Air Compressor Works

My Compressor is down. What should I do?

November 18, 2020
Compressor is down, what should I do?

Your compressor is down? Call a service technician right away. A good service organization will give you same day service if you have no air in your plant.

In the meantime, there are some simple things that can be checked based on the symptoms of your air system. This obviously isn’t all-inclusive, but based on over 45 years of experience, it will give you some idea of what you can do until the technician is available.

Here are some symptoms and troubleshooting tips:

Compressor Does Not Run:

  • Check the power for voltage and amperage on all 3 legs
  • Reset any safeties either mechanically or through the control panel
  • Determine if the motor or the compressor head/airend will turn freely
  • Check oil level as some units have low oil level device
  • Ensure that no one has hit the emergency stop

Compressor Runs But Will Not Make Pressure:

  • Pressure Control Issue – mechanical systems check solenoid valves/pneumatic controller for operation. PLC controls see operators manual for pressure reset/troubleshooting.
  • Separator – clogged or collapsed causing pressure drop internally in the machine with little or no pressure coming from the discharge – rotary issue only. Shows up in no or extremely high pressure drop across the separator either on the gauges or in the panel. Change separator.
  • Internal Hose Or Tubing Blockage – many new machines have eliminated hoses for this reason. Compressor will not load. Primarily a rotary issue.
  • Broken Check Valve – jammed in closed position preventing pressure from leaving pump head or rotary compressor package. Compressor short cycles or shows internal pressure.
  • Clogged Inlet Filter – remove inlet filter and determine if compressor will load. In an emergency clean filter, but must be replaced.

Compressor Runs and Makes Minimal Pressure To Plant:

  • System Valves – air piping valve in an incorrect position causing restriction. Check all valves.
  • Faulty Auto Drain – open drain valve with outlet to outside causing pressure drop. Check all drain valve discharge points.
  • Filters – heavily contaminated or collapsed line filter. Check all filters for pressure drop. If no pressure drop indicators, determine where the pressure drop issue is by using a gauge in the system. Remove filter element and replace when new element available.
  • Dryer – refrigerated dryer frozen causing restriction. Determined by using gauges on either side of the dryer. If frozen turn off and allowed air out. Run system on dryer bypass.

Some of these issues are fairly simple and if you’ve encountered it once before you know how to deal with. If one of these suggestions helps you get your system up and running before the technician arrives, that’s a good thing.

The key to operational success of your compressor system is a regular maintenance.  Ensuring that some of these items are caught before they shut you down. If air is a critical component of your utility, you should consider having adequate backup not only for emergency situations but for the ability to service your primary equipment.

If the symptoms are more critical than those listed, you may need a rental to get up and running immediately.

Contact us at or call (800) 345-4364

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