7 Common Air Compressor Problems

Air compressors are powerful and indispensable machines that simplify a variety of complex tasks. These heavy-duty devices have proven their value in both commercial and industrial settings that it is a must-have for facilities to improve daily operations. Air compressors are versatile and flexible, too, coming with different types made for different uses. They make the work environment safe, clean, and convenient.

Like many intensively used machinery, air compressors require regular maintenance to to preserve efficiency and effectivity. However, heavy use makes them prone to wear and tear. You will eventually run into issues. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be costly. The first step is to identify the problem you are dealing with and knowing how to fix them.

Common Problems of Air Compressor

Keep an eye for these air compressor problems and know the solutions you can perform should they occur:

1. Compressor Failure

Issues with air compressor operation can be due to a simple oversight

An air compressor failing to start is one of the most basic problems you may encounter when operating the machine. It can result from a simple oversight. When your compressor doesn’t start, shut down, or provide air pressure while active, it may be due to one of the following issues:

  • Compressor fails to start

Commonly, this is a result of overlooking power connections, such as a disconnected power cord or deactivated power switch. Before starting, simply check the power button and switch. Breakers should also be checked if necessary.

Aside from lack of electrical power, air compressors can also fail if it lacks sufficient air pressure in relation to the cut-in pressure. If this happens, check the cut-in pressure settings and adjust them accordingly.

It may also be because of the lack of oil. It’s important to check or change compressor fluids to keep the tank from going empty.

  • Compressor fails to stop

The compressor should stop operating once the tank pressure hits the cut-off point. If it doesn’t happen, it could either be because of a faulty pressure release valve or a defective power switch.

When the valve unsuccessfully releases pressure, the compressor will be too pressurized to stop working, and this could seriously damage your machine. In this case, cut the power and replace the valve. On the other hand, a broken power switch may fail to give a switch-off signal to internal controls. Having a new switch should resolve the issue.

  • Failure to provide adequate pressure

If the compressor is active but is not yielding any air pressure, there may be an issue with your air-intake pump. Or, it could be an issue with your gasket between the low-pressure and high-pressure compartments of the compressor. Changing them out will allow your machine to perform better.

2. Bogged Down Issues

When your compressor only operates efficiently in short periods and quickly, often prematurely, runs out of steam, it may be a motor problem.

Compressors can also get bogged down when it splits the power supply with other machines. Air compressors need their own power supply that leads to a breaker with 15 to 20 amp.

Another culprit could be your unloader valve. To diagnose the problem, open the tank to drain the water and let the air out. Close it, then power it back up. If the air compressor still bogs down, it’s time to change the valve.

If the problem persists after you’ve made the necessary changes, your machine may not have the capacity to deal with the demands of its current applications.

3. Air Leaks

A drop in air pressure may mean a leak

If you deactivate the air compressor once the tank is full and notice that the gauge indicates lower pressure, you have an air leak. Fortunately, leaks can be easily sealed. To pinpoint the source of the leak, try to listen for a hissing sound or run your fingers over the component to feel air escaping.

If you can’t find the leak through these means, lather the connections, including the couplers and power switch, with liquid soap. Bubbling will show you the location of the leak. Tighten the coupler where it bubbles to seal it.

You can also inspect the tank check valve. Usually, air leaks happen when the valve fails to close completely. If the pressure gauge continues to drop when the tank is turned off, inspect the valve’s condition and clean or replace it when necessary.

4. Pressure and Flow Problems

Pressure and flow problems are more subtle. The machine may continue to appear to be working properly. Air compressors can either build-up too much air or none at all. Likewise, the pressure can only reach as far as a particular PSI and not much further. If you notice these issues, components like the intake valve, pressure valve, gasket, piston seal, or tank check valve may be compromised. Check these components and replace them if worn or damaged.

Pressure and flow problems can also stem from the following:

  • Obstructed intake filters, which put a strain on the compressor and cause it to take longer to build air
  • Ill-fitting coupler, which blocks the airflow
  • Pressure gauge set to low

5. Uncharacteristic Noise and Vibrations

Be wary of loud noises or unusual sounds

Loud noises or unusual vibrations coming from the air compressor can alert you to trouble. These signal an internal malfunction. While it does necessarily mean significant repairs are required, small adjustments can prevent worse issues.

The noise and vibrations can be caused by:

  • Loose parts – Tighten or adjust loose or misaligned bolts, belts, or pulleys.
  • Faulty crankcase – Inspect the crankcase for defects or insufficient oil levels. Determine if it needs new bearings or more oil or if it needs to be replaced entirely.
  • Problem pistons – Pistons hitting the valve plate can be noisy. Adjust them accordingly.
  • Improper mounting – A compressor that’s not held securely on its mount can move around noisily when used. Refasten the bolts or install vibration pads if needed.

6. Oil Problems

Issues with oil use can severely damage your compressor. Most common oil problems include:

  • Oil expires quickly – When oil doesn’t last long, it may be the result of factors including intake obstruction, oil leaks, worn piston rings, and improper oil viscosity.
  • Aerosolized OilOil can contaminate machine parts and damage them. Dispersed oil can cause seals to crack or swell and for plastic areas to become brittle. Causes include restriction in the air intake, expired or inverted piston rings, excessive oil in the tank, and wrong oil viscosity.

7. Extremely Hot Emissions

Place your compressor in a well-ventilated place to keep it from overheating

When the compressor releases air that it is too hot, it can damage items or surfaces that it may come in contact with. The internal mechanisms of the compressor may also be at risk.

Extreme air heat can be a result of the following:

  • Dirt has accumulated inside the compressor.
  • The compressor is placed in a hot or poorly ventilated space.
  • Head gasket and valves are worn down.
  • The compressor has limited air intake.

Depending on the cause, you may need to replace parts or relocate your compressor.

Get Help for Your Air Compressor Problems

Contact an expert for your air compressor inspection and maintenance

Our team can provide you 24-hour inspection and maintenance service for your air compressor needs. We also offer leak detection services to help your compressed air systems operate efficiently.

For quality air compressor products and services, contact Commercial Air Compressor. Call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-853-8249.

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