Think You Need A New Air Compressor System? You Might Be Wrong

If your tool shop or industrial facility is suffering serious downtime and frustration due to problems with your air compressor system, you might assume that it's time to cut your losses and make a major investment in an all-new system. But before you take that enormous step, take inventory of the symptoms your air compressor is displaying -- because they could show you how to solve your problem easily and cost-effectively. Here are a few questions to ask yourself along the way.

"Dead Electrical System -- or Minor Maladjustment?"

If you can't get power to your air compressor consistently, you're left in the starting gate as far as your facility's productivity is concerned. But that doesn't mean your compressor's electrics are permanently fried. If the compressor is blowing fuse after fuse, for instance, the fuses themselves may simply have the wrong amperage levels. It's also possible that the compressor is being overstressed by a belt that has been installed too tightly. If your compressor was working fine one day and then failing consistently the next, take a peek at the oil pressure to see if it needs topping off.

A compressor that won't power up at all, even when all the aforementioned components are in good shape, may have a problem involving the compressor switch and/or unloader valve. The compressor switch has to generate a high enough cut-in pressure to engage your particular system, so check your specifications to see whether you're getting that pressure. The unloader valve blows off the pressure built up by the compressor once the compressor shuts down; failure to do this job properly can lead to start-up failure the next time you try to engage the system.

"Global Pressure Failure -- or Issue at One End?"

An air compressor system that fails to compress air might seem like a total loss, until you consider that an air pressure failure may involve only one end of the system. The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you're actually getting pressure at the compressor itself. If not, one or more of the compressor valves may have become damaged. Swap these parts out, and you should be good to go. If the valves look okay, check the air pressure switch and adjust its settings if they're out of spec. You may also solve your problem by checking and adjusting the compressor's air capacity system, if your system is equipped with the necessary modulating load controls.

If the compressor checks out, then your air pressure problem is happening at the user end of the system. The fix for this problem could be as simple as patching or replacing a line that's sprung a pinhole leak. Or you might simply have a clogged, dirty air filter or heat exchanger. The dustier your facility is, the more frequently you can expect to encounter this problem -- so get into the habit of checking and cleaning these components periodically.

"Catastrophic Oil Leak -- or Simple Solution?"

Oil is a common component in industrial air compressor systems, performing essential roles as both a motor lubricant and a cooling agent. But when your system starts showing milky/discolored oil, running chronically low on oil, or even pushing the stuff into your compressed air, you could be forgiven for thinking you've got a catastrophic problem on your hands. Fortunately, oil-related issues usually have simple solutions.

If your compressor system seems to be drinking oil at an alarming rate, some of that oil may be leaking out. Addressing this issue is as simple as tightening a loose gasket or bolt. Worn piston rings can also cause overconsumption of oil, so get these items checked and replaced as needed. Consult your manual to make sure you're using the recommended oil viscosity, because this error can force the system to use excess oil. You might even find that your compressor is sitting at a tilted angle -- in which case, just prop it up until it's level. Problem solved!

The issue oil mixing with other substances is pretty easy to resolve. Milky-colored oil has water in it, which of course reduces its ability to do its job. Humidity can cause this problem, so crank that AC or dehumidifier so that the air intake has drier air to work with. Water mixed with the air in your compressor line can often be traced to a clogged air filter, incorrect oil viscosity or piston ring wear. The compressor might simply have too much oil added to it, so check the oil level.

As you can see, a malfunction in your industrial air compressor system isn't necessarily a reason to panic. Check the system's various parts and specifications with care, and there's a good chance that you'll discover simple, affordable answers to your dilemma. Professionals like can also help. Good luck!

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Welding has been a very lucrative career choice for me. I have gone from working for a large company to running a small business of my own. Recently, I have reached the point in which I had to hire a few welders to help me complete the many large orders that had been coming in. Before I could hire the workers, I had to buy the equipment and safety gear. This blog contains all sorts of information about welding and the supplies and gear that are needed to get the job done right. Thanks for reading and I hope my posts keep you safe!