A 6-Step Checklist For Inspecting Your Air Compressor Before Each Use

Air compressors power hundreds of different tools essential to the workshop or construction site, but they can pose a danger to you and your fellow workers unless they're kept in good condition. Taking a few minutes to check over the compressor before each use could prevent injury and property damage. Use this checklist for a fast daily inspection that works for any kind of air compressor.

1. Look for Frays

Grab the power cord and run it through your hands to check for damaged or missing insulation that reveals the wiring underneath. It's even worse if the wiring is frayed, but even a cracking power cord means you need to stop using the compressor until it's repaired. Cracked and damaged air hoses also need replacement, but they're usually safe to use while leaking air; however, damaged power cords are never safe to use.

2. Spot Leaks

Air compressors need both water and oil to produce enough air pressure to power your most valuable tools and equipment. Look for signs of wetness, oiliness, or discoloration anywhere on or under the air compressor. Regardless of what liquid is leaking, your compressor needs servicing to check the seals and valves if you notice any signs of leaking. Oil often drips into the air hose first, so give your compressor a few blasts when you first start it to see if the air is coming out clean or misty.

3. Inspect the Oil

Older air compressors make you take an oil sample for inspection, but today's models usually feature a clear viewing bubble so you can check the look of the lubricant with a glance. Watch for darker spots in the oil that indicate that dirt or debris has found its way inside the unit, and make sure there are no color changes to the oil. Oil that is beginning to look milky or lighten in color is either contaminated or simply worn out, so give your compressor an oil change at the first sign of depleted lubricant, or you'll put a lot of unnecessary wear on its internal components.

4. Check Fluid Levels

Too much oil is just as dangerous as too little lubricant for an air compressor. It's all too easy for a unit to become overfilled in a busy shop when everyone wants to keep the equipment in good shape, but there's a lack of communication on what's already been accomplished. Oil should never reach above the halfway mark of the sight on the side or top of your compressor, and it's easy enough to drain out any excess before starting the compressor and potentially damaging it.

5. View Filters

Since even the smallest air compressor moves a lot of air through its chambers and hoses, it naturally needs quality air filters to keep out dust, dirt, and debris that can rattle around inside and either increase wear or cause a clog. It doesn't take long to unscrew the filters from your compressor, knock loose any built-up material, and make sure they're still in good enough shape to keep using. Dirty filters cause your compressor to overheat, which shortens the lifespan of the equipment and could cause a serious fire.

6. Listen Carefully

Once you've finished the first five steps, you're ready to start up the compressor and finish off your check up. Let the compressor run for a minute or two on its own, then test the air hose. Listen to how the motor sounds during both warm up and the first use. If you hear unusual noises like grinding, clanking, whining, or even just a louder rumble than usual, shut off the compressor and have it inspected for signs of damage and wear.

For more information, contact a company like Compressed Air Systems.