Air compressors are units that are required to power air tools. These tools, also called pneumatic tools, use air, unlike other traditional power tools to get work done. The key to choosing an air compressor which will fit your need is to match the unit to the demands of the job you are planning to use it in. There is also a question of portability when it comes to air compressors.
Portable air compressors are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The ones that are smaller can be easily carried from one place to another while the ones that are a little larger in size, have wheels attached at the bottom which makes maneuvering them around quite easy. For a household nail gun or tire inflators, a small portable air compressor will suffice. If you plan on using one in your garage, it will require greater power and air storage capacity. An air compressor with 20-30 gallon capacity will be required.
Other things to consider before buying an air compressor include:
- Power Source: Electric or Gas powered
- Performance: SCFM, PSI and Horsepower
- Tank Size and Pump Type: Continuous, Stop/Start type, Single or Two stage and oil lubricated or oil free.
What to Do Before and After Using an Air Compressor
Air compressor compresses air into a limited space thereby creating pressure that is used to power tools. Air Compressor Safety is a major consideration when using pneumatic power tools like the ones specified earlier. Compressed air can be extremely powerful. If not handled carefully, it can become really dangerous. In order to make sure you do not hurt yourself while using an air compressor, it is prudent to know how an Air Compressor functions and what steps you should be taking towards Air Compressor Safety. Below are some of the points that will throw light on best practices to follow before and after using an Air Compressor:
- The first safety precaution that needs to be taken before operating an air compressor is wearing protective gear. Use gloves, goggles, earplug and/or a respirator.
- It is extremely important that you read all the instructions on the Manual provided with the Air Compressor before trying to use it. If you do not know how your compressor functions, you will never be able to use it safely. Getting to know the air compressor is an important aspect of Air Compressor Safety.
- Power Tools can store massive amounts of static electricity which can be extremely dangerous to the person using it. Hence, before starting up the compressor, ensure that the compressor is grounded.
- A gas powered compressor is not supposed to be used inside a confined space. They emanate fumes that are toxic and cause you harm. You need to open the start valve with both gas and diesel compressors and it should be closed as soon as the work is finished.
- While using an air compressor make sure that the pressure discharged from the air compressor is not more than the pressure required by the power tool. The value should always be either equal or lower. Ensure that there is a label with the maximum pressure that the compressor can handle inscribed on it.
- After using an air compressor ensure that you do not disconnect it from the power tools while it is still running. It is advisable to always shut down the compressor first. If it is an electric powered compressor, make sure you disconnect it from the power source as well. Make sure all the remaining air is let out. To protect the tank from corrosion, it has to be drained of all the moisture by removing the drain valve from the tank. Ensure that it is put back on before using the compressor again.
Air Compressor Safety is just as important as its usage. Do not compromise on safety. And proceed with precaution. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
How to Maintain an Air Compressor
Whether the air compressor is being used at a commercial construction site or at your home, like all other tools, they need maintenance. By following the tips mentioned below, you can ensure that the investment that you made on your compressor is protected and it ends up maximizing your return.
- Please read the manual that comes with the air compressor for all warranty related guidelines. If there are serial numbers on the body of the compressor which need to be protected, you can use something like transparent cello tape to cover it. You may want to also make sure you do not void the warranty by using the air compressor in a way it is not supposed to.
- The more an air compressor is used, the looser the nuts and bolts fastening the compressor together will become. Ensure that you faster the nuts and bolts regularly. Any fixtures that may have come loose can be fixed with a wrench.
- If you are using power tools to work on wood related materials, you will inevitably be using the compressor in an environment with dust particles around. These can make their way into the intake vents and clog up your compressor. It may even make the compressor work harder than it ideally should. Ensure that the intake vents are cleared out regularly.
- The hose connecting the compressor to your power tool will begin to crease and show signs of wear and tear. Ensure that you replace the hoses pro-actively. A leaky hose will also not help in the effectiveness of the compressor.
It is easy to write down the steps for Air Compressor Safety and Steps to maintain an air compressor, but the onus lies with you, the owner and operator of the machine to exercise caution while using an air compressor with your power tools. If the right precautions are not taken and preventive steps not taken, operating an air compressor can turn out to be hazardous for you. It is equally important to take steps towards maintaining your air compressor since most issues related to safety crop up only when care is not taken while using and maintain.