Air leaks are one of the most common operating concerns for air compressors. On average, about 10-20% of all plant electricity goes to the air compressor room. If your compressed air system is leaking, you’re spending a lot of energy on air you’ll never use.
While air compressor leaks can feel like an inevitable problem that just comes with the equipment, it’s good to know that there are ways to prevent and stop air compressor leaks. The team here at TMI always advises system optimization and preventative maintenance, but if your system has already sprung a few leaks, there are ways to fix them. Some of these fixes take just minutes to complete, and can contribute to significant savings for your plant. Here are a few key ways to stop air compressor leaks.
How to Stop Air Compressor Leaks
The best way to find air compressor leaks is to listen for them. A quick walk around your plant while your compressor system is on should reveal some of your biggest problem areas. If you hear a hissing sound as you go past hoses or connection points, you’ve got an air leak. Here’s what to do about them:
#1 Tighten Connections
Anything that can loosen is a prime spot for an air leak. It’s worthwhile to go around your compressed air system and tighten any connection points regularly. If you see or feel any loose components, tighten those as well. The more secure your system, the less compressed air you’ll lose.
#2 Repair or Replace Parts
Old, replaceable parts are another key spot where you’re likely to find a few air compressor leaks. Old filters, lubricators, regulators, flanges and leaking drains are common air compressor leak points. If you can, repair or replace those old parts as soon as possible. Even a small repair, like changing the filter, can go a long way to ensuring your air compressor is running as efficiently as possible.
#3 Swap Out Hose and Tube Sections
Air hoses and tubes are another common spot for air compressor leaks. These leaks might be a little harder to identify, but if you hear a leak, and can’t quite place it, apply a bit of soap to the area where you suspect a leak. When your compressor comes on, you’ll see bubbles popping up around the air leak. Swap out that leaking section of hose or tube for a new one, and your air compressor will be in good shape.
#4 Replace O-Rings and Valve Seals
Any rubber part on your air compressor is likely to harden and crack over time. Heat and pressure take a toll, especially on parts like O-rings and valve seals. Even though these are small components of your compressed air system, as they wear out and harden, they’re unable to maintain a good seal, and will start to leak air. Replace these parts regularly, and you should be able to stop a number of air compressor leaks.
#5 Tighten Fasteners
While this last method to stop air compressor leaks might take a bit more time, it’s still a worthwhile fix that will help increase the lifespan of your compressor as a whole. Internally, air compressor motors can destabilize if screws and fasteners in internal components begin to shake loose. If you notice any shaky components or extra noises coming from the motor, tightening those internal screws and fasteners can help fix the problem, and stop air leaks while you’re at it.
Proper, Regular Maintenance is the Best Way to Prevent Air Compressor Leaks
Air compressor leaks lead to costly inefficiencies. While many can be stopped or fixed, the best way to avoid air compressor leaks altogether is to schedule and complete regular maintenance. Air compressors are big-budget equipment. The better you take care of them, the longer they’ll last and the less they’ll cost over time. Here are a few ways you can keep up on air compressor maintenance to stop air leaks from happening in the first place.
Establish a Maintenance Schedule
Air compressors should be serviced regularly. Just like you’d change the oil in your car, an air compressor needs regular oil changes and maintenance. The easiest way to stay on top of maintenance and prevent air compressor leaks is to set up a regular maintenance plan or service schedule with your air compressor supplier. That way, their service technicians just come out to your plant and complete any necessary maintenance. This is a set-it-and-forget-it option that ensures your air compressor gets the service it needs, without adding much hassle to your schedule.
Regularly Inspect Compressors
In addition to a regular service schedule, it’s also a good idea to have one of your own maintenance or facilities staff inspecting your compressors regularly. Even a simple weekly walk around your compressed air system can go a long way to identifying air leaks early on. And the faster you stop air compressor leaks, the more you save.
Complete a System Audit
Smart, energy-efficient compressed air systems are the best way to keep your plant running efficiently and at peak productivity. System audits can help you get there. If you suspect your system has air leaks, or might not be running efficiently, a compressed air system audit can help you get to the bottom of it. TMI’s technicians use kW and pressure loggers to accurately and comprehensively measure your system and benchmark it against industry averages. From there, we can identify any problems, and provide recommendations to help you get your system running at peak efficiency.
Air leaks are a big concern for any plant with a compressed air system, but they can be prevented and stopped. With a bit of regular maintenance, and few simple repairs and replacements, you can minimize or stop air compressor leaks, helping your plant to function at peak efficiency.
Have a leaking air compressor, or a compressed air system with leaks? Either way, TMI can help you out. We are compressed air system experts, and we would be happy to help you troubleshoot your leaking system. From air system audits to emergency maintenance, we can fix your compressed air leak, now. Give our experts a call today at 800-875-9555 or contact us online for more information.