Air Compressor Setup and Installation Guide

air compressor setup tools

Once you’ve selected a quality air compressor for your business, it’s important to make sure the equipment is installed properly. Where’s the right place for it? What other equipment do you need to keep the compressor running at its best? Considering this air compressor installation guide before your machine arrives can help your air compressor perform efficiently and last as long as possible.

Top 6 Air Compressor Installation Considerations

  1. Location
  2. Ventilation
  3. Clearance Around Equipment
  4. Electrical Access
  5. System Configuration
  6. Maintenance Plan


When possible, we recommend installing compressed air systems indoors, enclosed in their own clean, dry room near your end use. Keeping the compressor separate helps to control air quality, avoid overheating issues, minimize the chance of injury and reduce productivity losses from noise. Indoor systems are also not subject to the moisture and weather issues that outdoor systems face.   


Indoor compressors need to be in a well-ventilated space. Air must be vented out of the building away from dangers like gasoline or propane fumes and paint spray filter outlets. The ventilation system should be able to turn over the CFM of the entire unit, including the compressor and dryer. This information can be found in the compressor and dryer engineering data sheets.

Clearance Around Equipment

All air compressor equipment should have a minimum of three feet of clearance on each side. This is important for free air cooling and heat exchange on a daily basis as well as maintenance in the future. Every air compressor is different, so ask your service professional how much access space will be needed above and around your particular model. They’ll need to plan for regular maintenance and removal of the motor or airend later in the service cycle.

Electrical Access

Whether indoors or outdoors, your compressor will need access to electricity. Before plugging it in for the first time, ensure that your compressor voltage is compliant with the socket to avoid blown fuses or fires.

Compressed Air System Configuration

Every company’s needs are unique, but when installing a compressor system, we generally recommend that systems include a wet receiver between the compressor and air dryer and a dry receiver after the dryer. The compressor should have a moisture separator. The dryer should have a pre-filter and an after filter. And the receivers should be sized based on the CFM of the compressors. Below is a typical example of an air compressor setup diagram.

air compressor setup diagram

Air Compressor Maintenance Plan

The most effective way to avoid breakdowns in the future is to have a preventive maintenance plan in place when the machine is installed. To learn more about the maintenance that needs to be performed and how often, view our basic maintenance checklist.

As a professional air compressor installation company with more than 40 years of experience, Lewis Systems can help make sure your system is set up for success. Feel free to contact us at 800.222.4553 with any installation concerns or questions.

Air Compressor Preventive Maintenance Quick Checklist

air compressor maintenance 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.

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.