Warehouse storage management is complicated, particularly when you have rotating stock for shipping. You'll need to be able to transport heavy machinery easily, which often means having tools like pallet jacks on hand at all times. These seemingly small machines are actually powerful tools for warehouse pickup services and organization. That doesn't mean they are without their potential problems, though. If you have a pallet jack that's frozen or just no longer lifting properly, there are a few things that you should understand.

What Could Cause The Problem?

Pallet jacks rely on hydraulic pressure to control the jack. If anything disrupts that pressure, like an air pocket in the lines, it can prevent the jack itself from working. While the units are typically well-sealed, a cracked, damaged, or leaky o-ring can allow air to bypass into the system. One telltale sign of this problem is visible hydraulic fluid near the base of the jack handle.

How Can You Fix The Problem?

In order to fix the seal, you'll have to replace that o-ring and restore the hydraulic fluid pressure. You can buy o-rings from tool retailers, home improvement stores and even industrial equipment wholesalers. Just make sure you have the pallet jack's model number so you get the right size.

Lift the pallet jack for easier access to the o-ring. Place four jack stands on the floor at proper spacing to serve as support for the pallet jack's forks. Each fork should have a jack stand at the tip as well as the end near the body of the pallet jack.

Drain the hydraulic system completely. There's a drain screw on the hydraulic pump, usually near the bottom of the pump near the right rear tire. Use an Allen wrench to loosen the drain screw, but make sure there's a bucket directly under it first. Let the fluid drain completely. Once drained, replace the screw.

Remove the lower lever to expose the o-ring. The lower lever is secured by a pin on the forklift body's right side. Force the pin out of place using a Phillip's screwdriver and a hammer. Put the tip of the screwdriver on the pin, then tap the handle lightly with a hammer to loosen the pin. Then, pull the lever out of place.

Pull the valve cartridge out. Grasp the valve cartridge with a pair of pliers, and turn it counterclockwise. Then, you can unscrew it and and pull it out. This exposes a ridge in the pump body. The o-ring is in that ridge. Pull it out and dispose of it, then replace it with a new one.

Reassemble the unit. Put the valve cartridge in place, and turn it until it's hand-tight. Use pliers to get an extra quarter-turn or so to tighten it completely. Put the lowering lever where it goes, and tap the retaining pin back into position. Then you can fill the hydraulic pump with fluid and tighten the fill screw. This ensures that the system is sealed and can build up the necessary pressure to restore jack movement.

Test the jack. Make sure you run through all of the controls and movements with the pallet jack after reassembly. That is important, because you don't want to risk a problem with a misaligned screw or component that could damage the jack otherwise.

If this doesn't fix the problem, you'll need to reach out to a local technician. Having equipment like this on hand and functional can make your warehouse management tasks easier and more efficient, so don't discount the benefit or the importance of monitoring and maintaining your pallet jacks.