life expectancy of industrial air compressor

If you’ve invested in an industrial air compressor for your facility, you want to ensure it stays in good working condition for a long time — because, of course, increasing the lifespan of your machine means you can put off spending the big bucks to replace it for as long as possible. 

But how do you know if you’re doing all the right things to maximize its longevity? Well, we’ve created this resource for you to consult. Let’s talk about everything you need to know about industrial air compressor life expectancy, including average lifespans, factors that can shorten them, and factors that can extend them. 

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of an Industrial Air Compressor?

That’s a tricky question. Your industrial air compressor’s life expectancy will depend heavily on what type of air compressor it is, how many running hours it’s used, and how well it’s serviced and maintained. 

If you’re looking for rough estimates to compare the lifespans of different types of air compressors, we’ve provided some for five of the most common types below:

  • Rotary screw air compressors: 100,000+ hours
  • Reciprocating air compressors: 50,000 hours
  • Centrifugal air compressors: 250,000+ hours
  • Oil-free rotary screw compressors: 70,000 hours
  • Portable air compressors: heavily dependent on operating hours

From these estimates, it’s simple to see which compressors stand out for their great longevity, and which ones may require a replacement more often. But again, it’s important to remember that these can vary from case to case.

What Factors Shorten Industrial Air Compressor Life Expectancy? 

Besides the normal wear and tear that your compressor may experience on a regular basis, there are a few factors that are well-known for shortening its lifespan. These factors can be found in a an audit and can include: 

  • Poor oil quality – Injecting your compressor with oil that’s poor quality or not recommended for your machine can reduce its ability to function in both the short and long term. 
  • Air or oil contamination – If dust and debris aren’t filtered out before air or oil enter your compressor, they can result in buildup and chemical changes that affect your machine’s performance.
  • Improper cooling – An overheated air compressor is a dysfunctional air compressor. Improper cooling is one of the biggest threats to its longevity. 
  • Frequent start/stop – By frequently starting and stopping your air compressor, you’re increasing the amount of energy and effort it needs to operate, ultimately leading to decreased longevity. 

How to Increase Industrial Air Compressor Life Expectancy

The most important factor in increasing your air compressor’s life expectancy is servicing and maintaining it regularly and properly. No matter which type of air compressor you have, following these six service protocols will help you ensure it’s functioning effectively and efficiently for a long time. 

1. Check Oil Levels

Unless you have an oil-free air compressor, your machine will need to be sufficiently lubricated with oil in order for it to run properly. Checking oil levels is such an important part of servicing that it’s recommended you do so at least once per day. If you don’t use your compressor every day, it’s recommended you check the oil levels before each time you do use it. The oil should be at least filled halfway, or around the gauge’s center mark. 

2. Replace Filters

When your compressor sucks in air, it can also suck in surrounding dust and debris. Luckily, it has a filter that catches these particles so they don’t affect performance — but that filter can only hold so much and last so long. You should aim to change your compressor’s filter about once a week, or more often if you notice it filling up.

If you own an oil-injected air compressor, you should also aim to change its oil filter at about the same consistency as the air filter. In most cases, each type of air compressor will have its own oil filter replacement process, so it’s best to consult your operating manual or manufacturer for instructions. 

3. Monitor Temperature

All air compressors operate best within a certain temperature range. Usually, that temperature range is similar to the range we operate best at as humans, between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If your compressor frequently overheats, it causes unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment, which can shorten the entire machine’s lifespan. In most cases, compressors have an automatic shut-down system that powers the system off if it overheats too much, but it’s better to keep it from getting there in the first place. 

4. Check for Leaks

With time, your compressor’s components (most commonly the hoses) can corrode and crack, resulting in costly leaks and reduced air pressure. These leaks make your compressor use more energy to exert the same amount of pressure as it did before leakage occurred, which ultimately results in a shortened lifespan. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to regularly inspect your equipment for holes and leaks. 

5. Address Repair Issues Quickly

If you notice an issue with your industrial air compressor, it’s important to fix it as quickly as possible. Even the most minor problems can lead to bigger, more costly, and more time-consuming problems in the future. And if the damage gets bad enough, you may have to pay for an entirely new compressor much earlier than expected. 

6. Know When to Contact a Professional for Help

While your facility’s staff can usually perform simple daily and weekly maintenance tasks, it’s important to know when to get help for bigger issues. An experienced air compressor professional can help resolve complex issues, perform safety inspections, and identify any leaks that may be affecting the performance of your machine. If there’s something you’re unsure how to handle, there are many resources willing and available to share their expertise. 

Industrial air compressors are highly durable and usually last for many years, especially if you maintain them properly. However, there’s always a chance something goes wrong and you need to repair or replace yours. In those instances, the experts at TMI are happy to help by explaining your options and offering same-day service or new compressor installation. Contact us online today to learn more.

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