry caster wheels for handling all your materials, Caster Central can help. Call us at (800) 445-4082 to learn more.