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Frequently Asked Questions: Compressed air system

Why is there moisture and water in my compressed air lines?

Water is present in the air. When the air is drawn into the air compressor and compressed all of that water comes with it. Temperature and humidity determine how much water there is in the air. Click here to get a fuller explanation of water and other contaminants in the air lines.

However, if water in your compressed air system is something new, then there is a failure somewhere in your air system components. A filter drain may be plugged or an auto-drain is malfunctioning. Another common problem is that when running a compressor hot (meaning above 50% duty cycle) the water in the air lines is vapour and doesn’t condense in the tank (the 1st water separator in any air system). This hot vapour is carried through the air lines and condenses on any cool surface. This water then collects all through the air lines and builds up. When some process demands large amounts of air that built up water gets carried through and seems like it is a sudden problem, when all along it has been building up. The solution is better water separation at the source (the compressor) with a refrigerated air dryer and separator/filters with auto-drains.

Why does my compressor leak air when the compressor shuts off?

A compressed air system will have a one way check valve between the compressor pump and the air receiver. When the compressor shuts off the check valve prevents the high pressure air from traveling back from the receiver to the pump. This allows for an unloader valve to release the pressure on the pump to atmosphere to allow for less current draw on an electric driven compressor and easier startup. The unloader system can be of several different designs. Two of the more common types are pressure switch mounted or centrifugal mounted on the end of the crankshaft.

Why does the safety valve on my compressor pump make a “popping” sound?

This is most commonly an indication of bad valves. Depending on the model valves could be rebuilt or replaced.

Why does the safety valve on my tank blow off?

This is caused by a pressure switch improperly installed, set too high or malfunctioning. The occasional time it could be caused by the contacts in the starter welding themselves closed. Safety valves do not normally fail on their own.

Why doesn’t my compressed air system produce as much air as it used to?

The most common cause is bad valves or a dirty air filter. It is also important to check your entire system for higher air consumption or leaks.

How long is my air receiver (tank) good for?

There is no fixed answer for this question. There are local statutes as well as rules defined by your insurance company. A rule of thumb is 25 years, although this can vary greatly depending on the environment. A good method of extending the life of your receiver is to drain it daily of water or install an auto-drain.

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