You frequently see men become frustrated when their tool ceases to function properly; I see HVAC technicians banging their tools against a hard surface in an attempt to remove metal shavings, but this never seems to work. In fact, hard impacts on a magnet have detrimental effects and should be avoided.
How Do You Clean The Debris From The Magnet?
As you tap on or hit a magnet, this allows the atoms to rearrange their magnetic fields which will reduce the strength of the magnet.
Following that, I frequently observe technicians using a small screwdriver to scrape out metal shavings from their nut driver.
You may have some success with this method if your nut driver tool is extremely clogged with debris, but the magnet always seems to pull the shavings back in.
The good news is that there are more efficient methods for cleaning magnetic tools.
As an HVAC Technician, you frequently have a diverse range of materials on hand to stock on your truck.
I frequently keep a small tub of plumbers putty in a drawer that is rarely used, but it is excellent for removing metal shavings from nut drivers and hex drill bits.
- Just take a small amount of putty and work it into the bit cavity.
- You can now begin removing the putty that has absorbed the majority of those metal shavings with a small controls screwdriver.
This method is a little messy and tedious in terms of removing all the putty bits, but it sure beats trying to use a bit full of metal shavings.
While plumber’s putty works well, there are more effective methods. I’d recommend using a tube of fast curing silicone/caulking instead if you have one on the truck. Simply inject a healthy amount of caulking into the driver bit and allow it to cure.
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I prefer to use a small pick or small flathead to mix the caulk into the crevices of the nut driver to ensure that it completely captures all of the metal particles and shavings.
As previously stated, a fast curing adhesive works best; I typically give it about 5 minutes to solidify before prying out the ball of caulk/adhesive/metal shavings. It works flawlessly every time.
I prefer this method over putty because the caulk adheres better and comes out in one piece, whereas putty can be a little more work to clean out.
This method may leave some adhesive remnants in difficult-to-reach areas, but it is still my preferred method in the field.
A hot glue gun also works well, but I’m not frequently in need of carrying one in my truck.
If you have access to an air compressor, compressed nitrogen, or carbon dioxide, you can thoroughly clean those bits and drivers.
CAUTION: Ensure that you are wearing adequate levels of personal protective equipment when utilizing this method.
Typically, I set the regulator’s outlet pressure to 120 psi. Using a fine-tipped air nozzle (pictured below), give your magnetic nut drivers a couple of quick bursts and they should be as good as new.
As I previously stated, ensure that you are wearing PPE. To be safe, I prefer to wear goggles. Metal shards will fly everywhere, and it would be awful to end up with a small piece of metal in your eye when it could easily have been avoided.
Several other methods that I’ve heard from other technicians in the industry include using Duct Gum, which is likely very similar to plumbers putty but has a little more rigidity and may work a little better.
Pookie / Duct Sealant – Given how difficult it is to remove this stuff from anything, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to fill the end of my tool with it; it might never come out.
Mastic Tape – In a pinch, I’m sure this would work well. I’ve even heard of people using regular chewing gum – that, my friends, is ingenuity and dual-purpose tooling!
Additionally, please leave a comment below with any additional tips or suggestions you may have.
I’d love to hear about any solutions or experiences you’ve had with this issue!
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Nut Drivers
Magnetic drivers were a fantastic invention. These tools make it simple to insert a sheet metal screw into a drill bit or a handheld driver with minimal effort.
Even better is the ability to remove screws and bolts from difficult-to-reach areas without fear of dropping them into a potentially dangerous location or disappearing into the abyss.
The sole disadvantage?
These magnets attract all manner of metal shavings, and before you know it, the bit is barely holding anything.
This results in you dropping nuts and bolts as if they were not magnetic in the first place. Worse yet, the ability to grip the hex heads is deteriorating as the metal shavings accumulate.
When the driver’s magnet becomes sufficiently clogged, you end up stripping heads and rounding out fasteners.
Stripping fasteners produces additional metal shavings and exacerbates the problem. I’m sure you’ve all encountered this extremely frustrating situation at some point.