The key to optimal air compressor efficiency is to maintain the integrity of your entire pneumatic system. This includes the air compressor, fittings, air hose, and tools. An efficient pneumatic system will ensure that you’re getting the air you need, when you need it. An inefficient one will cost you time and money. Follow the steps below to make sure your pneumatic system keeps operating the way it was intended to.
Use 3/8″ air hose whenever possible. All hoses cause some degree of frictional loss. While 1/4″ air hose is lighter and generally easier to work with, the smaller diameter restricts air flow more than a 3/8″ diameter hose would. If the CFM requirements of the tool(s) being operated is close to the air compressor’s limits, every bit of pressure counts. To ensure you’re getting the maximum amount of pressure to the tool, opt for a larger diameter hose. To get an idea of how air hose diameter affects working pressure, check out this handy Air Flow Calculator.
Use shorter lengths of air hose. The idea here is similar to #1. The farther the air has to travel, the more pressure you lose. We completely understand that situations will arise when you are forced to use long runs of small diameter hose. When that happens, refer to the next step.
Use an auxiliary tank. Adding an auxiliary tank in between two lengths of hose allows the user(s) to maximize distance from the compressor while minimizing frictional loss. For example, if you were to use two 3/8″ x 100′ air hoses, you’d be able to work 200′ from the compressor, but only lose pressure over the length of one 100′ section. The icing on the cake is the fact that the AIRKEG can go where the compressor can’t, like on a pitched roof.
Lubricate your pneumatic tools regularly. Just be careful what you put in them. The wrong type of lubricant can cause more harm than good by damaging o-rings and other internal components. The correct type of oil will be labeled as a tool lubricant and will contain special additives to promote long life for pneumatic tools. Of course, the obvious question is “How often?” That depends on the type of tool and how hard it’s being used, but for tools that get used daily, applying 4-5 drops at the start of each shift is a good rule of thumb.
Check the system for leaks. This includes the entire air compressor, all fittings, air hoses and tools. Simply allow the compressor to build to top pressure with the air hose and all other tools and components hooked up. Once the compressor has stopped pumping, watch the tank pressure gauge and listen closely. If the needle stays put, you’ve got a leak-free system. If the needle starts to drop continuously (a slight drop is normal as the air cools) or you hear a hiss of air, you’ve got a leak. Excessive leaks in the system can cause your compressor to run more often than necessary, which leads to premature wear. If you have a difficult time locating the leak, we recommend spraying a soap and water solution on the hose and all fittings. A leak will cause the solution to bubble.
Like anything else in the trades, a little bit of planning and preparation up front will pay dividends in the end. If you plan out your pneumatic system prior to each job and add steps 4 and 5 to your preventative maintenance plan, you’ll avoid a few headaches and maximize the lifespan of your equipment. If you feel like your pneumatic system is not performing like it should, give us a call and one of our service reps will help you troubleshoot the issue.