10 Useful Tips for Air Compressor Maintenance

April 25, 2015

Proper maintenance is very important for the efficient operation, longer life as well as reducing the operational cost of your air compressor. Poor maintenance leads to malfunctioning of the compressor and eventually cause breakdown if their up keep is neglected. Breakdowns can be costly not only because you have to repair of the air compressor but also due to loss of production.

Below are some maintenance tips for you air compressor.

Tip -1 : Owners Manual

Read, understand and follow the air compressor manual. Keep the manual in an easily retrievable place. Compressors are generally reliable equipment that typically doesn’t need daily maintenance. But when you have a problem, these manuals are very helpful. It gives you the Do’s and Don’ts and simple tips for the safe and effective operation of your compressor. Don’t worry if you manual is missing. Most manufacturers have the maintenance manual available online which you can download or you can call their customer service to have one sent to you if it is an obsolete model.

Tip-2 Ambient

Always keep your compressor clean, dry and free of dust and debris. For permanently installed compressors, make sure that there is proper ventilation and cooling in the compressor room. Inadequate ventilation and cooling can lead to overheating.

Tp-3 Inlet Air Filter

Most industrial compressors will have an inlet air filter. The inlet filter ensures clean air intake to the compressor as well as acts as a muffler or silencer. The Inlet filter needs regular inspection in order to ensure proper cleanliness. A clogged filter can cause lower operational efficiency and higher electricity consumption. Dirty air will not only cause excessive wear of internal components of the compressor but also could potentially damage your air tools and pneumatic systems.

Tip-4 Alignment

Proper alignment of the compressor and motor are very important for smooth operation of your compressor, especially for the larger units that are flexible coupled or belt driven. Watch for any abnormal noise or excessive vibration on a regular basis. Refer to manufacturers guide for alignment data.

Tip 5 – Keep All Fasteners Tightened

Regardless of the type of the compressors, they produce vibrations while running. While the rotary compressors produce slightly lower vibrations as compared to the reciprocating type compressors, they both need to be checked regularly to ensure that the nuts and bolts have not loosened. Tighten up all fasteners if found loose.

Tip-6 Cooling Water

Many industrial Air compressors are water cooled type. In addition, most two stage compressors will have an “After Cooler” to cool the air after the first stage of compression, just before it goes to the second stage. This after cooling increases the overall efficiency of the system and saves energy consumption. Ensure adequate supply of clean cooling water within the recommended temperature and pressure range. Too cold water can cause thermal shocks leading to cracks on the compressor head and too hot water will not give sufficient cooling. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommended cooling water requirements.

Tip-7 Lubrication

Proper lubrication is very crucial for the smooth operation of your compressor. Lack of lubrication will cause excessive wear and lead to break down of parts. Always use proper quantity and grade of oil as recommended by the manufacturer. Regularly check the oil level and top up if needed. Look for any sludge build up or varnish. If the oil breaks down, it thins out and reduces its lubrication properties causing increased wear to the internal components. Change the oil at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

Tip-8 Drain the Receiver

When the air get compressed, the water in the air gets separated and accumulates in the air receiver. This water needs to be periodically drained. Make sure to release air pressure from the receiver before manually draining the water. The water accumulation will be higher if operating in a humid climate.

Tip-9 Perform Safety Shutdown Test

Many industrial compressors are installed with built in safety shut down features. The purpose of this safety system is to shut off and protect your compressor just in case any of the operating limits are exceeded. This could include low oil pressure, high temperature, too high pressure, higher current (amps drawn by the motor). Performing a safety check will ensure that the safety systems are functional and your equipment is protected.

Tip-10 Heat exchangers

The purpose of a heat exchange is to reduce the air temperature as well as the operating temperature of your air compressor. If your air compressor has got a heat exchanger, make sure to clean it periodically. The scaling from the cooling water can cause the heat exchanger to clog and reduce its heat transfer capability. Periodic descaling and cleaning of the heat exchanger will help to reduce the operating temperature and increase the life expectancy of your machine.