If you are reading this article, chances are you are needing to air up a tire or perhaps wanting to know how to safely operate a nail gun. Painting your house is much more efficient with the use of a paint sprayer, and guess what? Those, too, use an air compressor. An air compressor is a very valuable and handy tool to have for almost any handyman task you have to complete. This article will help you better understand air compressors and how to use them.
What is an Air Compressor?
An air compressor is a device that creates pressurized air by a simple conversion of power, generated by electricity or a fuel source and turning that air into potential energy. Basically, air is forced into a tank. It is then pressurized as air is steadily put inside the tank. The air is then stored until it is used. As it’s being used, the air inside the tank will gradually lose pressure. Once the air inside the tank hits a low-pressure marker, it will then begin to pump more air in the tank to create the desired pressure again. This process repeats for the entire duration you are using your air compressor.
Compressors also come in different classifications that are based on the amount of PSI (pounds per square inch) the devices put out. The different classifications are low, medium and high-pressure compressors. Low will give you 150psi or less. Medium will allow 151 to 1,000psi. High-pressure compressors will put out over 1,000psi.
There are several designs or “styles” of air compressors you can purchase or in some cases rent. These are the compressors you can find: Single-Stage Reciprocating, Two-Stage Reciprocating, Compound, Rotary Screw, Rotary Vane, Scroll, Turbo and Axial. We go deep in to the differences of each type here at BACR.
Each of these compressors operates mechanically just a little different from one another making some better suited for certain jobs than others.
Care and Upkeep of Your Compressor
Air compressor maintenance is rather simple. Ensuring your compressor has no air leaks is essential in making sure it works properly and the machine itself lasts for a long time. You will want to check for air and oil leaks on a regular basis. Keep an eye on the differential pressure reading in the air filter. Change the oil in the compressor. Make absolutely sure the operating temperature is at a safe level so the device does not overheat. Routinely drain any moisture and air in the tank. By completing these tasks, you can make sure your compressor will be good to use for a long time to come.
Now that we have learned what a compressor is, what some of the uses of this device are as well as maintenance procedures to follow and a little bit about various compressors, let us get into how someone would go about using one. There are a few processes that you need to perform before you can use your compressor. Those processes are: assembling your air compressor, check the oil (again, this is imperative), connect to the power source and finally initiate the power.
Assembling Your Air Compressor
The basic components of an air compressor are the motor, pump, pressure switch and the tank. You should also receive a manual, nailer and hose as well as any other accessories (these may vary). Before trying to put together your compressor, you should first lay out all the parts. Putting these parts in order in terms of the order they will be put together is another good idea. You will also want to have all necessary tools at hand so you do not have to interrupt the process in order to find parts. The manual should tell you specifically which tools you will need and for what tasks they are needed. Next, you want to inspect the parts for any sort of damage to them. If there is any damage, you should contact the maker and see about returning it for repairs or replacement parts. Once it has been established that there is nothing wrong with the compressor or any of its parts, then it will be safe to move ahead with the assembly. Your manual will give you step by step instructions on how to assemble your compressor.
Power Supply Requirements
It is of the utmost importance that you thoroughly read what the power supply requirements for your air compressor are in your manual. Many recommend the use of a circuit breaker and do not suggest the use of an extension cord but instead, plug your compressor up to a grounded socket and use an extra long air hose if you need more length to work. However, some jobs may require the use of an extension cord while using your compressor, so in those cases, it is imperative that you strictly follow the guidelines dictated by the compressor’s maker and meet all specifications to make sure you are operating it safely.
Breaking-In Your Compressor
Breaking-in the pump is a necessary step before using the compressor. In order to break in the pump, you will need to follow a few simple steps.
- Make sure the power switch is turned to off.
- Open the petcock which is a small nub located towards the bottom of the tank.
- Turn your power switch to the on position and let the compressor run for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn the compressor back off.
- Close the petcock by turning it clockwise.
- Turn the power back on. The compressor will then fill the tank with pressurized air until it is filled then cut off.
Keep in mind during this break-in process you may smell a very slight electrical type of burning scent. This occurs as the motor parts set. Once everything is in order the smell should subside within a few minutes.
Hopefully, after reading this, you will have a better understanding of air compressors and how to operate one.