Inspecting Troubleshooting Air System Leaks

Whether you're using pneumatic tools or trying to pump up tires with a travel air compressor, there are a few failure points that need to be understood and regularly inspected for safety. Due to the sensitive nature of air compressors and sealed air systems, a break in a few key joints can lead to a leak that drops pressure enough to make your air system useless. As you look for the cause of leaks or prepare for a major project, consider a few inspection and troubleshooting points to make air system management easier.

Air Compressor Intake Issues

Air compressors rely on a steady, clean air supply to work properly. Debris such as dirt, sand or larger objects can severely damage the internal components or allow moisture to build up inside the system, reducing the compression ability of the system.

Although keeping a clean air filter is key, be sure to inspect the filter before simply cleaning or replacing it. There are a few damage patterns that could show a bigger problem, such as tears and stretch marks on a filter that has been used for barely a month or less.  

If you notice stretching or tearing, it could indicate incorrect installation or heavy amounts of debris being filtered out. Incorrect installation that leads to tears can bypass the filter just enough to let debris in anyway, which may result in a slower than normal—but still quite problematic—failure of the system.

Stretching could be an indicator of a large amount of debris that may require filter changing more often. To combat this problem, place the air conditioner further away from debris sources. If you're working in an open-air workshop such as a garage or woodworking shop, install a partition between the the air compressor and other parts of the shop. The slower air movement can reduce the amount of debris and allow your filter to last longer.

Regular Potential Damage To Connection Points

The handling and storage of accessories attached to an air compressor can make a huge difference when it comes to air pressure and leakage issues.

Many hoses for air compressors used for filling inflatable or powering pneumatic tools are made with a plastic or rubber inner wall. When subject to extreme temperatures, the hose can either become brittle in the cold weather or more elastic and easily molded in hot weather.

If wrapped too tightly or pinched together, this can result in either crumbling or stretching that can create cracks and holes. To combat this problem, make sure to have a hanging rack available to loosely hang the hoses and train anyone who uses the tools on proper storage.

The fittings can be damaged as well if dropped from a dangerous height. Even solid metal pieces can crack or loosen the air pressure valve if not handled properly. If fatigue or carelessness is an issue, make sure to have nearby rubber mats to make dropping less of a problem.

Contact an equipment specialist (for more information, follow this hyperlink) with experience in air compressors to plan proper maintenance for specific models and to find accessories that can last longer.