Cold mornings and evenings are the first clue that winter is well and truly on its way. Because fireplaces are still a popular way for families to keep their homes warm during inclement weather, many people are venturing out to collect firewood before it gets too wet. Having to cut up all this firewood manually can take a real toll on the body, especially if you’re getting on in years or suffer from ailments (such as back pain).
This is why electric log splitters have begun to increase in popularity – people are looking for a tool that will help them to cut up firewood, as well as one that is relatively environmentally friendly. A splitter meets both of these needs. Even though the machine is electric, the cutting mechanism will require regular applications of oil to pressurize the hydraulics. Not using oil or not changing it regularly can have a very detrimental effect.
In many ways, this machine actually resembles a common sawhorse. A pushing mechanism sits on the left side and a splitting wedge sits across its length (resembling a triangle). The log is placed along the length of the splitter and the pusher presses against its end, holding it in place against the splitting wedge’s triangular point. When engaged, the wedge will drive through the wood, effectively cutting it into two pieces.
Most electric log splitters will require hydraulic oil with a 10W (winter) weight rating. This oil type provides lubrication for the gears and other mechanical parts during extreme cold and heat, effectively protecting them from wearing down. The machine will also use the oil for pressurizing the hydraulic system – as the electric motor is activated, the hydraulic system build pressure with the oil. Once it has been pressurised, the system initiates the pusher’s motion.
It is important to note that all splitters will have a bleed screw assembly – you must open this screw before operating the machine. The bleed screw allows air to escape the hydraulic system; any air that remains inside can actually cause real damage. The enclosed space (which houses both the trapped air and the hydraulic oil) will become overly pressurised and may damage the components. The bleed screw should be tightened when the splitter is stored or moved.
Your hydraulic oil will require replacement after every 150 hours of use. Over time, the oil can produce a sediment within the hydraulic system that eventually settles on many of the components. The deposit layers are known to cause serious damage. Regular oil replacement will ensure that the internal parts of your splitter are bathed in pure oil, prolonging its lifespan and ensuring that repairs are not a common occurrence.
It should be noted that low amounts of hydraulic oil will affect the functioning of your log splitter. A humming electric motor with no pusher movement, for example, generally signifies that the oil levels are low. The hydraulic system cannot achieve the pressure needed to move the pusher against the log, thereby is unable to cut it. Make sure you inspect the dipstick – check that the oil levels fall within the required range, otherwise top it up.
We hope that you are now aware of what type of oil your electric log splitter will require in order to keep it in tiptop condition. We also hope that you are aware of all the steps and maintenance that you will need to undertake to ensure that the oil can do its job properly. Just remember that low oil or no oil can be seriously damaging for your splitter (in some cases, it may be irreparable), so it is important to keep an eye on all of the levels.