How Do I Prevent My Air Compressor from Overheating?

If you notice that your compressor is getting hot and bothered, there may be heating issues affecting your air compressors performance. Did you know that an overheating compressor is top of the pops for being the most common cause of compressor failure.

What causes my air compressor to overheat?

Internal and external factors can affect your unit and typically the air will become hot before it cools and reaches it's endpoint. Thus, ventilation of your air compressor is crucial to ensuring it's running. In a reciprocating air compressor, the air temperature will drop anywhere from  10 degrees celsius to 24 degrees celsius across the roughly six inches of travel between the discharge port and discharge line. If the temperature at the discharge port exceeds 148 degrees celsius, the refrigerant oil and adjacent mechanisms will suffer.

For the health of the air compressor, the temperature at the discharge line should never exceed 107 degrees celsius. Anything hotter at the discharge line would put the discharge port dangerously above the 148 degrees celsius level. If the temperature exceeds 176 degrees celsius in the discharge port, the heat could lead to imminent system failure.

How do I know if my air compressor is overheating?

If your compressor is too hot and it's behaving questionably, the likehood is that it may be from heating issues.

1. Compressor Doesnโ€™t Turn On

If the compressor fails to start up as normal, there is definitely something wrong with the machine that could likely stem from a heating issue. If the compressor requires longer durations between usage cycles, the internal components are probably taking longer to cool down between each cycle. Likewise, if the machine stalls during startup and ultimately takes longer to get into full operational mode, this is probably due to heat-degraded internal mechanisms.

2. Circuit Breaker Tripping

In an air compressor, the current flow is regulated by the circuit breaker, which stops the flow when necessary as a protective measure for the performance and quality of the machine. If the circuit breaker acts irregularly and trips at seemingly random moments, this is a tell-tale sign that bigger problems lurk inside the air compressor.

3. Accelerated Wear

When an air compressor starts to wear down at an accelerated pace, there is likely a more serious matter at hand. For example, if the machine exhibits performance issues just weeks after it was last serviced, something was probably not evaluated properly, be it a problem with the oil, the vents, the refrigerant or the condenser parts. If the air compressor is long before its time and yet already failing to handle basic demands, there could easily be an issue related to overheating.

4.  Oil-related Issues

An air compressor could emit noises or smells indicating oil erosion. If you can hear faint creaking noises from the machine that seem out of the ordinary, it could be a matter of insufficiently lubricated internal parts. A more clear-cut indicator of oil trouble is when an air compressor smells of burnt oil. Either way, the issue should be inspected immediately, as insufficient lubrication and poor oil quality can have a domino effect on the internal mechanisms of an air compressor.

What can I do to prevent my air compressor from overheating

If you need to cool your compressor down, and work to prevent it from overheating, here's what you can do: 

1. Focus on Improving Ventilation

The first step toward reversing a heating issue with an air compressor should focus on the internal and surrounding ventilation. Have each vent inspected to ensure that they are sufficient for the demands of the machine. If not, you will need to have the vents replaced. Ask your maintenance person the proper ventilation dimensions for the size of your system and the operations at hand.

Also, consider the external factors of the machine itself. If the machine is in an area that is either too hot or not sufficiently ventilated, arrange space for the machine in a more suitable area. Make sure that this new placement allows plenty of breathing room for each of the vents.

2. Monitor the Compressorโ€™s Oil Level and Filters Regularly

As with any motorized machine or vehicle, it is crucial to ensure that the oil in an air compressor is healthy. Check the oil level on a regular basis to ensure that there is enough to handle the demands of your operations. Also, check the viscosity to make sure that the oil has not been rendered too thin or watery — this would be a sign of excess heat within the system. Moreover, check the filters during each oil inspection.

3. Monitor Ventilation and Ducting

Even after you have modified the layout of your workspace to better ventilate the air compressor and the surrounding temperatures, inspect the ventilation and ducting on a regular basis. If dirt or dust accumulate along the vents, clean them out accordingly. Make sure that the ducting flows properly and is not crimped or punctured at any point of the system.

Even if, in all practicality, you found no reason to reposition the machine, the vents could still have issues if they donโ€™t receive due attention. An air compressor that cannot properly vent is liable to have heating issues, regardless of where the machine is placed.

4. Keep the Compressor Parts Up-To-Date

Because needs change, the air compressor that you purchase one year might not be sufficient in its initial state as the demands of your operations evolve. If your operations have demanded increased amounts of air power since the time that you first bought the machine, consider updating your air compressor with more optimal components.

When to call Ash Air Services?

When you realise that your compressor is likely overheating, contact us immediately. The longer you wait the higher the risk that your compressor may continue to run too hot and the problem will have costly and time consuming consequences.

Have a chat to us, your friendly New Zealand Air Compressor Specialists, and our service person will analyse the issue, tell you if it involves damage to more than one part, or if insufficient oil is involved. With inspections performed by us, you can ensure reliable performance for your compressed air system, year in, year out! It is worth considering replacement parts for your compressor unit(s), as your compressor could work with higher efficiency if you changed out older and worn parts. This may be the most beneficial option for your system, creating ease of suction, compressing air and send out cooler, cleaner air to your air tools.

Have a chat and see how we can help you today:

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Who we are and how Ash Air can help your business!

Ash Air has been around in New Zealand since 1979, and weโ€™ve grown into a nationwide company with international support and a reputation for quality and reliability.We look after all things compressed air for your business!

Ash Air's range of Chicago Pneumatic, Alup, Pneumatech, and Quincy compressors are used extensively around the world in industries ranging from oil and gas to food, automotive and farming, and we bring you these world class compressors here in the land of the long white cloud.Our technicians are compressed air equipment experts and are dedicated to addressing customer needs. Supported by a 13 locations nationwide, Ash Air offers one of the widest selections of compressed air equipment and parts available today in New Zealand.

Reliability and Efficiency

With Ash Air compressors, you can count on reliability and high performance for even the most demanding applications. We focus our efforts on the following:

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