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Reasons Why Your Air Compressor is Not Building Pressure & How to Fix It

Air compressors are essential pieces of equipment in various industries. They provide the much-needed power for tools in manufacturing plants, automotive garages, construction sites, and more. But what happens when your air compressor is not building pressure as it should? Understanding this problem is crucial, as it can drastically impact the function and efficiency of your tools and operations.

Understanding the Basics of Industrial Air Compressors

Before we get to the root of the problem, it’s important to understand how an air compressor works. As the term suggests, an air compressor compresses air into a tank, thereby building pressure. This compressed air can then be used to power various tools and machinery. Here are some of the key components of your air compressor that are important to understand…

  1. Compressor Tank: A storage unit for compressed air, allowing the compressor to cycle less frequently and providing a reserve of air for tools.
  2. Pressure Switch: A switch that automatically starts or stops the compressor when the air pressure in the tank reaches a preset level.
  3. Unloader Valve: Releases trapped air from the compressor head and discharge line when the compressor stops, easing the motor’s startup.
  4. Check Valve: Prevents compressed air from flowing back into the compressor pump from the tank, ensuring one-way flow.
  5. Safety Valve: A safety device that automatically releases air if the pressure in the tank exceeds safe levels to prevent explosions.
  6. Pressure Regulator: Adjusts the air pressure coming from the tank to a consistent, lower pressure level for tools.
  7. Bleed Valve: Allows manual release of air from the tank to reduce pressure or drain moisture.
  8. Tank Valve: A valve typically at the bottom of the tank used for draining condensation or the tank itself.
  9. Tank Pressure Gauge: Gauge displays the current air pressure inside the compressor tank.
  10. Relief Valve: Similar to the safety valve, it’s designed to release excess pressure from the tank or system to avoid over-pressurization.

So What Might Be Causing Issues With Insufficient Pressure?

Signs of a compressor not building pressure could include:

  1. Compressor runs continuously without stopping
  2. Low pressure on the gauge
  3. High-pressure fluctuations
  4. Excess oil carryover 
  5. Noticeable air leaks

While these are some general issues, the actual problem may differ based on specific use cases and the specific model of the air compressor. It’s always recommended to get a professional to examine the problem, ensuring the correct diagnosis and a safe solution.

Why Your Air Compressor Is Not Building Pressure: How to Diagnose and Fix the Problem

Now that we know the components at play and the possible issues, how do you go about diagnosing the problem?

You need to be observant and careful as you proceed with these checks and fixes – always prioritize safety while handling machinery. While professional assistance is recommended, you can perform these simple checks to gain a better understanding of the problem.

5 common reasons air compressor is not building pressure.

Listen Carefully for Leaks & Seal Them

Problem: The first step is to check for any air leaking out of the compressor tank. Start the compressor and listen for resulting sounds. An air leak will be accompanied by a characteristic hissing or whistling noise. Use your hand around the air line and connection points to see if you feel any air escaping. You can also use a bit of soapy water applied on the suspected leak points. If bubbles appear, you’ve got a leak.

Solution: If air leaks are identified in the air line or connection points, they can be sealed using a variety of methods depending on the size and location of the leak. This could involve tightening a connection or applying a sealant. Be sure to take the compressor out of service and depressurize it before attempting any repair.

Pressure Switch & Unloader Valve Testing and How to Fix

Problem: The pressure switch is typically found close to the compressor motor and is connected to the air line. To test the pressure switch, watch the compressor when it cycles. If it’s not cycling off when it reaches cut-out pressure, there is likely an issue with the pressure switch. On the other hand, if the compressor isn’t reliably starting up again when the tank pressure drops, the issue can be with the unloader valve.

Solution: If you’ve identified a problem with the pressure switch, correcting the cut-in and cut-out pressure as per the manufacturer’s recommendations can help restore the correct compressor cycling. If the issue is with the unloader valve, this part likely needs to be replaced.

Issues with the Reed Valve & Check Valve and How to Fix Them

Problem: You might need to dismantle a portion of your compressor to get to the reed valves. If the reeds are damaged, broken, or not seated correctly, they can negatively affect the compressor’s ability to build air pressure. The next step is to inspect the check valve which is located on the outlet of the air compressor. A functioning check valve is crucial to maintain air pressure in the air tank. If air escapes back into the pump via a faulty check valve, you will have a hard time building air pressure.

Solution: Depending on the issue and the specific valve – unloader valve, check valve, reed valves – the valve may need to be cleaned, adjusted, or replaced. Before attempting any such repairs, make sure to consult with the manufacturer’s guide or contact a professional from Advanced Air & Vacuum to avoid any risks.

Other Components of the Air Compressor to Monitor

Checking the Power Supply: If your compressor motor is struggling to maintain or reach the required PSI, it could be due to a lack of proper power. Ensure that the power supply is not interrupted or restricted in any way. You might want to consult a qualified electrician for this check.

Cleaning the Air Line: Debris or build-up within the air line can restrict the airflow and affect the pressure. Cleaning or replacing the air line can help improve the pressure. This should be done with care and proper tools to avoid any risk of damaging the air line.

While these checks may seem simple, remember that they require careful execution and might involve manipulating parts of your compressor machinery that you are unfamiliar with. The safest and most effective way to deal with air compressor pressure problems is always to call the professionals.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance in Preventing Air Compressor Issues

We’ve walked through the ins and outs of why an air compressor might fail to build pressure and how to diagnose and fix this issue. But what if we could prevent these hassles from happening in the first place? That’s where routine maintenance comes in.

Air compressor maintenance in action.

The Benefits of Professional Maintenance

Programming regular checks and maintenance for your air compressor has many benefits and is a surefire way to extend its lifecycle. Not only does it prevent sudden and expensive failures, but it also ensures optimal performance and can save you unnecessary expenses in the long run. So, let’s see how we can shield your air compressor from such issues:

Adjusting the Pressure Switch: We will ensure that your pressure switch is maintained and adjusted as per manufacturer recommendations. This regular check helps keep your compressor cycles optimal and extends the lifespan of the compressor.

Checking Valves: We will regularly inspect and clean valves including the unloader valve, check valve, and reed valves. If any damage is spotted, we can replace the valves promptly to prevent them from acting up during compressor operation.

Cleaning the Air Dryer: Your compressor pulls in air along with moisture which it separates with the air dryer. Our experts will ensure regular cleaning of the air dryer and if necessary, replace the moisture separators and air filters.

Regular Compressor Cleaning: A clean compressor runs better. We will regularly clean the exterior, motor fins, and any open coolers to ensure that the system runs cool and performs optimally.

Professional Air Compressor Services From Advanced Air & Vacuum

Our maintenance services at Advanced Air & Vacuum are designed to ensure that your industrial air compressor runs perfectly, providing you with maximum efficiency and longevity. We handle all the above tasks and more, using our professional approach to ensure that your air compressor functions like a well-oiled machine.

But our services do not stop there! We also specialize in the installation of new compressors and repair of broken air compressors. Our expert team’s careful attention can quickly and safely rectify the issue, no matter what it is.

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What is Air Compressor Oil? Advanced Air Explains

Air compressors are the unsung heroes of many industries. Whether it’s powering tools in a workshop or playing a crucial role in large-scale manufacturing processes, these machines are everywhere, yet often unnoticed. But at the core of each air compressor lies its heart: the oil. This vital component ensures smooth operation, keeps things cool, and extends the life of the machine. But what exactly is air compressor oil? And why is it so critical? In simple terms, air compressor oil serves as the lifeblood for the machine. Much like how motor oil is essential for an automobile engine, compressor oil ensures the air compressor runs efficiently and lasts longer. It provides necessary lubrication to the moving parts, keeps the compressor cool during operation, and can even help in sealing and preventing corrosion. To truly grasp the significance of air compressor oil, we must dive deeper into its mechanics, types, and best practices.

The Science Behind Air Compressor Oil: Why It’s Essential

The efficiency of air compressors rest on the seamless interplay of numerous components, with compressor oil being the linchpin. But what makes this oil so indispensable? At its essence, an air compressor works by compressing air—a task that seems simple yet involves countless moving parts vulnerable to wear. Compressor oils, be they synthetic, motor, or mineral-based, serve as lubricants for these parts. This lubrication ensures the machine operates without hitches, minimizing friction and potential malfunctions. Another crucial role of the compressor oil is as a cooling agent. As they function, especially in industrial contexts, compressors generate substantial heat. The unique properties of the oil assist in dissipating this intense heat, ensuring the equipment doesn’t overheat and consistently runs at peak efficiency.  It’s worth noting, however, that not all compressors utilize oil. There are oil-free compressors designed for scenarios where impeccably clean compressed air is vital. But in many industrial environments, oil-lubricated compressors reign supreme. Equipped with tools like oil and water separators, these machines are renowned for their resilience and suitability for rigorous tasks. Clean compressed air is a non-negotiable, particularly in certain industrial operations. This is where the oil, paired with devices like oil separators and air filters, becomes invaluable. It captures and eliminates contaminants, guaranteeing that the discharged compressed air is of unparalleled purity. Furthermore, the oil acts as a protector. Air compressor systems, laden with metal parts, are prone to corrosion over time. By enveloping these components, the oil defends them against moisture and possible corrosion, thereby extending the compressor’s longevity.

Types of Air Compressor Oil

Given the diverse array of compressors and their unique requirements, it’s vital to make informed choices to ensure optimal performance. Below, we’ll dive into the different types of air compressor oils, their distinct characteristics, and best-fit applications.

  1. Synthetic Oil: Derived from a synthetic base, synthetic oil is the pinnacle of advanced engineering. It’s tailored for extreme conditions and offers superior protection against wear, rust, and oxidation. With its high resistance to extreme heat and ability to maintain viscosity in varying temperatures, it’s a popular choice for rotary screw air compressors and those used in high-demand environments.

  2. Mineral Oil: Extracted from natural sources, mineral oil has been the traditional choice for several decades. It’s best suited for general-purpose applications and offers a balance between performance and cost. While it might not boast the extended lifespan of synthetic oils, it’s reliable for routine applications, especially in stationary compressors.

  3. Hydraulic Oil: Although primarily designed for hydraulic systems, hydraulic oil can sometimes be used in air compressors, especially those designed for industrial applications. Its superior anti-wear properties and ability to handle high pressures make it a feasible choice in specific compressor settings.

  4. Standard Oil: This is the general-purpose oil that’s often recommended by manufacturers for a broad range of air compressor systems. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial here. Using standard oil in systems that require specialized oil can hinder performance and reduce the life span of the compressor element.

  5. Special Mention – Oil-Free Compressors: As touched upon earlier, there are compressors designed to function without oil. These oil-free air compressors, often found in medical or food industries, rely on materials like Teflon for lubrication. While they ensure absolutely pure compressed air, their maintenance and life span might differ from their oil-lubricated counterparts.

By understanding the nuances of different oils and their applications, you’re not just ensuring your compressor’s efficient operation but also safeguarding a significant investment.

Oil refinery. Air compressor oil tank.

How to Choose the Right Air Compressor Oil

Selecting the right oil for an air compressor isn’t as straightforward as one might presume. Given the diverse array of compressors and their unique requirements, it’s vital to make informed choices to ensure optimal performance. While it’s tempting to opt for the most advanced or the most economical option available, it’s paramount to consider the specific requirements of your air compressor.  For instance, rotary screw air compressors may benefit more from synthetic oil due to their continuous operation, while a portable compressor might do just fine with mineral oil. Another factor to consider is the environment. Extreme conditions, such as very high or low temperatures, may necessitate specialized oils.

Best Practices for Maintaining Your Air Compressor’s Oil System

An air compressor is a significant investment, both in terms of finance and its pivotal role in operations. Therefore, ensuring it runs efficiently and lasts long is essential. A lot of that comes down to the oil system’s proper maintenance. Let’s uncover some best practices and maintenance guidelines for your compressor’s oil system.

  1. Checking the Oil Level: Much like checking your car’s engine oil, regularly inspecting the oil level in your air compressor is crucial. A dipstick or sight glass is typically available for this purpose. Ensuring that the oil level is maintained within the recommended range guarantees optimal lubrication without risking any overflows.

  2. Oil Change Intervals: Depending on the type of oil you use—be it synthetic oil, mineral oil, or hydraulic oil—change intervals will vary. For instance, synthetic oil might offer a longer interval compared to mineral oil. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for accurate intervals, and be consistent with oil changes to ensure longevity and optimal performance.
  3. Monitoring Oil Quality: Oil doesn’t just lubricate but also traps contaminants. Over time, this can degrade its quality. Regularly inspect the oil for any signs of contamination, including darkening or the presence of particles. Any deterioration in quality might necessitate an earlier oil change.

  4. Oil Filters and Separators: Oil filters and separators play an integral role in ensuring the purity of both the oil and the compressed air. These components need routine maintenance. Regularly checking and replacing filters can prevent excessive wear and tear and uphold the quality of compressed air.

  5. Avoiding Oil Carryover: Excessive oil in the compressed air, known as oil carryover, can be detrimental. It can degrade the quality of the compressed air and lead to potential downstream issues. Regular maintenance, adhering to oil level recommendations, and ensuring the use of quality oil separators can mitigate this issue.

  6. Understanding Oil-Free Systems: For oil-free air compressors, while you don’t have to worry about oil changes, you should be vigilant about the wear of the components. Periodic checks for signs of wear or any inefficiencies are essential.

  7. General Guidelines for Maintenance: Beyond just the oil system, ensure your air compressor undergoes routine maintenance. Check for any leaks, inspect air filters, and monitor energy consumption. Regular servicing can detect potential issues early on, reducing maintenance costs in the long run.

  8. Consultation with Experts: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to maintenance. Depending on your operational demands, environment, and the specific model of your air compressor, maintenance requirements can vary. This is where the insights from experts, like the team at Advanced Air & Vacuum, can be invaluable.

To sum it up, while selecting the right oil is vital, it’s just the beginning. Ensuring a consistent maintenance regime amplifies the benefits of that choice, granting your air compressor a long and efficient life. In our final section, we’ll delve into the broader picture, exploring the overarching benefits of investing in quality and maintenance in the realm of compressed air systems.


Operator recording routine operation oil check.

Benefits of Investing in Maintenance for Air Compressors

Investing wisely in air compressors entails more than just an initial purchase; it encompasses a commitment to quality and consistent maintenance. High-grade compressor oil paired with regular maintenance can substantially extend your equipment’s lifespan, ensuring smooth, energy-efficient operations. These proactive measures not only avert expensive breakdowns, minimizing maintenance costs but also guarantee the production of high caliber compressed air vital for many industries. Furthermore, it bolsters safety, ensuring compliance with industry standards. Downtimes can be detrimental to a business’s revenue and reputation. By emphasizing quality and regular upkeep, businesses can establish themselves as reliable industry players. Collaborating with experts like Advanced Air & Vacuum provides an added advantage, granting access to unparalleled advice and support. In essence, delving into the world of air compressors with an emphasis on quality is an investment in future success. Click here to contact the AAV team today.

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Case Studies

How Electric Motor Rewinding Helps Revive your Motor

Have you ever experienced motor failure at the most inconvenient time? Of course, who hasn’t? Whether it’s in your commercial HVAC system, on the factory floor, or even at home, a malfunctioning motor can bring life to a screeching halt. Now, what if we told you that there’s a way to bring that seemingly dead motor back to life? Intriguing, right? Welcome to the world of electric motor rewinding. Electric motor rewinding is not just a revival tactic; it’s also a strategy that can save significant costs. Picture this: instead of investing a hefty sum in a brand new motor, you could restore the functionality of your current one. This approach is often quicker and certainly more cost-efficient. It’s akin to replacing the heart of the motor while preserving the body. However, not all motor repair services are created equal. Choosing a reliable and experienced company for motor rewinding can mean the difference between motor efficiency, and having a motor that merely limps along. That’s where we come in. With years of expertise in the field, our team at Advanced Air & Vacuum (AAV) is here to guide you through the world of electric motor rewinds. As we dive into the specifics of how a successful rewind can breathe new life into your motor, you’ll discover our commitment to quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. So, let’s switch gears and get into the details of electric motor winding. 

Understanding Motor Rewinding

Let’s illuminate the somewhat mystical concept of motor rewinding. At its core, motor winding—whether it’s a phase motor or DC motor—refers to the process of replacing the copper coil or ‘motor coils’ inside the motor terminal—a coil which, when energized, forms the motor’s magnetic field and generates its power. Over time, this coil may suffer faults or thermal deterioration, necessitating a rewind.

So, why does a motor require rewinding? It could be due to several reasons: the motor could have failed due to overloaded conditions, aging, or an unfortunate voltage surge. In such cases, the internal coil winding, or ‘faulty winding’, may burn out or become damaged, compromising the motor’s performance. Thermal deterioration is also a common enemy of motor longevity. Heat can degrade the insulation around the wire winding, leading to internal short circuits. In each of these scenarios, a motor rewind or electric motor repair can rectify the issue, effectively giving your motor a new lease on life.

Diving into the nitty-gritty of the process, the motor rewind involves several key components: the core material or ‘stator core’, insulation resistance, and the magnetic field, which is a critical component. First, the old, damaged coil is carefully removed, and the stator core is inspected and repaired if necessary. A ‘new winding’ is then wound onto the core, and high-quality insulation is applied to resist heat and prevent electrical failures. The focus is to maintain the motor’s original magnetic field characteristics, ensuring its performance, even at a higher speed, is not diminished after the rewind. With variable frequency drive, this might sound straightforward, it requires a keen understanding of the motor’s specifications and meticulous execution.

Best practices in motor rewinding involve the correct selection of wire gauge, precise winding techniques, and the use of high-quality insulation material. All these steps play a crucial role in ensuring the rewound motor works efficiently and maintains its longevity. This is why the skills of the repair technician are paramount. An experienced technician understands the intricate details of motor design and can perform the rewind to meet, or even exceed, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications. In the next section, we will explore the tangible benefits that come with choosing motor rewinding over buying a new one. Stay tuned!

Benefits of Electric Motor Rewinding

Now that we have unveiled the mechanics behind electrical motor rewinding, let’s switch our focus to its array of benefits. Opting for motor rewinding, instead of purchasing a new one, presents a multitude of advantages, chief among them being significant cost savings. A rewind is typically a fraction of the cost of a new motor. Just think of it in terms of a heart transplant – it’s far more cost-effective to replace the heart than the entire body. The same principle applies here. By replacing only the damaged winding head or the ‘faulty winding’ and leaving the motor body intact, you are effectively saving on the costs associated with manufacturing and installing a completely new motor. But the benefits aren’t purely financial.

Motor rewinding also makes a substantial contribution towards environmental sustainability. In a world where reducing carbon emissions and waste is a top priority, motor rewinding offers an eco-friendlier option than replacing the entire motor. When you choose to rewind, you’re saving the bulk of the motor from landing in a landfill. Additionally, the energy consumed in producing a new motor far exceeds that used in the rewinding process. A rewind can also preserve the unique qualities of your motor. Many motors in service today are older models, built with a level of craftsmanship and materials that simply can’t be replicated with modern manufacturing techniques. In such cases, a rewind allows you to maintain the motor’s original robustness and reliability. It’s essential, however, to remember that the success of a rewind largely depends on the skills of the repair technician and the quality of the materials used. Remember, unequal voltage and temperature can affect the performance of a ‘permanent magnet’ motor. In the next section, we’ll introduce you to a team that guarantees quality rewinds – the experts at Advanced Air & Vacuum. 

The Advanced Air & Vacuum Advantage

When it comes to motor rewinding, Advanced Air & Vacuum (AAV) stands as a beacon of excellence and reliability. As specialists in motor repairs and services, we’re committed to providing superior service, high-quality materials, and expert craftsmanship that ensures your rewound motor runs smoothly and efficiently. AAV is not just any service center; we’re a team of dedicated experts specializing in air compressors, vacuum pumps, and, of course, motor rewinding.

With years of experience under our belts, we’ve fine-tuned our skills to tackle any repair or rewind job, big or small, simple or complex. But what really sets us apart is our authorized service center status for leading brands. This stamp of approval not only represents the trust placed in us by industry giants, but it also reflects our commitment to staying current with the latest industry trends and technical advancements. Our technicians are regularly trained and updated with the latest practices, ensuring that every motor rewind meets or surpasses original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards.

Our focus extends beyond just providing a service; we’re also committed to customer education and satisfaction. We believe in transparent communication and keeping our customers informed at every stage of the process. It’s part of our goal to build strong, long-term relationships based on trust, integrity, and mutual respect. So, if you’re in need of motor repair services, and particularly motor rewinding, remember that AAV is ready and equipped to offer superior service. In the next section, we’ll wrap up the discussion and outline the steps to take if you decide to give your motor a new lease on life through rewinding.

Electric motor rewinding is a smart, cost-effective, and sustainable solution for dealing with motor failures or deteriorations. It breathes new life into your motor, preserving its unique qualities, and reducing waste. However, the success of a motor rewind largely hinges on the skills of the technician and the quality of the materials used.

This is where Advanced Air & Vacuum steps in. As a trusted and authorized service center for many leading brands, our expertise in motor rewinding is unrivaled. We’re not just here to offer a service; we’re committed to providing a superior customer experience, characterized by transparency, education, and satisfaction. Don’t let a malfunctioning motor slow you down. Whether it’s an air compressor, vacuum pump, or another type of motor, reach out to us at AAV. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to give your motor a new lease on life. Contact AAV today for more information!

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CFM Vs SCFM: What’s the Difference?

When you’re searching for an air compressor, you may see a couple of different terms used to measure air flow rate, specifically CFM and SCFM. Though they’re somewhat similar, one is based on actual cubic feet at actual conditions, while the other is measured in standard cubic feet, which requires a standard condition of standard barometric pressure at a specific actual temperature and humidity. This can make a strong difference if you’re at high altitudes, have a different relative humidity, or are at a different ambient temperature.

In some situations, such as using high-demand equipment, scientific equipment, or precision equipment, these readings make a big difference in how much mass flow your air compressor receives, impacting CFM available in your pressurized air lines. In this post, we’ll get into the details of the differences between these two types of measurements, what each one will entail, and how they are calculated in case it’s important to your work.

What is SCFM?

SCFM stands for standard cubic feet per minute, a measurement of airflow at a standard temperature, standard atmospheric pressure, and standard humidity. Because these conditions are carefully controlled, they produce a very precise reading of the volumetric flow rate of an air compressor. For this reason, this calculation uses the same formula for both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) standards across different industries.

The requirements for SCFM rating are as follows, with usual United States units (non-SI units) listed first:

  • Absolute pressure of 14.7 PSI or 1 Atmosphere
  • Air temperature of 68 degrees F, or 20 degrees C
  • 36% humidity

Here’s the actual (complicated) formula to calculate your standard mass flow rate:

SCFM=CFM/(Ear*(T*458.67)/Ts)

As it requires you to know the expanded air ratio (Ear) from a table, it’s probably best to use an online calculator unless you want to get really crazy with the math. Ts stands for standard temperature, or 68 degrees F.

This is especially helpful to calculate when you’re looking at compressed air systems that are basing their CFM on very different conditions than what you may be using it at. As an example, you may get a very different actual CFM if you have a high elevation with lower pressure, have very dry conditions that lower your humidity (we see you, Sonora Dessert!), or extreme temperature differences, such as Phoenix’s summer temperatures where you could fry an egg on your vehicle hood. In these situations, you may find yourself going over your duty cycle due to issues with air density,

In these conditions, knowing the SCFM allows you to calculate the kind of actual CFM that you’re likely to get out of a compressor at your location. When you have an air tool that is more dependent on the volume of air rather than the pressure per square inch, this is a very important differentiator. What are these air tools? Paint sprayers, sand blasters, powder coating guns, and similar pneumatic tools that expend air volume constantly while doing their job often require a specific volume of air flow to get the job done. If you’ve purchased an air compressor in areas with different ambient conditions than standard, you may discover that your air consumption may not keep up with your demand

However, if you use tools in a standard air-conditioned environment closer to sea level where you’ll have a higher pressure, the actual quantity of air that flows through your system will be fairly close whether you use an SCFM or CFM value, so you may not get as much difference in this type of controlled environment. If this is the case, and you’re exceeding your duty cycle because the compressor is having to work too hard to reach your working pressure, the addition of a centrifugal fan or other option to increase air flow can help increase your inlet cubic feet or inlet CFM without having to buy a new air compressor.

What is CFM?

CFM is the standard flow rate that you’ll receive in your local conditions. This is important because it can be dramatically different than SCFM based on the differences in static pressure, temperature, and humidity mentioned above, based on where your unit is tested versus your location. Being able to calculate the difference allows you to determine what kind of adaptations you’ll need to make to meet your CFM requirements at your pneumatic tools.

CFM is a measurement of inlet cubic feet per minute, or how much air density your air compressor can take in per minute, calculated using your actual temperature and actual pressure. As an example of why this is important, 1 CFM at standard conditions used at 100 PSI will equal 0.947 CFM at 3,000 feet, 0.912 CFM at 5,000 feet, 0.868 CFM at 7,500 feet, and .824 CFM at 10,000 feet of elevation, making a big difference in how much air volume your system is actually taking in to use.

This allows you to determine how much air your air compressor is taking in to determine how much it can put out to your air tools. Here’s how to calculate it:

CFM = SCFM × (14.7 psi ÷ actual pressure ) × (actual temperature + 459.67) ÷ (68°F + 459.67)

Calculating CFM is fairly straightforward as compared to calculating SCFM, so if you’d prefer to just work it out on your phone’s calculator, it’s very easy to manage. For this reason, unless you’re in extreme conditions that require you to use SCFM or you need very precise measurements, CFM will usually work fine.

Differences between SCFM and CFM

The main difference between these two systems of pressure measurement at the air compressor inlet is based on the conditions in which the measurement is taken. If you expect to be using your air compressor in an air-conditioned environment with perfect humidity at sea level with fairly stable barometric pressure, you’ll probably have very similar readings, which means that you won’t have to adapt to differences between them.

However, if you’re in very hot conditions, at a high elevation, or in very humid conditions, your CFM may be impacted from what it was originally anticipated to produce. Heat tends to make air thinner, as the molecules in the air become more excited and bounce off each other more frequently, causing them to spread out more and lower the pressure. Elevation tends to thin the air, so both of these conditions (heat and elevation) tend to lower pressure. Humidity can add a little bulk to the air, which is removed when it passes through an air dryer on the way to the lines, unless the air is dried before your system takes the air in. However, humidity’s impact tends to be lower than the other two factors.

If you’re working with very sensitive tools that have a narrow range of air flow or are in extreme environments, determining the actual CFM will give you a better idea of how those tools will perform in your environment, and will allow you to make adaptations to your system, if needed, or to select a system that will meet your needs at your conditions.

By comparison, using the SCFM that is calculated tends to work better if you’re in a more standard environment or are working with tools that have a broader range of working air flows, because a slight change in air flow at the inlet in actual cubic feet won’t impact your operation as dramatically. In these situations, SCFM and actual CFM are close enough that the difference shouldn’t impact your needs.

However, SCFM is often used extensively in scientific research, pharmaceutical production, or other high-precision needs. In these situations, setting an exact SCFM on your equipment helps to ensure that you’re getting regular, consistent results that can be reproduced exactly if needed. In these situations, the difference between CFM and SCFM can make a big difference in results, so using a standard measurement makes it easier to get the same results in each batch of work over time.

Trust the Experts of Advanced Air & Vacuum

By understanding the differences between actual CFM and SCFM, you have a better grasp of why each type of measurement is important, and how it may impact your final decision in selecting equipment for your compressed air system, as well as the final system design. You’ve also gained the knowledge to determine which type of reading should be used in which situations, making it easier to make a smarter choice when it matters most.

At Advanced Air & Vacuum, we understand the very important difference between these readings and are able to help you find the right equipment for the conditions at your specific location. That’s just one of the reasons why you’ll want to contact us for all of your air compressorvacuumpumpelectric motor, and air compressor piping needs. Why not take a moment to contact AAV today?

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Blog

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need? An Informational Guide

When you’re considering purchase an air compressor, it’s important to know how to select the right size for your needs. An industrial air compressor which is too large may require a larger investment than you’re comfortable with, while one that is too small may exceed its duty cycle while trying to keep up with your rate of use.

However, there are several factors you’ll need to to consider when you’re selecting the right air compressor for your pneumatic tool selection so that you can maintain an appropriate flow of cubic feet per minute, air pressure in terms of pounds of pressure per square inch, and similar concerns. Do you need a larger tank, a portable air compressor for construction or mobile use, rotary screw compressors designed to run continuously?

In this article, we’ll look over all of the basic differences in air compressors, air tool types, tank size, and other factors that may impact your selection when choosing an air compressor for industrial applications. Whether you need something portable with a smaller compressor tank to run an impact wrench on your tow truck or something with a storage tank that can handle the compressed air volume demanded by larger tools, you’ll be able to make a smarter decision after reading this guide.

CFM vs. PSI

Let’s start with some basic measurements that are used with a gas or electric air compressor. The CFM rating has to do with how much air the air compressor is able to move over the course of a minute in terms of cubic feet of air at a particular pressure. This has to do with high-demand air tools that have a higher CFM requirement to ensure that they work properly, such as a paint sprayer or sandblaster.

By comparison, PSI refers to pounds per square inch, a measurement of pressure that is needed. Though high CFM tools may require more airflow, other tools may require a higher pressure to get the job done, such as a finish nailer set to 90 PSI to drive a nail into a hard piece of trim on construction sites. Because it only uses the air intermittently instead of continuously, it’s okay if it has a smaller tank, provided that it can reach the higher pressure needed for the air-powered tool to get the job done.

These factors can impact how your air compressor will work with your pneumatic tools. Smaller models with an electric motor may work well for most home garage or tire inflator needs, but mobile units or larger horsepower motors may require a different power supply to operate effectively, which can also impact your overall performance and installation process. For this reason, it’s important to consider not only the tank size when considering the size compressor that you need, but also the purpose you’ll put your electric compressor to in the course of operation.

Types of Air Tools

Let’s start by looking at the types of tools that are used and whether they are considered high-demand or low-demand air tools. High demand tools tend to vent the air to the atmosphere while in operations, such as a paint sprayer, sandblaster, powder coater, or texture gun. This is because the air that is released from a larger compressor with a higher tank capacity pushes the material out as it exits the air tool on a continuous basis, causing it to be used up in a higher number of cubic feet per minute.

Low-demand air tools, by comparison, may use a bit of air at a time, but it’s not as continuous. In these cases, such as a brad nailer, roofing nailer, or similar air tool, the air is only expressed a little at a time, because the air is used to drive one nail at a time, limiting how much air is exiting the system from a pancake compressor or other small compressor that is capable of reaching a higher pressure.

These different levels of demand create specific requirements when selecting an air tool. For painting or other high-demand use, you may require a stationary compressor or a rotary screw compressor that can provide a constant, large volume of air for your tools. By comparison, low-demand air tools may require a higher PSI, making a dual-stage compressor a better option because it can build a higher pressure while using a tank that has smaller physical dimensions.

Tank Size

Tank size is typically measured in terms of gallons, with seven gallons equaling a cubic foot. However, it’s important to understand that a seven-gallon tank is capable of delivering much more than one cubic foot of air per minute at sea level pressure. Because the air is compressed, your tank will hold much more air than you may expect, because it is at a higher pressure.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to make sure that the air compressor that you’re considering can deliver both the PSI and the CFM that you need for your tools to work effectively. As an example, a pancake compressor may be capable of delivering the CFM that you need but may exceed its duty cycle due to the small physical dimensions of the tank causing it to constantly run to refill it. If in doubt, always go up in tank size to allow for future growth.

Selecting the Right Size Air Compressor

Most air tools will have a specific minimum requirement for PSI, with high-demand air tools also having a specific CFM requirement. Trying to operate air tools without sufficient pressure or air flow will be very frustrating and can cause early failure of the air compressor due to cycling beyond its rated duty cycle. This type of operation can cause your air compressor to fail prematurely, costing your company a lot of money to replace it when you could have been using a slightly more expensive, larger capacity air compressor for many more years into the future.

To calculate the minimum CFM and PSI needed, determine the total needs of the tools you’ll expect use simultaneously on that system. For stations where your employees switch between tools, calculate based on the highest-use tools for each station. Add these together to determine the minimum CFM and PSI for your air compressor, then add a buffer for flexibility in the future. Don’t worry about changing out your air compressor every time that you upgrade your tool sets or add to your company’s operation!

Similarly, you’ll need to determine your tank size based on CFM needs with a buffer for low-demand tools in use at the same time. If in doubt, go with a larger tank size to meet your company’s needs without having to change your compressor in the future. In some cases, an air compressor with a three-phase power source or a rotary screw compressor may be needed to keep up with high-demand systems, making it easier for you to expand your business quickly without the added expense of a new air compressor.

If your company will be upgrading your existing tools, it’s important to include those tools in your calculations so that you don’t have to replace your air compressor as soon as you’ve added new tools to your system. No matter what type of air compressor you select, making sure that it provides at least some additional capability allows you to get more use out of your system long into the future, despite slight shifts in demand and changing needs in your business.

Shop Advanced Air & Vacuum for all your Air Compressor needs!

By selecting the proper air compressor for your company’s business, you’ll be able to not only meet, but also expand your business in the future without the expense and trouble of upgrading your air compressor at the same time. Selling air compressors of all sizes, CFM airflow and PSI pressures, Advanced Air & Vacuum has exactly what you need to keep your operation running effectively, including:

  • Large Storage Tank Capacity: Available in single and three phase power sources, the Advanced 10 HP Horizontal Air Compressor has a huge 120-gallon tank capacity.
  • Dual-Stage Compressors: The Quincy QT-54 allows you to reach higher pressures with dual-stage compression, while taking up less shop space with a vertical layout.
  • Rotary Screw Compressors: In addition to simpler configurations, our selection of Atlas air compressors exceed 30 HP, providing plenty of air flow for high-demand tools.
  • Portable Air Compressors: For the home garage, the Quincy Q12120P provides the perfect combination of professional performance and easy portability.

We also provide a range of industrial air compressor rentals, which includes oil free rental air compressor options.  If you’re wanting to try a system out before you make your purchase, we offer vacuum pump and hose rentals, too.  If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, we’re happy to help you find the perfect air compressor for your needs, all with a simple phone call. Please feel free to contact us today with any questions, for more information, or to get a quote on your next compressed air system.

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How to Adjust an Air Compressor Pressure Switch

Your electric air compressor is designed to operate within specific air pressure ranges, with pre-set cut-in pressure and cut-out pressure setting options. For the most part, operating within this range, especially the cut-out pressure setting, is the best way to operate your air compressor. This is especially important when you’re considering adjusting the higher pressure end of your switch, because the rest of the system may not be rated to higher pressures and turning up the pressure can damage it if the rising pressure doesn’t trip a faulty safety valve and tank pressure gets too high. At Advanced Air & Vacuum, we always recommend having a professional look at your manufacturing sector air compressor to see what the system will bear, or if any other upgrades would need to happen before pressure switch adjustment takes place.

However, sometimes you have to replace the switch with a new pressure switch that has been set to different cut-in pressure and cut-out settings. These settings are the pressure at which your air compressor switch, a mechanical device, will turn on to increase air pressure or turn off when the higher pressure that is set is reached. Similarly, you may need to adjust the breadth of the pressure range in which your air compressor will operate. In this situation, being able to adjust your air compressor switch is an important part of operations.

This is a different process than changing the line pressure for your system and should not be confused. It’s much simpler to change your system’s line pressure, where a pressure regulator is adjusted to adapt the pressure in your feed lines that go to your tools. In this article, we’ll take a look at the steps that are taken when you are adjusting your air compressor’s pressure settings at the switch, including appropriate safety precautions to take to prevent an accident, what kind of tools you’ll need to get the job done, and the steps required to make the changes to your air pressure switch.

Air Compressor Pressure Switch Adjustments: Precautions + Required Tools

Safety Precautions

Air compressors often work on an electrical circuit, which makes it important to take appropriate safety precautions. Because the pressure switch will control the electrical current to the compressor motor, it’s vital that you follow safety measures, including wearing personal protective equipment. Turn off the air compressor and if possible, pull the plug to avoid accidental shocks to yourself, your crew, or any bystanders in the area.

You don’t need to open the drain valve, as the lack of current at the electrical contact will prevent the pneumatic pressure switch from running the compressor pump. However, if you’re undertaking these operations at the end of the day regardless, it may make sense to bleed pressure off of the system first, especially if you’ll be testing the cut-in at a lower pressure than you currently operate at. You may also want to inspect the pressure switch relief valve so that you know that it will blow off extra pressure instead of causing a blow-out if you turn the maximum pressure too high. Similarly, if the drain water from your drain valve is rusty, you may want to have your pressure tank inspected before adjusting the pressure up, as that can be a sign of corrosion within the tank.

Tools and Materials Needed

Generally speaking, the adjustment process needs very little in terms of tools and materials. You’ll need a screwdriver or wrench, depending on the type of air pressure switch that you have on your compressor. If the compressor and lighting in the area are hardwired into a breaker, you’ll need to throw the breaker, so make sure you tape it off and have alternative lighting available to be able to see what you’re doing. Depending on how long it has been since you’ve adjusted the pressure switch, you may need to use dielectric grease or an electrical solvent to get the set screw to move. DO NOT spray flammable liquids on the pressure switch while it is hooked up to an electrical current! Similarly, a bit of sandpaper or steel wool is handy if you need to clean up the switch contacts due to corrosion. If you’re rehabbing your air system, you may want to include Teflon tape if you’re replacing piping with threaded connections or need to replace gauges.

Steps to Air Compressor Pressure Switch Adjustment

Now that we know what we need and how to safely work on an air pressure switch, let’s start going through the adjustment steps of the process.

Step 1: Turn off the air compressor. For safety reasons, this doesn’t mean just work on it when it isn’t running, because it could cut in at any point. If possible, unplug the air compressor from its power supply or flip and tape off the breaker that the air compressor is powered on. You may want to drain the pressure tank and check the pressure relief valve at this time.

Step 2: Locate the pressure switch and the adjustment nut. There are two types of pressure switches, fixed range, which has one nut with an adjustment spring beneath it, and adjustable range, which will have two or three nuts that can be adjusted to change the cut-in point, the cut-out point, and the breadth of the pressure range between these two points. For a fixed range pressure switch, you can only increase or decrease pressure, while the range remains the same. Increasing the cut-out point will increase the cut-in point. Adjustable range provides a much finer degree of control.

Step 3: Identify the correct pressure range for your tool or equipment. If this is not located on the tool itself, or if it has worn off, check the manual for the factory setting for the pneumatic tool. Exceeding the recommended settings for the air tool can cause serious damage to the tool, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got this range correct before proceeding.

Step 4: Turn the adjustment nut or adjustment screw. Generally speaking, almost any air compressor pressure system that has a differential adjustment will turn in a clockwise direction to increase the pressure, while turning the fitting in a counterclockwise direction will decrease the pressure. Similarly, turning the range nut on an adjustable range pressure switch clockwise will increase the range, while turning it counterclockwise will decrease the range. It is recommended that you leave a minimum range of 20 PSI to prevent short cycling and wear on your system.

Step 5: Check the pressure gauge and adjust as needed. Close the drain valve, pressure relief valve, and shut-off valve to your air system lines. Plug your compressor in or flip the breaker back. Turn your compressor on and see at what points it will cut in and out before putting pressure out to your system. By keeping pressure localized, you can speed up the rate of compression and the testing process, because the system will not need to pressurize all your lines before you reach the cut-out point.

Step 6: Test the compressor and adjust again if necessary. Check the pressure at the gauge and again at the tank to ensure that they match up. Are they where they need to be? If the pressure is outside your ideal range, take the time to adjust again. If you record the pressure between tests and note how far you’re turning the adjustment nut or nuts, you can get a better idea of how much adjustment will be needed to reach that range.

Step 7: Turn on the compressor and monitor for any issues. After you’ve reached the ideal range for your air system, open the valve to the rest of your air lines. Connect tools and make sure that they work well with the pressure settings and make any additional fine-tuning adjustments at the pressure regulator to your overhead line system or at the tool itself, depending on your setup. Once your system is fully pressurized, listen for hissing sounds that may indicate leaks or poor connections, and repair them as needed.

Advanced Air – Your Provider of Industrial Air Compressors

Whether it’s part of your retooling process, rehabbing an older industrial air compressor, or simply changing out an air pressure switch that has failed, going through the steps properly ensures that your company will get good performance out of your air compressor for many years to come. However, in some situations, a simple adjustment may not provide enough of a change for your operation to work smoothly.

At Advanced Air & Vacuum, we’ve spent the past two decades creating outstanding air systems for industrial, manufacturing, and factory needs. With a short chat on the phone, we can find the right solution to your air compressor woes, whether it’s upgrading part of your system, making a simple repair, or providing you with the right air compressor for your company’s needs. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

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Best Pipe for Air Compressor Lines

Running your shop or facility on compressed air hoses can be a great way to get your business off the ground initially, but it’s not a great long-term solution. They’re messy, can cause issues with catching on items, and can cause serious safety risks. For better occupational safety, getting those hoses off the ground in favor of air pipe that can be run overhead to drop points makes it easier for employees to avoid tripping over an air compressor line that wasn’t there a minute ago. This can make a big difference in your shop’s operations, keeping your workers safe and production moving efficiently.

But what kind of air pipe should you use? There is a wide range of available options that you could turn to, from the cheap and dangerous, to expensive and long-lasting options, to the gold standard that won’t cost you a mint, saving your budget significant harm without requiring replacement every few years. In this article, we’ll cover all of the popular types of compressed air system piping that is available to the market, including some that you should avoid at all costs to prevent injury to personnel or damage to your pneumatic tooling

Common Types of Piping used for Compressed Air Lines

There are many kinds of air pipe you can put to use, including copper piping, plastic piping, aluminum piping, stainless steel piping, and black iron piping. But while some of these are an excellent choice for your shop, others will have a prohibitively high cost and yet others will have safety issues or cause rust contamination in your pneumatic tooling. Let’s look at the most common types of air pipe available for running compressed air lines from your rotary screw compressor in your compressor room to your pneumatic tooling drop lines so that you can select the best pipe for the job.

Black Iron or Steel Pipe

Let’s start with the old standby, one of the first types of metal pipes used in air distribution. There are three different types of ferrous pipe, including galvanized, black iron, and stainless steel pipe. Galvanized should be avoided at all costs, because the anti-corrosive zinc lining can flake off and wreck your pneumatic tooling. Black pipe doesn’t have the galvanization, but instead can rust if exposed to moisture in your air piping from your air compressor, causing rust contamination in your tools. Stainless steel pipe is a better option, as it has significant resistance to corrosion, but is also more expensive to purchase and install. In any case, the ferrous air pipe will be heavy, require expertise to weld or connect with fasteners, and will have potential failure points at those connections.

Copper Pipe

There’s something beautiful about a shop with its air supply plumbed in copper pipe in a steam-punk kind of way, and its resistance to high temperature, reliable air flow, and smaller inner diameter (i.d.) to outer diameter (o.d.) ratio means it takes up less space than thicker, larger pipe options. It’s also lighter weight than iron pipes, has strong natural corrosion resistance in all but the most hostile environments, and it’s fairly easy to obtain fittings for your system at a local store if you need to make a quick repair or expand your system to one or two more workstations. However, the additional expense of copper pipe often outweighs the many benefits that this material brings to the table. Given that the price of copper in the commodities markets is showing no sign of dropping after the last several years, this can make this type of air pipe above many shop budgets.

Aluminum Pipe

Though originally difficult to find and more expensive, aluminum pipe has become much more popular and lower in cost for compressed air systems in the past two decades. Commonly used for construction or retrofits in industrial plants, high-quality aluminum piping is very cost-effective, lightweight, and corrosion resistant. This makes them ideal for consistent air flow and fast installation, because they don’t require the complex installation processes of copper or ferrous piping systems. It’s also very resistant to leaking, comes in a wide range of sizes, and deals well with a range of different temperatures. Though it may not be as freely available as other options, it’s well worth the weight to plumb your air distribution system in aluminum.

PVC Pipe

PVC piping can seem like a great, inexpensive option for handling compressed air lines given its lower energy costs to produce, causing a lower overall acquisition cost, but these plastic pipes hold a dangerous secret that can shortcut your company’s success. As exposure to oil, heat, and the passage of time increases, PVC lines become more and more brittle, degrading to the point that the cheap, reliable lines you’ve used the past year or so suddenly give way. Instead of simply splitting and causing a pressure drop, the PVC shatters, creating tons of sharp, jagged shrapnel as it blows out in every direction, dropping pressure and injuring workers. For this reason, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as well as other occupational health administration agencies have prohibited the use of PVC pipe in compressed air lines. This same caution should be used with plastic flexible tubing, which may also age poorly.

What Size Pipe should I use for my Air Compressor?

Generally speaking, most piping sizes for your compressed air system will be based on how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) your system will be using at its highest production demand point. If you’re planning a future expansion, start with your expected usage rather than actual usage to provide a buffer and allow simple expansion, rather than replacement, of your compressed air piping. These measurements are based on the inner diameter of the pipe, which makes the pipe’s thickness irrelevant to the volume of air that is moved.

  • 1/2″ piping: up to 25 CFM
  • 3/4″ piping: 25 to 50 CFM
  • 1″ piping: 50 to 100 CFM
  • 1-1/4″ piping: 100 to 200 CFM
  • 1-1/2″ piping: 200 to 400 CFM
  • 2″ or larger piping: over 400 CFM

By keeping within these piping ranges, you’ll be able to enjoy constant compressed air pressure at your pneumatic tooling systems without suffering regular pressure drops and the impact that can have on your production process. If you’re dealing with tight spaces, you’ll want to consider your compressed air piping material carefully, as thicker-walled material such as iron and plastic pipe will take up more space than thinner-walled copper and aluminum piping.

Compressed Air Piping with AAV

When you’re trying to find the best compressed air pipe for your needs, it can be difficult to make sure you’re making the right decision. At Advanced Air & Vacuum, we’ve spent the past two decades helping our customers find the right solutions for their businesses. For this reason, when we find a truly remarkable product for our industry, we work hard to make sure we can secure suppliers for our customer’s needs. Among those remarkable products is the Prevost Piping System, a compressed air system based on 100% aluminum materials.

By creating a solid air compressor network that is built to stand the test of time and provide constant, high pressure air flow to each of your workstations, the Prevost Piping System is lightweight and more compact, with PPS1 aluminum fittings to provide a more resilient air supply system. It features exceptional mechanical resistance to both average daily pressure as well as to impacts that would damage lesser materials. It’s also resistant to compressor lubricants and oils, preventing damage to your system if a change is made. Featuring an exterior epoxy paint and an interior treatment, the aluminum alloy piping is well-protected against any oxidation or corrosion risks.

The Prevost Piping System is completely modular and scalable, with the PPS1 fittings making upgrades and changes very easy to pull off due to its adaptability. To assemble your system, the lightweight aluminum piping is simply lifted and inserted into the fitting, and the strong PPS1 fitting is then tightened around it, creating a strong, leak-resistant connection. Developed with the company’s patented design, the PPS Grip Concept ensures that you have a flawless connection and zero leaks, making it easier to avoid pressure loss in your air flow. Because the inner pipe surface is perfectly smooth, there is a low level of friction and a larger internal diameter, allowing you to move more air without turbulence in the same space as other types of piping.

If you have any questions about selecting, installing, and maintaining the right pipe system for your compressed air needs, in addition to design assistance for your piping layout to gain the best possible performance, the experienced professionals at Advanced Air & Vacuum are ready to help. Please feel free to contact us today with any concerns, for more details on the right compressed air system for your business, or to get a quote on a high-performance compressed air pipe system for your company’s needs.

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Air Compressors for Car Detailing: A Guide

If you do a lot of auto detailing, you know that an air compressor can be very handy, from interior detailing such as cleaning floor mats and fabric upholstery to adding pressure to steam cleaning processes in the vehicle engine compartment. The professional detailer knows that the difference between the care and attention they give to every square inch of the vehicle is vital to their business, because otherwise the owner may as well just go to the car wash for their cleaning needs.

The enormous power that is available in an air compressor moves many cubic feet of air into a high-pressure system, making it much easier to blow debris out of tight spaces in a car interior. One might say that an air compressor is just as essential to the professional detailer as a microfiber towel, vacuum cleaner, or similar detailing tools. It even works well for mobile auto detailing professionals, with many options available to help keep your operation running efficiently.

In this article, we’ll go through the details of why a vehicle shop may need an air compressor, different types of air compressors available on the market, and how to select the perfect air conditioner for your professional detailing service.

Why Would a Vehicle Shop Use an Air Compressor?

Providing constant air pressure to a range of different activities in the shop, an air compressor is a vital tool in many automotive businesses, and for detailers, they can be used to blow dust out of hard to reach areas in car upholstery, cup holders, door jams, and similar tight spaces in a vehicle. It can also be used for exterior detailing, such as cleaning around door panels, operating pneumatic tools, or providing power for headlight restoration. Overall, having an air compressor to assist in the detailing process makes it much easier to give the customer a pristinely clean car at the end of the process.

A few examples of how an air compressor helps keep your business moving:

  • Car painting: An air compressor provides an unbelievably smooth finish, especially to clear coat paints that can be somewhat fussy.
  • Tire inflation: You want to leave customers feeling they got an amazing value and checking tires on the way out is one way to do that.
  • Cleaning your engine bay: Dirt and grime are endemic in auto shops and being able to blow dust out the overhead door makes cleanup simple.
  • Drying off a car: Bumpers, side mirrors, hood vents, grills and similar areas are notoriously stubborn to get dry. Blow the excess moisture out.
  • High Pressure cleaning: Nothing gets dirt out of tight places like using high pressure, and the right air compressor helps make that happen.
  • Powers a car cleaning gun: Whether you’ve got a Tornador Z-010 or similar cleaning tools, you’ll need an air compressor to power it.

Types of Air Compressors for Car Detailing Available at AAV:

There are two different types of air compressor you can use for car detailing, a rotary screw compressor and a piston compressor. Let’s take a look at each type:

Rotary Screw Compressors

What are rotary screw compressors?

Rotary screw compressors provide constant air pressure by keeping the mechanism in motion constantly, with no downtime in the duty cycle. This type of compressor is very reliable and can provide a high airflow in terms of cubic feet per minute (CFM), but also tends to be a bit more expensive.

How do they work?

A rotary screw compressor is operated by trapping air between two rotors or interlocking helical screws. The volume of air that is trapped between these two screws will gradually be compressed, providing a constant source of compressed air.

Because of the simplicity of design, rotary screw compressors tend to be very reliable and provide a constant stream of pressurized air, which can be a boon if you’re dealing with air tools that use a great deal of air flow, such as a painting rig.

Use cases:

  • Powering air tools
  • Inflating tires
  • Running spray guns

Piston Compressors

What is a piston compressor?

By comparison, a piston or reciprocating compressor uses an electric motor to compress air that has been taken into a cylinder, which is then moved into a large capacity bottle or tank. From this tank, the pressurized air is then moved through hoses to tools and similar equipment. Though both terms are correct, most in the industry use the term piston compressor.

Piston compressors are found in two primary configurations:

Single Stage Compressors

Designed for intermittent use, a single stage compressor uses one cylinder to compress the air. For this reason, it’s only able to reach lower pressures. They tend to work very well for smaller shops, individual workstations, or personal use. Due to their smaller size, capability, and simplicity, they tend to also be the least expensive type of air compressor on the market. They work well for inflating tires, cleaning shops, operating lower-power air tools, and similar applications.

Two Stage Compressors

By comparison, a two stage compressor is designed for near-continuous use. The two stages in this type of compressor refer to two cylinders, one larger and one smaller. The larger cylinder fills with air which is compressed by a piston and moved into the second, smaller cylinder. The second cylinder is then also compressed by a piston, after which point the air is moved into the storage tank. This process allows the air to be compressed to a higher pressure, making it more suitable for ongoing use as well as in higher-powered applications such as painting, sanding, and similar applications. However, due to the larger number of moving parts, they are typically more expensive to purchase up front, but have a lower overall maintenance cost due to less frequent maintenance being required.

Choosing an Air Compressor for Car Detailing: Things to Consider

There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting the right air compressor for your detailing needs.

Size

Size can refer to two different factors. The first, the weight of the air compressor, has to do with how stable it will be in operation. If you run a mobile service, you may want to go with a lighter horizontal-orientation air compressor, which will be more stable but still movable by the average worker. If you have a centralized shop, you may want to choose a heavier vertical-oriented air compressor that will remain stable while taking up less floor space.

The second factor has to do with tank size. The size of the air compressor tank will determine how much air it can move into the system during its duty cycle. If you’re considering a two cycle piston air compressor, you may get by with a smaller tank at a higher pressure than you could with a single stage air compressor. Air compressor tanks are typically measured in gallons.

CFM

Though air compressor tanks are measured in gallons, the amount of air they can move is measured in cubic feet per minute. This has to do with how much air can be compressed constantly by the air compressor if it’s running wide open.

PSI

PSI stands for pounds per square inch, which is a pressure measurement. A two stage compressor can handle higher PSI than a single stage, providing higher pressure to get the job done.

Portability

As mentioned under size, a heavier air compressor is better for a large shop, while mobile services will want to use a smaller air compressor that will often be easier to move.

Best Air Compressors for Car Detailing

CR7.5 Gas Powered Air Compressor: The Most Reliable Piston Air Compressor

Featuring a two-stage compressor, 30-gallon tank size, 7.5 horsepower motor, and a flow rate of approximately 23.5 CFM at 100 PSI and 22.6 CFM at 175 PSI, the CR7.5 is the most reliable piston-based air compressor we stock at Advanced Air. It works very well for many larger shops, but may be too heavy if you need a portable unit.

Quincy Portable Air Compressor

If your operation is in need of a smaller, more portable option, this single stage air compressor from Quincy is a great option to consider. It can generate a maximum of 7.4 CFM at 135 PSI, features a 20-gallon powder-coated ASME tank, runs on 115V AC with a 2 horsepower motor, and is a great option to consider for most portable operations.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when selecting your air compressor, whether you’re using it as a simple leaf blower for your shop, need something to move cleaning liquid deeper into the carpet, have to have something with enough power to handle the perfect ceramic coating, or just want a simple, oil-free pump that requires virtually no maintenance. At Advanced Air, we’re happy to help you find the perfect option. Please contact us today to get started!

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Direct Drive vs. Belt Drive Air Compressors

Whether you’re driving pneumatic tools or want to improve energy efficiency in your operation, the type of air compressor you purchase can make a big difference in the performance you’ll receive. Though many larger operations will go with a rotary screw compressor to provide tankless operation, many companies find themselves puzzling out the differences between direct drive units and belt-driven models when trying to make a decision between the types of air compressors available on the market.

In this article, we’ll get into the fine details and differences between these types of air compressors, whether you’re using a portable compressor or a stationary compressor for your operation. We’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages between a belt drive air compressor and a direct drive model, so that you can determine which is the best option for your needs, including initial investment, compressor performance, which has less maintenance, noise level, and similar aspects. Let’s get started.

Direct Drive Air Compressors

What is a direct drive compressor? A direct drive air compressor directly connects the motor to the compressor pump using a crankshaft. This direct transmission of power doesn’t limit the compressor to single-stage compressor operation, however, with two-stage compressors available with a direct drive power system.

Advantages of Direct Drive Air Compressors

Because they have fewer moving parts, direct drive air compressors are low maintenance, with fewer parts to wear and require replacement. This means that you’ll have fewer failure points than a belt-driven compressor and overall maintenance costs will be lower with less downtime.

This simplicity also means that it will do better in harsh environments, holding up better to extreme temperatures than its belt-driven counterparts. This makes a direct drive air compressor a better option for hot and cold weather, where belts can be impacted by the temperature. This represents the overall ruggedness of direct drive compressor options.

Direct drive air compressors also have higher levels of efficiency in operations, as there is no loss of power transmission in the belt. This allows you to get more energy from every cycle than you would receive from a belt drive compressor.

Disadvantages of Direct Drive Air Compressors

However, as with any list of benefits, direct drive compressors also have drawbacks. Because of the direct connection between the electric motor and the compressor pump, this compressor type tends to be much louder than a belt drive compressor.

The other issue that can arise is higher repair costs. Because there are fewer parts to fail, if one part does fail, it typically has a much higher cost of repair, because it is more integral to the overall operation of the direct drive compressor, such as a shaft seal at the connection points for the crankshaft.

Because the direct drive compressor must be constructed to higher initial standards to hold up in a wider range of environments and with fewer moving parts, it will often have a higher initial cost as its final disadvantage.

Common Applications of a Direct Drive Air Compressor

If you’re in a situation where you’ll need significant cubic feet per minute (CFM) and a large air compressor to keep your air compressor in operation, a direct drive rotary screw air compressor will generally provide the best outcomes for your operation, due to better energy efficiency, continuous operation, and lower downtime.

Belt-Driven Air Compressors

By comparison, a belt drive compressor uses a belt to connect the electric motor to the drive pump using a pulley system, which may include other items being powered such as an exhaust fan.

Advantages of Belt Drive Air Compressors

A belt drive air compressor will provide greater flexibility to your operation, allowing you to adapt to variable speed by changing out the pulley system for different-sized pulleys. This allows you to change how much air flow and pressure you can pack into your storage tank.

The fewer direct connection points of a belt drive compressor mean that this type of compressor will be less noisy than a direct drive compressor, making it more suitable for an indoor environment where the air compressor can’t be removed from the work area.

Because they don’t need to be as hardy as direct drive compressors, you’ll often find that belt drive compressors are less expensive initially than their direct drive counterparts, making it much easier on the budget for the initial investment.

Disadvantages of Belt Drive Air Compressors

Because the belt drive compressor uses a rubber belt to drive the compressor pump, the belt must remain at the proper tension. This means that at extreme temperatures, you may find that there is too much slack or too much tension in the belt, which impacts appropriate operation. This limits the range of temperatures in which it can operate.

Because the belt is made of a flexible material, there is some loss of efficiency in a belt drive air compressor, as there will always be some slippage given the properties of the belt material. Changes in temperature can impact this, making the belt slide more as the belt relaxes in higher temperatures, making the proper tension of vital importance to efficient operations.

Finally, the additional wear points will require more maintenance and more frequent downtime than direct drive systems, impacting your operational efficiency.

Common Applications of Belt Drive Air Compressors

A belt drive compressor will do best when flexibility is needed in an operation. If you need to push lug bolts with your crew this week and push paint the next, being able to rapidly change out your CFM and PSI by simply changing pulleys and belts can be a huge advantage. Belt drive systems also tend to be more portable, making them easier to move from point A to point B.

Belt Drive & Direct Drive Air Compressors: Which is Right for You?

Though you’ll need to consider all aspects of your operation, there are some differences between these two types of compressors that may stand out and help make your decision easier. As an example, temperature, maintenance, downtime, budget, or similar aspects may play a strong role in your selection process. To help you decide, here are a few factors to consider:

Use Frequency

If you only need to use an air compressor every once in a while, a belt drive will typically suit your needs much better, due to its lower overall cost and need for regular maintenance and downtime. For frequent to continuous use, the direct drive will be a better option, as it is designed to operate on a near-continuous basis with lower downtime and infrequent maintenance needs.

Budget

If you’re on a tight initial budget, a belt drive will work better, giving you a lower starting budget to get your air compressor into operation. However, if you’re concerned about your long-term operating budget, a direct drive will have lower maintenance costs down the road, often giving you a lower overall cost over the lifespan of the air compressor.

Maintenance

If you need to limit downtime on your line, a direct drive system that requires fewer maintenance tasks carried out on it is a better option than a belt drive, which will require more frequent services. The direct drive system will also have a longer overall service life, requiring less frequent replacement and providing a higher level of reliability than a belt drive system.

Environment

The environment that your air compressor will be used in can also impact the type that you should purchase, with harsh conditions and extreme temperatures causing problems for some air compressor types if it’s used there on a regular basis. For an ideal solution in a harsh environment, go with a direct drive system that has fewer wear points and maintenance requirements, rather than a belt drive air compressor that will not do as well in extreme temperatures below freezing or in very hot conditions.

Contact Advanced Air for Your Industrial Air Compressor Needs

Whether you’ve decided on the exact air compressor you need for your operation or need assistance deciding whether a belt drive air compressor or direct drive air compressor will be best for your company, Advanced Air & Vacuum can help. Our team of experienced professionals has worked in a wide range of industries, and knows what will work best for your operation. Please feel free to reach out today with any questions, for more information, or to get a quote on the perfect air compressor system for your business.

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How to Quiet an Air Compressor

Pressure Gauge on an Air Compressor

Though air compressors can be a very handy tool and pneumatic power source, they can also create a high noise level, making the search for a quiet compressor important to many business owners. However, just because you’re on the hunt for a quiet air compressor doesn’t mean that you have to have a lot of noise in the meantime. This article will delve into the causes of noise in a loud compressor, how to use different tools and techniques to quiet your air compressor, and what types of air compressor are the quietest to begin with.

How Loud are Air Compressors?

With the usual decibel range of a vacuum cleaner, an air compressor can be rather noisy. Used to power a pneumatic tool, air tool, air up car tires, or push paint or other material through a sprayer assembly, a silent air compressor is practically non-existent. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy normal conversation in your shop without the loud noise of your portable air compressor operating in the background.

But let’s start by talking about how sound volume is measured. Sound output is measured in decibels, which increase on a logarithmic scale. A decibel is the smallest change in sound volume that the human ear can detect. Using the scale, this means that a 40-decibel sound is 10 to the 4th power louder than a single decibel, or 1,000 times louder. In some situations, a decibel meter may be used to measure noise pollution in an environment, determining at which point hearing protection should be required of workers to protect their hearing.

Though some air compressors, such as rotary screw compressors, are by nature low noise generators, using a circular motion of a screw to compress the air into the system, most air compressors, including both a portable compressor and stationary compressors, create a lot of noise in industrial application. For that reason, taking steps to reduce noise in the work environment is important both to worker health and occupational safety. In this next section, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can reduce noise in your industrial application.

How to Make Air Compressor Quieter

The amount of noise that is generated in industrial applications can be bothersome, making normal conversation difficult and the work environment dangerous as workers fail to hear potential hazards due to the noise level. The powerful motor that runs the air compressor can create a lot of noise in and of itself, as can vibrations, the air intake, and other parts of the air compressor.

Air compressor noise reduction can happen in multiple ways, from an intake silencer to a soundproof enclosure, and all attempts at noise reduction make your shop a more pleasant place to work. Here are some of the top ways you can improve noise reduction in your industrial application.

Soundproof Box for Air Compressor

One option is moving your air compressor out of or away from the workspace. This can include building a soundproof box, complete with concrete block and acoustic foam. An intake muffler can generate less noise that would otherwise escape through the intake needed to keep air moving into the compressor.

However, when planning your acoustic barrier, remember to include a certain number of cubic feet within the enclosure, especially for air-cooled motors. You can also place rubber grommets between the feet of your stationary air compressors and the slab they’re mounted to so that vibrations don’t pass along the slab to generate more noise and vibration throughout the shop. You should also ensure that adequate ventilation is available to help keep your air compressor cool to ensure a long workable lifespan.

Air Compressor Sound Blanket

But what if you can’t create a soundproof box to enclose your air compressor? Hanging a sound blanket around the air compressor saves room while causing noise reduction to happen, which you could back on the outside with stainless steel bars to prevent it from being pulled into the intake muffler.

In addition to hanging sound blankets at the sides of your industrial air compressor, you can also include them over the top of your air compressor to further reduce and control noise in your industrial application. Rubber grommets can be placed between your air compressor and the slab it’s mounted on as well, or rubber mats can be placed beneath it, to help reduce the noise that is caused by vibration on the slab.

Perform Regular Air Compressor Maintenance

Regular maintenance can also impact how loud your air compressor can be. Maintenance helps your air compressor run more smoothly, reducing how much noise it generates. These steps should include:

  • Check lubrication levels on a regular basis. This system is typically laid out in your air compressor’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. As mentioned above, an air compressor that requires oil changes will be quieter than an oil-free air compressor. Try to keep spare oil on hand so that you’re not caught short when you need it most.
  • Place the air compressor on a rubber mat to absorb vibrations and check the mat’s condition regularly. Because the vibration caused by the air compressor will cause mats or grommets to be moved against metal or concrete, it can cause significant wear on these parts. Consider keeping spares on hand.
  • Keep air filters clean and change them often. Again, your manufacturer’s website or manual is the best place to reference this information, but it’s especially important if you’re in a dry, dusty climate that can cause dust to build up on the filters quickly. If you can, try blowing the dust out of the filter outside to get more use from it, and always keep spares on hand.

Use a professional maintenance service. Because professional maintenance technicians also manage repairs, they’re a good person to have on hand to spot issues that may arise in your air compressor, allowing you to catch problems early on when they’re easy to fix rather than later when they’ve become a serious issue.

Choose a Less Noisy Air Compressor

Though all air compressors will generate some amount of noise, some types will generate less noise from the beginning, making it easier for you to create further noise reduction in your workshop or industrial application. These include:

  • Compressors requiring oil changes
    • An oil-free air compressor is typically louder than its oil-change-required industrial models. Part of this is because industrial air compressors will typically include better construction than an oil-free compressor, such as stainless steel versus mild steel parts, and take steps to reduce the amount of noise generated by the compressor. Don’t give into the urge to go low maintenance with an oil-less compressor! One great option to consider is the Atlas Copco CR5 to 7.5 Vertical 80-Gallon Air Compressor.
  • A rotary screw compressor
    • Rotary screw compressors run constantly, but do not make as much noise, because they constantly generate pressured air instead of trying to “catch up” the tank so that it can take time out of the duty cycle. Towards that end, they tend to have fewer revolutions compared to piston-driven tank models and show a related 10 to 15 decibel drop in noise level, typically topping out at 70 to 75 decibels compared to the 85 decibels that are more normal for piston-driven air compressors. We recommend the Atlas Copco G7-15 series of rotary air compressors to meet your needs.
  • A larger-capacity compressor
    • Though this doesn’t necessarily reduce the noise of the air compressor, it can reduce how often it needs to be operated to fill the storage tank. By increasing the tank capacity, the air compressor will have to operate less frequently to fill it, remaining quiet the rest of the time. This can make it much quieter in your shop the rest of the time and is a great option to consider if you’re planning a shop expansion down the road that may require a larger compressor to begin with. We recommend the Atlas Copco two-stage CR10 and CR15 series, which features a 120-gallon storage tank. (Read more about two-stage air compressors here!)

Advanced Air’s Quality Air Compressors

By starting with a high-quality industrial air compressor from your local Arizona or California air tools supplier, you’ll get much higher quality than you would from a hardware store air compressor. Because an industrial air compressor is built to withstand demanding environments, they’re often quieter from the beginning, due to the superior construction and materials used in creating them.

At Advanced Air & Vacuum, our highly trained team of technicians gives you a multi-faceted approach to finding the perfect air compressor for your business, installation process, and continued service and maintenance for many years to come. Our dedication to our customers is second to none. Please feel free to reach out today with any questions, to get more details on our outstanding lineup of air compressors and accessories, or to get a quote on your next air compressor project.