Compressed Air Systems: An Introduction

SystemDid you know that compressed air is so widely used that it is often regarded as the fourth utility, after electricity, natural gas and water?

Compressed Air System Components

A compressed air system is much more than just an air compressor. A basic compressed air system is made up of the following components:

  • The Air Intake Filter is a device composed of fibrous materials designed to trap atmospheric airborne particles such as dust, pollen, mold, etc. before they can reach the compressor.
  • The Air Compressor is a machine used to convert power (usually from an electric motor, a diesel engine or a gasoline engine) into kinetic energy by compressing and pressurizing air, which, on command, can be released in quick bursts. There are several different types of air compressors, including reciprocating, rotary screw, and rotary centrifugal.
  • The Aftercooler cools the system lubricant and discharged air.
  • The Air Receivers provide compressed air storage capacity to meet peak demand events and help control system pressure by controlling the rate of pressure change in the system.
  • The Air Dryer removes condensation from compressed air in order to prevent damage to the system.

Compressed air systems last 10 to 15 years on average. The top two causes of premature system failure are improper installation and improper maintenance.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Your Compressed Air System

It is recommended that your compressed air system be professionally serviced at least annually.

Keeping air filters clean can lower your compressed air system’s electricity use by 5 – 15%. Change your filter every three to six months.

Check your drain traps to make sure these contaminant removal devices have properly functioning drains and no blocked lines.

Check your oil. Just like a car, your air compressor needs regular oil changes or you risk destroying the engine.

Stay Alert for Warning Signs such as unusual noises, overheating, excessive vibrations or belt slippage. 

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