Introduction: How to Maintain Your Air Compressor

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Maintaining your air compressor is an easy and very necessary step to extending the lifespan of your machine. Always perform this routine maintenance at least once a year or per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Step 1: Changing Your Air Compressor Oil

Changing the oil in your air compressor is the most difficult (yet, still remarkably simple) undertaking in maintaining the efficiency of your compressor. Follow these steps for draining and replacing the oil in your machine:

  • Before you begin to drain your compressor, turn it on for a few minutes to warm and thin the viscosity of the oil so that it leaves the system with ease.
  • Also, remove the fill cap to allow air into the system.
  • Remove the drain plug from the compressor and drain the oil into a container.
  • Once all of the old oil has been removed, replace the drain plug using an adjustable wrench.
  • Now, slowly and carefully fill your machine with a high-quality air compressor oil or manufacturer recommended oil. Depending on your system's fill valve, you may need to add some oil, wait for it to level out, and add some more. Take your time and make sure the compressor receives the correct amount of oil. If your system is equipped with a dipstick, be sure to check it for the right level.
  • Finally, replace the fill cap. You have successfully changed you air compressor's oil!

Step 2: Removing and Installing the Air Filter

Changing your air filter is incredibly simple. Some machines have a screw on air filter and some, like the one pictured, simply pull out by hand.

  • Locate your machine's air filter.
  • Remove the air filter either by pinching it out with your fingers or by removing the screw(s) that attach it to your compressor
  • Installing the new filter should be as easy as performing the reverse of the removal process.

Step 3: Replacing a Worn Compressor Belt

Installing a new belt on your air compressor system should be almost as easy as replacing your air filter. Most compressor's nowadays have a plastic cage that surround the machine's pulleys. Older models have the pulleys exposed to changing those belts will be a "walk in the park".

  • First thing you'll do is determine where your belt system in located. In the compressor pictured above, it is behind a plastic cage like I mentioned before.
  • If your air compressor is equipped with a protective cage, find the screws or clips that hold the cover in place and remove them. This will grant you access to the pulleys and belt.
  • Now that you can see the belt, decide whether it needs to be replaced at all. Do this by looking for cracks and other signs of excess wear. If replacement is necessary, move onto the next step. Otherwise, cover it back up and you're done!
  • To remove the worn and damaged belt, grasp it firmly and while pulling it over the largest wheel of the pulley system, rotate the pulleys and the belt should turn right off the track.
  • Now, all you have to do is take your new belt, place it over the smallest pulley and work it onto the biggest wheel by turning it in a forward motion.

Congratulations! Your air compressor maintenance is complete!

Step 4: Ensuring Routine Maintenance

Now that you know how easy it is to maintain your air compressor and its inner workings, make sure you perform these quick and easy steps every year or according to the maintenance schedule provided by your system's manufacturer.

Taking a half hour of your time to perform these simple tasks can extend the lifespan of your tools for years. Don't be foolish or lazy and expect your machinery to run well without regular upkeep.

For more information on compressors and more, check out this other great resource:

Compressor Oil Uses