Summer-ize Your Compressed-Air System
EP Editorial Staff | March 1, 2022
Summer’s coming and now is a good time to start prepping your compressed-air system for the heat and humidity it brings.
Whether you have an oil-flooded or oil-free air compressor, or air-treatment equipment, be sure to follow these five simple maintenance checks to keep your system running and performing at its best in the hot summer months.
Ensure thermal valves are working properly
Take note of your discharge temperatures. An abnormal temperature elevation or drop may be a sign that a valve may be malfunctioning. There are several conditions that can cause discharge temperatures to fluctuate from a normal operating range. Cooling-system issues can be complex, so this maintenance function is best left to a certified technician.
Clean the coolers
While there’s not a defined service interval for cleaning the oil and after coolers, overlooking them can cause the compressor to overheat and become unreliable. Clean the coolers often. If your environment is dusty or dirty, more frequent cleaning may be required. Ask your service provider to add cooler inspection/cleaning to your quarterly service.
Check fluid levels often
Fluid levels should ideally be checked daily, especially in summer. Check around the compressor for fluid and repair leaks as needed. Always check fluid levels and only add fluid to the sump at operating temperatures. Servicing cold sump tanks may lead to overfill conditions. Follow safety procedures closely while performing routine maintenance. Opening a vessel under pressure can be dangerous. If you suspect carry over, refer to your latest fluid-sample reports and look for issues such as viscosity and pH levels.
Check the install location
How and where your industrial air compressor is installed are key components for your machine’s efficiency and reliability. Adequate cooling air is essential for reliability. Installing a compressor in an enclosed room without proper ventilation can cause elevated discharge temperatures. If needed, install properly sized duct work for cooling-air intake and exhaust. Installing an air compressor in an area with a high amount of particulate in the air can cause the compressor cooler to clog, also causing overheating. Make sure the ambient temperature does not exceed the compressor’s specified tolerance range.
Talk it out
Have a conversation with the person responsible for servicing your air compressor. Have you noticed a reduction in condensate coming out of the unit? Are you adding more oil than usual? Is the compressor generating unusual sounds? Does it load and unload more than usual? Has your process changed? Has the pandemic increased or reduced your air demand? Is your current service interval adequate for the run hours? Pay attention to what your service provider is doing. Ask questions. Maintaining an open dialogue can prevent a small problem from becoming a big one.
Whether your maintenance and summer-prep checklists are completed by your compressed-air supplier or an in-house maintenance technician, don’t skip these steps. A failed or inefficient air compressor can take down an entire operation and there is nothing sunny about that. EP
Information provided by Spencer Hall, Field Service Engineer at Sullair, Michigan City, IN (sullair.com).