Air compressors never get a break, not even in the hot summer months. In fact, while many of us take some time during the summer to rest, recharge and vacation, air compressors are working harder than ever, thanks to increased heat and humidity.
The additional workload and strain that these conditions place on air compressors can have significant effects on performance, efficiency, maintenance — and even the overall durability of the equipment
Throughout this piece, we will look at how increased heat and humidity impact air compressors, how to address these issues, and what you can do to achieve optimal operation throughout the summer.
Air Compressor Heat and Humidity: How Is Equipment Impacted?
Summer conditions impact air compressor equipment in numerous ways:
- Lower air density: Hotter air is less dense than cooler air, meaning that less air is flowing into the compression chamber under normal operation. With a lower density, air must be compressed to a greater degree to achieve the necessary compression pressure, causing the equipment to work harder than it typically would.
- Increased moisture: Naturally, higher humidity means more moisture in the air, at all stages. This makes air more difficult to cool and dry, putting additional strain on drying systems. Excess moisture also causes filters to fill more quickly, creating the potential for operational inefficiencies, since more work is required to move air through dirty filters.
- Increased contaminants: Summer brings with it not only heat and humidity, but also air contaminants such as pollen. While the rest of us may deal with pollen allergies, these particles can also cause compressor filtration systems to fill more quickly and, thus, have to work harder for intake and compression.
- Increased oil turnover: With more moisture and contaminants in the air, compressor oil is liable to go through its useful life much more quickly, requiring more frequent changes.
The overall effect of each of these issues is that your compressor and the surrounding system will need to work harder to produce the air that you require. This could result in several negative effects:
- Increased downtime: Overheated equipment is much more likely to shut down and require maintenance.
- Decreased efficiency: While the natural heat and humidity in the air may reduce efficiency, preventable factors such as clogged filters can have a compounding effect, leading to pressure drops and much higher power draw.
- Equipment damage: In extreme cases, if heat and moisture issues are not monitored and addressed as needed, damage may occur to equipment and components due to overheating and overwork.
In addition, more frequent standard maintenance is likely to be required as a result of summer conditions. While this may be seen as an adverse effect, it is necessary, and will pay dividends in efficiency and reducing more serious maintenance incidents.
How to Mitigate Air Compressor Heat and Humidity Issues
Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these risks and downsides, even if it is impossible to eliminate excess heat and moisture from the air. The following air compressor maintenance checklist and preparedness steps can help maintain efficiency levels, equipment performance and air quality:
- Check and change or clean filters more often: Since filters are likely to become clogged more quickly with moisture and contaminants during the summer, you can work around this issue by increasing the cadence of filter checks. Make certain that dirty filters are changed or cleaned before they create significant efficiency issues.
- Increase ventilation around the compressor, whenever possible: Sufficient airflow and ventilation around the compressor offer several potential benefits, depending on your system configuration:
- A reduced temperature of ambient air, mitigating the air density issue and requiring less effort to cool and dry.
- Lower ambient temperature around the compressor and components. This facilitates lower operating temperatures, even when the equipment is working harder.
Whether through windows, doors, fans, ducts or other methods, try to be as proactive and innovative as possible in increasing ventilation around your air compressor and system.
- Clean moisture drains more frequently: With more moisture being extracted out of compressed air, moisture drains are working harder. Check frequently that drains are not becoming clogged and that flow remains consistent, even under heavier workloads.
- Change oil more frequently: In general, you likely change compressor oil on a quarterly basis. In the summer months, however, this cadence may be insufficient, since the oil becomes contaminated more quickly with water, pollen and other particulates. A rule of thumb is to change oil midway through the summer. Resume a normal schedule once temperatures are lower. You may also want to test your oil more frequently. Dirty or worn-out oil might cause significant efficiency issues and may also pose a risk to your equipment.
These additional steps are a key way to reduce maintenance and energy costs throughout the difficult summer months.
Completing Your Air Compressor Maintenance Checklist
In addition to the above recommendations, there are several other steps that you should take to help ensure the effective operation of your air compressor equipment through the summer.
- Assess your system, verifying all configuration information and maintenance logs are up to date
- Check for leaks, and assess whether there are outstanding repairs due
- Inspect pipe connections
- Check for oil leaks
- Examine all oil/water separators, and replace as needed
- Check all filters, and replace as needed
- Clean all coolers
- Performance test dryers
- Calibrate sensors, such as dewpoint sensors
- Update firmware and review technology integrations
Equipment From Kaishan Compressor USA, LLC
Kaishan is a global leader in air compressor manufacturing, with a focus on high-quality, high-efficiency, maximum-reliability air compressors for a variety of industries. Our specialty is serving industries where heavy-duty operation is the norm. We work to maximize efficiency and performance in our compressors to meet the demands of these applications in a cost-effective way.
For this reason, our air compressors are ideally suited for summer operation — though the above maintenance and monitoring tips remain important for every compressor, including our industry-leading models.