How to keep water out of air compressor lines

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Because air compression involves squeezing water from the air, water might inevitably find its way to the air compressor lines.

How to keep water out of air compressor lines

Letting this water settle in the unit risks damaging your unit so it’s important you learn how to keep water out of air compressor lines.

This article will share some handy tips about how to get rid of water that ends up in the air lines.

And as you’ll learn, some of the options are incredibly simple yet quite efficient.

Let’s begin:

How to keep water out of air compressor lines : your available options

I recommend that you apply a combination of the following tricks for the best results.

Drain the compressor tank

This is the most obvious and all you have to do is follow the instructions on how to release collected water via the drainage valve.
Also, follow the recommended draining schedule-For the most part, it’s daily or at least after each use.

In addition, when painting, I suggest that you bleed off the water before and, if needed, between refilling the cup gun/pressure pot to discourage moisture accumulation.

You can even consider ‘upgrading’ the tank – for instance by fitting an automatic drain – if you’re grappling with serious water build up.

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Install a quality water filter

This device traps moisture droplets (along with other impurities) from the atmospheric air and can diminish the likelihood of excess water reaching your air compressor lines.

And while most models tend to come with an integral water filter/regulator system, some of the budget ones lack it- this is perfectly understandable at their prices.

But, as you can see, it’s such a vital piece and you should accordingly add it.

Installing a filter is usually straightforward and won’t require that you turn off your compressor.

Note that you should not rely on it alone: use it together with the other proposals we will cover in this post.  

Fit an air dryer

This is certainly not the most pocket-friendly method but it works like a charm.

Here you connect the air dryer to the air compressor to lower the amount of water content (technically called the pressure dew point) in the compressed air.

You can go for a refrigerated air dryer which achieves this by cooling the temperature to desired levels (typically to dew point temperature of between 34 -40 degrees) or a desiccant air dryer.

The latter absorbs excess moisture in a similar way to the aforementioned water trap filter until it reaches the needed amount of dryness.

Desiccant air dryers are more suited to industrial applications due to the higher amount of moisture.

Either way, be careful when selecting a dryer- a wrongly sized piece won’t help eliminate your air line issues.

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Does my air compressor need a water separator?

In most cases, yes! In fact, it’s another solution that should be at the top of your list, unless you have an exceptional unit.

You see, a water/oil separator can eliminate up to 60% of the vapor- they’re nothing else but mechanical in-line air filter’s lookalikes that you install downstream the tank.

But how does a water separator for air compressor work?

Well, the equipment (also called a filtration water separator) eliminates copious amounts of vapor from the compressed air with centrifugal force – the resulting rotary motion in the air forces particles (including water droplets) to accelerate outward and drain into the bowl.

Remember that the separator will be most effective when fitted further from the tank.

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How to keep water out of air compressor lines : bonus tips

Here are more ideas to go with what we have already discussed.

·         Upgrade the regulator

Your compressor may be equipped with a restrictive regulator hence the poor trapping of water. Can you, therefore, confirm? 

If that’s, unfortunately, the case, the way out is replacing it with one having an excellent trap on it. You might be surprised at the big improvement that this brings.

·         Air hose elevation

Another simple procedure that you can implement is to elevate the air hose about 7-8 feet high.

Do this at the point where the hose leaves your compressor and ensure you raise at least 3-4 feet hose length.

This allows the water to remain in the receiver as well as run back down whenever it finds its way up your lines.

·         Lower the temperature setting

The higher you set the pressure, the hotter will be the discharge line and the air coming to the tank.

More moisture will, subsequently be condensing because of the greater air temperature (in the tank) meaning more water problems in the lines.

To avoid such an outcome, set the pressure to a safe level.

This can vary among individual units and application but it’s typically about 90 psi for most light-duty air compressors.

Proper maintenance

Keep an eye on the key parts. For instance, you should check the tank’s piping for clogging – and clean it as necessary- as this might affect its proper functioning and contribute to moisture retention.

Likewise, rust on the drain port could impact your draining efforts negatively and cause the retention of more moisture in the lines.

Again inspect it and thoroughly clean that area, if you notice any rust.  

Wrapping it up

Air compressors have countless strong points but water is not one of them.

Try the above hacks to save your air compressor from reduced performances and possible premature failure.

Like I hinted, there’s no single foolproof solution so its best you combine the various tricks- drainage, air filter, and a dryer (if necessary).

As always, wear proper safety equipment when working on the equipment and be sure to consult your dealer if unsure about any of the procedures.


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