Lubrication Reliability & Maintenance Center

Keep Your Air Compressors Healthy

EP Editorial Staff | September 17, 2019

As with human health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to air compressors.

An air compressor is similar to the human body. It requires routine upkeep and regular checkups to make sure it’s functioning as designed.

Experts at Sullair, Michigan City, IN (sullair.com), explained it in these terms: While a heart pumps blood to keep the body functioning, an air compressor circulates lubricants to keep the machine operating. Without proper lubrication, the air end, i.e., the equipment’s heart, is threatened by high heat, leading to higher energy costs and lower efficiency. The coolers, plugs, and separators, in turn, become restricted, which could cause an air compressor “heart attack.” To help avoid that type of catastrophe, the Sullair team recommended several best-practice strategies.

OIL SAMPLING, ANALYSIS

This is a commonly overlooked component of good air-compressor maintenance. When it’s performed regularly, users can monitor the condition of their fluid to see how it’s holding up over time and take appropriate steps if symptoms arise, e.g., presence of wear metals. When it is not performed, a number of things can happen—all of them bad. Components can fail, machines can go down, and warranties can be voided. Though many users who regularly perform oil sampling and analysis do so to stay in compliance with their warranty, it’s a valuable practice for compressors of any age.

MOTOR GREASING

Users who think that electric motors aren’t prone to failure might be in for an unfortunate surprise. Every motor has greasing requirements, which are spelled out by the manufacturer. If you’re diligent about proper greasing, you can keep contamination out, temperatures down, and repairs manageable. If you’re not diligent, you could be looking at catastrophic failure, which would cost significant time and money.

DAILY LOGS

An ounce of prevention certainly is worth a pound of cure when it comes to air compressors. Although daily equipment checks can help ensure optimal operation, some users might let months go by before a proper inspection. Staying on top of issues before they get too big can help avoid preventable downtime.

CONDENSATE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE

Many users fail to perform this critical protocol, which should be part of the daily checklist. If the drain fails (which it is prone to do), water can make its way into the downstream process and damage sensitive equipment, or air can escape, reducing efficiency. With regular evaluation, proper function can be expected. 

AIR-LEAK AUDITS

These audits can help save on energy costs by preventing system leaks and wasted compressed air. A 0.25-in. air-line that’s leaking to 100 psi will cost thousands of dollars in a year’s time, and reduce efficiency on a daily basis. Air leaks can be difficult to hear in a noisy facility, but evaluation earlier in the day—when the facility is quieter—can make them easier to catch. EP

Sullair, Michigan City, IN, is a Hitachi Group Company. For more information on a range of compressed air topics, visit sullair.com.

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