Air Compressors; Ingersoll-Rand - Chicago Pneumatic - Rol-Air

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Air Compressor FAQ

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Common questions we get asked about air compressors with our replies. Trouble shooting questions are answered on another page, there links to other popular air compressor related pages to the right. If your question is not answered here, please ask us.

Air Compressor Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Questions

Answers

Maintenance

 
"How often should we change the oil?" In a rotary screw compressor, oil should be changed about every 7000-8000 hours. This depends on the type of compressor you purchase. For a Reciprocating air compressor, generally you would change the oil approximately every 3 months. For a more accurate time frame, call in with a model number to find the recommended schedule for your compressor.
   
"When should I replace the air intake filter?" If your compressor has an Air Intake Filter, it should be cleaned on a weekly basis (assuming you are using the compressor about 3 days a week). When the filter starts to develop debris that is becoming harder to clean out, or you notice any tears or holes in the filter, the filter should be replaced.
   
"What is the difference between stop-start and constant run"? Simply put, a start-stop air compressor has a pressure switch that turns the machine on and off. Most small electric and small gas air compressors are start-stop.
A constant run compressor means the motor continuously runs and continuously turns the pump. Many industrial shops who need consistent air on a daily basis will purchase a constant run compressor
   

Voltage

 
"What voltage do I run on?" It depends on the size of Compressor. Most Homeowner sized small compressors are built to run on a single 110V Outlet. As you get into larger models, many compressors offer the choice between 110 to 460 voltage.
   
"Will my compressor run on a generator?" The compressor should be able to run given the proper requirements, however we recommend not using a compressor with a generator. Generators have fluctuations in power, and because a compressor needs constant voltage to be able to run, it is generally best not to use a generator if no power is available.
   
"What is the difference between stop-start and constant run?" Simply put, a start-stop air compressor has a pressure switch that turns the machine on and off. Most small electric and small gas air compressors are start-stop.
A constant run compressor means the motor continuously runs and continuously turns the pump. Many industrial shops who need consistent air on a daily basis will purchase a constant run compressor

Water

 
"What happens when water stays in my compressor?" Compressor tanks are made of steel, which means if water is left in the tank, rust will start to accrue. Depending on the severity, contact your local service center about the best way to eliminate the problem. One place to start would be to look into purchasing an air dryer, to help eliminate the problem.
   
"What happens if there is water in my lines"? Generally this is caused by two problems - either a failed condensate trap or a failed or undersized air compressor dryer. To solve the first problem, you will need to either clean the water trap or simply replace it. The second problem is a bit trickier, as you would need to repair or replace your air dryer with something larger (unfortunately, this can be a bit pricy).
   
"I often times forget to drain the water from my tank, is there something that can do this manually [sic automatically] for me?" Yes! You can purchase a drain valve. There are three main types of drain valves, including float actuated, electronically actuated or timed sequence actuated
   

Hoses

 
"What size of hose should be used?" This will depend on the type of compressor that you have. The two most common sizes are 1/4" and 3/8". Check your compressor manual, or give us a call to help find the right size to use.
Generally, the larger the compressor means the larger size of diameter you can use. Most homeowner compressor manufacturers would recommend a 1/4" hose diameter.
   
"What is the maximum hose length I should use with my compressor?" This will also depend on the size of compressor and CFM required. The Maximum hose length is one of the most open ended questions related to air compressors. For a small homeowner unit, it would be smart not to exceed 150'. For a shop or industrial compressor, contact your local installation provider or give us a call to help figure out your maximum length.

Other

 
"I got a new pressure switch and installed it over the weekend. When I turned it on it worked well, and filled up the tanks, however once it turned off air started to leak out of the back of the unloader valve. It doesn't matter what the pressure is in the tanks, if the pressure switch is turned off, air always leaks out of the back of the unloader valve and at a pretty good rate."

"Have you seen this happen before and do you have any suggestions?"

It sounds like the one-way check-valve is bad, and actually that may have caused your pressure switch to fail in the first place. This is fairly common. The usual causes are;
  • older machine
    • lots of hours, worn-out check valve
    • oil is passing from the pump and into the tank
  • running without and/or with a dirty intake filter
  • spring gets weak or breaks

The whole compressor relies on this little part and when it fails it can ruin everything else.

Much of the time one can take the check-valve off, take it apart and clean it. There may be some debris in it, carbonized oil or both. Sometimes you will find the spring inside is broken.

This part is between the (copper) tube from the pump and tank and is usually threaded directly into the tank.

We stock many of these and most are around $20.00-30.00.
 

   
"How much air will I need to power my air compressor tool?" Generally, most air tools will take around 70-100 PSI, and will consume less than 10 CFM, however consult the manual or manufacturer of your tool for exact air requirements.
   
"How often until a new compressor is 'broken in'?" Air Compressors do not need to be broken in. Check for any leaks or malfunctions during the first start-up, but after that you should be ready to go.
   
"How often should I service my compressor?" This answer depends on how often you run your compressor. If you are running your compressor occasionally, then annual service would be fine. If you are running your compressor routinely, then quarterly service may be needed.
   
"What is a good tank size?" The tank size you will use will depend on the amount of air that you need stored. A benefit to a larger tanked air compressors is that the motor will not start and stop as often as a smaller tanked compressor. However, if you do not believe that you will use a good amount of air, it may be smarter and cheaper to use a smaller tank
   
"What is the difference between a rotary screw compressor and a reciprocating compressors"? A rotary screw compressor is one that utilizes two intermeshing helical rotors to trap a volume of air, then compress it to a higher pressure. Rotary screw compressors can be run at lower temperatures for 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.

A piston compressor (aka reciprocating) uses pistons driven by a crankshaft to deliver air at high pressure

   
"Will my small homeowner air compressor be able to handle an extra tank?" Yes and no. The answer to this question depends on whether or not you have a continuous duty air compressor or not. A continuous duty compressor means that it is able to run for long periods of time (aka continuously). This type of compressor will not have any problems running a larger spare tank.

If it is not continuous duty then it might have a tougher time. Depending on the size of your machine and the receiver tank, it should be able to handle it. Just be sure that you give it time to cool off when filling the tank, otherwise you would be going overboard. 

   
"My compressor stores air at high pressure, yet my tools will require a low pressure application; what do I do?"

This is actually quite an easy fix - you need to add a pressure regulator to your line, which can be set for the desired pressure when the air reaches your tool.