Winterizing An Air Compressor

If you live in an area that’s susceptible to cold, winter weather, then you already know that you need to take preventative measures to ensure certain systems and components don’t freeze or incur damage from dropping temperatures.  If you manage a warehouse, machine shop or auto repair business where you rely on air compressors to power tools, equipment and other components, then it’s imperative that you take the proper measures to ensure that it continues to operate effectively and efficiently during all times of the year, winter months included.

The good news is that preventative maintenance on your air compressor is fairly easy. Here’s a look at why it’s important to winterize and how to perform this routine maintenance.

Preparing Your Air Compressor for Winter

Why is Winterization Important?

Like we said in the opening, winterization is important for a few reasons. One, you don’t want the air compressor lines to freeze up when there’s a cold snap. This can cause business interruption until the lines can be properly thawed. In some cases, the lines may also burst – resulting in more expensive and extensive repair and even potential water damage.  Even if the air compressor lines don’t freeze, the cold winter weather can cause the compressor to underperform. This can result in higher utility bills and potential damage to your unit. Keep in mind that most air compressors are designed to operate in environments where the ambient temperature is ideally 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so any dip in temperature has the potential to cause some problems.

Routine Maintenance

Let’s start by discussing some routine maintenance that should be performed prior to winter weather’s arrival. Here’s a look at three simple things you should be doing:

Drains: Make sure drains are functioning properly for the entire compressed air system, including the Compressor, Filters, and the Dryer. If the drains fail, excess moisture is delivered to other components and can lead to issues in the compressed air in your plant.

Compressor room:  Keep the ambient temp in the compressor room above 40 degrees F. There are a few concerns when it comes to cold compressor rooms. Cold oil does not flow well, therefore it does not lubricate properly. Condensation in control tubing is also susceptible to freezing in cold rooms, this can cause control issues within the compressor and make it difficult to operate properly or at all. Moisture will also freeze in the plumbing and cause a restriction.

Dryer: If the compressed air travels outside during the winter months, moisture in the air lines will freeze and eventually cause issues in the piping and other components that use this air. Make sure the air dryer is functioning properly. If the air is traveling outdoors a properly functioning regenerative dryer is a must, as this type of dryer is capable of delivering dewpoint of -40 degrees F. This will allow the components using the compressed air to function properly even if it is -40 F degrees outside. If dryer air is required, there are -100F dewpoint options, as well.

Sample the compressor oil: The air is relatively dry in the winter months, but it can also be cooler. Cool, dry air means  moisture can develop if the compressor is not operating enough to burn it off. The best way to stay ahead of any issues is to sample the oil every 2,000 hours or at least 2 times a year, whichever happens first.

Why it’s Important to Keep Water/Moisture Out

Water and moisture can detrimentally impact your air compressor in more ways than just freezing the lines during the cold weather months.

For instance, condensation is common on compressed air tanks during the winter months Tanks where moisture accumulates should be drained immediately to prevent freezing.

Additionally, you likely already know that moisture and air compressors don’t mix during normal operating temperatures. Any moisture that enters the system has the potential to lead to rusting, corrosion, valve damage, line clogs, and more.    

Repair, Replacement, and Upgrade Opportunities

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to think about winterizing your air compressor. Winterization can give your compressor  that necessary tune-up it needs to work effectively and efficiently during the winter months. Winterization also helps you avoid many of the pain points that cold temperatures have the potential to cause. Additionally, a thorough inspection and tune-up can also help assess if any repairs need to be made prior to the winter season or if replacement may be necessary.

When it comes to a component as important as your air compressor, you can’t risk issues that may require emergency repair or operational downtime. Consistent, predictable operations are  true value of seasonal maintenance. Additionally, regular maintenance can ensure that your unit is operating efficiently, which can result in reduced energy bills, reduced long-term maintenance costs, reduced emissions and increased overall productivity.

Contact JH Foster for More Information

For more information on how to winterize an air compressor and the importance of doing so, contact JH Foster today.