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Troubleshooting your compressed air system

Compressed Air System Troubleshooting Tips

Ask a Question:
What are some good trouble shooting tips to help me maintain my compressed air system?

Answer:
Here are some great Air Compressor Trouble Shooting Tips
to help you or anyone providing the regular maintenance for your compressed air system. 

Below are listed several very common problems, their probable cause and some usual remedies for the trouble. 

Of course, there can be multiple problems and unique circumstances to every compressor issue...but these tend to solve the most common situations.


PROBLEM:
Low pressure at point of use

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
Leaks in distribution piping: Check lines, connections and valves for leaks
Clogged filter elements: Clean or replace filter elements
Fouled dryer heat exchanger: Clean heat exchanger
Low pressure at compressor discharge: See below


PROBLEM:
Low pressure at compressor discharge

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
For systems with modulating load controls, improper adjustment of air capacity system:
Follow manufacturer's recommendation for adjustment of air capacity system

Worn or broken valves Improper air pressure switch setting:  Check valves and repair or replace as required
Follow manufacturer's recommendations for setting air pressure switch

Improper air pressure switch setting: Follow manufacturer's recommendations for setting air pressure switch


PROBLEM:
Water in lines

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
Failed condensate traps: Clean, repair, or replace the trap
Failed or undersized compressed air dryer: Repair or replace dryer.  If you do not have an Compressed Air Dryer, consider adding this equipment.


PROBLEM:
Liquid oil in air lines

Probable Cause:  Remedial Action
Faulty air/oil separation: Check air/oil separation system; change separator element
Compressor oil level too high:  Follow manufacturer's recommendation for proper oil level

PROBLEM:
Dirt, rust or scale in air lines

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
In the absence of liquid water, normal aging of the air lines: Install filters at point of use

PROBLEM:
Excessive service to load/hour ratio

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
System idling too much:
For multiple compressor system: consider sequencing controls to minimize compressor idle time
Adjust idle time according to manufacturer's recommendations

Improper pressure switch setting: Readjust according to manufacturer's recommendations


PROBLEM:
Elevated compressor temperature

Probable Cause: Remedial Action
Restricted air flow: Clean cooler exterior and check inlet filter mats


PROBLEM:
Restricted water flow

Remedial Action:
Check water flow, pressure, and quality; clean heat exchanger as needed


PROBLEM:
Low oil level

Remedial Action:
Check compressor oil level, add oil as required


PROBLEM:
Restricted oil flow

Remedial Action:
Remove restriction, replace parts as required


PROBLEM:
Excessive ambient temperature

Remedial Action:
Improper ventilation to compressor; check with manufacturer to determine maximum operating temperature

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