Air Compressor Troubleshooting Guide

air compressor troubleshooting guide to help with compressor repairs

When an air compressor goes down, productivity can immediately slow or stop. Fortunately, there are some things you can check yourself to see if you’re facing a major compressor issue or something that can quickly be resolved. 

My compressor won’t start.

You’re pressing the button but nothing’s happening. You may be experiencing an electrical issue or your compressor’s safety device may have been tripped. Check the:

  • System display for errors
  • Power supply and fuses
  • Wiring system for wrong lead connections
  • Temperature shutdown switch
  • Motor starter overload heaters
  • Oil level

My compressor starts, but it won’t stay on.

If your compressor will only run for a short time, it’s possible that the unit is overheating. Check the:

  • Discharge temperature switch setting
  • Oil level, oil cooler and oil filter
  • Thermostatic mixing valve (rotary screw compressors)
  • Temperature shutdown switch
  • Motor starter overload heaters
  • Room ventilation and ambient air temperatures

My compressor is very noisy.

A compressor that is making loud noises likely has a part that is loose, damaged or worn out. Check for:

My compressor is using too much oil. 

If your compressor is using an excessive amount of oil, you probably have a leak. Check for:

My compressor isn’t delivering enough pressure.

You need a certain amount of pressure to run a tool or complete a task and the compressor can’t seem to keep up. First look to see if there’s an air leak in the hose or piping, then: 

  • Make sure the inlet valve is not restricted or broken
  • Check for air leaks downstream
  • Check for improperly adjusted controls
  • Clean or replace the air filter
  • Tighten belts if applicable

It’s important to follow basic safety procedures when troubleshooting. Always open the main disconnect switch and remove all power from the unit before trying to determine the issue. Follow “Lock Out” or “Tag Out” procedures. Also, remember to relieve the system pressure before removing parts or breaking any lines. If you are experiencing a serious compressor issue or can’t determine why your compressor isn’t working, contact Lewis Systems at 800.222.4553. Our dedicated service team can troubleshoot your air compressor and help you determine next steps.