What a Red Geocaching Wrench Means to You

Geocache Maintenance in Two Acts

maintenance_300x400Each “Needs Maintenance” request has two acts. One act delivers a red wrench, the other act takes that red wrench away. A red wrench attribute on a geocache page means the geocache most likely needs maintenance. The geocache container could be cracked, the log book could be full or the geocache contents might be soaked with water. Or a giant plant may have eaten it (see image).

Act 1) The Geocacher. If you come across a geocache that needs some repair, post a “Needs Maintenance” log on the geocache page. This will notify the geocache owner and add a “Needs Maintenance” icon (red wrench) to the geocache page. This lets other geocachers know that the geocache may not be in the best shape before they start their hunt.

Act 2) The Geocache Owner. Once you have made repairs, post an “Owner Maintenance” log on the geocache page. This log will remove the “Needs Maintenance” icon. Don’t let your geocache be filtered out in searches by forgetting to post your “Owner Maintenance” log.

There’s a way to help stop “Needs Maintenance” logs: preventive care. If your geocache will not be accessible due to seasonal weather conditions, note this on the geocache page.  Also, be sure to check in on your geocache and make sure:

Good time to perform geocache maintenance
Good time to perform geocache maintenance – unless ants are also geocachers… 
  • The geocache container is still watertight
  • Contents are free of debris
  • There’s plenty of space in the logbook for more entries

Maintaining your geocache doesn’t have to be a pain. Think about working it into a monthly routine or you can even see if some of your geo-buddies will check in on it for you. Think of it this way: owning a geocache is kind of like owning a roller coaster: take care of it and it will keep making people happy for years!


  • Geocaching Pet Peeve #1: COs that don’t/won’t do maintenance. This feature makes it so easy to log maintenance updates. Next Geocaching 101 should feature how easy it is to delete a log if you accidentally double post or post to the wrong cache. Thanks for the good work!

  • The worst is when they move and don’t pass the cache onto another cacher to maintain. I have several in my area that are in need of TLC but, the CO now lives 12 hours away. I have tried to find them and one is a night cache were people have said it is missing reflectors (common problem) and they wandered around until the found the next one. I have spent two nights and cannot figure out where to go next. It is a pet peeve of mine. If you care about a good Cache make sure it is maintained.

  • MarkD60

    I can’t find the “owner maintenance'” link on my Cache’s page. I live within sight of my cache and usually see people searching and finding it.

    It amazes me how many
    people pull up in their cars, hop out and start looking with no GPS in
    their hand. Don’t leave your GPS in the car! Use it to find the cache!

  • Don Jag

    Clearly the article says to “post an owner maintenance log”. You post it the same way that you post any other log. As the cache owner, you have several additional log options on the selection drop down list

  • Other cachers could do their bit towards maintenance too. I try to keep some paper and camo tape, even a couple of small magnets and a film canister or two in my caching ‘toolkit’. When I find a cache in need of some TLC then it’s all to hand and a few running repairs or a few log sheets could keep a cache alive for months.

  • rcm999

    Every now and then, I’ll go visit my caches just to make sure all is well. I make any repairs and adjustments as needed and then I’ll post an “Owner Maintenance” log even if a red wrench is not present. It’s just to let others know I’m keeping up with my caches.

  • tubatad

    The “owner maintenance” selection is a log type. Log your visit and select owner maintenance in the drop down menu.

  • CacHoe

    I carry a small back pack with extra logs, small bags, and extra cache containers. If I come across a cache that needs a little fix, I do it and log that it was taken care of.

  • CacHoe

    No need to get upset about it. It’s all about team work…….

  • Zargfinders

    Something that really annoys me is when people didn’t find the cache, and post a needs maintenance because of that, even if there are no other DNFs right before them. Since the cache of mine that this recently happened to is overseas and I next visit the area in July, I can’t do anything about it and the person who is maintaining it probably does not want to check on it after someone with 7 finds said its gone!! They didn’t even post a DNF!!

  • Ahern Clan

    Worse is the person that hides a cache while on vacation because they thought it was a beautiful spot. Of course they never return and expect others will help out. HATE THAT!!

  • I think of all the wonderful series out there, like the E.T. Highway or Route 66. Those CO’s rely on others to help maintain those caches as it would be an impossible and neverending task. If the CO had to do all of the maintainance, they wouldn’t hide them.

  • Great attitude, and so true!

  • Lone R

    I like this quote from Clan Riffster….”Fixing crappy hides strips the owners of such drivel of the learning
    experience. Since they don’t get to go out and fix their crappy cache
    themselves, they are oft left with the impression that their crappy
    cache is perfectly acceptable, and hide more of them. Don’t be a crappy cache enabler. ”

    I will however help a non-crappy cache when I know the cache owner is generally conscientious about maintenance. I’ll remove the junk, wipe down a damp interior (if the cache is generally watertight), whittle a worn or broken pencil tip, leave a piece of paper in the cache to tide it over for a couple of weeks.

  • R

    “If the CO had to do all of the maintenance, they wouldn’t hide them.” This might be a very good thing considering how many people monopolize a nice trail system with leaky micros and never maintain them.

  • lpyankeefan

    Agreed. You’d be surprised how easy most repairs are. I always carry baggies, logsheets and plenty of pens as well as plenty of napkins and towels to dry things out.
    A little bit of good caching karma. I have over one hundred active caches and it’s a ‘bit’ frustrating when I get logs for something as simple as replacing a logsheet. Yes, I agree that as a CO it’s my responsibility to maintain my caches it’s also very easy for me to replace a baggie and logsheet or two to help out other CO’s while caching.
    I’ll keep what I take out and send the CO a note asking if they want the old logsheets for posterity or if they’re in too bad of shape if they want ’em chucked.

  • 339

    You can post a note about how the cache may likely be there because it’s a tricky find. Make sure the Difficulty rating accurately reflects the challenging hide. You can also write that you will check the cache in July (which tells the reviewer you are an active CO). Wait for the next visitor to find the cache and post an Owner Maintenance log to get rid of the NM.

  • TheDrGene

    What about the missing CO who never responds to a “Needs Maintenance”. One cache was in a wonderful location with a missing container and after many emails without response, I replaced the container. It is good to go. How to we make the red wrench go away without a CO logging an “Owner Maintenance”?

  • vic’s plunder

    I would say have the reviewer disable or archive and then you put out new cache. That is if it has been a long time since CO has maintained.

  • Lizzar

    A few times now I’ve seen DNF on a cache that I have found a while ago so if i’m in the area I’ll stop by and have a look, then I’ll post a note saying passing by check on cache and still their, this lets the CO knows its there and save him/her time checking on it. and most of the time i’ll get an email from Co saying thanks.

  • Keith King

    So as a geocaches if you find a cache that needs maintenance do you put on two logs? One to say you found it so you get the find credit and one to say it needs Maintenance?

  • LJS

    Yes, that is perfectly acceptable.

  • LJS

    If a cache is in dire need of maintenance, i.e. broken lid and filled with water, multiple NM logs over a few months time, then a Needs Archived will get attention of a reviewer and possible archived. These nasty caches have a negative impression of our activity and if the community doesn’t help, it doesn’t get fixed.

  • LJS

    Those are exceptions. Nobody should ever place a cache and expect the community to take care of it.

  • LJS


  • LJS

    As a cache owner, I appreciate it when folks help by replacing a full log with a clean piece of paper… save me a trip, maybe I will save you a trip. Little fixes are OK in my book. My friends know I am good on maintenance so they don’t feel I am neglecting anything when they help me.

  • Nip-n-tuck

    As one who has 300+ caches out there, I can tell ya- the cachers who post a maintenance-needed log and write “log is wet” are all wet. This immediately tells me either:
    A) they have fewer than 100 finds. Or
    B) they have never hidden a cache themselves.
    I would bet that, at any given time, over 50% of the logs in temperate regions are wet. Caches are mostly out in nature, and few can resist that indefinately. Added to that, not all finders take time to reclose a container properly.
    Since I started caching five years ago, I accepted this reality that many logs I found would be wet, and that was what God made hot car hoods for ;-).

  • nojiri

    Yep.. I do this all the time as well 🙂

  • nojiri

    There is no way for you as a non-owner to change that flag. You might send the owner an email and see if he/she responds.

  • Johnny Agar

    How do I start Geocaching is there an idiots guide

  • Spaul

    I am just curious, I am a really new geocacher and the few caches that I have found, a large number of them have had full logs, and I was wondering if I replaced the log do I just throw away the old log or keep it???