So after doing your research, you decided on an air compressor model and are now ready to put the new compressor to good use. Because an air compressor can be a sizeable investment, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before a small issue turns into an expensive repair. Most individuals who purchase a contractor or commercial grade compressor expect to do a certain amount of maintenance. Usually it's those who purchase a consumer grade air compressor, which may be labeled as "no maintenance", that tend to neglect simple upkeep. By following these five simple tips, your air compressor has a much better chance of a long lifespan.
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Tip 1: Read the Manual
There's a reason why manuals are included with new compressors. Even if you think you understand the basics, operating and maintaining an air compressor is quite different than a cordless drill, and one little neglect can ruin a compressor. Like a new car, most manufacturers recommend a break-in period. For the most common oil-less models, this means running the compressor for about 10 minutes with the bleeder valve open. This will remove any water from the tank and allow the compressor to run with no load. Not following advice in the owner's manual may also void the original warranty so the incentives to read the manual are plenty.
Tip 2: Remove Moisture from the Tank
When air compresses inside a tank, moisture begins to accumulate. Those who live in the south or other humid climates will have this problem even more. This moisture can actually be damaging to the internals of the compressor. Almost all tanks have some sort of valve that can be opened up to drain any fluid. Before doing so, make sure you release all the air pressure from the tank. Regularly draining moisture from the air compressor tank can prolong its life by years.
Tip 3: Inspect Hoses
Periodic inspection of all hoses is another form of maintenance that is extremely important to the air compressor's optimal performance. Over time, corrosion or small cracks may develop which could eventually turn into leaks. When dealing with equipment that operates based on air pressure, the tiniest leak can cause undue stress on the remaining compressor components. Instead of the normal on/off cycle of the pump to refill a tank, a small leak will cause the pump to remain running and even overheat. When a hose shows signs of wear, replacing it will be a much cheaper option in the long run.
Tip 4: Check and Change Oil
If your air compressor is powered by an oil-lubricated motor or engine, it's important to keep an eye on the oil level and top it off when necessary. You wouldn't let your new car run without oil in the engine and you shouldn't subject your compressor to that either. In addition to monitoring oil level, you should also change the oil according to the manufacturers recommendation. Most often, it's advised to change out the oil every 500-1000 hours of runtime.
Tip 5: Change Air Filters When Needed
Dirty air is another enemy of a properly operating air compressor. A dirty air filter will cause your compressor to work harder than it should and will cause your unit to possibly fail. By regulary checking your air filters and changing them out when the dust and dirt build up are too much, you will prolong the life of your air compressor. Again, follow the manufacturer's recommended change interval as noted in your manual. This is generally every 3-12 months depending on how frequently it is in use.
These five simple tips should keep your air compressor running like new for years on end. Some of the more expensive and technologically advanced compressors will require additional maintenance. See your owner's manual for more information.