Why air compressor maintenance is so important?

Table of Contents

Industrial air compressor maintenance is a relevant area within system management. With so many machines, tools and functions relying on compressed air, it is essential to ensure every machine is capable of performing efficiently. They need periodical inspections to avoid failure and expensive repairs. The failure of an industrial compressor can bring costly downtime to your business.

Air compressor maintenance involves diverse practices that need to be performed on machines of all makes and models. Air compressor preventive maintenance can save both money and time. After all, certain preventive steps are easy to learn and can only take a few minutes to complete. Overlooking such steps could result in costly repair bills down the line.

Air compressor maintenance schedule

Given the cumulative nature of performance issues, all companies need to implement an air compressor maintenance schedule. This way, you can keep track of which maintenance steps you need to perform during a given day, week, month, season or year. Without this sort of schedule, a company could easily lose track of which machines and parts have not yet undergone maintenance. With timely, proper maintenance, you can avoid the slowdown and financial hazards that often accompany air compressor failure.

Air compressor maintenance tips

An air compressor has several parts that must be maintained to ensure they work properly. A compressor needs to have its oil changed, its filters cleaned and its after cooler inspected every three months. Its filters need to be replaced at least once every year.

Using the following air compressor maintenance tips will help you to keep your machines working at full capacity.

Read the user manual

This tip seems quite basic but not everyone does it. Many owners of air compressors forget entirely about the manual. However, you should never try to fix anything on your air compressor without first going through the user manual that can help you fix some of the more common problems. If the issue is complex, it is better call an expert.

Tighten the nuts and bolts

Month after month of daily use makes nuts and bolts becoming loose. As the machine vibrates, the parts that comprise the machine move. Loose screws and fasteners can be a sign that the machine need adjustment. To know whether loose nuts or bolts are indeed, you can manually test each fastener to see if there is any problem. With a firm grip of the wrench, twist on the loose fastener until you can feel the bolt tighten. Only turn the nut to the point where it no longer moves. If you attempt to over-tighten, you might strip the bolt.

Change the air filter

Throughout the course of a daily usage cycle, the filter inside your air compressor will get lots of junk. Dirty air filters obstruct the systems performance and force the system to exert more energy just to perform basic functions. If the problem persists, dirty air filters can lead to excess energy consumption, costly maintenance and downtime. Therefore, it is crucial to change out the air filter annually.

Change out the oil

Not all air compressors use oil, but in those that need it, the oil needs to stay fresh to allow various engine parts to move smoothly. In humid working environments, oil can lose its viscosity and ultimately fail to provide proper lubrication to the components of an air compressor. This lack of lubrication can produce metal friction and stress along the moving metal parts, likewise, if you work in colder working environments, you need to constantly check the oil and change it if necessary. Oil should have proper viscosity and be free of impurities in order to circulate properly.

Clean the intake valves

The air compressor intake valve regulates the capacity of your rotary screw compressor by opening and closing the air intake. When the desired pressure is reached, the compressor will go in ‘unload’ mode and the unloader valve will almost completely close the air intake of the compressor. This way, no more air could be sucked in and compressed.

For an air compressor to function at full capacity, it must have clean intake vents. As you put the compressor through weeks of ongoing use, dust particles and other air-bound elements are bound to get sucked into the vents. Therefore, it is important to clean the vents regularly.

Clean the compressor fuel tank

Fuel-powered air compressors require an extra bit of maintenance. If fuel particulates accumulate inside the tank, as time passes can become toxic. As such, the fluid that serves as the lifeblood of the machine can ultimately become poisonous if the tank itself is not cleaned once per year.

Drain condensate from the tanks

An inevitable byproduct of compressed air is moisture, which accumulates inside the machine in the form of condensate. The moisture tank inside an air compressor is designed to suck the water out of the outgoing air. This way, the air itself remains dry and pure as it reaches the endpoint.

The presence of moisture in compressed air can degrade the quality of pneumatic paint applications. An undrained condensate tank could result in some expensive and time-consuming do-overs. Therefore, it is crucial to drain the moisture tank on a regular basis.

Change out the oil

Not all air compressors use oil, but in those that do need it, this should remain fresh to allow engine parts to move smoothly. In humid working environments, oil can lose its viscosity and fail to provide proper lubrication to some internal components of an air compressor. This lack of lubrication can produce metal friction and stress along diverse metal parts, which could possibly wear down and fail long before their time. Likewise, colder working environments can cause oil to become sludgy, especially if moisture gets into the mix.

Inspect the air compressor shutoff system

For internal protection, most of today’s compressors are equipped with safety shutoff mechanisms. This mechanism is used to activate the system when a compressor becomes either too hot or pressure-deprived to perform properly. Nevertheless, this mechanism itself can sometimes fail to activate. Shutoffs can also stop working properly in humid working conditions, where the high intensity of a given operation and the pressure this puts on a compressor is compounded by the temperature of the ambient air. Your user’s manual will have instructions on how to inspect the safety system and ensure it operates as needed.

Change the air/oil separator

Oil-lubricated air compressors function internally with oil mist. In other words, the compressors disperse oil within the machine in tandem with the air. The oil gets extracted from the air with an oil separator before the air leaves the machine. This way, the machine stays lubricated while the air remains dry at the endpoint. Bear in mind that the air can get oil-corrupted if the oil separator stops working properly. On various pneumatic functions, the presence of oily mist could be devastating. Therefore, it is important to replace the oil filter after every 2,000 hours of use or fewer to ensure the compressed air remains pure and free of oil.

The benefits of maintaining your air compressor

Air compressor maintenance has many benefits. Here are five important reasons why you should proactively maintain your air compressors:

Increase the life expectancy of assets

A big advantage of preventive maintenance is that it can help you extend the life of your equipment. When it comes to maintenance, equipment replacement can provoke potential disruptions to your operations and finances. Replacing your air compressor is sometimes an inevitable reality. All of them will age and eventually need replacing.

Preventive maintenance is one of the very best ways to increase your assets’ life expectancy. Keeping your air compressors well-lubricated, changing their filters and fixing small issues as needed can help your systems run smoothly for a long time.

Reduce equipment downtime

A major advantage of tracking your air compressors’ maintenance needs is that you can avoid long periods of downtime. Planned maintenance measures tend to take less time than a major repair or complete equipment replacement. You can also plan these maintenance tasks to take place at a convenient time, to avoid interfere your production schedule.

The actual financial cost of unexpected downtime will vary for every company. However, even an hour of it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Avoid this expensive problem by planning preventive maintenance.

Increase efficiency of your air compressor

Air compressor maintenance will ensure productivity continues at a set pace, which is crucial for any company that manufactures products according to a strict timetable. When the air compressors work at full capacity without fail, all the tools along the assembly can perform at maximum speed and keep the productivity flowing day in, day out.

Improve workplace safety

Maintaining your air compressor can enhance workplace safety. For one, an unexpected equipment failure can pose a safety hazard since it may lead to other types of machinery malfunctioning or stopping suddenly. Maintenance routines can avoid problems with your equipment that can put at risk your employees health and safety. Carrying out regular upkeep of all your equipment, including your air compressors, can reduce health and safety incidents.

DataScope’s Air Compressor Maintenance Template

Use our Air Compressor Maintenance Template for periodic checks to ensure a safe operation.

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About the author

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Sandra Melo

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