Date:
By: Anina Diener

Is Your Compressed Air System Ready for Summer?

Now is the time to verify your equipment is in top running condition. Compressors generate a tremendous amount of heat on their own. Everything possible needs to be done to help them keep their cool. Your mission today is to take action to avoid any unnecessary shutdowns, motor failures, excessive condensate in your plant air, or other issues. Downtime is very costly. There are a few key areas to look at in regards to getting your equipment ready for the higher ambient temperatures. Below are a few bullet points of the most common things to look for.

  • Safety First – Always lockout and tag equipment before servicing. Valve-off and depressurize the equipment.
  • Clean Coolers – Clean the dirt out of the air/oil cooler. If your plant atmosphere is smoky or oily, remove the cooler and power wash it. You should easily be able to see the light of a flashlight through the coils. A clean cooler is imperative to a properly running machine!
  • Oil – When was your oil last changed? Does it meet or exceed manufacturer’s recommendations for quality standards? Premium oil that is within its expected life can keep your machine running cooler. Keep in mind, if your machine has been running hot (over 200 degrees) the expected life of your oil may have degraded and can varnish the internal components of the whole unit. Know the expected life of your oil. Some food grade oils have a usable life as short as 1,000 hours, and other premium synthetic oils have a life of 9,000 hours. Keep in mind, this is while running in ideal operating conditions. Oil should never be left in a machine longer than two years regardless of the hours. Also, confirm daily the proper oil level in your air compressor, low oil level is a common issue that may cause your machine to run too hot. Note: Always change your air compressor oil filter when you change your oil. Oil filters may also need to be changed every 1,000 to 2,000 hours between oil changes.
  • Oil By-Pass Valve – Is your oil bypass thermal element operating properly? This is a maintenance item and should be changed on a regular basis. This is a bit like the thermostat on your car; they can stick and cause a high temperature condition.
  • Belts/Drive Coupling – Check the belts or direct drive coupling element for cracking and deteriation. These items are always a maintenance item and can weaken in the higher ambient temperatures if they have not been properly maintained.
  • Motor – Blow loose dirt out of the motor if it is an open drip-proof type. Dirt can act like a layer of insulation causing anything to run hot. Hot motors draw more amperage which will reduce the life of the motor and could trip the motor overload relay. Check all electrical connections. A loose connection can get very hot, too.
  • Leaks – Address any internal oil or air leaks. Leaks are not just a nuisance and a safety hazard, but a waste of money as well!
  • Clean the Machine – Clean the entire unit, in and out. This makes it easier to diagnose issues and will also allow the unit to run cooler. Like they say, a clean car rides better and uses less fuel!
  • Condensate Drains – Check for proper operation of all condensate drains on the commercial air compressor, refrigerated air dryers, desiccant air dryers, filters and air tank(s). Float type drains often need to be replaced as they are difficult to clean. Most drains should have a strainer before them. Clean out the strainer or install one if there is not one. Most pneumatically operated and electronic drains have a test button on them which should be run weekly to check for proper operation.
  • Condenser Coils – Blow out (or wash, if needed) the condenser coils on any refrigerated air dryer.
  • Confirm Refrigerated Dryer Operation – Pull off the dryer cover panel and check the copper tubing. Some should be very warm, or hot, and the insulated ones should be cool. If so, the dryer is probably working. If not, it needs service. Do not trust the refrigeration gages on the front of some dryers. They can get stuck in one place and lead you to believe it is working. Make sure the dryer fan comes on. Some fans may cycle on/off. This is normal.

 

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