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Maintaining Your Concrete and Masonry Sawing Equipment

Let’s look at some simple guidelines to consider how to get the most value out of your sawing equipment.


Ready or Not

Saws, blades, and dust extractors experience more wear and tear than most of the tools in your job box. And in many situations, these tools are a shared resource. So, the starting place in any maintenance program is to set up a “ready or not” system. Operators should have a visible method to lockout any equipment that is broken and not fit for use. Possible reasons for restriction from use could include a missing guard or shroud, an engine that won’t start, or perhaps a skid plate that is bent. This simple operating procedure will help crews function at full and safe production rates.


Tracking Saw Availability

The Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA) defines saw availability as the percentage of time a piece of equipment is available when there is a scheduled demand for it. This definition may sound like some sort of accounting activity, and it could be. But there’s a more practical side to tracking equipment availability. 

  • Better Company Image
    Your customers expect your team to be on the job ready to go, not waiting for the mechanic or operator to fix an item that delays the start of a project.

  • Employee Morale
    Having a tool ready to go, when they need it, is an effective way to encourage productivity and safety.

  • Employee Safety
    Operators are men and women of action. They want to complete the task at hand. They could be tempted to take unnecessary chances if the equipment isn’t just right. Good saw equipment availability will support their pride of work and ensure their safety. 

Before-Use Inspections

You should create a practice that every operator must self-perform a before-use inspection prior to each use. A quick system overview of saws, blades, and dust suppression is easy when you follow these common manufacturer suggestions.


Saw Checkpoints

While concrete saws are tough and durable, it’s important to perform a quick visual check of these items:


  • The saw, along with its frame, track and/or assembly, should not have any signs of damage or loose bolts. This inspection is easier when the saw is washed routinely following use.

  • Guards and shrouds should be well maintained and properly positioned.

  • Anti-vibration elements and dampeners should be free from dust and slurry buildup.

  • Engine checks should include these points:  
-    Make sure spark plugs are in good condition and properly gapped.

-    If air filters are found to be dirty, replace them.

-    Concrete dust can cause the filter element to wear if it is blown or shaken out, which will allow dust into the cylinder where it could damage the engine. 

  • Upon start-up, check all saw controls, focusing on throttles and emergency shutdown switches.  

  • Check belt tension. Loose belts will reduce your blade’s RPM and shorten its life – especially when cutting expansion grooves or sawing in other tough conditions.

  • Concrete chainsaws have special maintenance considerations. Guide bars and drive sprockets are items that take a beating during typical operation and wear down.

  • A little lubrication goes a long way. Keeping the blade shaft bearings lubricated is one of the most important daily maintenance procedures. These bearings should be greased at the end of every work day.

Many experts recommend giving each bearing two pumps of grease while the machine is still warm from operation, if possible, and while the shaft is turning over at idle speed. It's important to note that over greasing can blow out the bearing seal and ruin the bearing, so don't overdo it.

Blade Checkpoints

  •  Check the blade code prior to each use.

Blades are marked with a maximum RPM and a direction of rotation—make sure the saw doesn't exceed that blade speed and that the blade is turning in the intended direction. Always make sure a wet blade (W) is used with cooling water; dry blades (D) can be used with or without water, although trying to use water on a saw intended to be dry can lead to electrocution with electric saws. 

  • Inspect the blade regularly to guarantee it remains in good condition. Damaged blades can break during cutting, ejecting hot steel pieces—never a good thing. Check that the blade isn't missing segments, that it isn't cracked, and that it doesn't appear to have been overheated. One way to tell if a blade is cracked is to bang it with a piece of wood to see if it rings. If it doesn’t ring, toss it. 

Dust Collector Attached to Concrete Saw

Dust Suppression Equipment Checkpoints

Along with maintaining the actual cutting tools, your maintenance procedures must include the saw’s dust suppression equipment. In 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its regulations on the personal exposure limit (PEL) workers can have towards fine dust that may contain silica. Now that contractors have passed OSHA’s allotted grace period, all inspections should include checking if you have the proper engineered system for protection in place and how well it is working. 

With many saws, you have the option to cut wet or dry. So, it’s important that your maintenance includes both possible conditions.

When wet cutting, operating tools and machines with integrated water delivery systems may produce slurry that can present additional hazards that are not covered in the Silica Rule. The use of specialized slurry vacs or other methods of consolidation are recommended. 

Start by checking if the containment shrouds are in shape, meaning that they fit properly on the saw, and are free from cracks and wear.

If dry cutting:
  • Check the connection point between the shroud and vacuum hose for a tight fit to maximize the vacuum’s suction power.

  • Keep the vacuum hose clear and free of debris, tight bends, and kinks.

  • If the vacuum is not self-cleaning, turn it on and off to minimize filter dust build up.

  • Change any vacuum-collection bags when needed.

  • Set up regular filter maintenance and cleaning schedules.

If wet cutting:
  • Always make sure you've got proper water flow.

  • Check that each of the two coolant tubes located on either side of the blade are not damaged, clogged, or pinched shut.

  • Plan how to control any slurry created from the wet cut. Your industrial vacuum should be strong enough to keep up with production to avoid any improper discharge on the jobsite.
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