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How to Fix an Air Compressor?

Many people use air compressors from day one until the day it finally fails. However, a malfunctioning compressor does not signify that you necessarily need to throw it away or take it to the repair shop. You can get in back in peak shape by making a few DIY repairs.

So, in order to fix an air compressor, you first need to figure out exactly where the problem is. It may be electrical, or it may be mechanical – and once you figure out the main issue, you need to dig a bit deeper. Still, this task should not be that difficult. Read on to find out more.

Determining Between Electrical and Mechanical Issues

How to Fix an Air CompressorWhen your air compressor malfunctions, perhaps your first thought would be that the problem is electrical. However, not every electrical issue has an electrical component failure at the base. Sometimes, the cause may be mechanical.

For example, if the motor is made to work harder than it usually should, the problem is mechanical – but its malfunctioning may be confused with one of electrical nature. Or maybe the run capacitor is overheated due to a loose drive belt, causing your breaker to trip.

Issues might also occur due to improper lubrication of the motor, causing the capacitor to overheat. A damaged pump might also lead to these types of issues. Plus, what people don’t usually realize is that the capacitor might blow up out of nowhere – without there being any underlying issues to the motor whatsoever.

This is why it is recommended that you conduct regular maintenance, to prevent these types of problems before they even have a chance to show up.

Problems that Might Arise with an Air Compressor

As mentioned, air compressors might have different “symptoms” that can show an underlying cause. It is up to you to recognize the symptom so that you may fix the issue. Here are the main problems that can appear when you are using an air compressor.

Problem 1: The Compressor Does Not Switch On

If your compressor fails to switch on, then the first thing you might want to check is whether there are any loose power cords or not. After that, move forward to the power receptacle and see whether there is any power going through it or not. If you see that there are any breaker trips or repeated GFI – or the air compressor simply does not want to start even when it is connected to power, then the problem here is certainly your compressor. In this case, here are the steps that you might want to undergo:

1. Check the Capacitors

Take a look at both the start and run capacitors. If you see that they have blackened or partially melted, then you need to replace those parts; there’s no fixing them. Use the manual to locate the capacitors if you do not know exactly where they are. If you no longer have your user manual, though, the good news is that you can find everything on the Internet nowadays.

2. Check for Leaks

In some cases, your air compressor might not switch on because there are leaks going on through it. In that case, you need to check the hose, tank, or tool to see if there aren’t any leaks. Even if you don’t actually see the leak, you will hear a hissing sound. A good tip to determine the location of the leak is to use soap water; the bubbles will give the leak away.

If you are lucky enough to see the leak coming through the loose-fitting points, all you have to is to tighten them. However, if it’s coming from a tear, then it’s a clear sign that you will have to replace that particular part.

3. Adjust the Belt

If the compressor does not seem to start, it might be because the belt is not jammed. To fix this problem, turn the tool off and loosen the belt. Be sure that it is spinning freely and that there aren’t any jams. If you notice that it is indeed jammed, the best way to solve the issue is to take the motor apart.

4. Check the Tension Belt

While you might not be able to move the tension belt much or to move it any further than half an inch, you still need to inspect it. Make the necessary tension adjustments or replace the belt if it seems like the tension is too difficult for you to handle on your own.

Problem 2: The Compressor Doesn’t Deliver the Right Pressure

For an air compressor to function the way you want it to, you need to make sure that it delivers the correct pressure. If the pressure is too little – or quite the opposite, too much – then it will interfere with the task at hand. Too little pressure might also lead to leaks – although this might also be rooted in incorrect adjustments.

If the compressor fails to be turned off and gives you too much pressure, then the problem almost always lies with the switch. In that case, the first step would be to replace the switch and you will be good to go. However, in most cases, all you might need to do is to adjust the pressure of the air compressor.

You’ll see that there is an outlet placed right around the quick-connect of the compressor. There, you will also notice the regulator. If you turn the regulator clockwise, then it will increase the pressure. On the other hand, if you go counterclockwise, then it will decrease the pressure. This way, you can adjust it exactly the way you want it.

Problem 3: The Pressure Is Low but the Unit Is Loud

Many people believe that if the pressure is low and the unit is loud to boot, then it surely needs to be thrown away. Still, this does not mean that you cannot bring your compressor back to life. The parts will naturally loosen up with time and the usual aging of your unit’s inflator. If the pump seals appear as if they have become worn out, then it means the malfunction can easily be fixed by just replacing them.

Since those components are situated in a part that most owners are wary of, you might want to consider hiring a professional to help you out. You might do it yourself if you believe that you have the necessary skills – but if you want to be sure, you might want to take it into a workshop instead.

When to Replace Your Air Compressor

When to Replace Your Air CompressorAs much as you may want to fix your air compressor – and as much as you are at liberty to try – sometimes, you just need to make peace with a certain fact. No matter how much maintenance you do, even the best air compressor may be beyond repair. So, here are some things that might suggest the compressor is not worth fixing and that you need to get a new one before wasting money on repairs:

  • If your air compressor has broken down repeatedly over the past few years, then you might want to consider replacing it. Considering how many times you already repaired it, it probably won’t be changing its habits anytime soon.
  • If your compressor is very old, you might want to replace rather than fix it. Sometimes, it might become difficult to find fitting pieces – and therefore, if replacing the parts already seems to be more trouble than it’s worth it, simply change the unit altogether.
  • The capacity and pressure no longer hold up, no matter how many times you repaired the unit. As air compressors wear down over time, they will no longer be able to maintain the correct pressure – even with the tweaks and adjustments that you put it through.

If your air compressor is relatively new and barely went through any repairs, then trying to repair it might just be worth the effort. However, if you have already fixed it multiple times and it keeps breaking down, then maybe it’s time to make room for a new tool.

Concluding Remarks

Fixing an air compressor can be quite easy, as long as you know where the problem is coming from. So, the challenge here is to actually determine the underlying issue. If you can find it and it’s a part that can be fixed or replaced, then you may proceed with your repair process.

Bear in mind that unless you are confident in your mechanical skills, you might want to call in a professional to work on your air compressor. This way, you will be certain there will not be more damage done than good.

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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