Storing tools in freezing weather

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Forum topic by JCamp posted 12-21-2016 11:12 PM 1082 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1308 posts in 1601 days

12-21-2016 11:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools

My dad has always told me for years to never leave a level out side or in a out building while it’s freezing That being said I was doing work in my building that doesn’t have tempature control an lik my father taught me I brought my level in. However I started thinking about it and realized that I also has several squares outside that had the same (I’m assuming they r the same) bubbles and glass as my regular 2ft and 4ft levels. So my question is…. should I also bring my squares in? Have the manufactures started using fluid in them now that won’t freeze?
Also I keep my lithium batteries inside when it’s cold. I know the nicad batteries could b damaged if they where out in the cold but I’ve never heard of lithium has the same issues

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

11 replies so far

View ralbuck's profile


6718 posts in 3317 days

#1 posted 12-21-2016 11:14 PM

I have a level that was my dad’s that is probably north of 80 years old and has spent many winters in unheated places in ND. Still is fine!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Robin1's profile


137 posts in 2541 days

#2 posted 12-21-2016 11:25 PM

My father’s and grandfather’s levels have always been stored in unheated spaces. No issues- and my grandfather was born at the turn of the last century. The life of Lithium batteries is supposedly extended by the cold.

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3223 days

#3 posted 12-21-2016 11:29 PM

I believe the liquid in the vials is alcohol. My dad left his levels in an open barn forever and the levels survived -30F
My levels have survived unheated storage several times when the outside temp got down to -25F. It certainly doesn’t hurt to bring them into a heated space.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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8502 posts in 3249 days

#4 posted 12-21-2016 11:35 PM

I don’t think freezing will effect Li-Ion batteries other than changing their discharge rate, and will basically stop discharging below freezing. Also, you can slow down the self-discharge rate in NiCD batteries by freezing them to prolong the charge… it doesn’t hurt them in the least, and they even have an operating temperature range down to -40 (although it’s output will be reduced at that temp).

As for levels… never heard of bringing them in when cold out, and I don’t think they actually have water in them. They used to be called ‘spirit levels’ as they were filled with colored spirit or alcohol. But it sure won’t hurt to keep things from freezing.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View mrbob's profile


182 posts in 1619 days

#5 posted 12-21-2016 11:37 PM

From my experience, Wives Tale, bogus info. If working with them in the cold I would want the acclimatized to the environment they are used in.
Also what material are they made out of? Wood, plastic, aluminum?

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3347 days

#6 posted 12-22-2016 12:08 AM

What they said. Alcohol. And heat kills batteries, not cold. They lose charge in the cold but they aren’t being caused any damage.

View JCamp's profile


1308 posts in 1601 days

#7 posted 12-22-2016 12:11 AM

Well from the responses my wife will b very happy to not hav my levels setting in the dining room all winter long.
Mrbob- the two foot is aluminum and the four foot is bamboo The squares r a metal of some kind.
As for the batteries I had a porter cables rep that I ran into at lowes a few years ago tell me that with their NiCad batteries if they sat out even one night in freezing weather that it was enough to damage them to the point that they’d only ever “half” charge. So they’d still work but just not hold charge as long I’ve never heard anything about lithium batteries tho

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 1723 days

#8 posted 12-22-2016 01:00 AM

I worked with an old guy and he said they used to call them whiskey sticks in the old days.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8337 posts in 1763 days

#9 posted 12-22-2016 02:01 AM

alcohols such as ethanol are often used rather than water…...... alcohols have low viscosity and surface tension….. which allows the bubble to travel the tube quickly and settle accurately with minimal interference with the glass surface…..... alcohols also have a much wider liquid temperature range…....... and won’t break the vial as water could due to ice expansion…....... a colorant such as fluorescein…....... typically yellow or green…......may be added to increase the visibility of the bubble…....... so I don’t worry about mine

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View corelz125's profile


2607 posts in 2027 days

#10 posted 12-22-2016 02:14 AM

Mike02 i worked with some old guys i called a whiskey stick. Some of my nicad batteries seem to die quicker after being in the cold . On the job we leave levels in gang boxes all year .

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3012 days

#11 posted 12-22-2016 08:11 PM

What they said. Alcohol. And heat kills batteries, not cold. They lose charge in the cold but they aren t being caused any damage.

- dhazelton

Interesting, that seems to be true on the lithium ion batteries. Only thing I knew was cold wasn’t good for ni-cad, and that the storage recommendations for lithium ion call for not freezing them. Now that I look it up, cold doesn’t seem to cause much actual harm though. 1-3% long term degradation in performance from freezing them. So not something you want to do every day, but not going to kill it. Charging while below zero can damage them though.

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