Humidity and Tools
Jul 04, 2018
This summer's record setting humidity levels across large parts of the Midwest have increased the chances of tools being damaged by moisture. (Yeah, I know, you guys down south are saying, "Welcome to our world!") High humidity, cool metal tools--it's a perfect situation to turn tools red with rust overnight. Chromed tools withstand corrosion fairly well, but any nick or scrape in the chrome coating can quickly become a rusty blemish. The worst tools for rusting are impact sockets, "hammer" wrenches and other unfinished, black tools. A cool night followed by a humid day can leave those tools rusting within hours.
Some mechanics keep small packages of desiccant, the stuff that absorbs moisture from the air, in their tool drawers. The problem with desiccants is that they have to be regularly replaced. Do a Google search for places to buy desiccant packages if that sounds like a good option. Other mechanics routinely spray their tools with lightweight oil or WD-40, then wipe them down to leave a thin film of oily protection. Yeah, that makes them a little slippery, but you're going to get oily making repairs anyway, so why not keep your tools rust-free?
If your tools get rusty between use, rub away the rust with a coarse cloth or fine emory cloth, then wipe them down with an oily rag. Rust usually doesn't actually impair the function of a tool, but...there's a certain pride among mechanics and those who enjoy tools about keeping them clean and shiny.
Also: don't forget to regularly drain the tank on your shop's air compressor. High-humidity air is heated during compression. When that hot, humid air contacts the relatively cooler inner walls of the storage tank, moisture condenses, slides to the bottom and accumulates over the drain valve. Air compressor tanks on many, many farms have developed pinhole leaks in their bottom due to long-term exposure to condensed moisture.