Q: Do you have any quick tips for keeping air tools and compressors running smoothly in cold weather?

A: Jim Glover, a building contractor in Pierre, S.D., responds: Severe cold can affect all the tools and materials used in construction, but none more dramatically than pneumatics. And when it’s too cold to be reaching into my nail bags with fingerless gloves, I depend on my air nailers and staplers even more. Several years ago, I wrote an article for titled “Cold Weather Tool Care” (Feb/08); here are the highlights of the section on pneumatics.

Keep tools acclimated to the temperatures you’re working in. If you’re working in the warm indoors, store your tools and compressor in a warm place or let them warm up to room temperature before using them. If you’re working in the cold, store your compressor in the cold (such as in your truck), and don’t put your compressor indoors with hoses run outdoors to where you’re working. (Other­wise, moisture in the warm air will condense and freeze in the cold hoses.) If you work in cold, moist conditions, it may help to install an in-line desiccant drying system to keep your hoses from clogging with frost.

Use a winter-grade lubricant made for pneumatic tools in your guns. When working consistently in temps below 20°F, I use a de-icer, such as Kilfrost 400 (kilfrost.com).

Avoid using 1/4-inch-diameter hoses that clog with frost easily.

Finally, use a magnetic oil pan heater to warm up the oil in your compressor to get it started. Once the compressor is running, the oil should stay warm enough without the heater.