​What to Do When You Have Power Tool Problems

​​When working on a DIY home renovation project, there’s nothing worse than running into an issue with your power tool. It slows down the entire process and puts a major damper on your mood. While you might know a little about power tools and may even be a pro at using them, knowing how to solve an issue with one is a whole other story.

Even the most experienced home renovators turn to the pros when they experience a problem with their tools. This article is here to offer a few simple steps as well as provide you with some helpful resources on the subject. You can also read more on how to solve a particular tool-related issue on toolnerds.com​ online.

​What to Do When You Have Power Tool Problems

Diagnosing 101

​A power tool is set up with a simple logical pathway. Each part works in conjunction with the rest in a straight line from a starting point to an end point. Electrical power is brought into the tool at one end, follows the path of wiring to the motor where it is converted into physical energy, then exits the tool at its working end.

So, diagnosing your power tool is as simple as looking at its working components to see which piece has malfunctioned. Just follow the path of electricity from start to finish, and you will find the culprit.

​The Power End​

The most common issues occur where power is brought into the tool, which could be either a battery or cord that connects to an outlet. These parts are more likely to be damaged by an electrical surge or excessive heat.

Start your search here by looking at the switches and brushes. If a sudden flux of electrical power caused your tool to stop working, you will find out in no time. It is also important to look at the power cord itself. You can easily tell if a cord has been damaged, cut, or worn, which obviously leads to malfunctioning tools.

​What to Do When You Have Power Tool Problems

​On Again, Off Again​

If your tool is working fine one minute then shutting off or failing to start the next, the issue is called “off and on use”. The most likely source of the problem in this case is the switch. Power switches do wear down and need replacing over time, but you can tell if yours has taken its last breath simply by checking it for burns from overheating.

Your device’s brushes and communicator may also be the cause. Looking at the brushes for discoloration from burning, chips, or worn out springs can tell you if they need to be replaced. As for the communicator, you will need to look for missing bars and pads, buildup in the grooves, or warping caused by overheating.

The armature is the final piece to inspect. It can suffer heat damage just like the rest of these components, and can cause even more damage if it is not replaced. Look at the wires and insulation for any melting or discoloration. If your tool does not start at all, these same electrical issues are the cause.

​Sparking and Smoking​

This can be a little more terrifying problem, but can also help you determine exactly which part of the tool has failed. The smoke will either come from the dust vents or the switch. Either the switch has shorted out or the connector and armature need to be replaced.

​What to Do When You Have Power Tool Problems

​If Shaking the Tool Helps Start It​

If you have to shake or twist your power tool to get it going, then the problem is more than likely worn parts. By shaking it, you are actually making the armature spin inside of the tool. This action, in a way, kick starts the device.

Checking the brushes for heavy wear and tear is the first place to start. You may need to file down any burrs or replace the brushes entirely if their springs have lost tension. This problem can also be caused by heat damage, but is far more likely a case of the brushes wearing down.

If the brushes happen to be fine, move on to the communicator. Again, you will be looking for missing bars or pads, buildup, and warping. In this instance, warping is more than likely the cause behind your “shake to start” problem.

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