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.
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.