6 Signs Your Air Compressor Pressure Is Too High or Too Low

Sep 28, 2020

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When you use an industrial air compressor, making sure it has the right air pressure is critical. Some operators believe running a compressor at relatively high pressure improves performance, but the opposite is true. Operating an air compressor at an air pressure above your performance requirements guzzles power, makes your compressor less efficient, decreases productivity and can degrade the compressor's internal systems.

If performance is flagging and you find yourself asking what's wrong with your air compressor, take a few minutes to inspect for signs that the air pressure is too high or too low. Addressing any pressure issues you find, no matter how slight, can go a long way toward ensuring your compressor's reliability and high performance.

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Signs Your Air Compressor Pressure Is Too High or Too Low

Below are six common signs that the pressure in your air compressor is excessive or inadequate:

1. High-Pressure Fluctuations

One of the common high-pressure air compressor signs is the occurrence of high-pressure fluctuations. If you notice these fluctuations, your air compressor's pressure is probably too high for your performance needs. High-pressure fluctuations tend to result from poor pressure control on the machine. Inadequate pressure control can lead to excessive pressure and variations in that pressure, especially when the user does not monitor the pressure carefully.

2. Pressure Restrictions

If your air compressor is experiencing pressure restrictions, the air pressure is probably too high. Pressure restrictions often result from improper attachments or faulty machine piping. Defective piping and attachments are common in components like hoses, filters and end-use connectors, and they can cause overcompensation in the air compressor. When restrictions occur in these components, the operator must raise the air compressor's air pressure to compensate, resulting in excessive pressure throughout the compressor.

3. Artificial Storage With Increased Pressure

If your air compressor is creating artificial storage with increased pressure, its air pressure is probably too high. Excessive pressure in an air compressor often leads to a shortage of storage, especially when the machine has poor pressure control. The shortage of storage causes the compressor to create artificial storage with increased pressure. A related issue is that the air compressor sometimes lacks adequate storage receiver capacity. This scenario causes poor compressor control, and necessitates pressure increases to create artificial storage.

4. Unnoticed Technical Issues

If imperceptible technical issues are occurring and the compressor operator raises the pressure to compensate for them, the air pressure is probably too high. One typical example occurs when the air compressor has tiny leaks. The leaks reduce pressure in the air compressor, so without noticing the leaks, the operator is likely to raise the pressure to compensate. Doing so can cause excessive air pressure overall.

These unobserved leaks are costly. The Compressed Air and Gas Institute reports that at 100 pounds per square inch (psi), a quarter-inch air leak can cost a company more than $2,500 annually. To avoid this unwanted effect, air compressor operators should take care to check for technical causes of low air pressure before raising the pressure excessively.

5. Excessive Oil Carryover

If your air compressor experiences too much oil carryover, its air pressure is likely too low. Every air compressor that uses oil or lubricant has a small amount of oil carryover. But an excessive amount of oil lingering in the air tank often indicates insufficient air pressure. This is because a compressor operating at low pressure is less efficient and leaves more oil in the tank, preventing the tank from building up a sufficient amount of pressure. When this happens, the pressure in the air compressor will run low almost all the time.

6. Long Running Times With Failure to Reach Normal Cut-Out Pressure

One of the most common low-pressure air compressor signs is a failure to reach the standard cut-out pressure. If you notice your air compressor running for extended periods without attaining its cut-out pressure — the pressure at which the pressurization stops — the air pressure is likely too low.

Examine Your Air Compressor and Address Any Issues

Monitoring air compressors allows you to pick up on changes resulting from high or low pressure or underlying problems with the equipment. Below are a few tips for air compressor troubleshooting and monitoring:

Addressing Low Pressure in an Air Compressor

To address insufficient pressure in an air compressor, you can try checking the inlet and drain valves to ensure they are not leaking. You should also ensure the safety valve is not leaking. The safety valve is particularly important because if the pressure switch fails to turn off the pressure once the compressor has reached its cut-out pressure, the safety valve steps in as a backup to release excess pressure. If the safety valve is leaking, it may be releasing pressure all the time.

You should also check the reed valve. A faulty reed valve can remove air from the air inlet as exhaust. On a two-stage piston compressor, a defective reed valve can also diminish pressure by sending air out through the intercooler safety valve instead of through the intercooler and piston and out the appropriate discharge.

If leaking valves are not the culprits in an air compressor's low pressure, you can try checking the belt if your compressor operates on a belt drive. You might also evaluate the pump rings, motor capacitors, air demand and filters to check for leaks and debris buildup.

Addressing High Pressure in an Air Compressor

When you need to address excessive pressure in an air compressor, the best thing to do is to check the air pressure regularly. If you keep an eye on your pressure gauges and notice the psi has gone up substantially, you'll want to investigate to determine what unobserved technical issues have caused the increase in pressure.

Look for hidden air leaks and piping and filtration defects, and check hoses and attachment valves. You might also want to assess the tools you're using. If your pneumatic tools call for excessive PSI, their taxing requirements may cause performance issues in the compressor.

Partnering With a Compressor Company for Professional Analysis

Although you can give your air compressor a rudimentary assessment, we recommend professional analysis for a more thorough evaluation. For routine air compressor monitoring and analysis, partner with a professional air compressor service like Fluid-Aire Dynamics. We offer comprehensive system analysis that can give you basic data and analysis about your air compressor or go into more depth with energy efficiency and implementation recommendations.

Work With Fluid-Aire Dynamics for All Your Air Compressor Needs

To see the benefits of a well-designed and well-maintained air compressor in your operations, contact Fluid-Aire Dynamics. Our quality products and superior system design means you'll get the air compressor that's right for your unique industrial needs. We also offer the best customer service and after-the-sale support available, so you'll have someone to go to with questions or for help with technical issues. While located in Pennsylvania, our air compressor sales and service experts extend preventative maintenance and emergency service in Delaware, Maryland, Northern Virginia & New Jersey areas.

Browse the rest of our website for more air compressor tips, or contact us today to schedule an air compressor analysis for better efficiency.

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