Nail Gun Maintenance 101: What you should know

Keen DIY-ers and contractors know that a nail gun makes for a smart investment. But like any tool we use, a nail gun requires regular maintenance to keep it working at its optimal performance.

Regular, routine maintenance may seem like a pain. But it is time well spent as it will undoubtedly help extend the nail gun’s lifespan.

Nail Gun Maintenance 101: What you should know

Depending on which type of nail gun you own, the maintenance requirements will vary. Generally, an air-powered pneumatic nailer will require more TLC than an electric or cordless nail gun.

Pneumatic nail gun maintenance

Due to using compressed air as a power source, a pneumatic nail gun is always going to involve a little more maintenance work than its battery or electric-powered rivals.

Always make sure to disconnect your nailer from the air compressor when performing any maintenance.

To keep your pneumatic nailer in tip-top shape you should do the following the following maintenance regularly:

Bostitch BTFP1KIT 1-Tool and Compressor Combo Kit

Applying air tool oil

It is highly recommended that a few tiny droplets of air tool oil be applied to your nail gun before use. You should apply oil to the nail gun’s moving parts as well as the fitting at the base of the nail gun.

Sufficient lubrication will ensure the nail gun runs sweetly. If you are using the nail gun for extended periods, it may require further oil during the day.

Don’t forget to daily add around four or five drops of oil to the air fitting. The air fitting contains O-rings which you can lubricate with your finger.

However, some pneumatic nail guns don’t need oil. Before applying oil of any type, be sure to consult the user manual first.

Checking the condition of the hosing

The condition of the hosing supplying the compressed air is vital to the performance of the nail gun. The hosing needs to be in a good state of repair as the hosing determines the volume of pressure exerted.

Before using your pneumatic air gun, always check the hosing for signs of damage such as cracks. Any breach of the hosing’s integrity will affect the airflow. If you do find damage, either repair or replace the hosing.

Cleaning the feed system

To ensure a pneumatic nail is running at its peak, it is essential to clean the feed system regularly.

The best practice is to clean the feed system after every use. A can of compressed air is sufficient for cleaning the system. A blast of compressed air will be enough to dislodge any debris or dust that’s lurking in the feed system.

You can also clean the feed system with a clean cloth. But you have to ensure that no bits of cloth are left behind, which could block the feed system.

Check the integrity of the seals

Pneumatics also need their seals to be changed periodically. A broken seal will decrease the nail gun’s power and could cause damage to the nail gun if ignored.

Always check the seals before use and replace them, if necessary.

Battery inspection for Cordless Nailers

Cordless nail guns need their batteries to be inspected every couple of months to confirm it is working correctly.

Check the battery expiry date and replace it if required. Once the battery reaches its expiry date, it rapidly loses its charging capacity.

DEWALT 20V MAX* Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA (DCN680D1)

Regular battery inspections are recommended to ensure the nail gun continues to function well. If it’s not holding a charge, this is a sign to inspect the battery.

Universal nail gun maintenance

While pneumatic nail guns have specific maintenance tasks, some routine jobs are common to all nail guns: pneumatic, electric, or cordless.

Bolt and screw checking

Vibration and heavy, prolonged use can cause the loosening of screws and bolts. Loose parts can therefore compromise the tool’s effectiveness and safety.

All fasteners should be checked monthly and tightened where necessary. Do not overlook this inspection as a missing bolt or screw can make control of the gun difficult and lead to accidents.


Keeping the nail gun clean is a sure way to stop debris and dust clogging up its internals.

After every use, wipe the nail gun with a clean rag and remove and clean the air filter every couple of days if using the nail gun daily. For occasional use, the air filter needs to be cleaned after every use to remove dirt and debris.

You can clean most nail gun air filters with soapy water. But always consult the user manual first on how to clean your air filter.

Each nail gun manufacturer has particular recommendations regarding air filter cleaning, and these will be found in the manual.

Final Verdict

Like any power tool, nail guns need regular, routine maintenance to keep them operating just as they did out of the box. Always consult the user manual before using a nail gun. Some, such as pneumatic-powered nailers, require a higher maintenance level than others.

Most manufacturers also have helpful how-to videos online to take you through routine cleaning and nail gun maintenance step by step.

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