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    Too hot to handle: Andy Kershaw helps you prepare your air compressor for Summer

     

    Technical Trainer across the Pennine Pneumatic Services Ltd group, Andy Kershaw has almost 30 years’ experience in the compressed air industry. Having worked directly with brands including Atlas Copco and Worthington – there isn’t much Andy hasn’t seen or doesn’t know about compressors and compressor servicing.

    Here, Andy talks about how you can make sure your air compressor is summer ready.

     

    Like most people, I enjoy the hot weather and get BBQ planning as soon as my weather app shows weekend sunshine. But, the promise of hot weather also brings to mind stifling plant rooms.  As much as we relish the warmer weather, and the summer months, our air compressors do not…

    Air compressors are designed to operate in temperatures ranging from 5°C to 40°C, and while it’s not reaching that temperature outside in the UK, it’s not unheard of for a plant room to exceed that figure.

    Up to 80% of the energy used by an air compressor can be released as heat. If the compressor is in a badly ventilated room, that contains other machines also producing heat, your air compressor may soon find itself in a very damaging environment.

    What does it feel like in your plant room? Let’s delve into why heat isn’t good for your compressor and what you can do.

     

    Why are high temperatures a problem for air compressors?

    At best – high temperatures affect your efficiency. It takes more energy to compress warm air. If you want a stat to back this up, BCAS state that a 4° reduction in air compressor inlet air temperature leads to drier air at a higher density, which improves compressor efficiency by about 1%. (BCAS Whitepaper – Reducing Energy Consumption from Compressed Air Usage)

    Worst case – the heat will lead to multiple problems, including:

    • Air compressor overheating
    • Element failure
    • Reduced oil efficiency and life cycle
    • Increased condensate failing to drain or forming inside pipework

    These issues not only reduce the efficiency of your system and increase costs, but could lead to a compressor shut down and land a costly repair bill on your lap!

     

    What can you do to prepare your air compressor for the hot weather?

    Checking the ventilation in the plant room is important, and it’s generally always an option to increase the ventilation. You can do this by installing a fan and checking that none of your air vents are blocked by dirt, dust or outside vegetation.

    This is particularly important when more heat-generating equipment is added, as the ventilation should be increased accordingly. The hot air could also be released outside through a duct.

    Alongside this you should consider an air compressor summer service to make sure that your system is working at maximum capacity and is ready for the warmer temperatures. This will dramatically reduce the likelihood of failure and downtime. I would advise you to speak to your compressed air engineer to book one in.

     

    What an air compressor summer service check includes:

    • Air/oil coolers – an engineer will clean the cooling fans to ensure they are free of dust and other particles that can clog them up. This can help to prevent the compressor from overheating.
    • Drains – the amount of condensate released by an air compressor increases in the hot weather and humidity. The engineer will make sure that this is being discharged correctly and check for any faults.
    • Oil and oil filters – heat can affect the efficacy of the oil, and dirty filters can result in increased energy usage. Using the right oil is essential for increasing efficiency and prolonging the life of your compressor. Engineers will be able to recommend the right oil for your machine and will ensure that the filters are clean.
    • Cooling water systems – air blast systems require regular checking and cleaning, particularly in the summer months, as warm weather can affect the dew point of compressed air.
    • Refrigeration dryers – dryers can also be affected by high temperatures and can lead to condensate gathering in the pipework. Engineers will service your dryers, checking the refrigerant is at the right level and free of any contamination.
    • Pipeworkin a typical, medium size system, engineers will find around 70 – 100 leaks. Leaks cause your air compressor to work harder, generating more heat. Engineers can check for leaks and advise you on the best solution for any found.

     

    I hope you have found this useful; you can contact our team directly about this here, or if you want to talk more about air compressors and training you can find me on LinkedIn here.

     

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