How to Repair a Log Splitter

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What You'll Need
Screwdrivers, flathead and Phillips head
Ratchet and socket set
Crescent wrench
Insulated pliers
Length of plastic hosing
Oil filter

If you own a gas powered log splitter that you use frequently, it may eventually require repairs. Depending on where you purchased the machine, you may have a warranty, or the store’s technicians may be able to do the work for you as a service. However, if you bought a model that was used or is no longer under warranty, you may want to take on the repair of your hydraulic log splitter yourself.

There are just a few basic components to a hydraulic log splitter. These are, in addition to the steel frame and wheels for ease of moving, a hydraulic cylinder, an oil pump, a control valve and a gas powered engine. Tools and materials may vary depending on what is wrong with the splitter, but in general, it’s good to have a few basic items on hand.

    Step 1 - Troubleshoot – Oil Pump

    Knowing precisely what is wrong with your log splitter is the first step to repair. If you keep enough hydraulic fluid in the reserve tank, the oil pump should be in good working order. You may need to replace the oil filter if it is old and worn out. Additionally, the hosing that channels the high-pressure and low-pressure fluid to and from the cylinder might need replacing.

    Step 2 - Engine

    Check the engine. Make sure there is both fuel and fire getting to the motor. If it’s not starting, check the spark plug. If you can look into the carburetor and see gas, fuel is getting there. If it is, it’s probably not getting fire. The plug and points wear out after time and will need replacing. Pull the plug wire off and with insulated pliers, hold it about ¼-inch from the tip of the plug and pull the rope starter. If no spark is seen, the points need replacing.

    Step 3 - Hydraulic Cylinder

    Assuming the cylinder is not severely damaged, that is, has not swelled, cracked, and the piston rod is not damaged, a faulty seal or piston ring inside the cylinder is usually to blame. To replace the seal, you may have to dismantle the whole cylinder. Never use a sharp object to remove the seal, and be careful not to scratch the shaft or you could have problems later. Obtain a diagram of the cylinder if you do not already have one for specific instructions on dismantling it.

    Step 4 - Valve

    The valve is the switch you use to control the pressure into and out of the cylinder. It is the control that applies force to the cylinder which in turn pushes the log onto the splitting wedge. Check to see that the valve is operating properly. Making sure the hosing is not damaged and that the seals are all tight will go a long way in letting you know what’s wrong.

    Both a horizontal and a vertical log splitter can be gas powered hydraulic machines. There are only a few parts to a hydraulic log splitter, making it one of the simplest hydraulic tools in use. Troubleshooting possible malfunctions involves checking each of the component parts: valve, oil pump, engine, and hydraulic cylinder and all of the connecting seals and hosing. Once isolated, you can focus on the specific component and get your log splitter working properly again.