Renovation-Headquarters Banner

How To Choose The Right Lubricant

Everything that moves creates friction and that friction is a binding action which creates heat and can slow or even stop things from moving smoothly. Secondarily the friction can create squeaks and other noises as the parts move. And finally the friction causes wear which will eventually destroy the moving part.


To lessen the friction we have a group of chemicals and compounds that are called lubricants. The oil we put in our car engine allows the pistons to move up and down without binding and no one would consider driving their car without oil in the engine.

In our homes we have a lot of things that move and all of these things require lubrication to make them work smoothly, efficiently and prevent them from wearing out prematurely.

Selection of lubricants.

Note: Technology has now created many products that are permanently lubricated; hence they do not need to be lubricated at regular intervals.

Note: Maintenance manuals are one of the keys in knowing what parts need to be lubricated at regular intervals and what lubricant you should use. Read through your home’s maintenance manuals and mark a calendar with lubrication dates. If you are missing a maintenance manual for a piece of equipment or appliance in your home, ask the manufacturer to send you a copy.

Note: Many equipment manufacturers will have lubricants specially formulated for their equipment, as shown in Figure 1. It makes little sense to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of equipment and then try to save $2 by using a generic lubricant.

makita chainsaw oil

Figure 1 - Makita chainsaw oil

Lubricants are also used to prevent rubber and other materials from drying out and cracking.

There are four primary lubricants that you will use around your home:

  1. Grease:
  2. Grease is available in a paste or spray can. It is best applied where metal parts are in contact with other metal parts such as the rollers on your garage door track, as shown in Figure 2, and the chain and gears on an automatic garage door opener.

    lubricating garage door track and rollers

    Figure 2 - Lubricating garage door track & rollers
  3. Machine Oil:
  4. Machine oil is an excellent lubricant for motor bearings, as shown in Figure 3. Most blower motors on older forced air furnaces require that the motor bearings be lubricated at regular intervals. The blower bearings may also need lubrication and machine oil is general the product specified for this type of lubrication.

    motor lubrication port

    Figure 3 - Motor lubrication port

    Stationary power tools and swimming pool pump motors generally require lubrication at regular intervals, again machine oil is usually the lubricant specified by the manufacturer.

  5. Silicon:
  6. Silicon lubricants are an excellent choice for items that move in a track such as horizontal or vertical sliding windows and sliding closet doors.

    Note: Always thoroughly clean any track, glides and wheels that may be incorporated into the slide system. The use of any lubricant in conjunction with dirt particles or dog hair can make the problem worse than before you applied the lubricant.

    Note: Almost all lubricants come in different grades. Make sure you are using the correct grade and lubrication product for any specific application. Using the wrong lubricant can be just as bad as not lubricating at all.

  7. Graphite:
  8. Graphite has been used as a lubricant for many years. Graphite is called a dry lubricant. The most common application of graphite is in lock cylinders, as shown in Figure 4. Graphite usually comes in a small tube, which you place at the opening of the lock cylinder, squeeze the graphite tube and the graphite will enter the lock cylinder lubricating the pins. Graphite lubricant is also available in aerosol sprays, although I believe that the tube is the easier method of lubrication.

    lubricating a lock cylinder with graphite

    Figure 4 - Lubricating a lock cylinder with graphite

    Regular use of graphite in lock cylinders can prevent keys from jamming in lock cylinders and breaking.

    Note: Graphite lubricant can be messy and will stain clothing. Wipe any excess graphite lubricant from the face of the lock cylinder.