A Preventive Guide to Keeping Your Air Compressor Contaminant-Free

Compressed air purification equipment is essential to modern production facilities. When selecting the right purification equipment, it’s crucial to consider the required air quality levels, overall cost and how to establish a comprehensive plan to keep your air compressor clean and well-maintained.

Although the quality of air required for your compressed air system will vary depending on what you’re using it for, there are a few main contaminants that need to be considered no matter what its function. Taking preventive action will help your air compressor run more efficiently, promote long-term dependability and reduce the need for costly repairs.

What Contaminants Are Most Concerning?

  • Water. Of all the contaminates that can create issues with an air compressor system, moisture is the number one problem. Condensed water and water aerosols cause corrosion to the storage and distribution systems, reducing performance efficiency and increasing your maintenance costs.
  • Particulates. This is a combination of rust, pipe scale, atmospheric dust and microorganisms. Despite filtration, many of these tiny particles get through, damaging equipment and diminishing the life of the air compressor system and its components.
  • Oil. Many air compressor systems use oil for lubrication, sealing or cooling. Contamination occurs when the oil is drawn into the system as vapor, aerosol or liquid. Once inside, the oil mixes with the water and becomes acidic. This can lead to rust, which damages both the air compressor system and the product itself.

How Can I Limit the Effects of Contamination?

Once you’re aware of the main factors of contamination, air compressor preventive maintenance and cleaning is your best defense for consistent and cost-effective productivity.

  • Location. Installing your compressor in the right location makes everything else easier. Your system should be installed in a clean, well-lit and ventilated area with ample space all around for ease of maintenance. Select a location that provides a cool, clean, dry source of air. In some cases, it may be necessary to install the air filter at some distance from the compressor to obtain proper air supply.
  • Temperature. Overheating will shorten the life of compressor lubricant and cause premature wear and tear. Weekly checks of the coolers are important to prevent future issues. Check for dirt accumulation on the oil or aftercooler core faces and cooling fans. If cleaning is required, clean the exterior fin surfaces of the cores by blowing compressed air carrying a nonflammable safety solvent in the direction opposite to the cooling fan air flow. This will keep the exterior cooling surfaces clean and ensure effective heat dissipation to help avoid the warm conditions that allow microorganisms to thrive.
  • Filter. Spending extra time and money on an advanced filtration system will likely result in financial savings in the long run. The inlet air filter element is your first line of defense in keeping your oil, oil filter and air/oil separator clean and performing properly. Maintain a regular schedule of checking and replacing your inlet air filters. Dirty or clogged air filters reduce your compressor’s efficiency and over time, they can tear, letting contaminates such as larger particulates into your compressor. Newer compressors can help you with preventive maintenance by monitoring inlet air filters and will advise you when a filter requires servicing. Another helpful option is to choose an oil-free air compressor, which not only eliminates the possibility of oil contaminates altogether, but is also better for the environment and helps reduce energy costs.
  • Oil. If your compressor is oil lubricated, nothing will shut your system down faster than running low on oil or exceeding your lubricant’s life. Having a regular oil analysis program in place and checking oil levels daily ensures that your compressor is maximizing its efficiency. And always remember to never mix lubricants in your system.

Lewis Systems would be happy to review your compressed air needs. Whether you have an oil-free, rotary screw or reciprocating air compressor that needs cleaning, regular maintenance or repair, contact us today for the finest factory trained and certified technicians and 24/7 service. Our four convenient locations are ready to serve you. For more updates on the latest air compressor tips and trends, follow us on LinkedIn.