Drilling in colder temperatures – what to know!
Ideally, drilling operations should be conducted in mild temperatures—not so hot that it’s uncomfortable and causes overexertion, and not so cold that the driller freezes while operating the equipment. But as we all know, conditions are rarely perfect, and drilling must be done even in colder temperatures. So we thought we’d provide with you some tips on drilling when the temperature drops.
1 – Knowing your terrain
Having a good idea of the soil composition in the area where you’ll be drilling is the first step to understanding and preparing for the task at hand.
2 – Preparing for a long day out in the cold
Drilling in colder temperatures obviously requires going into the field with the proper warm clothing. Keeping your head, hands, and feet warm at all times will make it easier to withstand the cold while remaining productive. Layering is a good strategy, as it keeps you warmer throughout the day and allows you to remove layers if the temperature increases.
3 – Using adequate safety gear
Safety gear and equipment are designed to make everyone safer and more efficient. Remaining injury-free is relatively easy by taking a few simple but necessary precautions, and it benefits everyone in the long run.
4 – Working safely
Naturally, drilling in colder climates and temperatures poses some challenges, but taking the proper preventive measures and working safely can make a world of difference. The appropriate preparations, such as slightly adapting work habits to the weather conditions and taking simple precautions like being mindful of the inherent risks of the site, can ultimately make drilling operations safer and more productive.
5 – Knowing how to gauge and use your equipment
Knowing how your equipment works and being able to predict how it will act in cooler temperatures will make your operations significantly easier.
6 – Using the right vehicles
There are many ways to help your vehicles tackle the winter conditions:
Having your engine serviced more often in the winter, especially if your equipment idles for long periods of time, is well-advised.
Choosing to use lighter hydraulic oils (and synthetic oils, if possible) will help. These oils move through a cold system more easily and can reduce wear and tear on your pumps and valves.
With diesel engines, using additives to remove moisture and prevent gelling will also be useful.
Changing fuel filters with every oil change and keeping gas tanks full will prevent moisture from building up.
Regularly checking tire pressure is a good idea because driving on low tires can be dangerous and less fuel-efficient. Tire pressure can drop up to 1 psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature.
Verifying the date and condition of batteries is also a way of preventing unexpected problems. Replacing old, worn-out batteries is a must.
As an extra measure, always carry a set of jumper cables made with 4-gauge cable or heavier; 2-gauge is ideal.
7 – Using performance drilling equipment
Using powerful drilling equipment that is capable of drilling into semi-frozen or frozen soil is a must for drilling operations on cold drilling sites, as they require a machine with more drilling strength and torque. Naturally, just as it is important to ensure your field vehicles receive regular maintenance, making sure your drilling equipment is up to par with the task at hand is a must. Keeping it in top-notch working order will go a long way in making your drilling operations as worry-free and productive as possible.
Here are some very practical tips to optimize your work and drilling:
Slowly heat the oil by starting at a low RPM and using the equipment’s functions at a low speed. This will move the oil around. Continue until the oil has reached running temperature. Doing this will prepare your drill for optimal use.
To preheat your drill faster, use a Pro Heat system (available as an option on VersaDrills). It allows you to heat the oil in the tank up to 2 hours prior to starting the drill.
When temperatures are expected to drop below freezing point overnight, always make sure to completely drain the water pump and the conduits connected to the water pressure gauge at the end of the day.
8 – Staying ready and able for the task
Keeping health and safety as a primary concern is critical for drilling operations in low temperatures.
Of course, the cold can always cause rigs to break down, tools to fail and production time to be lost. However, being prepared for the conditions is the best way to decrease, and hopefully, circumvent the risks.