Troubleshooting Air Compressor Systems

We've prepared this guide to some of the most common issues encountered with industrial air compressors.

Symptom: Frequent air/oil separator plug-up/collapse 
Cause Correction
Wrong type of lubricant in compressor. Review and analyze lubricant. Replace with correct lubricant.
Ingestion of chemically active gases. Inspect and replace separator. Review oil analysis. Review/correct inlet air source.
Ruptured intake air path/filter. Inspect inlet filter, inspect air path, check for voids. Replace repair as needed.
Symptom: Failure to start 
Cause Correction
Safety shut-down tripped. Re-set compressor safety
Power failure. Check power supply.
Symptom: High air temp switch auto shutdown (water cooled unit) 
Cause Correction
Sump lubricant level low. Fill lubricant to recommended level.
Clogged or varnished heat exchanger/lubricant cooler. Inspect lubricant lines for blockage. Analyze lubricant. If varnish present, flush with AIRSOLVTM.
Plugged oil filter element. Replace oil filter element(s)
Faulty thermal by-pass valve. Rebuild or replace by-pass valve.
Symptom: High air temp switch auto shutdown (air cooled unit) 
Cause Correction
Excessive air demand. Evaluate plant air demand. Inspect plant for air leaks.
Service valve open. Close valve.
Leaky service line. Correct leaks.
Plugged inlet air filter. Clean or replace air filter.
Inlet valve stuck partially closed. Check inlet valve assembly. Rebuild as needed.
Symptom: Excessive lubricant consumption 
Cause Correction
Overfilled lubricant sump. Drain receiver to proper level.
Broken lubricant lin Replace lubricant line.
Lubricant return scavenge line not positioned properly in separator. Plugged scavenge line. Check scavenge line connections. Insure scavenge line cut at 45 degree angle, reaches bottom of separator and is free of blockage.
High compressor discharge temperature. Inspect and clean coolers. Inspect temperature control valve.
Symptom: High power consumption 
Cause Correction
Plugged air/oil separator. Change separator element.
Obstructed after cooler. Clean after cooler.
Improper air pressure setting. Adjust setting to specified level
 Obstructed inlet air filter.  Inspect and replace as needed.
 Lubricant viscosity problems.  Test and replace oil as needed.
 Symptom: Premature lubricant breakdown 
 Cause  Correction
 Compressor operating too hot.  See HIGH AIR TEMPERATURE SWITCH AUTO SHUTDOWN.
 Ingestion of chemically active gases.  Review plant/operations/make-up air. Analyze lubricant. Correct inlet air source, as needed.
Negligence in draining condensate from receiver. Drain condensate from receiver periodically. Inspect auto-drains, drain lines and valves.
Mixing different types of lubricant. Drain old lubricant and replace with new lubricant. Analyze old lubricant. Flush compressor with AIRSOLVTM compressor cleaner
30th Jun 2014

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