Tips to Extend the Life of Your Air Compressor
As with any type of machinery, air compressors only have a certain lifespan before they start to wear out and eventually fail completely. Depending on how often and for how long the compressor is run for, at some point in time the compressor will need some sort of maintenance or repair to keep it running.
Even though extending the life of your air compressor does require some very basic maintenance procedures and a bit of expense, in the long run it is a lot cheaper to properly maintain the machine than buy a new one every couple of years.
Listed below are our top 7 Air Compressor maintenance tips
- First Operation
Before running your compressor make sure you read and understand the instruction manual. Many compressors have a break-in procedure that must be followed before using the machine for the first time. Failure to follow the pre-startup instructions may lead to premature failure and a costly repair bill.
- Drain the Tank
When an air compressor runs it sucks in and compresses air which contains moisture. As the air is compressed the moisture will turn into water that will stay in the bottom of the tank. This is accentuated even more in high humidity environments.
Steel tanks are particularly prone to internal rust and should be drained on a daily basis. Aluminum tank compressors such as the CAT 4610AC do not suffer from the internal rusting problem, however, they should also be drained on a regular basis to prevent the possibility of water from getting into the lines.
- Change The Oil
Oil-filled compressors require more maintenance their oil-free counterparts, which means, depending upon how often and for how long the compressor has been run, changing the oil at the manufacturers recommended intervals will remove the contaminants within the degraded oil and generally extend the life of the machine.
Although it may seem like overkill, changing the oil after the first few hours of operation is always recommended. Although the machine will have been flushed by the manufacturer, running the compressor to operating temperature for a short period and then changing the oil will flush out any minute metal shavings left over from the manufacturing process. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Manufacturers will specify the duration the compressor is to be run before an oil change. For example; Makita states that the oil should be replaced in the Makita MAC700 every 300 hours or 3 months, whichever comes first. While DEWALT states that the oil in their DXCMTA1980854 should be changed after the first 20 hours of operation, and thereafter every 100 hours of operation or once a year, whichever comes first.
Always use the manufacturers recommended air compressor oil. Never use vehicle engine oil.
- Change the Air Filter
In particularly dusty environments it is important to thoroughly clean or replace the air filter on a regular basis. A clogged air filter can lead to poor compressor performance and eventually engine damage.
Compressor air filters are very cheap and available from either the manufacturer or by way of a search on the internet. For instance; a search on Google for a Makita MAC2400 air filter reveals the results shown below. The first link on the list shows the air filter at just over $20.
- Duty Cycle
Following the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the Duty Cycle of a particular air compressor is essential to prevent overheating and the possibility of a premature breakdown.
Different makes and models will state varying Duty Cycle times. For example; a compressor with a 50% Duty Cycle can be run for 30 minutes in any one hour, whereas a 75% Duty Cycle means the compressor can be run for 45 minutes in any one hour.
Even if the stated duty cycle is 100%, it is always a good idea to give the machine a rest periodically to let it cool down. This is even more important when operating it in an enclosed or hot environment.
- Extension Leads
Electrical extension leads should only be used when it would be impractical to use longer hoses to reach the work area.
If you must use an electrical extension cord, make sure that the mains supply to which the appliance is connected complies with current safety regulations and is correctly earthed. Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended extension cord to use.
Using a longer or thinner gauge extension cord than recommended can result in a loss of power, and can cause damage to the compressors electrical circuit and/or motor.
- Read & Understand the Operating Manual
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s operating/maintenance manual and follow any recommendations regarding Duty Cycles and filter/oil changing frequencies. After all, the manual has been written by the company that manufactured the compressor, who know the limitations and best practices to keep it running well.
Adopting a simple maintenance regime can save on some costly repair bills and the need to replace the compressor every couple of years. Most of the parts such as filters and oil are very cheap to buy and could drastically extend the working life of the machine.
Before doing any sort maintenance to your compressor, ensure that the compressor is switched off, unplugged from the mains and the tank drain valve is in the open position.