When Do You Need To Replace Carbon Brushes In Power Tools?

Power tools are designed to make work easier. However, like every tool, they also experience mechanical issues. Unfortunately, due to their complex physics, it might be challenging to determine the reason behind the malfunction.

If you notice any changes in your power tool’s functionality, the first thing to check out should be the carbon brush. This component completes the circuit in most power tools for efficient operation. 

Since carbon brushes are subjected to constant rotation, they’re bound to wear over time. Once they do, visible changes in the functionality of your tools begin to manifest. Here are some signs that indicate the need to replace your carbon brush:

Bad Smell

Power tools consist of motors that rotate when they’re in use. During the rotation, a generation of heat can cause a burning-like smell. While a burning smell from a power tool shouldn’t always cause an alarm, it’s vital to switch off the tool, inspect it, and determine the issue. If the smell results from a worn-out carbon brush, the best solution is to replace it as soon as possible.


However, replacing carbon brushes requires thorough research for high quality and similar brushes to previous ones. A slight mistake when purchasing a carbon brush might interfere with the tool’s functionality. 

Therefore, it’s advisable to purchase carbon brushes from leading outlets for high-quality brushes. If you’re in the UK, then you can buy replacement carbon brushes for power tools at replacementcarbonbrushes.co.uk

Poor Performance

Poor performance is another sign that your power tools require new carbon brushes. While this symptom can be linked to several tool malfunctions, exhausted carbon brushes can interfere with your tool’s performance. But how does a carbon brush deteriorate in functionality? 

Several reasons can lead to the end of life of a carbon brush. For example, when dirt and debris accumulate in your power tool, they can find their way to the carbon brush and interfere with its integrity.


Once the components of your carbon brush are rusted, its functionality is interfered with, and the link between it and the armature commutator is destroyed. As a result, there’s an interruption in the current flow, leading to limited or no power generation for the tool.

Poor performance can be noted through low power generation in a power tool. You notice a reduction in the power tool performance accompanied by regular shutdowns. Fortunately, replacing the carbon brushes can restore your power tool’s working efficiency.


Smoke and sparks on your power tools are signs requiring immediate intervention. Once you observe these signs, the first step should be switching off the tool to avoid further damage. Generally, a power tool whose air vent is blocked can overheat and produce sparks.

Sparks are mostly visible once the carbon brush has started wearing off as its specks find their way into the brush’s channel, obstructing the air vent. In addition, a carbon brush that isn’t correctly fitted to its holder might vibrate on the armature. This leads to the generation of sparks emitted through air vents.

A Shake Before A Start

If your power tools start after a shake, you might want to check out the carbon brush’s state, especially if the tool requires a heavy blow before starting. Once a carbon brush jams on its holder, the link between it and the armature is broken, resulting in an incomplete circuit. 

Suppose the circuit is incomplete. Sometimes, a light tap on the tool is all that’s needed to move the brush closer to the armature, completing the circuit. If you’ve experienced such incidents several times, carbon brush replacement might be the only lasting remedy.

Banging Sound

Besides visible signs, banging sounds can also indicate a worn-out carbon brush. It produces a banging sound when it bounces off and smacks the wrong motor components. That said, it’s vital to be keen on unusual sounds since they might indicate a deteriorated carbon brush.


Physical Damage

Regular physical inspection of your power tools is the key to determining any mechanical issue, including the need to replace the carbon brushes. Common physical damage that might indicate a worn-out carbon brush includes carbon brush chips, discoloration, and specks through the air vent. Once you identify these signs, it’s advisable to replace the carbon brush as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your tool.

The Tool Shuts Down

A shutdown is a final sign that your carbon brush is worn out beyond repair. As the carbon brush becomes damaged, the circuit is interrupted, resulting in the tool’s failure. While a tool’s shutdown can result from different mechanical issues, it’s recommended that you inspect it. This is to determine if the carbon brush is behind the tool’s failure.


Knowing when to change your power tool’s carbon brush is vital for its functionality. Even though the brush is perfectly functional, regular replacements will save you time and money. On the other hand, waiting until the tool stops functioning can severely damage your tool.

Fortunately, with the above signs, you’ll know when to replace the brush. Remember, once you identify a particular sign discussed above, don’t hesitate to inspect the tool for a precise diagnosis.

Khuwalid Khalid
Contact at Khuwalid.khalid@gmail.com

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