How to Use and Maintain Grease Gun Properly: Comprehensive Guide

A grease gun is one of the most important equipment any car (or any other machine) owner can have.


For moving parts to function properly, they need to stay lubricated especially with grease, and a grease gun makes the application super easy.

A grease gun also helps ward off machine failure and extends the life of the machine. However, as with any other tool, if you don’t know how to use your grease gun, the tool won’t be of much help.

And again, if you don’t maintain the gun properly, you won’t be able to unlock its optimal potential or to enjoy it for a long time.

In this article, we’re going to talk about using the grease properly as well as taking care of and maintaining this handy machine appropriately.

How to Operate Grease Gun

The spring loaded, hand-triggered grease gun is the most common type, so that’s what we’ll focus on in this article. This gun has a spring plunger on the end that pushes the grease to the front. There’s also a hand pump that pushes the grease out through the tube on the front and into the grease zerk.

The grease is normally contained in the canister, of course in a refillable grease cartridge, otherwise known as a replaceable grease tube.

So, to use the grease gun, you basically need two hands. One for holding the canister, and the other for working the pump handle.

Some hand grease guns have a hose at the front that helps reach into tight spaces. This sort of gun typically needs two people to operate so that as one person hold the tube tightly onto the zerk, the other person operates the hand pump.

Steps to Using The Grease Gun 

  • Take out the gun’s head from the canister.
  • check
    Pull the spring plunger back and lock it.
  • check
    If there’s an old/depleted grease tube in the canister, take it out and replace it with a new one. But before you put the new grease tube in there, you want to take off its cap and poke a hole on the other end for the grease to come out.
  • check
    Put the grease tube with the open end first into the canister. Make sure the tube goes all the way in so that its rim touches the gun’s rim.
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    After that, screw back the head of the gun.
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    Now, push the spring plunger back into the canister. This will require a little hand grease but its nothing to worry about.

There! That’s how to load a mini grease gun!

Before you start using the gun, try pumping the lever handle severally for the grease to flow out consistently.

A brush hog is one of the machines that need greasing a lot. Its tailwheel especially needs greasing so it can move freely without making those annoying squeaking sounds.

Using that as an example, you will see a little grease zerk just on top of the wheel. Most of the machines that need lubrication come with such a grease zerk to make grease application easy. It’s basically a little attachment with a small opening.

  • So, to lubricate the tailwheel, what you need to do is push the grease gun on the zerk. You will sort of feel the hole on the end of the grease gun sit on the zerk. It’s important that the gun sits in there snugly to avoid the grease coming out rather than going into the aperture.
  • Once the gun fits properly onto the zerk, start pumping the lever. Usually, when you’ve applied enough grease, you’ll see some of it coming out through the little spaces beneath.

And that’s how to apply grease using a grease gun. Now let’s move onto the maintenance.

Grease Gun Care and The Maintenance Tips

In this section, we’ll look into some of the issues affecting grease guns and see how we can resolve them. We’ll also explore a few tips on how to maintain the grease gun and keep it working correctly for as long as possible.

We’ll start with the common issues.

1. No pressure when pumping the grease and around the coupler, you see some grease coming out.

This is usually a result of a failed coupler. Note that the coupler is made in such a way that it fits over the regular-sized nipple and when the nipple is oversized, it stretches the coupler exceedingly, thereby running it.

When that happens, the coupler can’t be able to hug standard-sized nipples anymore, and therefore, it can’t make the seal required to maintain the pressure needed to push out the grease.

How to fix this? Just replace the coupler.

2. Grease gun not pumping grease

This issue normally results from an air lock. If you’re facing it, try pumping the gun continuously to expel the air. Alternatively, unscrew the canister a single turn and then pump the handle continuously, then tighten the canister when the grease starts coming out.

If those tactics don’t work, open the plunger end and use your fingers to force the grease upward in the grease tube. You might want to cover your fingers with a plastic paper bag or use latex gloves.

3. Contamination with grease

When you’ve used the gun for a long period of time, the couple as well as the extension (if there’s one) might get contaminated with old grease. One problem is that the gun can get jammed but even more importantly, the contamination might get transferred to the machine you’re lubricating, thereby damaging it or causing the moving parts to jam.

4. The plunger is too large; it won’t go into the cartridge

This is basically a misconception and you’ll probably only experience it when the gun is new or when it’s not been used for a while. To resolve it, what you need to do is lubricate the insides of the cartridge. You can achieve this by smearing some grease around the cartridge.

Then, pull the plunger back and forth several times to make it get used to the movement and lubricate the barrel properly.

Once you’ve done that, the plunger should move as expected.

If after doing that the plunger still isn’t going in, the other cause you’ve got to explore is that of an air lock. Take care of that using the method we talked about in the issue about air locks above.

Others Maintenance and Safety Tips 

Want your grease gun to work correctly for a long time? Here are a few maintenance tips that will take you a long way.

  • Read your grease gun’s instructions before using it.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Don’t mix new oil with new grease with old grease and be sure to use the recommended types of lubricants only. Check the grease gun’s user manual for recommendations.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Put on some gloves when using the gun to avoid direct skin contact with the grease.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Don’t fit the head on the canister too tightly to avoid excessive pressure building as that can harm the gun or prevent proper functioning.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Check if the grease is flammable and if it is, be sure to avoid flames when working.
  • Hand Pointing Right
    Avoid smearing the grease on the floor. If you notice any grease on the floor after working, be sure to clean it out because it can lead to a serious fall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are grease guns used for?

Grease guns are common DIY tools used for lubricating moving parts. With the gun, you’re able to apply grease with high precision, thus ensuring high effectiveness and avoiding wastage. Mostly, the gun is used to apply the grease through a small opening, called a grease zerk to a particular point in the machine.

2. How do I prevent the canister from coming away from the head of the gun?

There are two main causes of this issue. First, there might be too much grease in the head, leading to cross-threading, and in this case, what you need to do is wipe off the grease. Second, the thread on the head might be too fine, and in that case, you need to take care when screwing the canister onto the head.

3. What name to we give to grease fittings?

Grease fittings on equipment are referred to as zerk fittings. These are small nipples with a little aperture and channels behind for relaying the grease to where it is needed.

Final Word

For every machine with moving parts, such as cars, brush hogs, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers,jack and so on, lubrication is vital. It not only helps keep the moving parts working properly but also increases the life of the machine as a whole.

With a grease gun, lubricating your machines becomes a piece of cake, and that’s why this tool is so handy; we believe it’s a must-have for a DIY-er.

Using the methods explained above, you will be able to use your grease gun properly, and you’ll also be able to enjoy it for years on end with proper maintenance.

Please share this post with your friends and remember, your comments are always appreciated.

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