Tips for helping your compressed air system survive the summer
Hot weather can put a lot of stress on compressed air systems, and as temperatures rise we see many maintenance problems revealed. Here are tips for avoiding costly downtime this summer.
1. Change the fluid
High heat and humidity can reduce the life of your oil by as much as half in some cases. Compressor fluid/oil serves several critical functions:
- Lubricates bearings
- Absorbs/removes the heat of compression
- Forms a liquid seal in the airend for efficient compression
- Prevents metal to metal contact
- Removes particulate contaminants
Changing oil/fluid on schedule maintains proper viscosity for better lubrication and removes moisture, acids, wear metals, and other contaminants. Give your compressor a fighting chance by changing the oil and filter before the summer bake starts. And we always recommend fluid analysis to spot issues before they result in expensive repairs and downtime.
2. Check the fluid system
To ensure proper cooling and lubrication, and to prevent unscheduled downtime, ensure there are no restrictions in the compressor’s fluid circulation.
3. Change the inlet filter
Changing the inlet filter on schedule will keep compression efficiency up and maintain proper operating temperature. Changing the air filter will also keep your oil cleaner longer, providing better protection to airend bearings.
4. Check your belts and couplings
Over time, heat can degrade polymer based belts and couplings. Belts should be checked for cracks and wear. Worn belts reduce efficiency. If you have no record or recollection of when they were last changed, it’s time to switch them out or at least buy a spare to be on hand. Direct drive couplings are designed to last much longer but should also be checked for signs of wear to avoid unexpected downtime.
5. Ventilate the compressor room
Poor ventilation can increase the operating temperature, reduce oil life and decrease compressor efficiency. Make sure that you are giving your units enough fresh, cool air to the compressor. The compressor room should have slightly positive pressure. Properly sized louvers and fans may do the job. Consider adding duct work to remove exhaust heat from the room. If you have duct-work with thermostatic controls, make sure it is working properly. Also check other equipment in the compressor room to make sure it is not adding excess heat.
6. Clean the coolers
Keep the fluid and aftercoolers free of dirt/debris to maintain lowest possible operating and compressed air discharge temperatures. This will make dryers more effective and extend fluid life. Change or clean cooler filter mats if you have them. Keeping the coolers clean is one of the most important things that you can do during the summer months.
7. Check your electrical cabinet
Dirt and dust can form an insulating layer and build up heat on electrical components. Be sure the cabinet fan works and to clean or replace the filters on the electrical cabinet if present. Use appropriate precautions when cleaning the electrical cabinet!
8. Compressed air treatment equipment
A majority of air treatment equipment is rated at 100 psig inlet, 100°F inlet temperatures, and 100°F ambient temperatures. During hot summer months, an increase in any of these conditions can often act to decrease the capacity of the equipment. Keeping the aftercooler clean is the first step.
9. Maintain your dryer
Refrigerated dryers work best when they have a steady supply of clean and cool air. Make sure that your dryer is well ventilated and getting the coolest air possible. Clean the condenser. If it is stopped up with dirt and debris it can’t do its job and may cause the dryer to overheat. Also, make sure to check the refrigerant level.
10. Check all drains on tanks, dryer and filters
Your dryers and filters work hard to remove the extra water that occurs during the hot, humid summer months. Make sure that your drains are functioning properly so that they get that water out of your compressed air. Many drains have test buttons. Adjust timer settings on timed drains if you have them.