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How to Drain an Air Compressor?

If you have just bought an air compressor, then you will need to learn how to maintain it properly. Proper maintenance is a crucial part of ensuring that your unit has a long lifespan. And while this may include cleaning of the parts and gauge check-ups, you also have to learn how to drain the unit.

Why Regularly Drain Your Air Compressor?

How to Drain an Air CompressorEach time you use the air compressor, it will generate water. If that water is not drained, it will lead to buildups – preventing you from getting the pressure that you need. At that point, you will have to drain it whether you want to or not.

Plus, if you fail to drain it, water might go into the tank, putting it at risk. You’ll be putting yourself in a potentially hazardous situation and you’ll have no idea about it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why you need to regularly drain it of built-up water.

Water buildup in the tank might also lead to the formation of rust, which can eventually damage your air compressor. The problem with this kind of rust is that you won’t be able to see it on the inside. On the outside, it will look perfect, whereas on the inside it will be close to a disaster. The more rust it gathers, the more of a hazard it can pose.

How Often Should You Drain Air Compressor

You know that you will have to drain your air compressor quite regularly, but the question remains: how often should I drain it? While it’s not exactly necessary to drain the tank each time you use it, it is still recommended that you drain it once every few days – particularly if you are using it on a daily basis.

Draining it once a week should be enough, in these circumstances, to prevent the accumulation of rust. However, you might have to drain it twice a week if you have a small compressor. If the tank is small and packed with fluid to boot, it will prevent the unit from functioning properly.

On the other hand, if you only use the air compressor now and again, you might want to drain the tank after every use. If there’s moisture in the tank and you aren’t using it, then it might cause it to rust from the inside out. To put it simply, that moisture will cause damage that can’t be seen from the outside.

If you know for a fact that you won’t be using the air compressor for the weekend or at least a couple of days (e.g. if you are on a holiday), you need to drain it. This way, you should be able to prevent the formation of any standing moisture.

Steps for Draining the Air Compressor

Steps for Draining the Air CompressorWhen draining your air compressor, there are certain steps that you might want to take. For safety purposes, make sure that you follow all of these steps religiously. In most circumstances, you won’t need a professional to help you drain your air compressor – but if you do not feel confident in your skills, then you might want to consider bringing some help.

If you think you can do everything by yourself, you can get started. Here are the steps that you will want to follow, no matter if you are using a small compressor or a bigger model.

1. Turn Off the Unit

Obviously, the first thing that you will want to do is to make sure that you have turned your compressor off. You don’t want any incidents to occur when it is connected to a power source, which is why it is always safer to keep it disconnected.

You can easily do this by flipping the switch into the “OFF” position, but it is much better if you simply and completely unplug the unit. This way, you will know for a fact that it has a zero-energy status and that it’s not driving energy from anything – therefore, completely ensuring your safety.

2. Check the Pressure Gauge

First things first, before draining your air compressor, you need to take a look at your pressure gauge. To ensure that there aren’t any incidents there, you will want the pressure to be relatively low. If handled incorrectly, high pressure can seriously injure you – so, you need to confirm that there’s less pressure inside the tank. This should not be an issue if you use it regularly.

3. Reduce the Internal Pressure

If you checked the internal pressure on the pressure gauge and see that it is still relatively high, then you may want to reduce it somewhere under 10 PSI. In this scenario, you should notice the ring on the safety valve of the tank – one that you only need to pull to release the pressure.

One technique here would be to deflect the air coming out of the tank by using one hand, whereas your other hand will be pulling on your release valve. Keep doing this until you have emptied the tank.

Ideally, this task should be done while wearing eye protection. The release of air pressure might cause debris to fly around and go straight into your eyes. Those safety goggles will ensure that the flyers will steer clear of your sensitive eye area.

4. Locate and Open the Drain Valve

Once the internal pressure has been reduced, the next step would be to find where the tank drain valve is located. You should be able to find it somewhere in the tank’s bottom area. If you still can’t find it or aren’t completely certain whether that’s it or not, you may check the instructions manual. There, you will find all of the answers that you seek.

Once you find it, the next step would be to open that valve and allow for the moisture to drain out. To make sure there is no excess moisture left in the tank, you may want to tilt it. Make sure that you blow all of the condensation and the water out of the tank.

Once the tank has been completely drained, you may close the drain valve and start using the unit once more. Drain it regularly, as it will maintain the integrity and safety of your air compressor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked QuestionsWhen you are the owner of an air compressor, you may have certain questions in regard to the draining process. Here is what most people want to know:

1. Why is there water forming in my tank?

Whenever moisture is compressed within a tank, you will also see an increase in pressure. That said, when there is quite a bit of moisture in the air, that pressure will cause that moisture to condense – leading to a formation of water droplets inside the tank. The more you run the unit, the more water will accumulate.

2. Can I run the air compressor if the drain is open?

Logically speaking, you can run the air compressor, even if the drain is open. There’s no setting that prevents the unit from being turned on. However, even if you can, it does not mean that you should. Doing so will put you and your unit at risk.

Indeed, you may feel tempted to use the compressor while the drain valve is open, as it will continuously self-drain. No moisture buildup, no rust, should be fine, right? Technically, that’s right – but practically speaking, if you run the compressor without closing the drain, the pressure won’t be able to build up – rendering the unit inefficient.

Plus, the more it runs in these circumstances, the more it will use extra energy to try to make up for the continuously losing pressure. This may easily cause your air compressor to go through burnout.

3. Should I store my air compressor with the drain open?

The answer to that may easily take a few complicated turns. On one side, leaving it with the drain open will ensure that all the moisture is out of the tank. On the other hand, if the drain is left open for too long, it is possible that creepy crawlies such as spiders might get in and call your tank their home.

This is why you may want to leave the drain open for only as long as it’s needed to drain, and then close the valve before storing it. This will keep insects, dust, and dirt out of the tank so that it’s in peak shape.

Final Thoughts

Draining your air compressor is not difficult. If you know how to use it, then you can certainly learn how to drain it. You just need to be careful of the pressure points and maintain all the safety requirements.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker learned that being a cyclist doesn’t only mean riding – he decided to build his own workshop for maintenance and fixing. Soon enough, he realized that there is no decent workshop without air tools (of various types). Through research, trial, and error, he decided to gather all his knowledge (so far) into these blogs and guides.

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