5 Common Air Compressor Problems

Like all other machines and mechanical systems, air compressors have certain problems that crop up from time to time, but the more it is relied upon, problems may occur far more often, causing frustrations or loss of production. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check on the air compressors routinely. Here are some of the things we frequently encounter when customers call Advanced Air for air compressor service.

1. Failure to Start

Trying to start an industrial air compressor and having nothing happen creates a unique form of anxiety. Once that passes, it’s time to try to figure out what’s causing this unresponsiveness.

Often, an air compressor doesn’t start because it isn’t getting any power. First, do the obvious and make sure that it’s still connected to its power source, that no fuses are popped and that no breakers are tripped. If there’s a reset button on the unit, try hitting it. It is possible if a fuse is popped, or a breaker is tripped or a button needs rest, that there could still be something wrong that needs to be further addressed. However, if you can restore power, you might be able to keep running for some time to stay productive, if you suspect something further maybe wrong or want peace of mind, call Advanced Air and schedule a service call.

Some people find it surprising that compressors won’t start due to pressure, that can be too high or too low. In this case, you may need to adjust or replace the pressure switch or may have mechanical failure with a check valve which trips a compressor under excessive load or in some rotary screw cases, the compressor has an anti-start switch that is triggered if too much pressure is sensed.

If your system doesn’t have enough oil, this can lead to catastrophic failures. Check the oil often, and if it’s low, try putting more in but always make sure the right oil is added, but know that many pumps will need to be replaced if they’ve been run without oil to the point of seizing.

2. Fuses Blow or Breakers Trip when Compressor Tries to Operate

Old motors can draw too much power thanks to worn-out windings, loose wires, and general wear. This can cause enough of an extra load to trip a breaker or blow a fuse.

Improper wire or breaker size can also be the cause of the failure. This causes the compressor’s motor to overheat and create an overload condition at the breaker/fuse box. When installing an air compressor call Advanced Air and we will tell you exactly what size wire and breaker should be installed in any scenario, our air compressor service can even include installing the proper electrical.

3. The Compressor is Far Noisier than it Should Be

Many air compressors are loud, but there are times when they may become far louder from an abnormality. You may hear grinding, banging, or other sounds of mechanical destruction. Sometimes, this can be an easy fix – but also may indicate a costly repair. Don’t throw it away just yet.

First, check for loose parts. If you find any, tighten them. Points of particular interest include the pulley, flywheel, cooler, clamps, belt, nuts/bolts and belt guard.

Check the floor mountings. Examine the vibration pads and the mounting bolts. Replace worn-out pads and tighten loose bolts. If there are no vibration pads, it is highly suggested to have them installed immediately.

If neither of these fix the issue, it may be time to call in Advanced Air. One of the likely causes of noise is a piston or rod issue. Fixing this requires removing the cylinder head, cleaning it, replacing broken parts and gaskets, and then reassembling.

Crankcase issues can also make a lot of noise. In some cases, the crankcase can be refurbished. In other instances, replacing it outright is a better bet.

4. Air Leaks

Leaks in compressed air piping rob your system of its power and increase your energy bills massively. If the leaks are bad enough, they can stop the system from reaching the proper compression entirely.

To check for air leaks that may not be obvious, turn off the system and watch the pressure gauge. If the pressure reduces on its own, you have a substantial number of leaks. Another hint that there is a leak is that the compressor comes on more than usual during normal operation.

If you find that there’s a leak, the next thing to do is uncover its source. You can walk around the plant and listen for air hissing out, which is a sure sign of a leak. If you hear it, follow your ears to the source. An alternative is to put soapy water on the fittings and other likely spots and see if it bubbles. If it does, a leak is there.

Finally, every hose assembly only lasts so long, check your hoses often as this is where most leaks are found and replace when found, this will reduce energy, reduce wear and tear on the compressor, reduce maintenance costs, and also provide more safety for those working around the hoses.


5. Excessive Oil or Water in the Discharge Air

Too much oil or water in the compressed air can damage pneumatic tools, equipment and parts, and it can decrease the quality of the products you’re making. Unfortunately, it is a very common problem. There are several possible causes and fixes to consider.

Sometimes, the wrong oil viscosity and an overfilled oil reservoir are common causes of excessive oil in the lines. The importance of a professional routine maintenance program will avoid this from ever happening. It is typical for oil to have to be changed at least once a year and in many cases upwards of a few times a year.

Other problems include filter saturation due to lack of maintenance or not enough filtration. We highly suggest an annual air compressor service plan. Consider Advanced Air to put this contamination problem to bed by providing the right service plan and we have every type of dryer and filter to accommodate any scenario.

Call Advanced Air for Service or Parts

Whether you want to diagnose and fix your own air compressor problems, or you’d rather have certified professionals take care of it, Advanced Air is here for you. We also offer air compressor parts and oil, or filters and dryers , or piping and fittings, and we offer support and instruction for those who are eager enough to handle on their own. Whether you are seeing a common problem or something more unusual, contact Advanced today. We’ll be happy to help.


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