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When to repair an air compressor and when to replace

Air compressors are synonymous with factory and processing environments; they are effective in their ability to power a range and quantity of tools at the same time for a multitude of jobs and are the go-to solution for both hand-held equipment and larger machinery. Used widely on assembly lines, air compressors are a vital source of power and a breakdown or failure can cost many thousands of pounds in lost production. We take a look at air compressor repair services, some of the common problems with air compressors and how to make that difficult choice between replacing an air compressor or continuing with your existing air compressor service and maintenance regime in the hope that this will be enough to prolong its working life.

Common reasons for air compressor failure

The fundamental design of air compressors is relatively straightforward. However, they contain complex components that can exhibit symptoms when something is wrong, and if an air compressor service is not regularly carried out or the operators don’t recognise the warning signs that a compressor repair service is required, it can lead to failure. The problem with missing an air compressor service is that if a warning indicator is not acted upon, a small problem can become a costly overall system failure. Here are some of the signs that an air compressor repair service may be required:

Air leakage: air can leak through the oil fill tube as the result of worn piston seals that need replacing; failure to act on this can cause internal corrosion through the process of metal-to-metal friction, and internal corrosion can cause far bigger problems. Air can also leak from the hoods of smaller air compressors and may require a clean or replacement of the valve. Air can leak from cracked pipes around the system, unnoticeable initially although the sound of leaking air will alert you if it becomes a big enough problem. Even the most minor air leak can cause inefficiencies, creating a loss of productivity and is, therefore, a costly problem to leave unresolved.

Pressure limits not followed: If an air compressor is tasked with too many simultaneous operations it can exceed its recommended limits and result in failure of the compressor. Using a small air compressor for a number of high-power jobs is false economy; not only will you shorten the life of the compressor but it may not be producing that output required in the meantime as well as using energy inefficiently, and is likely to result in the requirement for additional air compressor repair services. If you find you are pushing your air compressor to – or beyond – its limits, it may be time to either replace it with a bigger compressor or add an additional one to your site to share the load.

Dirty air filters: of all the components in an air compressor system, the air filters are among some of the most critical. Not only do they keep dirt and oil out of the compressor system itself, but they also keep the air clean that you are using on your plant equipment. Reduced air quality as a result of dirty air filters can damage your tools, will result in higher energy consumption and can cause overheating. Close monitoring of air filters and regular replacement as part of an air compressor service will keep everything ticking along smoothly.

Lack of lubrication: Regular oil changes and the application of lubrication is a critical part of air compressor service and maintenance, and a failure to undertake these are one of the most common reasons for air compressor breakdowns. A lack of lubrication of the internal components leads to metal-to-metal friction. Changes in temperature can affect lubricant, as can allowing it to age too much between changes. Be sure that when you carry out an oil change, you remove all the old oil so as not to contaminate the new batch.

There are many other reasons for the requirement of air compressor repair services, including motor bearings not properly greased, a faulty pump, worn motor, worn starter capacitor, trapped air, faulty pressure switch or release valve or a faulty gasket. The most important factor to keep in mind when working with an air compressor is that at the sign of any symptom listed above, or any indication that there might be a problem with the system, you should shut down it down and immediately carry out an air compressor service. Most of the issues above can be solved through an air compressor repair service, replacing a faulty part and giving your compressor an extended life. The time to consider replacement rather than service is either when your air compressor is no longer suited to the work requirements that you are placing upon it, or when an experienced air compressor service engineer recommends that replacement would be a better option either due to catastrophic failure or due to the age and wear of your existing system.

Air compressors don’t last forever, at some point requiring what would effectively be a full rebuild, and how long it takes to get to this point depends on your usage – but you can help to prolong its life and prevent additional failures by performing proper maintenance and servicing regularly. If you would like to learn more about Glaston’s air compressor services, or if you are experiencing a breakdown or a problem and would like to talk to us about our compressor repair service, contact us on 01695 51010 or email


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