An air compressor is the backbone of most shops — it powers tools and keeps equipment running cleanly and smoothly. An air compressor can make or break your shop, depending on how efficiently it runs. If you’re running an older compressor or have noticed a drop in performance, here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep your compressor run more efficiently.
Keep up With Compressor Maintenance
Just like with your car, lawnmower or any other tool that uses an engine, air compressors require regular maintenance too. Some things to look at if your compressor is starting to lose power include:
If you’ve noticed your compressor is starting to lose power or work less efficiently, these three areas would be a good place to start.
Consider Installing a Compressor Dryer
Since your air compressor is pulling in and compressing outside air, it is also pulling in any humidity or moisture that might be in that air. You probably already have a condensate drain installed on your air compressor system to drain out some of the water that accumulates over time, but if you live in a very humid environment or have a system that requires dry air, that condensate drain isn’t going to be enough. If you get too much water in the system, it doesn’t just mess with your efficiency — it can rust the pipes and cause your tools to spray out water vapor as well.
Compressor dryers come in two varieties — desiccant or refrigerated. Desiccant air dryers use some form of desiccant to remove moisture from the air as it passes through it. Think of the packets of silica that are in nearly every bag of beef jerky or in the bottom of your new shoes — it works like that, only on a larger scale.
Refrigerated air dryers, on the other hand, cool the incoming air to the point that the water condenses before it can get into the compressor’s pipes. The condensed water falls into a water trap where it can drain later. It works just like your fridge or freezer at home — using refrigerant to create a cool environment where water can condense.
Not only can an air dryer help your system work more efficiently, but it can also protect your equipment from water damage, saving you money and reducing downtime in the long run.
Inspect for Leaks
A leaky air compressor system is your most significant cause of efficiency loss. That isn’t usually a problem with newly installed systems, as long as the installation was done correctly, but it can be a big problem for older systems that have seen their fair share of wear and tear. Take the time to inspect yoursystem for leaks — you can use a formula to estimate the amount of air loss in your system, or get your hands on an ultrasonic acoustic detector, which can help find even invisible leaks. This detector uses a specialized speaker that can detect the sound of an air leak that might not even be audible to human ears.
Once you discover a leak, make sure to fix it promptly to ensure maximum system efficiency.
Keeping your air compressor running will keep your shop running — the two are inextricably intertwined. Keep up with air compressor maintenance, regularly inspect for leaks and consider installing an air dryer if you don’t have one already to improve the efficiency of your compressor and the efficiency of your shop all in one fell swoop.
Article by —
Megan Ray Nichols
Freelance Science Writer
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