Air Compressor Frequently Asked Questions

The following items are some of the most frequently asked air compressor questions and answers, courtesy of The Titus Company.

How Does an Air Compressor Work?

An air compressor works by using electric power to create pressurized air that can then be released and converted to usable power for use in a number of applications, depending on your specific needs. It performs this by compressing air within a chamber by means of a piston, rotary vane or screw or scroll element and then releasing this pressurized air into your downstream receivers and distribution piping system.

How Do You Use an Air Compressor?

Follow these simple steps to use your air compressor safely and efficiently:

  1. Check the oil level: For oil-filled compressors, check that the oil level reaches about ⅔ of the way up the dipstick.
  2. Prepare the compressor: Attach hoses, plug into a grounded outlet, check the drain valve and flip the power switch.
  3. Adjust the pressure regulator: Set the pressure to match the level your air tool requires.
  4. Operate your device: The tank will refill as you use your tool.
  5. Complete proper cleanup: Turn off the compressor to drain the pressure and open the air tank drain valve to clear out condensation.

What Does an Air Compressor Do?

Air compressors provide compressed air for applications such as filling gas cylinders with high-pressure clean air, providing pressurized clean air for operating pneumatic HVAC systems or tools, filling tires and a wide variety of other applications across industries like automotive, medical, food and beverage, petroleum, pharmaceutical and more.

What Do You Use an Air Compressor For?

Air compressors can be used for many personal and professional applications. A few at-home uses include:

  • Blowing up balloons
  • Pumping up tires for bikes and vehicles
  • Inflating pool accessories and air mattresses
  • Refilling deflated sports equipment
  • Pressure washing
  • Powering tools for sanding, polishing and other types of crafting
  • Painting with an airbrush or sprayer

Many businesses rely on air compressors to accomplish work safely and efficiently. Some industries that use compressors include:

  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Automobiles
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Food and beverage
  • Dental and medical
  • Construction

How Much Is an Air Compressor?

Air compressors can cost anywhere from $125 to $2,000. The price of an air compressor depends on many factors, including:

  • PSI and CFM: Pounds per square inch (PSI) measures how much force an air compressor has, while cubic feet per minute (CFM) measures the flow.
  • Duty cycle: This percentage indicates how long the compressor can provide air during a cycle.
  • Life span: Compressors can last between 15,000 to 60,000 hours, depending on their use and size.

The type of compressor you need and how much you will pay for it will depend on your industry or personal needs.

How Often Do I Need to Change the Oil in My Air Compressor?

If you have a lubricated reciprocating, rotary screw or rotary vane air compressor, you’ll need to change the oil from time to time to keep it working properly. The recommended schedule is generally three months, subject to the manufacturer’s recommendation. For a rotary screw compressor, you’ll want to change the oil every 4,000 to 8,000 hours depending on the type of oil employed.

Do Air Compressors Run Out of Air?

If you run a regular duty cycle with an appropriate load, you will always have the air you need. As you use your tool, the pressure switch will detect the drop in pressure and start the compressor. Once the tank has refilled to the preselected pressure point, the compressor will shut off. The pressure switch will manage this function throughout the time you’re using an air tool.

If you attach a tool with an air requirement that is too great for the tank, you run the risk of emptying your air tank and having to wait for the compressor to refill it to a usable level. Always check your air compressor’s capabilities and your tool’s required pressure before connecting them.

Do I Need an Air Dryer in Addition to My Air Compressor?

It’s often a good value for you to add an air dryer to your air compressor system, as your air compressor can put a great deal of water into the compressed air system. Your air dryer could potentially remove gallons of water each day.

How Do I Control Contaminants in My Compressed Air System?

It’s important to have an effective air filtration system to keep your compressed air clean. The Titus Company can provide you with all the air filters you need to help keep your compressed air clean.

How Often Do I Need to Replace My Air Intake Filter?

Air compressors with air intake filters need to be cleaned weekly. If your filter has built up so much debris that you can’t get it completely clean, or the filter is torn, you should replace it right away.

How Do I Control the Dew Point of My Compressed Air System?

If you’re worried about hitting the dew point, a quality air dryer should be the solution.

What Is the Correct Voltage for My Air Compressor?

Usually, 110 volts is sufficient for a small compressor. Larger compressors may take as much as 460 volts.

How Do I Drain the Water From My Tank?

You can drain your tank water manually or purchase an automatic drain valve to remove the water automatically. If water is becoming a big problem, consider investing in a more appropriately-sized air dryer.

What Is the Right Type of Hose for My Air Compressor?

It depends on the air compressor, but typically, they take a 1/4” or 3/8” hose. Your The Titus Company professional can help you match the right hose to your compressor.

Do I Need a Reciprocating Compressor or a Rotary Screw Compressor?

For most applications, a reciprocating compressor is sufficient. If you need a compressor that runs continuously day and night, you need a rotary screw compressor.