How to maintain a cordless drill?

Well, you have made the purchase, and now you want to avoid all of those mistakes which can destroy your expensive cordless drill. Hmmm, right. I will help you answer this: How to maintain a cordless drill in the best possible way so that it can last for years to come.

If I summarise it, keep your batteries charged, do not mishandle the chuck, avoid dropping your drill, use high quality & sharp drill bits, avoid holding your tool at an angle unless necessary, keep it lubricated, store it properly, blow off all dust after every job, avoid testing it to its upper limits, select the proper mode and never misuse your cordless drill.

Now I will dive into details of whatever I said (in a single breath, LOL) above.

Let’s start with the batteries, which are like consumables and eventually die and need a replacement. We will discuss how to extend its life to get the most out of it.

How to increase your cordless drill battery life?

Batteries are consumables. For some, they will last longer than the drill itself (mostly if used wrongly) and for many, it will eventually need a replacement. A good Li-Ion Battery which is charged and discharged properly using a balanced charger will last around 1000-1500 cycles.

Most of the time, the battery management system in your high-end cordless drill will take care of the discharge rate, and the charger will take care of the charge rate. You don’t need to worry about that.

Also, note that most of the manufacturers offer different warranties for the battery than the tool itself. For instance, Milwaukee offers a 2-Years warranty on batteries and offers 5-Year for the tool.

You have to do the following to maximize your cordless drill battery life:

  • Run the drill at a lower speed if you are not in a hurry. High discharge currents will affect your battery life.
  • Do not fully discharge your drill till it dies. Better to charge your battery once it is discharged to 50 percent. That will maximize its life. Use partial discharge cycles.
  • When the drill is not in use and plans to store it for a few days, discharge it around 10-20 percent.
  • Keep your drill and drill batteries at an optimum temperature of 10-20 °C.
  • Avoid charging your battery at 0 °C or below than this.
  • Please avoid using your drill at sub-zero degree Celcius temperatures before warming it up. Keep these pads (Check on Amazon) under the battery or in the toolbox 30 mins before you plan to use it. Avoid overheating it. In the end, the battery should not feel super cold to your hands, but should still feel colder. The best temperature at which a battery should operate is 20 °C.
  • Keep your battery and charger away from water or liquids. Avoid any splashes.
  • Never force a battery to fit in the charger as it should slide in easily.

Can you leave a drill battery plugged in all the time?

The answer is, technically yes, practically, you should avoid. All drill batteries or batteries in general stops charging more when it is fully charged. This is because the battery voltage rises to the same level provided by the charger. Hence no potential difference is left behind to cause flow of charge.

Further, most of the chargers automatically turn off charging when the battery fully charges.

Why should you avoid this? Because it is a safety hazard and can cause an incident. Other than that, there is no issue in keeping it plugged in all time. To learn more about battery charging, check this post on charging a battery even if you don’t have a charger.

How do I know if my drill battery is bad?

Ok, so after the battery life ends, you will have to replace it. Many parameters can determine if the battery is no more good. If you know this stuff, this will help you drastically answer this question: How to maintain a cordless drill and its battery?

  • Reduced Peak performance: Once the battery loses its max power, it can not deliver the same amount of current (learn more about how battery currents work in this article); hence the peak output torque will be affected. If this is an issue, you can change your battery a bit earlier or get a bigger battery pack.
  • Reduced Time: Another biggest indicator is reduced runtime. Your drill will no longer be able to work for longer periods of time than it used to do when it was brand new.
  • Quick Charge: Your charger will quickly indicate that the battery is fully charged, or the battery indicator will light up quickly to show it is charged more than 50 percent.
  • Inconsistent Battery Level Indications: At the end of your battery life, the indications will no longer work predictably. It will dramatically lose the levels, and this will be very inconsistent. For example, while using the drill, it may show almost juiceless and will show a 30-50 percent charge level when left stand still for a few mins.
  • Confirm Battery Voltage: The last thing you need to do if you want to become dead sure if the battery is bad is to check the battery voltage. For a lithium-ion battery, if the voltage level is less than 3.2 volt per cell (a 12-volt battery has 3 cells and an 18V battery has 5 cells), then the battery is bad. Higher Battery voltages are a bad indicator of battery health as the voltage will drop in milliseconds as soon as the load is applied.

How to make your cordless drill last longer?

Ok, so after the batteries, let’s talk about the drill itself. There are a few things, and taking care of them will help you increase your drill life far beyond your imaginations. Following are a few tips you should take off.

General Guidelines for how to maintain a cordless drill

  • READ THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL OR ATLEAST SKIM IT.
  • Keep your drill lubricated (Details coming later in this articles)
  • Keep your drill at minimum waist height when working to avoid any incident.
  • Use the drill for the intended purpose only.
  • Allow your drill to cool down when it gets hot while usage.

Usage Guidelines for how to maintain a cordless drill

  • Always use sharp drill bits only. For MASONRY, such as concrete, brick, cinder block, etc., use carbide-tipped bits rated percussion drilling.
  • Check maximum drill bit diameter recommended by the manufacturer to avoid overload.
  • If while using the drill, it stops (stalls), release the trigger, find why it stalls in the first place, and mitigate that issue. Never release and press the button again with the hope that it will start again. This can damage your drill, and if not damage, it will add up and eventually lead to a failure.
  • Always apply pressure in a straight line with the bit. Use enough pressure to keep the drill biting, but do not push hard enough to stall the motor or deflect the bit.
  • Hold the tool firmly with both hands to control the twisting action of the drill. If the model is not equipped with a side handle, hold it from the bottom.
  • Keep the drill running when pulling out the drill at the end of the operation to avoid any jamming.
  • Always start drilling at low speeds and then gradually increase it.
  • When drilling deep holes, if the hammer speed starts to drop off, pull the bit partially out of the hole with the tool still running to help clear debris from the hole.
  • When drilling, use just enough force on the hammer to keep it from bouncing excessively or “rising” off the bit. Too much force will cause slower drilling speeds, overheating, and a lower drilling rate. Follow these, and you know how to maintain a cordless drill.

Cleaning Guidelines for how to maintain a cordless drill

  • Keep your drill neat and tidy. Use soft mist fabric for cleaning. Do not wet your drill with any liquid or rust removers.
  • Blow off all dust after every job gets completed. This will avoid anything getting inside the drill and jamming the electric motor or affecting the gears. The debris won’t make your drill stop overnight, but it will slowly and gradually start to create problems and drastically affect your cordless drill’s overall life.

Storage Guidelines for how to maintain a cordless drill

  • Store the drill in the case in which it comes or in a safe non-humid location.
  • Store your drill at room temperature of ~20-25 °C.
  • Do not mix your drill with other tools to avoid getting stuck air vents and finding a way to motor or gears.
  • Unplug the battery from the drill when storing it for a while.
  • Keep it out of children’s reach.

How do you lubricate a cordless drill?

After the batteries, let’s talk about the drill itself. A drill is a mechanical product involving multiple gears and complex mechanical switches to adjust max torque, direction, and feature; hence, lubrication is required.

In summary, there are two ways to lubricate your drill. The first one is lubricating the chuck wide open using Lubrication Motor Oil, resulting in the oil seeping into the gears. The second one involves opening the complete gear system and filling the gearbox with an adequate grease amount.

In the first method, you need to open the chuck wide and put in an adequate amount of motor oil inside the opening. After that, open and close the chuck a few times manually. Always wipe down excess oil to avoid debris accumulation.

The greasing could be quite tricky. It is easy to grease an impact wrench than a drill, and you may need to grease your drill very rarely; after 2-3 years of use or pay close attention to the noise coming out of your drill, a prominent change in that will indicate a need for greasing.

How frequently should you lubricate your drill?

It depends on the use and the type of motor oil you are using to lubricate your drill. I recommend oiling your drill after 7-8 hours of running time.

Another way is to find it for yourself. Oil your drill and pay close attention to the sound coming out of your drill. Once the sound changes, re-lubricate it notice the sound again. If the change is prominent, reduce the gap and repeat. The change in sound should be a bit difficult to notice. That is the duration after which you should lubricate your drill.

Recommended Lubricants:

  1. 10038 Multi-Purpose Oil by 3-IN-ONE
  2. Valvoline General Purpose Amber Grease