Air Compressor Preventive Maintenance Quick Checklist

There is no getting around the fact that air compressors are expensive pieces of machinery. It’s in your best interest to proactively protect that investment. Professional maintenance will always be important to keep your compressor running smoothly and efficiently, but there are a few basic things you can do to help extend the life of your compressed air equipment and avoid air compressor safety hazards.

Maintenance Checklist for Compressed Air Systems

  • Check the air filter weekly
  • Change the oil filter every 1,000 hours
  • Keep your aftercooler/oil cooler clean
  • Change your air/oil separator every 4,000 hours or annually
  • Request an oil analysis every 2,000 hours

Air Filter Maintenance

The intake air filter is your first line of defense in protecting your compressor and its lubricant. A clean element will help your compressor run cooler and use less energy. A dirty, clogged filter element, on the other hand, reduces efficiency and lubricant life. The interval for changing your air filter is dependent on the ambient environment, but you should check your air filter on a weekly basis.

Oil Filter Maintenance

If you don’t change your oil filter element, you will damage your industrial air compressor. This inexpensive part removes dirt and abrasives from the lubricant. When changed regularly, it will extend the life of your lubricant, reduce wear on moving parts and protect the air/oil separator on rotary screw compressors. A general rule is to change the oil filter every 1,000 hours, but some compressors utilize long-life oil filters, so check the manual for appropriate maintenance intervals for your machine.

Aftercooler/Oil Cooler Maintenance

Always check for dirt or particle accumulation on your compressed air system’s coolers. As exterior surfaces become clogged, dirty and damaged, coolers lose their ability to effectively dissipate heat. Increased running temperatures can damage your compressor and reduce the life of synthetic lubricants.

Air/Oil Separator Maintenance

For oil-flooded rotary screw compressors, the air/oil separator provides the final removal of oil from the air stream. Contaminant and particulate buildup in the element will cause an increase in pressure drop across the separator. As a rule of thumb, every 2 PSIG increase in pressure drop raises BHP (brake horsepower) use by 1%. Servicing your air/oil separator will also keep your oil carryover low and reduce lubricant consumption.

Oil Analysis

Synthetic lubricants do a great job of protecting your compressor and holding up in harsh environments, but they don’t last forever. We recommend scheduling a professional analysis every 2,000 hours to catch any issues before they become serious. As synthetic lubricants break down, they can become corrosive and create varnishes, so being proactive in this area will save a lot of money in the long run. Lewis Systems offers free analysis on all lubricants that are purchased from us.

Too often, air compressor maintenance is put off or overlooked for other pressing business matters. But preventive maintenance is significantly more affordable than reactive maintenance. Lewis Systems has dedicated service technicians who can work with you to complete this air compressor maintenance checklist and any other maintenance your equipment may need. To learn more about how to perform maintenance safely in the workplace, check out our 10 Air Compressor Safety Tips

Air Compressor Safety: 10 Tips to Avoid Injury in the Workplace

Air compressors are complicated pieces of machinery with many potential safety hazards. Like all high-powered machinery, air compressors require safety measures to be in place to protect operators and other employees. We’ve created an air compressor safety checklist to help keep your business a safe place to work during compressor operations, repairs and maintenance.

Air Compressor Safety Checklist

  1. Power Down Fully Before Repairs: Before performing any troubleshooting or maintenance to your compressor, shut down the machine, disconnect it from the power source and ensure the air pressure has been relieved. Automatically controlled compressors can start at any time.
  2. Allow Time for the Compressor to Cool Down: Hot compressor parts, coolants and lubricants may cause burns if touched during or shortly after usage. Additionally, adding or changing oil or fuel while the unit is still hot could cause the unit to smoke or even catch fire.
  3. Drain the Compressor Tank Often: Draining the tank helps to prevent it from rusting and exploding. A rusty tank puts all employees working in the area in danger.  
  4. Keep Hands, Fingers, Hair and Clothing Away: An air compressor is a piece of rotating equipment that can quickly grab loose clothing or cause serious injury to extremities. Cooling fans, drive couplings and belts are all areas where extreme caution should be used.  
  5. Check the Electrical Outlet: Air compressors must be plugged into a grounded electrical outlet or they run the risk of electrical damage or fire.
  6. Choose the Right Compressor Location: Compressed air fumes can be hazardous if not in a well-ventilated space. The area should also have clean, dry inlet air to avoid rust and electrical issues.
  7. Do Not Use PVC Pipe: The use of PVC piping in compressed air applications is not safe or approved by OSHA. It can crack, burst and send pieces of shrapnel flying through your plant.
  8. Secure Tools and Hoses Before Starting the Compressor: Before operation, check pneumatic tools to make sure the trigger is not engaged and ensure hoses are secured. Loose hoses can fly off or whip uncontrollably, causing injury.
  9. Wear Protective Gear: Always wear ear and eye protection. Exposure to loud machinery like compressors can cause permanent hearing loss and flying debris can cause significant vision issues.
  10. Take Compressed Air Seriously: Compressed air hoses or tools should never be pointed at yourself or anyone else for any reason. Even low pressures can cause bodily injury, including ruptured organs. Industrial compressed air is also not intended for breathing air. Breathing air requires approved filtration, treatment and monitoring equipment that meets strict health and safety standards.

Keep in mind, even if you’ve used air compressors for years, there is valuable information in the manual about how to operate your specific model safely and efficiently. Explosions and fires occur every year from compressors that have safety devices bypassed. If your compressor’s safety devices have been bypassed or are not working properly or you are concerned about the general safety of your equipment, contact our factory trained service team at 800.222.4553. We have many replacement parts in stock and can repair issues as needed.

Maintaining Air Compressor Performance and Efficiency in Winter

air compressor

Frozen lines. Cracked pipes. Slow starting compressors. Or worse, compressors that won’t start at all. Winter can be difficult on compressed air systems—even here in the South. Most air compressor equipment should be kept above 40º F to maintain efficient operation and avoid costly breakdowns. As we enter the coldest months of the year, it’s important to winterize your system and know what maintenance needs to be performed throughout the winter season to protect your investment.

Why Is Winter a Problem for Air Compressors?

  • Moisture:

The process of compressing air naturally creates moisture. If not removed, even a small amount of condensate can freeze in the drains, tank, pipes or other parts of the system. This frozen condensate expands to create blockages, warping and cracking that prevent the compressor from functioning properly.

  • Lubrication:

During the cold winter months, lubricants often thicken and provide less value to the motor. Sludge-like oil can cause wear and tear on equipment, increase energy usage, trip circuit breakers and limit performance.

Compressors located outside or in poorly insulated rooms are particularly vulnerable to winter condensate and lubricant issues, but there are ways to minimize your chances of suddenly needing emergency service. 

Winterizing Your Compressed Air System

Having a professional compressed air company perform winter maintenance before issues arise is the first step to protecting your equipment. They’ll assess the following:

Condensate Drains: All system drains should be checked for clogs that could cause moisture to accumulate and freeze. It’s important to remember the drains and bowls outside and consider applying heat trace tape to any drain lines that are exposed to the elements.

Weather Stripping and Insulation: All weather stripping and insulation should be inspected and replaced if damaged or missing.

Heating: A cabinet heater may be able to be added to help preheat lubricant. Or you might need to provide ambient heating safely away from the compressor. If your compressor is outside, heat lamps may help to keep controls from freezing.

Filters: Clean, properly working filters are essential for removing dust, oil and moisture from your system. Additionally, ice and water can accumulate on clogged filters.

Air Dryers: Dryers can be especially beneficial in cold temperatures. Adding a new dryer could help avoid moisture buildup on system components.

Air Receivers: Compressed air receivers should be inspected to avoid condensation from settling and freezing at the bottom of the tank.

Lubricant: Lubricant should be checked for flow. Thick or icy lubricant will not properly lubricate the compressor and may reduce the life of the system.

Heat Recovery: Believe it or not, it may be possible to heat your compressor room and equipment with the heat given off by your system itself.

Ongoing Winter Maintenance for Compressed Air Systems

Keeping your system running smoothly during freezing temperatures goes well beyond initial winterizing efforts and will require a time investment on your part:

  • Before starting the air compressor, always inspect the system for moisture and ice
  • Drain condensate daily if you do not have an automatic drainage system (even if you do, check often for obstructions)
  • Check oil levels regularly as many compressors use more oil in the winter
  • Inspect for leaks often

If you haven’t yet winterized your system or have questions about how to best protect your compressed air equipment from being impacted by cold weather, contact us or call 800.222.4553. Our factory-trained technicians are pros at keeping you up and running.

0% Financing Available for Gardner Denver Compressed Air Equipment

As an authorized Gardner Denver distributor, Lewis Systems & Service, Co. is excited to be able to offer their new Economic Stimulus Financing Program to our clients through October 31, 2020. We know businesses in our area have been facing challenges during this time and some facilities may be putting off capital investments, even if they’re needed. Taking advantage of the Gardner Denver Economic Stimulus Financing Program can help you make sure your compressed air system continues to run efficiently and reliably.

Economic Stimulus Financing Program Details

All Gardner Denver compressed air products are eligible for:

  • 0% Financing for 12 months
  • 1.9% Financing for 24 months
  • 2.9% Financing for 36–60 months

Orders must be placed by October 31, 2020. The first payment will be due 90 days after contract commencement.

Gardner Denver Air Compressors

Gardner Denver is a global manufacturer of air compressor and vacuum products, offering the total compressed air package. They have a full range of oil-lubricated, oil-less and oil-free compressors, with reciprocating, rotary and centrifugal options to meet the needs of different industries. They also manufacture reliable air treatment products, piping, lubricant and parts. Their technology is second to none and we proudly stand behind their products because we have years of experience installing and servicing their equipment.

Planning for Success

If you’re considering new compressed air equipment and are interested in taking advantage of the 0% financing that is currently available, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We recommend you approach planning without preconceived opinions such as “it has to be a screw compressor” or “we need a 75 kW machine.” Our Gardner Denver experts can help you calculate your current compressed air demand and pressure level, evaluate future needs and carefully consider all of your options.

LEGAL: Current promotion is a limited time offer for qualified applicants and subject to change without notice. Only applies to Gardner Denver compressed air products. Orders must be placed by 10/31/2020. Other terms and conditions apply and are only available through participating Authorized Gardner Denver Distributors.

Reducing Your Compressed Air Environmental Impact

Today’s businesses are being held to a higher standard of environmental responsibility, and that includes their compressed air practices. Pressure from the public, competitors and government bodies may be leading you to question how to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and make your operation eco-friendly. There are several areas in compressed air and vacuum systems where changes can make a significant impact on the environment. In fact, these “green” compressed air initiatives may be able to reduce operating costs for you as well. 

Addressing Electrical Usage and Power Consumption

  • Audit, Audit, Audit

We can’t stress this enough. Professional air audits and energy audits can help your business identify leaks and improperly designed control systems, which can be a huge waste of energy. According to the Compressed Air & Gas Institute, poorly designed and maintained air systems waste approximately $3.2 billion in energy costs every year. After addressing the issues found in an audit, it’s not uncommon for a facility to be able to shut down an entire compressor.

  • Replace Old, Outdated Equipment

Old electric motors, worn out compressor rotors and leaking lines can all negatively affect your environmental impact. Fortunately, since compressed air manufacturers are also being pushed to make equipment environmentally friendly, new equipment may allow you to meet the same demand while reducing energy consumption, emissions and operating costs. Replacing older positive displacement blower packages, for instance, with new high-efficiency packages instead of just replacing the bare blower can have a major impact on energy consumption. Many new products, such as Gardner Denver’s IQ-HE and IQ-RB packages are ahead of the curve when it comes to energy efficiency. The IQ package has the ability to save up to 30% on energy consumption.  

Oil-Free Compressors

Not every application allows for an oil-free compressor, but for those that do, this can be a fantastic opportunity to make your system more environmentally friendly. Oil-free compressors produce the purest form of air available and create significantly less waste than oil-powered compressors. Not having oil in the compressor means you can’t send it back out into the environment. By getting rid of these harmful emissions, you can provide a healthier work environment for your employees. Plus, you don’t have to filter oil out, pay for disposal or buy it as a maintenance item.

Cleaning Up Compressed Air Condensate

An oil-powered compressed air system produces thousands of gallons of oil laden condensate a year. This contaminated condensate has not always been disposed of properly because it can be costly to collect, store and haul away. Oil water separators capture and treat condensate, reducing your environmental impact and resulting in tremendous cost savings. The majority of the condensate can then be discharged safely and the small remainder of trapped oil is much easier to dispose of properly. For example, the Sepura STERLING from nano Purification Solutions uses non-carbon based, 100% recycled media to actively absorb oil while repelling water. The result is clean condensate that can be disposed of safely, inexpensively and in compliance with environmental regulations.

Creating a Plan for Your Facility

When eco-friendly compressed air initiatives result in cost savings, lower energy consumption and healthier work environments, everybody wins. Lewis Systems can be your partner in taking a more intelligent and environmentally friendly approach to compressed air and vacuum. Contact us to discuss your options.