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How to clear a clogged grease fitting

Ensure your machine's uptime by keeping it lubricated...even in costic environments

The machines we use are subject to many tough conditions. Whether it is hot or cold temperatures, caustic environments like salt water or just standard dirt and debris, harsh conditions affect our machines over time. One of the most common and frustrating results of these demanding environments is clogged grease fittings.

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How many times have you started to grease your combine or excavator and find that the zerk is not taking grease? Unfortunately, many times the operator simply moves on to the next fitting and passes on the clogged one. The result of skipping that lube point can mean excessive future down time and high replacement and labor costs to get the machine back up and running.

Clearing a fitting is not as hard as you think especially with the proper tools. Here are three effective ways to bust through those blockages.

High-pressure grease gun
The first and easiest treatment is with the use of a high-pressure grease gun. Most battery-powered grease guns have working pressures between 6,000 and 10,000 psi. Some brands, like Lincoln models 1882/1884 20-volt PowerLuber, are designed with clogged fittings in mind. It’s two-speed design controls grease output while developing pressures up to 10,000 psi which is usually enough to blast through any obstruction.

Impact fitting cleaner

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If a grease fitting is being stubborn and can’t be cleared with a high-pressure grease gun, then the next step is to use an impact fitting cleaner. These tools use compressed fluid to break through the clogged fitting. Users fill the cylinder with a solvent (like WD-40), attach the tool to the fitting then strike the end of the tool to push the fluid into the fitting. The Lincoln model 5805 impact fitting cleaner is a great tool because it has a protective ring around the cylinder to keep your hands safe from missed strikes to the cylinder. It also comes with a Lincoln 5852 coupler and a high-pressure hose to access hard-to-reach fittings.

Replace the fitting
There will be times where the fitting can’t be cleared or has come to the end of its life. In those cases, you will have to replace it. When replacing, you will simply need a combination wrench or a ratchet to remove the existing fitting and replace and tighten the new one. If you have trouble freeing the fitting, you can spray a solvent on it, and let it penetrate the threads for five to 10 minutes. It should then be easier to loosen and remove. There are many brands to choose from for replacement fittings. The most popular brands on the market are Alemite and Lincoln which are held to exact specifications to assure proper coupler connections and less mess that most others.

Clogged fittings are not fun and can damage your equipment if they are not addressed in a timely manner. The three methods described above should easily fix the problem.

Do you have other ways to clear a clogged fitting not described above? If so, leave a comment below!

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Author: Kevin Jones
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