A good air compressor and dryer system can be a valuable asset to many different kinds of businesses. Many facilities depend on them for continued operation, so a reliable compressor is essential. If your compressor system goes down, it can be costly, significantly affecting your productivity and bottom line. Keeping compressors and dryers well-maintained is vital to the businesses that rely on them. Exceptional maintenance can extend a system’s longevity, improve its performance and make it more reliable.
Unfortunately, like any piece of equipment, air compressors and dryers won’t last forever. The expected lifespan of a system can vary widely depending on your usage, equipment and maintenance procedures. Of course, even with proper maintenance, issues are bound to appear at some point. Many of these problems are fixable, but only if you catch them before the damage occurs. That’s why it’s so important for operators to monitor compressors closely and complete maintenance appropriately. Watching out for problems with compressors and dryers is vital to keeping your system in shape.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Air Compressors Fail?
- 8 Signs You Need to Replace or Repair Your Air Compressor or Air Dryer
- Tools That Last From Fluid Aire Dynamics
Why Do Air Compressors Fail?
Air compressors fail for any number of reasons, and when they do, it can spell trouble for your facility’s productivity and bottom line. You can fix some of the problems that face air compressors with repair, but others are more costly to fix. In these instances, it sometimes makes more sense to buy a new one entirely. Here are some of the common reasons air compressors fail.
- Air leaks: Air leaks are a prevalent issue with air compressors, and most facilities take extensive measures to check for and prevent them. It is a good idea to implement regular checks for air leaks. Nevertheless, they do occur and can be a reason for air compressor failure. Compressors may automatically restart to deal with the drop in pressure, or you’ll lose a tank full of air after deactivating the compressor. Fortunately, air leaks are usually fixable. If it comes from a connector, you can generally tighten it. Valves can be replaced if they are worn and causing a leak. Any hoses or oil fill tubes can also have problematic leaks.
- Electrical motor and power issues: If your power is unreliable or intermittent, you may have an issue with your motor or power supply. Compressors can blow fuses and trip circuit breakers due to motor issues. If a compressor trips a breaker at startup, it could also be due to trapped air over the pistons, which often comes from a faulty unloader valve. Also, a worn starter capacitor could lead to dimming lights on startup. A professional can typically fix these issues, but if you try to push through them, you may do more damage to the compressor that would require a replacement.
- Poor maintenance: Things like clogged air filters and insufficient lubrication can cause significant issues within an air compressor system. These elements serve to keep the air clean and prevent buildup or damage to the inner components. If they are not maintained, the air may become dirty, or the system may struggle to perform due to increased friction on its components. If a system isn’t properly maintained over its lifetime, it will wear out faster and can see more damaging issues. Proper maintenance procedures are a critical component of keeping your air compressor lasting as long and working as well as possible.
- Worn parts: Over time, parts will wear out. They may not work as efficiently or fail to perform critical functions. Seals, for example, can wear and let pressurized air through. Plenty of parts in an air compressor system can go bad, which is part of why proper maintenance can help extend their lifespans so much. Thankfully, most components that go out can be replaced. It doesn’t always mean you need to replace your entire system. You can switch out many things like valves, seals, gaskets and diaphragms for newer options.
Of course, these are some of the more common problems. There are a wide variety of sources of compressor failure, and paying close attention to your system can help you identify issues before they cause too much damage.
8 Signs You Need to Replace or Repair Your Air Compressor or Air Dryer
With all of the different reasons that these tools can stop working, it can be tough to know what’s wrong with your compressor. Thankfully, some basic air dryer and air compressor troubleshooting can usually help you narrow down the problem. You may be able to identify whether your compressor needs a simple repair or needs to be replaced altogether. Here are some of the signs that you may need to replace or repair your air compressor or dryer.
1. Your Compressor Won’t Start
A compressor that is on its last legs may stop powering on and indicate that it’s time for a new one. On the other hand, if your compressor is still in good shape, you may have one of several issues. There are several reasons a compressor may refuse to start, some of which are more detrimental than others. Don’t forget to look for the obvious, such as an unplugged compressor, before getting into troubleshooting.
One reason for start-up issues could involve your circuit breaker. The compressor could have tripped it at some point during operation. Check out the breaker and the switch that links up to the compressor. If it’s in the “off” position, you know it’s been triggered. Turn it back on. If the issue persists, enlist a professional to determine whether the problem is electrical or with your compressor. Another electrical issue might be in the fuse box, where you should check for a blown fuse.
Another situation that could cause your compressor not to start is insufficient cut-in air pressure. Your cut-in pressure, which determines the pressure at which the compressor starts running, needs to be proportional to the air stored in the tank. If they don’t match up, a compressor can fail to start. Changing the cut-in setting on the pressure switch can fix this issue.
Other problem areas could include the:
- Pressure switch: Power can stop flowing through it and won’t reach the motor.
- Motor: It may be overheating or overloading.
- Unloader valve: If it stops working, it will need replacement.
If you can rule out these situations, you may be looking at a failed compressor.
2. Your Compressor Won’t Stop
A compressor that just keeps running and never stops could have a faulty pressure switch or pressure release valve. It should stop running when the tank pressure reaches a cutoff point. A bad pressure release valve won’t release the pressure, making the tank too pressurized for the motor to stop running. If the pressure switch is bad, it won’t alert the internal controls that the pressure is at the right level, so they won’t know when to shut off. In both instances, a replacement should fix the issue.
3. You Hear Odd Noises From the Compressor
If your compressor is making loud noises, like rattling or screeching, you could be dealing with a few different problems.
- Electrical failure is one issue that often causes a rattling compressor.
- Another possibility is that a component is loose and needs to be tightened or replaced.
- The distributor motor could also be loose.
If any of these problems occur, you’ll want to call in an expert right away to prevent irreparable damage to your air compressor. If the noises have been going on for a while and you encounter other issues, it may be time for a new air compressor.
4. You Have Circuit Breaker Problems
If your compressor continuously trips the circuit breaker, you could be due for a new compressor. It may be drawing too much energy. While you might be tempted to repeatedly turn the circuit back on and continue work as usual, don’t do this. It won’t fix the problem and could be hazardous since the breaker trips to prevent fires. Enlist a professional at this point to see if there is an electrical problem or if you need a new compressor or repair.
5. Your Compressor Shakes or Makes Ticking Noises
Often, a shaky compressor can spell trouble for your system. It can indicate that it is struggling to start or function. If you ignore it, you will likely damage your system further and push it beyond repair. Usually, this shaking and chattering mean that something is out of place that can damage expensive components and necessitate an entirely new compressor if not addressed. On the other hand, if you can catch it right away and enlist a professional, you may be able to fix the compressor and identify what component is causing problems. Don’t continue to use a compressor that shakes and makes these ticking sounds.
6. Your System Blows Warm Air
The compressor needs to pump refrigerant through it to cool the air. If this doesn’t happen, you’ll get warm or hot air from the openings. If the condenser is working well, it may have to do with the refrigerant supply. See if any refrigerant leaks are present and enlist the help of an expert to identify if the issue is fixable. Refrigerant issues can come from plenty of different sources, some of which can damage your compressor and create other problems.
7. You Find Moisture in or Around Your System
Every compressor system has some amount of condensation, but it shouldn’t be excessive. If you’ve got a small river flowing through your compressor, you’re going to have all sorts of issues. Too much free water in the system can significantly hurt the quality of the air supply, the system’s functioning and its lifespan. Water can introduce rust or contamination to the air as it pulls the material throughout the system. As water mixes with contaminants like rust and gunk, the air movement pulls this slurry through the system. When the compressor shuts off and temperatures cool, this goop dries onto the sides of the interior components, blocking the flow the next time you go to power it on.
The water itself can also damage tools and equipment if it gets to them at the endpoint. Remember to keep your condensate lines clean. If you find that there is too much moisture in your system, your dryer may have failed and is no longer working. A dryer can have problems with drain failure, which essentially floods the system, high inlet temperatures that add excessive heat and more.
Another component that could cause moisture problems is the dew point reader. If this part is not working right, it may show that dew points are within safe limits when they actually aren’t. If your dew point reader is off, it may only show you single values or display rapid changes across the reading. You could also see readings that are inconsistent with your environmental observations.
Depending on your application, a dryer may be needed to obtain extremely dry air. If you find that your air has more moisture than your task can tolerate, you may need to add, upgrade or change the type of dryer you have. Jobs like spray painting and labwork can require extremely dry air. For example, in spray painting applications, you can get small dots throughout your coat of paint that come from spots where water enters the airflow and prevents the paint from adhering to the surface. If you use a dryer and find your air still has too much moisture in it, your dryer may not be appropriately matched to the demands you’re placing on it. A compressed air system review from Fluid Aire Dynamics can help you accurately measure your needs.
8. Your Compressor Lags During Use
If it feels like your rotary screw compressor stutters or struggles to keep up, you may have a problem with the pump itself. Since this is such an essential part of an air compressor’s operation, issues here can be detrimental. Some of the reasons a pump might fail before its expected lifespan include:
- Excessive moisture in the system, which can come from condensate buildup
- System shake
- Residue from lubrication
Think about how often your company uses compressed air tools. If they stopped working, how many tasks would be difficult or impossible to complete? Maintaining your compressed air system is vital and can keep it running for years to come. Having a dedicated service that makes it even easier and ensures your maintenance is performed accurately. At Fluid Aire Dynamics, we offer expert preventative maintenance services to companies throughout Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. If your equipment has already encountered a problem, we can also perform repairs, including 24/7 emergency services.
Working with Fluid Aire Dynamics can help you improve the reliability of your facility. With high-quality equipment, expert service and more, you can spend less time fixing machines and more time focusing on your work. Contact us today to get a free compressed air system review, free equipment service review and estimate and information on the high-quality products and services you can expect from Fluid Aire Dynamics.