Ridgid Oscillating Sander Won’t Start — Causes and Solutions

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Discovering that your Ridgid Oscillating Sander won’t start can be a common concern for power tool users. 

While it might initially seem like it’s time for a replacement, it’s worth knowing that there are troubleshooting tips available that can help you avoid the expense of buying a new one.

So, join me as I tackle typical Ridgid Oscillating Sander problems and several reasons why you should fix them instead of replacing them.

Common Symptoms When the Oscillating Sander Won’t Start

No Lights or Power

Similar to other power tools, your Ridgid Oscillating Sander comes equipped with a light indicator. When you activate the power switch, the indicator should illuminate to indicate that the machine is operating. 

If the switch doesn’t produce any response, it’s possible that you’re dealing with a defective power cord or blown fuses. So, you better inspect these components to determine if they require replacement.

Intermittent or Slow Operation

Another frustrating power problem you may encounter using a Ridgid Oscillating Sander is when it turns on and off out of the blue.

ridgid oscillating sander operating

Typically, units experiencing intermittent operations have a faulty power switch or poor cord connection. It could lead your oscillating sander to stop operating and stop turning on.

Meanwhile, its motor will likely need fixing if the equipment shows slower performance or speed. It’s a common problem, especially if you have a worn-out engine or the tool bearings are having issues.

Neglecting to troubleshoot and address the issue with the machine will lead to challenges when sanding and polishing wood surfaces. The performance of the machine will suffer, resulting in subpar sanding results and an unsatisfactory finish on wood surfaces.

Smoke or Burning Smell

One of the most serious Ridgid Oscillating Sander problems s when you see smoke coming out of the machine or smell a burnt scent during its usage. It primarily stems from faulty wiring and motor, so I don’t recommend troubleshooting it yourself if you’re not a power tool expert.

You can contact a professional electrician to determine if to repair the sander. However, if push comes to shove, the safest option is to replace the tool.

RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander not starting properly

Circuit Breakers Trip

When the circuit breakers start tipping as you use the sander, it means that an electrical issue is afoot. As said earlier, fixing wire problems can be dangerous. Because of this, the first step to fix this problem is to contact certified electricians to check the tool’s condition.

Sparks or Electrical Noise

Like the previous issue, sparks and electric noises are signs of a short circuit[1] or other faulty wires within the sander. Unplug it immediately to prevent accidents.

Don’t try to repair the sander yourself if you’re unfamiliar with electrical components. The best solution is to have a professional look and test the tools.

Jammed or Stuck Sanding Pad

Another common reason why your Ridgid Oscillating Sander won’t start is if its sand pad is stuck. The jamming problem often stems from dust particles lumping together and hindering the tool’s spin and other mechanical movements.

You can clean the sander to prevent this issue from transpiring. Remember that regular maintenance can save you from getting power tools broken or replaced.

inserting sleeves to RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander

Top 8 Reasons Why Your Ridgid Oscillating Sander is Not Starting

1. Battery is Dead

Clicking the power switch won’t do a thing if your Ridgid Oscillating Sander has a dead battery. It’s not a motor or wire problem, so the solution you can consider isn’t as complicated as others. You can connect it to a charger to regain battery power or replace it altogether.

Nevertheless, here are the practical solutions to fix battery power issues:

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Recharge the sander’s battery. Whether you’re using oscillating or belt sanders, the lack of battery power is often the culprit of a cordless tool not starting correctly. Only use chargers specifically designed for your Ridgid Oscillating Sander to avoid mishaps. These tools require a specific voltage, so putting different charging equipment into the test can be dangerous.
  2. If you plug the battery into the outlet and it continues not to hold a charge, it’s time to replace it. Get in contact with any Ridgid-authorized store to get a replacement. You can check if the warranty period still covers this component. 
  3. Besides batteries, charging problems can come from defective chargers. It can be a power cord or wiring problem, so it’s best to try a different electrical outlet to see if it’ll work. If it doesn’t, the most effective fix is to replace the charger.
  4. Another solution for users not keen on investing in a new purchase is to clean the battery inputs. You must remove dust or any corrosion in the terminal and other areas that may hinder the connection between your Ridgid Oscillating Sander and its battery. You can use soft-bristled brushes to free the orbital sander terminals from dirt and dust particles. 
  5. Your tool’s battery can get damaged if not stored in a cool and safe place. To avoid draining the component, ensure it has a full charge before storage. If you’re not using the sander for an extended time, don’t forget to remove the batteries from the unit.

2. Blown Fuse

Newbies often get overwhelmed when their Ridgid Oscillating Sander gets its fuse blown because of sudden power interruptions and electrical issues. However, did you know that these problems are relatively easy to fix?

All you need to do is open the sander up to check the fuse and get it replaced if you see that it has blown off. Check out my detailed explanation of each process below.

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Find the sander’s fuse according to the product’s technical manual. Once located, check if the metal component has a gap or a blackened effect on its surface. Typically, these are signs that the fuse has blown off, and you must replace it.
  2. You can replace the fuse with anything available in the local hardware store. Most sanders have different voltage and amperage requirements, so you must ensure it matches before bringing the solution to the table. 
  3. Even if you get the voltage and amperage right, the fuse may blow up again. In such cases, you must ensure that the wires with the sander aren’t in contact, or it’ll lead to a short circuit. Don’t forget to wear protective gear during the repair to prevent accidents. 
  4. Another culprit that may cause a blown fuse is a damaged power cord. When you switch to a new electrical wire, you must cross-check its specifications to see if it’s compatible with your sander’s requirements. 
  5. Sudden power outages and surges are common issues, regardless if you’re using an orbital sander or other power tools. Protect your sanding machine against sudden surge pressure to prevent a damaged fuse.
inside look of RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander

3. Damaged or Loose Power Cord

It may seem trivial, but letting your orbital sander run with a damaged power cord can be inconvenient and dangerous. The flow of electrical power between your sanding machine and the outlet can also be interrupted when the cable isn’t securely attached.

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Before pointing fingers at the power cord, try to insert a different device into the outlet. If it doesn’t work, you can take your Ridgid oscillating sander to another power source to fix the problem. 
  2. Next, decide if you need to replace the power cord. Inspect the cable and look for signs of damage like cuts or wiring exposure. If you spot any, it’s time to switch to a new one. 
  3. After checking the cord’s condition, you must inspect the connection between the Ridgid Oscillating Sander and the cable. Tighten the loose links to prevent power problems.
  4. If you decide to replace your Ridgid power cable, consult the product manual for proper specifications. Don’t force a different component because it can be dangerous,

4. Power Switch Issues

Your Ridgid Oscillating Sander won’t run if you have a faulty power switch. If it appears worn out or loose, chances are it’s interrupting the power from flowing to your sander. Here are easy solutions to get the sanding machine running again.

Recommended Solutions:

  1. One of the reasons why the power switch won’t respond is when the electrical source isn’t doing its job. Most experts suggest plugging the sander into different outlets to rule out this issue. If the switch works after this, there is no need to execute other solutions. 
  2. Next, inspect the power switch closer and look for any damage, like wear and tear. If it does, you must change it to a newer one. 
  3.  Another method is to test the switch with a multimeter. The reading from it will determine if the terminals are working correctly. 
  4. You must ensure the power switch you buy is compatible with the Ridgid Oscillating Sander.
Fixing RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander power switch

5. Motor Issues

If the power switch and cord are in excellent condition, the problem could lie with the sander motor. Besides the typical wear and tear, it’s a sign that the bearings, brushes, and other mechanical parts require replacements.

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Dust and debris may clog your sander’s motor, so it’s best to blow out these particles with compressed air. 
  2. Your Ridgid oscillating sander won’t start if the motor brushes aren’t in good condition. If they start wearing out, replacing them is your only option.
  3. Using a motor with cracks and chips isn’t the safest, similar to dealing with a damaged switch and cord. If you have the budget, replace it immediately. 
  4. You can also check the motor terminals with a multimeter. The reading will show the component’s electrical flow and speed. 
  5. Motor issues can be overwhelming, so there’s no shame in seeking expert help from industry professionals.

6. Overheating Problems

This Ridgid Oscillating Sander problem often happens when using the machine for an extended period. It can lead to the motor overheating and switch off without warning.

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Don’t pressure your oscillating sander to start if it’s still overheating. Let the motor cool down and unplug from the electrical source to prevent further problems.
  2. Another easy fix is blowing the dust and debris away from the sander components and the motor.
  3. Overheating also happens when the motor is faulty. If no repair can save the component, it’s time to replace it.
  4. Ensure that you’re using proper sanding techniques. If you’re putting excessive pressure into the sander or the wood material, chances are it’s the cause of the overheating.
  5. If you still find out that the oscillating sander won’t start after all these solutions, I suggest seeking help from professional technicians.
ridgid oscillating sander side

7. Accumulated Dust in the Power Switch

Dirt and dust particles can also gather into the power switch over time, so it’s also a viable contender of why your oscillating sander won’t start. Here’s what you can do:

Recommended Solutions:

  1. Remove the switch cover using a screwdriver. Don’t use too much effort as you detach the lid from the Ridgid Oscillating Sander to avoid damaging the component. 
  2. Once you locate the switch,  remove the dust particles using a brush and return the cover with the correct screws.

8. Power Adapter Malfunction

Besides internal problems, your oscillating sander won’t start if it has a faulty adapter. It may differ from belt or spindle sander, but it’s still an issue you’ll encounter nonetheless.

Recommended Solutions:

Replace the power cable in your Ridgid Oscillating Sander by removing the cover and loosening screws within the white terminal. Once done, you can pull out the cord and replace it with a new one.

Tips to Fix Your Ridgid Oscillating Sander

Lubricating Bearings

Although Ridgid Oscillating Sander manuals indicate that the machine is self-lubricating, it’s not the case for old models. You’ll need to use oil to prevent heat from building up and hindering the bearings from working correctly.

RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander lubricated bearings

Replacing the Belts

You can’t utilize Ridgid Oscillating Sander to its full potential if it’s operating with low-quality belts. These substandard belts can cause the sander to stop operating, so replacements are the most viable solution.

Cleaning the Motor

Admit it or not, motor issues mainly arise from inconsistent maintenance. You must follow the disassembling instructions included in the Ridgid Oscillating Sander manual to ensure proper cleaning procedures.

Reducing Pressure on Your Working Material

When operating a sanding machine like the Ridgid Oscillating Sander, it’s essential to handle it with care and apply gentle pressure during use. Excessive force or aggressive sanding can lead to overheating and may cause the sander to slow down or malfunction. 

To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your sander, practice gentle and controlled sanding techniques.

Maintaining the Connections and Supply Voltage

Inconsistent voltage supply and interrupted electrical flow can cause your Ridgid Oscillating Sander to perform poorly. Here are the specifications you must maintain to prevent it:

Preparing RIDGID Oscillating Spindle Sander

Do the Wind Relay Properly

To troubleshoot the issue further, you can disassemble the sander and inspect the switch, paying particular attention to its relay winding and wiring. If the switch isn’t drawing enough power, you may need to rewind it using the original cable to ensure it functions correctly. 

This step can help resolve the problem and get your Ridgid Oscillating Sander back in working order.

Common Problems of a Ridgid Oscillating Sander

Why is My Ridgid Oscillating Sander Not Spinning? Why is it Stuck?

When your sander stops spinning, the problem often occurs because of poor belt quality, a damaged motor, or a defective relay switch. If replacing and cleaning these parts didn’t fix the problem, it’s a technical issue you must deliver to professionals.

Here are some suggestions to prevent your sander from jamming:


Numerous factors can cause your Ridgid Oscillating Sander to fail to start. Fortunately, many of these issues can be resolved through maintenance or by replacing specific components. 

While these problems may initially seem daunting, by following our instructions and becoming familiar with the necessary tools, you can address them with confidence.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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