Prep Your Air Compressor System for Winter
When winter weather comes around, you will need to take precautions to protect your air compressor from freezing temperatures. If you use an industrial air compressor in any of your work, especially for your industrial equipment, you don’t have to put it away, but you should take steps to keep it operating well in the cold weather. Check your user’s manual to be sure, but you can winterize most air compressors with these three steps.
1. Protect the Heat
Industrial compressors are normally purchased with an insulated cabinet. If not, then the compressor should be installed in an enclosed room with proper heat and ventilation. Without appropriate insulation, the air compressor can start leaking heat, which would allow your machine to freeze. Doors on the cabinet should be kept closed during freezing weather. Cold weather kits can be purchased that keep the oil warm and condensate lines protected if or when the compressor shuts down.
Your air compressor generates a lot of heat which you might be able to redirect rather than just exhausting to the atmosphere. If you can attach a heat recovery system to your machine, you can use it elsewhere in your building, which is more energy-efficient. You can also look for cold-weather attachments or adjustments to your compressor that will allow it to function in freezing climates.
2. Keep Water Out
Your air compressor creates a lot of condensation, which is subject to freezing if not properly protected. Install condensation drains or filters to get rid of the water quickly as it collects. Heat trace all lines subject to condensate including tanks, drains and filters. Keep the machine itself at temperatures above freezing so that any condensation doesn’t have a chance to freeze.
Any air lines will also need to remain condensation free, or else you’ll be dealing with frozen pipes and controls. You can reinforce the lines and drains with heat tape to keep them from bursting under freezing temperatures, but your best method to avoid this problem would be to keep the machine inside when not in use.
3. Check the Fluids
If you plan to keep using your air compressor throughout the winter, you’ll need the right fluids to keep it operating in whatever temperatures you have. Your oil should be a primary focus here: you can switch out your regular solution for this season and use compressor oil that has modifications for winter, like low viscosity oils.
While using your machine, though, keep an eye on the oil temperature. The oil will solidify if allowed to get too cold, but it will also cause your system to malfunction if allowed to get too hot. Monitor the oil as the season goes on, and make sure the compressor has appropriate insulation as well as adequate ventilation.
Look for winter formulas for your air compressor lubricants and other fluids. If you have a portable engine driven compressor, consider adding an engine block heater to your model. The heater will allow your machine to function under higher temperatures than your environment, which will keep the fluids viscous and useable.
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