Updated:
By: Brad Taylor

Industrial Air Compressor Maintenance
You may still have frost outside, but spring is just around the corner. When you’re planning your spring cleaning, don’t forget your compressed air system. Spring is the perfect time to assess your industrial air compression system and perform critical maintenance to make sure it is ready for the hot summer months ahead. A thorough spring cleaning of your industrial air compressor and other compressed air system components can prevent expensive repairs and eliminate costly downtime.

Of course, you should be conducting most routine maintenance checks daily or weekly throughout the year, following the preventative maintenance guidelines in the user manual for your air compressor. But at least once a year, it’s a good idea to give everything a more thorough once-over. Spring is a great time to make sure your air compressor is ready for the increased temperatures, pollen levels, and humidity that will be coming soon.

1.    General Cleaning for Your Air Compressor and Compressor Room

Make sure that the air compressor is clean and the area around it is free from dust and debris. Start with a good, thorough cleaning of the compressor itself—inside and out.

  • Dust compressor surfaces and thoroughly clean residual oil and debris from coolers and heat exchangers.
  • Clean the air intake to remove built-up debris.
  • Check and clean your connectors. If anything appears to be leaking, repair or replace the faulty connectors.
  • Finally, give your condensation drain traps a good cleaning and make sure they are functioning properly.

Then, spend some time cleaning up the compressor room.

  • Remove any stored materials that are blocking the area around the compressor; you want to ensure adequate airflow around the compressor, heat exchangers, and air dryers to avoid overheating and stressing your system.
  • Vacuum, dust, and mop the area around the compressor. Removing loose dust and debris will reduce the amount of particulate that ends up in your compressed air system.
  • Take note of oil or sludge under or around the compressor, as this could indicate an oil leak that needs to be repaired.
  • Finally, check the ventilation filters and clean the air inlets for the room.

2.    Check and Change Filters

Clogged filters will create flow restrictions in your system, reducing energy efficiency and putting added strain on your compressed air system. In the spring, pollen creates extra work for inlet air filters and your dryer system.

  • Check filters before the heavy pollen season starts and change them if they appear dirty. You’ll want to keep a closer eye on your filters in the spring; consider checking filters twice as often as recommended in your general maintenance schedule through the heavy pollen season. Keeping filters cleans extends the life of the oil filter & air/oil separator.

3.    Check Oil and Oil Filters

If you have an oil-lubricated air compressor, you should be checking your oil frequently throughout the year. Spring is a great time to consider a complete oil change and flush. Compressor oil should be completely changed at least once per year or more often if your system sees heavy use.

  • Completely drain and replace the oil according to the instructions in your user manual.
  • If you are seeing an excessive buildup of sludge and contaminants in your air compressor oil, flushing with additional oil can help to clean out soft, loose deposits.
  • If you are experiencing hard deposits or varnish buildup, talk to your air compressor manufacturer about using a detergent additive or other removal strategies.
  • If your model uses an air compressor oil filter, it should be changed along with the oil. The oil filter should always be changed at least annually or every 2000 hours of operation.

4.    Check Temperature Stabilization

An air compressor generates a lot of heat. This heat must be dissipated to ensure proper operation of your machine and prevent overheating of the compressor motor. Depending on the type and model, your compressor may be air-cooled or water-cooled. You may also have an added external heat exchanger for your system. These cooling systems should be checked in the spring to make sure your system is ready for rising temperatures in the summer.

  • For air-cooled air compressors, check and clean the air-oil coolers and make sure airflow is not obstructed.
  • For water-cooled air compressors, clean any Y Strainer screens and make sure that there are no leaks or obstructions and there is adequate fluid in the system.
  • Inspect your heat exchanger to make sure it is functioning properly and perform any routine maintenance recommended by the manufacturer.

5.    Inspect and Clean Compressed Air Pipes, Hoses, and Connectors

Your compressed air system consists of more than just an air compressor. Now is a great time to perform a complete inspection of your air distribution system, including all compressed air pipes, hoses, and connectors.

  • Check for signs of leaks or corrosion. If you have audible leaks or are experiencing excessive pressure drop across your system, schedule a leak repair appointment with a qualified compressed air system provider. You may qualify to have your compressed air leaks fixed for free through your energy provider—ask us how!
  • Inspect the inside of pipes and hoses for a buildup of corrosion, moisture, or particulates. If you are seeing moisture or corrosion, you may need to upgrade your air drying system to remove more water from your compressed air. If you are seeing a lot of dry particulates, you may need to add an inline filter or change your filters more often.
  • If having problems with water in airlines check the operation of your dryer condenser.

Do you need help with spring air compressor maintenance? Our expert technicians can perform all routine preventative maintenance or schedule an in-depth spring service for you. Ask us about our service plans