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Air compressor maintenance

Release extra air and water every time you use it

Regular maintenance of your compressor is a necessary step to make sure the air is always there.
 
Bob Hunter is the tools editor for WOOD Magazine. He says most of the maintenance is basic. An oil-lube compressor should have the oil changed twice a year. With the oil-free compressors, you will eventually have to re-sleeve the cylinder. No matter what kind of air compressor you have, Hunter says it's extremely important to release air and water from the tank on a regular basis.

"As it fills with cold air, it builds up condensation and that water will sit in your tank and will rust if you don't release that. So, it's a good idea that every time you use the tank to release the air at the end of the day," says Hunter. "Now I know that some people with heavier-duty shop compressors a lot of times won't do that, but it's still a good idea to just make it at least a weekly maintenance, otherwise it will rust from the inside-out."

The release valve is usually on the bottom side of the compressor. Open it and you'll hear a big gush of air. Then, tip the compressor over to let the water drain out. Hunter notes you'll see a lot more water in the tank when it's used in a humid environment.

Be sure to check the air filters and intake vents often and keep them as clean as possible, especially if you're working in a dirty environment. The compressor has to work a lot harder to intake air if the vents and filters are clogged.

Also, periodically inspect the air hose because it will eventually wear out.

"Over time the hose could eventually develop cracks in it," says Hunter. "It's just something that you should consider expendable. Five-years is a pretty good life for an air hose. You don't want to have it rupture and blow out on you, so it's just a good idea to every five-years or so just toss those hoses and get a new one."

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