The Importance of Maintaining a Portable Air Compressor
“Oh, it’s just air! How dangerous can it be?” The answer is that compressed air can be as dangerous as any fuel, combustible, or explosive. Each year, thousands of people are injured by damaged or defective air compressors. Thus, when setting up a portable air compressor, employers need to make sure the systems are in good repair. And, employers must ensure that employees know how to operate these powerful machines safely.
It is vital to inspect every nut and bolt to ensure they are tight. Vibrations during operation and bumps during transportation can cause these to loosen over time. As with other systems, your portable air compressor manual should be your guide, as it will identify these and other components you should address during maintenance procedures.
Intake valves should be cleaned at regular intervals that should be adjusted based on the operational environment, i.e., more frequently if the machine operates in high-dust environments such as deserts, construction sites, or even food manufacturing facilities. Similarly, air filters should be replaced when they become clogged. Failing to do so can cause a portable air compressor to overheat, which can trigger a fire or explosion.
All hoses should also undergo routine inspection and maintenance. These are significantly vulnerable to damage. Punctures can reduce airflow to pneumatic tools and blockages can restrict airflow and potentially cause the compressor to explode. Any worn or damaged hoses should be repaired or replaced prior to using the portable air compressor.
Condensate should also be removed from the tanks after each use. When the air is compressed, moisture will collect within the tank. Failing to remove this can result in rust formation, which can weaken the compressor tank walls. Removing moisture is the best way to alleviate the risk of a bursting hazard.
Any fuel tanks for the portable air compressor should also undergo regular maintenance. These should be inspected for leaks and adequately drained of fuel using a wet/dry vac at least once per year.
The portable air compressor shutoff systems should be well-maintained. This is vital for shutting the system down when it starts to overheat or when the compressed air tank’s pressure rises to unsafe levels. If the shutoff system fails, it can result in catastrophic damage to the air compressor and serious injuries to anyone in the vicinity.
Finally, take care of the oil and oil filters. If the portable air compressor uses oil, it will require changing with regular frequency. For many portable air compressors, manufacturers recommend changing the oil at intervals of every 8,000 operational hours. However, you will want to pay close attention to your usage schedule, the environment, oil quality, etc. and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Contact Gen-Tech Power Generation Specialists at (800) 625-8324 for more information about the best ways to maintain a portable air compressor. It is our pleasure to help you keep your machines operational and your employees safe from on-the-job injuries.