What Is a Pressure Drop and How Do You Prevent It?

Whether you’re running a small business or are in charge of a large industrial environment, air compressors of all types definitely have a place in your environment.

A lot of organizations actually use air compressors as something of an energy source, using them to power both critical equipment and tools in a reliable and efficient way. Sometimes, air compressors actually allow businesses to offer services faster than they’d otherwise be able to – with those companies in the automotive industry being excellent examples. Regardless, it’s clear that they have an important role to play in the world of manufacturing – which is why they’re an investment that is well worth making.

Yet at the same time, there are a number of common issues that you may experience throughout the course of your ownership of an air compressor. A sudden and seemingly unexplained pressure drop is perhaps chief among them. Thankfully, troubleshooting this issue isn’t necessarily as difficult as one might think – but it will require you to keep a few key things in mind.

What Causes Pressure Drop in an Air Compressor? An Overview

Generally speaking, pressure drops in an air compressor will be caused by some type of obstruction within the system itself.

A restriction builds up, which nearly immediately causes resistance to air flow – which is why the pressure drops right away. It’s also important to note that major pressure drops tend to happen when both the flow rate of the compressed air and the temperature of the surrounding environment are at their highest.

Minimizing Pressure Drop: Your Guide

Thankfully, there are a number of steps that you can take to help make sure that any industrial air compressor you’re working with is still building an ideal level of pressure – even for your most demanding of applications.

One of these involves conducting a pump test, which itself can help you confirm how long it’s taking your air compressor to build the desired pressure for your intended application. At the start, empty the air tank and turn off the service valve at the point of discharge. Then, you can determine how long it takes for the air compressor to get to your desired PSI from a point of true zero.

Keep in mind, however, that the maximum pressure of an air compressor will naturally vary depending on the model. Always consult the original manufacturer’s documentation to better understand the situation you’re dealing with.

If you perform a pump test and confirm the presence of a problem you’ll want to examine the air compressor for leaks. If you carefully look over your air tank and determine that a leak is present, you’ll want to replace it as soon as you can. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure that all tube fittings are tightened to prevent leaks in this area, too.

Along the same lines, you’ll want to carefully examine all of the system valves in your air compressor. To start, open the inlet valve completely (and if it can’t, this might be the culprit for your pressure drop). Next, look at the drain valve at the bottom portion of the air compressor and make sure that it is adequately sealed.

If that doesn’t help you get to the bottom of the issue, open the drain valve and be mindful of any oil-based residue that you might see. With an oil-based air compressor, some type of oil residue is a forgone conclusion and if you don’t carefully maintain the system, it could build up far too much and cause pressure-related issues. Of course, this isn’t a problem you’re going to have in an oil-free system.

Beyond that, there are certain types of maintenance-related tasks that you can perform that will help prevent pressure drops in the future. Always keep your air compressor’s filters clean, for example, with the air inlet filter being the most important. You should check the air inlet filter on a regular basis to make sure that it is free of not only buildup, but any other types of obstructions as well. If it is, it could not only cause an air compressor pressure drop – it could cause the machine to work too hard in demanding tasks as well. That in turn would put unnecessary wear and tear on the air compressor, which could artificially limit its lifespan at the exact same time.

Always replace all air compressor air filters based on the schedule dictated by the original equipment manufacturer. If you’d like to find out more information about how to troubleshoot pressure drop in air compressors, or if you’d just like to discuss the specifics of your own situation with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact JHFOSTER today.