How to Prevent Water in Air Compressor

Air compressor is one of the crucial power tools used in every workshop, garage, by a DIYer, homeowner as well as at industrial scale.

Because of the compressed pressurized air, it provides to run multiple air tools. These tools perform those tasks that we folks ourselves cannot do with the precision that the task demands.

Thus, it has extreme importance and a wide range of benefits. But you know with benefits the problems come crawling.

In our today’s epic conversation, I want to highlight one such problem related to the compressor and compressed air. And that is “How to prevent water in air compressor”.

Here is a small checklist of problems you have to face due to excessive moisture in your air compressor.

  • Air Tools Corrosion
  • Control Lines Blockage
  • Storage Tank Internal Rust
  • Filter & Intake Stops Working
  • Compressor’s Air dryers Become Overloaded

Causes of Moisture in Air Compressor

To prevent these issues, you’ll 1st have to check the causes of moisture in your air compressor. Thus, different factors play a keen role in producing moisture in your air compressor.

High Flow Rate

This problem is directly related to the tools you use with your air compressor. There are air tools that require low air pressure to workaround which is fine.

But the problem that arises with those tools that have a high flow rate means they high CFM rate. They consume a lot of air thus as more air comes the more moisture will accumulate in the receiver or compressor tank.

If the accumulated water at the bottom is not disposed of at regular intervals. The same water then gets into the streamlines as well as goes into the air tools. Resulting in damage to the air tools or they don’t work properly.

Using an Undersized Compressor

Excessive condensation also takes place when you’re using an undersized compressor. That doesn’t mean you’re using a small-sized air compressor. It means the unit you’re using can’t handle the task or tool you’re using with the compressor.

This puts extreme pressure on the compressor and the compressor begins producing a lot of heat that will exceed the compressor’s threshold itself.

As the internal part’s heat level rises during these processes the incoming supply of air will also rise. Which in return produces a lot of moisture and can cause internal rust if not dealt with properly.

Using an Old or Faulty Compressor

You know every man-made machine has a life span. And when the machine moves towards the end of its life span its power, performance, durability slowly declines. The same case is for old or faulty compressors.

Their efficiency or accuracy of doing the job will crack down over time or due to some internal fault. And they are not able to extract the moisture from the incoming air.

In aged compressors, during airflow internal component will heat up pretty quickly. Thus, they will not able to work properly and produce’s poor-quality air.

This moisture mixed air in return only gives you a further headache by damaging the connected air tools.

Compressor used in Humid Environments

Now, this one is a big problem. The compressor is brand new, faulty, or old it doesn’t matter. Because in excessively humid environments it becomes a challenge to keep the moisture level down in air compressors.

It can be a hotter region by climate, or a hot season that comes around the year. The humid air in these environments generally has double the moisture compared to normal climate or regions.

In my opinion, the places where you’re working also play important roles. Especially if you’re using an air compressor for your garage, workshop, or in any industrial zone.

I think these types of areas generally also have a high humidity level unless there is a proper ventilation system or you’re using an air dryer with the compressor.

So, how to Prevent Water in Air Compressor

To deal with these moisture problems, there are certainly effective methods that help you prevent water in your air compressor system.

Drain the Air Receiver Tank Regularly

The 1st thing you can do to set up a proper schedule for draining the air receiver tank or your compressor tank. Whenever you use your compressor system always make sure to check the drain valve even if you have used it for a shorter period.

Your schedule will prevent not only the condensation but, also the rust build-up in the tank. On the other hand, it’ll keep the water away from the air supply lines and from your air tools as well.

Water Separator Filter

The next crucial thing you can do to avoid excess moisture accumulation is to separate the moisture by using filters. These are “Water Separator Filters”. They closely look-alike in-line Filters or compressor oil separators.

These filters use centrifugal force to remove large amounts of moisture from the air supply. One more thing, the removal depends on your usage. But the general rule is that these filters remove up to 60% of the moisture.

Refrigerated Air Dryers

The refrigerated dryers work’s similarly to the air conditioning unit by chilling the air. As the rule of thumb says that the cold air holds less moisture compared to hot air.

So, the dryer connected with the air compressor cools down the incoming air to the “Pressure Dew Point (PDP)” of 33 to 39˚F which in Celsius is 0.5 to 3.8˚C.

As the air cools down, the water vapors in it also condense into liquid form. The liquid then collects in the container and is eliminated through the drain valve. As for the air, it is reheated at room temperature and sent through the supply lines for its final use.

The compressed air which is dried up by this method has a “Dew Point”. Now, in the terminology of air compressors, the “Dew Point” is the temperature at which the water from the air is condensed into a liquid form.

This temperature is between 33˚F to 39˚F or maybe 40˚F as well. Also, this temperature is low enough to run almost every industrial air tool.

Desiccant Air Dryers

Another solution for the moisture problem is the desiccant dryers. Now, these types of dryers are used for tools or applications that require extremely dry compressed air to work properly.

The desiccant dryers remove water by using a chemical compound. These chemical compounds are called “Desiccants”. Below are three types of desiccants used for desiccant dryers:

  • Silica Gel
  • Molecular Sieve
  • Activated Alumina

The desiccant or absorbent chemical is in the form of tiny beads known as desiccant beads. The air passes through the central pressure vessel where the beads are placed.

Now, these beads i.e., silica gel have a porous structure that allows them to absorb the moisture from the incoming air as efficiently as possible.

As air passes through it the chemical gradually absorbs the moisture from the passing air. The dried-up air is then sent throughout the supply lines for the end-user.

The whole process in desiccant dryers is a bit lengthy. So, I did write a separate guide on the type of dehumidifiers and how their drying process works.

Coming back to the point the desiccant dryers are specifically used in commercial/industrial environments. Because in these areas the humidity is high and the moisture that needs to be removed from compressor systems is also in high quantity.

The Last Thing

Finally, the last thing I want to highlight is seeking professional help. I know we’re the DIYers and like to do our work by our own hands. And there are a lot of blogs, news, Info, and videos out there to help us.

But, professional help from an expert human is a must when you’re not able to solve the problem on your own. Rather than making the matter worst, you should keep in touch with product experts at all times.

Leave a Reply