While a wood chipper can make quick work of pruning debris and fallen branches, firing one up in a rainstorm may not be as simple as you think.
As an arborist with over 15 years’ experience, I’ve seen how wet weather can wreak havoc on wood chippers.
The first time I tried using mine during a downpour, water instantly clogged the chipper chute and stalled the motor.
It took hours to clear the jam and get it running smoothly again.
So before you drag your chipper outside on your next rainy day, there are a few important things to know that could save you a major headache down the road.
Keep reading to discover my tips for safely using a wood chipper even when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.
Can you use a wood chipper in the rain?
Operating a wood chipper in the rain can be dangerous due to slippery conditions, machine jam and electrical risks.
Safety measures, such as rain covers and shelter, are crucial to protect operators and prevent accidents.
Is It Safe to Use a Wood Chipper in the Rain?
Many people want to tackle yard projects even when it’s raining.
But is using a wood chipper in the rain a safe idea? Let me share what I’ve learned from experience.
I’ve used wood chippers for over 15 years now.
At first, I thought it would be fine to chip wet branches on rainy days.
After all, I wanted to get the job done! But I soon discovered chipping wet wood can be dangerous.
The biggest problems are soggy wood being thrown from the chipper and electrical issues from water contact.
Wet wood is much harder for a chipper to process smoothly. (1)
Soggy branches tend to get jammed in the chipping blades or shoot out unevenly from the chute at high speeds.
On rainy days, it’s difficult to see where wet wood chips are flying.
I once narrowly dodged a large chunk that flew far sideways during a heavy downpour! Wet wood can also sap the power of electric chippers, possibly leading to overheating or stalling the motor.
Most chipper manuals specifically warn against using them in the rain or on wet wood.
Water and electricity do not mix well, increasing the risk of shocks or shorts.
The moisture from rain or saturated wood can seep into electrical components over time, especially if the machine is not stored properly afterwards to fully dry out.
It’s best to protect your chipper and your safety by waiting for dry conditions to do the job.
Some chipper models have protection from light moisture, but heavy rain is still risky.
Larger gas powered commercial chippers may fare a bit better, but most homeowners probably won’t be able to distinguish what their specific chipper can safely handle.
My advice – if it’s raining heavily or branches are soaked, postpone chipping until the weather clears up.
Your chipper and your well-being will thank you later! It’s not worth rushing things when moisture meets rotating blades and electricity.
Stay dry and stay safe.
Understanding the Hazards of Rainy Wood Chipping
Let me summarize some key facts about chipping wet wood:
- Wet wood is denser and harder for chippers to process smoothly compared to dry wood.
- Soggy branches often jam in chipper blades or throw wet woodchips farther unpredictably due to less control.
- Electric chippers can overheat or stall if trying to chip wet wood for long periods as moisture saps motor power.
- Water conducted through wet wood poses electrocution risks by contacting internal electric components over time.
- While some heavy-duty chippers may cope better, most homeowner models are not designed for rain or saturated wood.
- Chipper manuals uniformly advise postponing use during wet weather for safety reasons involving wood moisture and electricity.
- It’s always best to allow branches time to fully air dry before chipping to avoid hazards from wet wood contacting cutting blades and internal mechanics.
Staying dry when using wood chippers prevents dangerous situations down the line.
I hope sharing my experiences provides helpful tips for safely dealing with yard waste, even on rainy days!
Safety Precautions for Wet Weather Wood Chipping
People often ask me about chipping wet trees after storms.
There are steps to take for safe work in rainy conditions.
Wet or not, it’s important to use chippers properly for protection.
Let me share the most frequent questions and my best advice.
First things first – electric chippers need extra care in wet weather.
Moisture and power tools can lead to shocks if not careful.
Wait for branches to fully dry before chipping.
If you must work, use a heavy-duty extension cord labeled for outdoor use.
Unplug quickly in the rain.
Always wear safety gear like gloves, steel-toed boots, face shields and ear defenders when near operating chippers.
Wet leaves and tools are slippery.
It’s easier to slip and chippers can throw debris great distances at high speeds.
Be aware of your surroundings and install safety barriers if possible.
Small branches can load up hoppers quickly.
Try to feed material in an organized way versus throwing in handfuls.
Overloading jams blades making chippers dangerous to unstop.
For hearty cleanup, focus on one area at a time versus doing the whole yard in one push.
I find gas chippers cope better than electric in light rain versus heavy downpours.
Electric motors can still malfunction from damp conditions underground.
My advice is, if you can wait a day, skip chipping entirely when the weather is very wet and stormy.
Safety should come before tasks, especially with power tools near water.
Taking breaks lets you and wood fully dry out before starting up again.
Equipment Limitations in Rainy Conditions
Wet weather reduces chipper effectiveness and risks damage to machines not meant for constant water exposure:
- Electric chippers rely on dry conditions to discharge static and prevent shocks/shorts. Moisture greatly increases risk of electrocution.
- Gas engines can stall more easily as damp air is harder to combust than dry. Prolonged wet operation leads to water intrusion into parts.
- Flywheels & other metal components will corrode faster from sitting wet or being used wet repeatedly without full drying in between.
- Debris often clumps/sticks to wet chipper parts, causing jamming and requiring more frequent cleaning/repair costs.
- Hoppers and chutes may rust through prematurely from prolonged exposure instead of occasional light rain.
Unless you own an industrial chipper rated for wet work, safety is best served by waiting for drier weather to reduce hazards and equipment damage.
Your well-being and expensive tools will thank you later!
Maintaining and Protecting Your Wood Chipper in the Rain
While chipping is best done in dry conditions, storms happen.
With some careful maintenance between downpours, you can better shield chippers from constant moisture.
Here are a few extra steps I take when wet weather strikes during chipping season:
After use, I do a thorough cleaning paying attention to places water may pool, such as hoppers or axle areas.
Damp dirt or wood remnants will promote rust if not removed.
Then, as time allowed, I partially disassemble and dry components by setting them in direct sunlight.
A few hours of that powerful natural drying is helpful before storing.
When storms are imminent, I cover chippers with heavy tarps labeled for outdoor use and secure them tightly with bungee cords.
Though snug tarps, rainfall tends to still accumulate on top over time, so tilting machines onto both sides for a few minutes allows excessive water to drainfully off before wrapping up again.
Storing inside uncovered leads to interior rusting from lingering moisture, so it’s worth finding a spot with overhang protection like a porch or garage even if temporary.
Elevating on wooden blocks also promotes airflow and drainage versus placing directly on wet cement floors.
Proper maintenance extends equipment life and safety.
With some extras like coverings and component drying, chippers can better withstand wet periods while avoiding costly damage down the road.
Just a little rain planning pays off!
Efficient Wood Chipping in Wet Weather: Pro Tips
Even during storms, debris needs removal.
Here are tips for safest, most effective chipping when wet weather strikes:
- Focus on flatter, more spacious areas to spread cut branches and allow for needed slippery footing caution.
- Chip one section fully before moving to next to avoid tracking excess mud between areas.
- Wear rain gear and use tarps to shield chipper and generator from direct pelting.
- When chopping wet branches, cut them into shorterlengths first for easier handling versus wrestling with long, soaked logs.
- Stack finished woodchips onto tarps for later use asmulchversustransportingmuddirectly.
- Opt for gas chippers with RECOIL starters as electric may struggle to discharge built-up static in damp air.
With smart planning and safe habits, wet weather need not halt all yard work.
Just step up protections and precautions a notch when moisture is involved!
Alternatives to Wood Chipping on Rainy Days
Not everyone knows there are good backup options aside from wood chipping (2) when nasty storms roll through.
As an experienced backyard mulcher, let me offer alternative ideas to stay productive on wet work days:
Splitting kindling-size pieces with electric log splitters makes an indoor activity that keeps you dry.
Some splitters even work on slightly damp wood, just beware of shorts with too much moisture.
Split wood seasons faster out of direct rain too.
Renting an industrial chipper or wood grinder capable of continuous wet operation saves your equipment for fair weather use.
Many rental centers even deliver and operate machinery for a daily fee, shifting the exposure risk.
Stacking branches neatly to air dry fully for later chip-date gives plenty of time to do other tasks inside like sharpening blades or repairing fences out of the rain.
Well-drained wood piles season faster than expected!
Creative projects like building raised garden beds or compost bins provide cover for nurturing seedlings.
Pressure-treated wood weathers beautifully outdoors and adds long-term value versus short-term chipping.
Knowing alternatives prevents frustration over lousy forecasts.
With a backup plan and covered workspace, you need not miss opportunities on soggy days.
Your tools and safety stay protected too.
That wraps up some great options when Mother Nature decides against cooperation.
Always be flexible – the yard work will still be there when storms clear!
More on Wood Chipper Shredder
Frequently Asked Questions
My chipper shredder says it can handle wet or dry wood. Is this true for all chippers?
Chipper shredders are designed to chip both wet and dry wood.
However, the moisture content of the wood can impact how well certain chippers perform their job.
Some chipper models are better suited for wet or dry wood than others depending on their types of wood and design features.
Always check your owner’s manual or with the manufacturer for the recommended moisture content limits and best practices for your specific chipper model.
What types of wood can be chipped in a wood chipper?
Most residential wood chippers are capable of chipping wood from trees and bushes like branches and leaves, as well as coconut shells, dry branches, and other forest master certain materials like pressure treated lumber should always be avoided putting into any wood chipper or power equipment due to the chemicals they contain.
Stick to natural wood only.
How does wet weather affect using a wood chipper?
Using a wood chipper in wet conditions such as rain can be challenging due to wet woods absorbing more moisture and losing their ability to shred smoothly.
However, some chippers claim to tolerate moist wood better than others thanks to more powerful motors and carbide edged blades.
Just be sure to only feed small pieces into the chipper and use lower speeds if conditions are wet to avoid straining the small engine or spark plug.
Always check your owner’s manual for wet weather operating guidelines too.
What precautions should be taken before using a rented chipper in wet weather?
If renting a chipper for an upcoming event where wet weather is possible, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with any wet weather operating tips beforehand.
Give the equipment a look over with the rental agent and ask about wet or dry capabilities.
Find out if there are any specific wet weather checks you should perform, such as draining oil or fuel from low points.
Proper preparation and understanding best practices for your chipper model in wet conditions will help avoid potential issues.
How can I select the best wood chipper for my needs?
When looking for the best wood chipper, consider factors like the scale of projects and size/type of debris, your budget, and most importantly, your specific needs regarding job site conditions like moisture content.
Electric powered models or smaller chipper shredders may work better than larger gas powered chippers in wet woods situations, for example.
Doing research on chipper features like shredder mechanisms, chipper or shredder performance on wet materials, safety, and brand superb facts can help you purchase the right machine for your situation and budget.
In summary, operating a wood chipper in the rain takes some extra planning and precautions to avoid water-related issues.
Be sure to cover or seal any openings, use longer branches that won’t absorb a lot of water, and continuously empty the collection bag to stay one step ahead of excess moisture problems.
While it’s best to chip on dry days whenever possible, following these guidelines will help make wet-weather chipping more doable.
Stay tuned for my next article where I’ll share advice for keeping your chipper in top running form all season long with my simple maintenance tips and tricks.