Whether you’re using a fully pneumatic or an entirely manual grease gun, you’ll need to fill it with grease or lubricant before using it. This is a relatively simple process, but one that can certainly benefit from some practice and experience in order to speed up the process and achieve the smoothest possible operation of the tool.
As noted above, lubricants designed for use with grease guns are normally sold in cartridges. These tend to slot directly into a tight-fitting tube or cylinder on the body or handle of the grease gun itself. A plunger mechanism below the cartridge is often used to help release the old cartridge and fix the new one in place, priming it for use.
It’s important to make sure you’re aware that there are many different types of lubricants and greases for grease guns, as well as various different grease gun cartridge sizes available. You’ll need to know what sorts of greases are suitable for the job you’re looking to perform before starting. You can find out more about the different types in our complete guide to greases.
Regardless of the grease gun cartridge size, the process of how to replace a cartridge will typically involve the following key steps:
- Unscrew the cylinder from the body of the grease gun and remove the old grease cartridge
- Open a new lubricant cartridge and insert it into the tube. It’s recommended to always check individual manufacturer guidelines for doing this, but commonly it will involve opening the tube from one end, inserting this end down in the cylinder, then opening the other end
- Screw the refilled tube back onto the body of the grease gun until tight, then back it off one full turn
- Push the plunger back in and re-tighten the threaded cylinder onto the body of the grease gun
- If you’re using a different grease than before, you’ll need to pump a small quantity of the new lubricant out through the nozzle of the grease gun until none of the old grease is left inside
Once your grease gun has been fitted with a new lubricator cartridge, the precise method for using it will, of course, depend largely on which type of tool you have. In the case of most manual grease guns, it will be a simple process of attaching the nozzle or tip to a grease fitting on the bearing you want to lubricate and applying steady pressure until you’ve dispensed the appropriate amount of grease into the bearing. For pneumatic grease guns, you will need to get them set up correctly with an appropriate compressor or generator first.
Tips for Best Practice
Some additional best practice tips for using grease guns effectively include the following:
- Always wear protective safety glasses and gloves when using grease guns, as the lubricant will be highly pressurised
- Don’t mix old and new greases - use only the correct type of lubricant for the job and parts you’re working with
- Check that the grease gun you’re using is approved to work with the type of lubricant you’ve chosen (if you own multiple grease guns for different lubricants or applications, it can be helpful to mark them clearly)
- Be extremely careful when loading up a new grease cartridge that you don’t introduce any contaminants which could damage the bearing. In particular, always ensure that the nozzle is clean and clear of old material before applying any new grease
- Similarly, make sure grease nipples and fittings are clean before attaching the grease gun nozzle
- Make sure all threading, couplers and connections are closed tightly but don’t over-tighten as this can cause failures in pressure and flow
- Always clean up any spillages immediately as grease left around on surfaces and floors can be a hazard
- Store grease guns and cartridges upright in a cool and dry environment. Ideally, you should also cover up nozzles and couplers to minimise the risk of accidental contamination