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How to Use a Portable Air Compressor

by Jonathan Logtenberg

A portable air compressor is a device that powers pneumatic tools for many applications. It is invaluable for professional structural contractors and DIY adherents to have. They save time and energy. In a matter of minutes, it can be used to achieve whatever purpose it is designed for.

An air compressor device converts power into potential energy stored in pressurized air. The name portable air compressor suggests that you can take it to anywhere that you need it. To effectively, utilize this tool, especially for DIY enthusiasts, there are steps to be followed. Read below to understand them.

Inspect the Oil

Before you start using a portable compressor device, it is pertinent to check the oil level if it is not oil-free. This applies to the piston-type compressors. The oil allows lubricates the machine and ensures the smooth running of this device. Check the oil level by looking at the oil gauge at the body of the compressor. An alternative way is to remove the oil cap filler and top the compressor oil until it comes up to the full mark. Ensure that you check the oil after each use.

Connect the Hose to the Regulator Valve

Connect the air hose to the regulator valve and make sure the length is enough to reach the work area. The regulator valve is usually next to the small pressure gauge. The valve is round-shaped, copper-colored and has a metal plug with a gaping hole in the center. Insert the pointed end of the air hose, taper it using Teflon tape, and tighten it using a wrench in a clockwise direction. This ensures that the attachment does not come off during use.

Plug the Air Compressor

Before the air compressor can be used, it has to be plugged into a power source. It converts power into potential energy that is stored in pressurized air. Place the compressor on a flat and firm surface. Make sure that the switch is turned off before you plug in the power cord into a grounded electrical outlet. The electrical outlet should be three-pronged.

Fill the Air Tank of the Compressor

The air tank of the compressor is checked before use. Without the air, which is to be pressurized, there will be no use of the device. To fill the air tank ensure that the drain valve is at the bottom of the air tank. This is done by tightening it in a clockwise direction using a wrench. Turn on the switch and allow the compressor to run for a few minutes to pressurize the air. Set the compressor to turn off automatically when the air pressure gets to 110 to 115 psi.

Adjust the pressure regulator knob on the device. Move it anticlockwise to allow a certain amount of air into the compressor. For compressors with small tanks that can refill automatically fast enough, you have to check the level and wait a moment for the air to refill before use again.

Check the Fuel Level

If the compressor does not use electricity as a power source, to guarantee that the compressor runs for as long as you want, you have to check the fuel, gas, diesel to ascertain its level. This ensures that there is no interruption in the usage of the compressor.

Check the Standard Pressure of the Tool

Every pneumatic tool as the maximum pressure it can tolerate. It is usually written on the tool’s surface. Check the underside or labels to ascertain the standard pressure. In case, you cannot find it their check on the user manual. Not being able to adjust the pressure according to the tool’s rating can lead to the damage or inefficient powering for its application. Always ensure that you check the pressure rating before use.

Close the Air Outlets

During the compression, it is important to keep the air intact by closing all the air outlets. Closure of the air outlet valves ensures that the differential pressure of the air is kept constant all through the compression. Check the valves of the device and make sure they are sealed or closed. You can check the owner’s manual to see how to set the air outlet valve correctly to prevent leakage of air during compression.

Put on Safety Gears

While operating the portable air compressor it is safer and advisable to wear protective gears. Polycarbonate goggles are perfect to guard the eyes while shoes or boots should be worn to protect your feet from any dropped tools causing damage to them. Some compressors are noisy and can cause damage to the ear canals if unprotected. Wearing earmuffs will do a great job at keeping the noise from wreaking havoc to your ears. 

Shut Off

When you are done with the compressor, turn off the compressor to drain the pressure. Leave the hose in place before turning the compressor off. Wait for the pressure to get drained from the device. To speed up the draining, pull the pressure valve. After draining the pressure, unplug the compressor and store in a dry and cool area.

There you have it! Above is a detailed guide on how to use a portable air compressor. Portable air compressors come with various structural and functional designs that make their operation unique. The steps discussed above provide a comprehensive guide on how you can operate an air compressor safe and efficiently like an expert. Make sure that you adhere to these tips completely when next you want to operate a portable air compressor.

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