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11 Tips for Air Compressor Maintenance

Aug 18, 2007
Now that you've invested in an air compressor to run all of your air tools you're going to have to learn how to keep it up and running. Because the standard handyman's air compressors don't typically require daily upkeep, it's easy to forget about them and neglect their upkeep. This can be a costly oversight so it's vital for you to keep an eye on the following maintenance tips.

Maintenance Tip 1: Read and Follow Your Air Compressor's Manual
Nothing stops an air compressor faster than an owner who doesn't read the owner's manual. There's going to be some simple tips in there for you that will help you to get a nice long life out of your air compressor - simple stuff for you to do that you would never have thought to do unless you read it. Plus, if you don't follow the rules in your air compressor manual there's a chance that you'll void your warranty. That in itself should be enough of an incentive to read the "flipping" manual.

Maintenance Tip 2: Drain The Moisture From The Tanks
The receiver tank collects moisture from the air that it's compressing - especially if you live in a humid climate. Most tanks have a valve for draining this moisture that accumulates and it's up to you to make sure that these are drained regularly. Before draining the water you should be sure to release the air pressure from the tanks.

Maintenance Tip 3: Clean Intake Vents
If you force your air compressor to work too hard to intake air you're losing power on your compression. This will gradually degrade the quality of your tool. Be sure to keep your intake vent as clean as possible and check them regularly especially if you're working in a dusty or dirty environment.

Maintenance Tip 4: Tighten All Fasteners
Your air compressor's a running, vibrating engine and it will loosen its screws, nuts and bolts on a regular basis. Be sure to check these periodically and tighten them up if you find any that have jiggled loose.

Maintenance Tip 5: Check Hoses Regularly
Check all your hoses periodically as they are the veins of your air compressor. If they become cracked or corroded they could soon begin to leak and then put undue strain on the rest of your compressor's components. Be sure to check them and replace them if you find them cracked or damaged.

Maintenance Tip 6: Test the Safety Shutdown System
Your air compressor may have a built in safety shut down. The function of this system is to shut off your compressor if it's getting too hot, or if the engine's oil pressure is too low. This test will help you ensure a longer lasting compressor.

Maintenance Tip 7: Check and Change Air Filters As Needed
A filthy air filter is only hurting your air compressor by allowing dirty air from the outside in, plus forcing it to work harder to intake air. Check your filters regularly and change them if you notice a heavy build up of dust and dirt. Change every six months or so if you use it infrequently.

Maintenance Tip 8: Clean the Fuel Tank
As with any engine you need to periodically clean out the fuel tank to ensure optimal operating conditions. You should look to clean out the engine on your air compressor once every year or so to remove any residual build up from the fuel. This will preserve the life of your engine.

Maintenance Tip 9: Check and Change the Compressor Oil
If you're running a compressor that uses oil you should be checking it on a daily basis to make sure that your machine is topped off. Then, every 500-1000 hours of use you should be changing this oil to ensure maximum functioning of your air compressor.

Maintenance Tip 10: Change the Separator Element
The separator element prevents the excessive use of oil, but it has to be replace periodically. Keep your compressor in top condition by replacing the separator element every 1,000 hours of operation.

Maintenance Tip 11: Clean the Heat Exchangers
If your heat exchangers are dirty then they can't do their job, which is to reduce the operating temperatures of your air compressor. Clean them regularly to keep your operating temperatures down and increase the life span of your air compressor.

By following the tips above you'll ensure a nice long life for your air compressor, plus the jobs that you use it for will go faster and more productively. A well maintained air compressor is a wonderful machine for any job site or workshop, so keep yours running smoothly.
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