Air compressors serve as essential components in a wide range of industrial and manufacturing applications. Regular compressed air maintenance is crucial for ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. Neglecting to perform regular air compressor services increases the risk of performance issues, which can result in extra expenditures as well as increased downtime. Air leakage, in particular, is one of the most costly compressed air system problems.
Intentional and Unintentional Leaks
No matter how big or small, air compressor leaks can be very bad for business. Below are some of the most common signs of unintentional air leakage.
- Wear and tear is common in any type of air compressor. Over time, valves on your air compressor may loosen, allowing for air leakage. Checking the valves occasionally may help in preventing unintentional air seepage.
- Air compressor systems rely on strong, sealed piping to release air with the right amount of pressure. Having holes in the piping or tubing of your unit can lead to multiple air compressor issues.
- If the drain trap that funnels condensed water from your air compressor is faulty or open, air compressor leaks and water leakage can occur. These issues can also lead to more serious damage over time.
Air compressor leaks are sometimes intentional, brought about to assist in equipment cleaning, drying, employees cleaning off clothing, sweeping floors, etc. Although these leaks are created purposefully, they can still be taxing on your system, and many users end up misusing or wasting air.
Monitoring the frequency of intentional leaks will help in limiting the amount of wasted air. After all, your business is paying for every bit of air used.
Where the Costs Add Up
The biggest issue surrounding air compressor maintenance is the hidden cost of potential leaks. Most companies assume there is a higher cost associated with regular maintenance than reactionary repairs. However, an air compressor that isn’t regularly maintained will inevitably lead to higher costs over time.
In fact, a compressor air system that isn’t regularly serviced operates on a 20% leak rate on average, and some air compressors may lose up to 30% of their air. System leaks can also lead to higher energy bills. When your compressed air system maintenance falls to the wayside, production can be affected in a big way.
Performing regular maintenance on your system is the best proactive method for handling air compressor leaks. The earlier the detection of a leak, the better.
Make sure the company performing checks on your compressed air system does a comprehensive walk-through. They should be testing hoses, tubes, pressure regulators, and couple fittings to determine if there is leakage. They should also be utilizing sophisticated ultrasonic leak detectors.
An ultrasonic leak detector will pinpoint the location of the leak in your air compressor or lines. Having an ultrasonic leak detector on hand may also prove useful in between scheduled maintenance checks. A tool like the Jorc Locator can detect leaks up to 33 feet away, and also provides audible and visual indications of air leakages, making it easier to find the leak.
Stay Proactive With Compressed Air Systems
At Compressed Air Systems, Inc., we’re here to ensure that your air compressor is in tip-top shape. Our experts are at the forefront of compressed air solutions and are well-versed in all aspects of air compressor and system maintenance and upkeep.
For more info on how proper maintenance can save you headaches, check out our Importance of Minimizing Compressed Air Leaks Guide. Or, you can Contact one of our service team members today for help in determining whether your air compressor is in need of auditing or maintenance services.
Although many businesses rely on compressed air to ensure optimal process performance, reliability, and safety, many companies still overlook air compressor maintenance and upkeep. Regardless of your specific industry or compressor application, air compressors often play a major role in day-to-day operations. As compressor breakdowns can result in costly, time-consuming repairs and increased downtime, proper maintenance is crucial.
Below is a short checklist of five easy ways to avoid air compressor problems and ensure your equipment continues to run smoothly and efficiently.
1. Drain your air receiver tank.
Drain air from your compressor’s air receiver tank through the drain or plug located at the bottom of the compressor. When the receiver tank collects air from the machine, excess water and moisture is created and collected when in use. This is especially common during warmer seasons when there tends to be higher levels of humidity in the air. The moisture in the air is condensed in the receiver tank, adding up to large quantity of water in a short amount of time if not drained on a daily basis; receiver tank and piping damage can occur in the form of corrosion. A 25 HP/100 SCFM compressor can make 2-3 gallons of condensate per hour. Downstream, point of use equipment, can be damaged as well as improper function of the air compressor due to lack of storage capacity for the air. Ultimately an Automatic drain is recommended as well as manual bypass drain for daily inspections. There are several types of auto drains ranging from electronic timer, electronic zero-loss, auto magnetic float style.
2. Check your hoses.
Since the hoses in an air compressor act as the system’s key connection points, any damage to the hoses can be catastrophic to the whole system. To prevent leaks and cracks from developing, it’s important to check your hoses frequently — at least on a weekly basis. Hoses often become damaged as a result of inclement or cold weather, which can cause them to crack or corrode. Such damage then results in leaks, which can be quite costly due to reduced machine performance and expensive repair needs. Performing routine checks will help ensure that hoses remain clean and intact. And since leaks are often hard to detect, a leak-detection device can be hugely helpful for finding leaks early on — before major damage occurs.
3. Change the air filter.
Air filter inspections should be performed on a monthly basis and more frequently in dusty environments. It is not recommended to clean air filters unless they are designed to be cleaned and reused. Dirty filters restrict air flow, this makes the air compressor less efficient as well as allowing dirt and debris into the air compressor bearing and oil, causing premature failures as well as possible contamination down stream. This contamination is very crucial in the food and beverage industries, hospitals, surgery centers, labs, paint and body shop, and some manufacturing facilities.
4. Check the fittings.
Your fittings should be checked regularly to ensure that they’re forming a tight enough seal. Loose fittings can cause leaks to occur at one or even several sites on your air compressor. When fittings appear to be worn out or corroded, replace or repair immediately to reduce cost and inefficiencies.
5. Have a professional service team come out.
To save valuable time and provide some peace of mind, consider having a professional service team come out regularly to check for leaks, perform preventative maintenance, and make any needed repairs. Being proactive in scheduling routine checks and upkeep can help save time and money down the road, reducing the risk of extended downtime and costly repairs. This will also give you a more complete picture of your equipment’s health and help you anticipate any necessary fixes or issues well in advance. Plus, rather than worrying about the state of your air compressors, you’ll have more time to focus on your day-to-day business operations.
Keeping your air compressor healthy is one of the best ways to ensure your equipment and operations continue to run smoothly. Compressed Air Systems specializes in all aspects of air compressor maintenance and optimization.
Moisture buildup, in particular, is one of the most common air compressor issues, and we frequently field questions from clients on how to best avoid it. To learn how to fix air compressor moisture issues — as well as the other common problems discussed above — download our free guide to moisture content in compressed air.
A complete air system is not just in the mechanical room where the compressor station is, but it is the complete system including the distribution of piping, hoses, fittings, regulators and other components that are needed for each application.
Maintaining and optimizing your complete system starts in the compressor room with routine maintenance, and includes the modernization of your controls. A complete system analysis serves to identify energy efficiencies and pressure control, and helps to pinpoint potential areas for savings.
Compressed air in the pharmaceutical industry is held to an especially high standard of quality. Considered an important utility, it has numerous applications in environments where cleanliness is a critical factor in product quality and performance. While some aspects of the industry are more sensitive to contamination than others, the main challenges to air quality in the pharmaceutical industry are oil, moisture, and solid particulate.
Oil contamination in compressed air can come from the ambient intake air or compressing system. More specifically, it originates from oil particles present in the immediate environment, as well as compressor fluids and lubricants.
Some sources of this pollution include vehicle exhaust and industrial activity. Proper air compressor maintenance can control the extent to which oil contaminates air from the compressor. Using oil-free compressors, furthermore, may limit this type of pollution in the pharmaceutical environment.
If oil vapors, aerosols and liquids still pose an issue, however, it can be removed by installing a pair of coalescing filters in the compressor. These filters should be positioned downstream of the compressor and before the desiccant dryer.
Moisture is another common contaminant in compressed air. Water can be harmful in many ways. First, it creates an environment that can foster bacterial growth.
Moisture can also react with certain products and materials, causing damage and quality issues. Condensation can cause corrosion and rust, and even damage equipment. The solution for this particular issue is a desiccant drying system.
This system can be installed after the compressor and serve to absorb water vapor from the compressed air stream. Coalescing filters can also be utilized to remove water aerosols and liquid water, which cannot be removed by the desiccant drying system.