Air compressor maintenance: what you need to know

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Air compressor maintenance: what you need to know

Maintaining your air compressor strengthens its efficacy and lengthens its lifespan. It saves you time and money in the long run and keeps your business running every day. But what are the most important factors in air compressor maintenance? And how do you get started? That's what you'll find out here.

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Understand what you need to do

Air compressor maintenance can be tricky when you don’t know a lot about air compression. A few things to double-check:

  • The type of compressor you have: screw or piston compressor, belt-driven or gear-driven…)
  • What components your compressor needs to function properly: air dryer, air filter, oil-water separator, auxiliary tank…
  • The environment your air compressor is set up in: sturdy and level floor, space for airflow, proper cable management…

All of these components need to be checked and maintained individually to make sure they work together well and that they last longer.

Prepare your compressor for maintenance

Service

Before you start any work, you need to prepare your air compressor for servicing. Start by removing any cables, hoses and screws you don't need.

Clean your equipment to avoid any dust or rust particles of entering the system while you’re performing maintenance.

After you’ve properly cleaned your equipment, look for warning signs that the compressor needs service:

  • Pieces of worn-out tubing
  • Clogged or eroded fluid drains
  • Misshapen or warped housings
  • Blown fuses

Most of these are easy to spot and speak volumes to why maintenance is needed

Check the oil levels and replace if needed

Original parts

The vast majority of air compressors work in a vacuum-based environment that requires lubricating oil, which is the next item on the checklist.

Check the condition and viscosity of the oil, and your oil tank. If there is a leak, empty the oil and dispose of it. Do this daily to keep it running smoothly.

You can find replacement lubricants with your service provider. Make sure to use original parts to extend your air compressor’s lifespan. Off-brand lubricants and parts can damage your air compressor and end up costing you more.

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Check the belt

Belt driven

One of the most common reasons for compressor maintenance is belt damage and clogging. Belts are used for both piston and screw compressors, and are very much a wearing part

When these belts fail or wear, they can break, causing the motor to spin faster and lose efficiency, resulting in more wear on the compressor. So, it's important to inspect the belt as soon as you notice that the motor is giving you any trouble.

Check the filters and change them if needed

Filter

Air compressor filters should be changed twice a year as a general guide, but make sure that you check the specifics of your particular filter. The reason is that particles like dust and other pollutants deteriorate the air quality when the filter is not changed often enough, resulting in compressed air unfit for use. 

Ensure that you pay attention to both the inlet filter and the process filters that you use to clean the compressed air with.

  • The dirtier the external environment, the more frequently you need to attend to the inlet filters.
  • The process filters will need to be changed regularly too, depending on what the compressed air is used for.

Check and repair any leaks and joints

Leaks in your air compressor can not only slow production, it can damage your entire system and render your compressed air useless.

First of all, there are many different types of leaks:

  • Air escaping
  • Water leaks
  • Oil leaks

Each one of these, has its own method of identification that any air compression expert can help you with:

  • They can find air leaks with an ultrasonic acoustic detector, which detects the hissing sounds inherent to air leaks. All compressed air specialists have all the right tools to perform this task on hand.
  • Keep an eye out for any moisture surrounding or - worse - inside your air compressor. Whenever you detect a leak, contact your service provider to seal the leak as quickly as possible. Wait to clean the water until after the leak is fixed, the trace is a useful indication of where the leak is and its size.
  • Check your oil levels. They can either need a top-off from natural use, but if you only replenished it recently, more might be happening. Make sure your oil use is consistent with your air compression needs and contact your service provider if anything seems to be off or if you’re not sure what to do.

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Trust your air compressor maintenance to an expert

Everything mentioned in this article, is a simplified version of things to keep in mind when servicing your air compressor installation. Never perform any work on your screw compressor, piston compressor, air treatment or other equipment that you are not qualified to perform, but instead consult an expert.

 

Specialised air compressor experts know your system inside and out and are licensed to handle any situation, no matter what issue arises. Moreover, they’ll be able to provide pointers on how to better use your compressor.

 

Maintaining your air compressor is far more sustainable than buying a new one every few years, so make sure you take the time to really keep it up. If you’re looking to save money, refrain from buying a second hand compressor, and focus on quality parts and preventative maintenance.

 

Looking for some assistance? Get in touch with our experts for services that meet your needs.

Read more about practical usage of air compressors in related articles

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