Compressor Piping 101 Why Regular Maintenance Checks Could Save You $1,000 Or More


Compressed air piping layout

When you work on something as complex as a vehicle, you need to know your stuff. Even the most minor of errors can result in some serious damage that keeps a car from functioning at its best. This means putting your best effort toward finding reliable brands or becoming more acquainted with the compressed air piping material that will undercut many of your projects. Better yet? Both. Start small on your journey to becoming one of the best custom garage owners around and become comfortable with the art of air fittings and clamps.

No garage should be caught without an air compressor. Not only are these necessary for properly storing potential energy, they’ve only become safer and easier to use with time. It may even benefit you to shell out a little extra money for one that’ll last you for years, as you’ll be pulling out your air compressor more than you think with each subsequent job. It’s estimated as many as 70% of manufacturers have their own compressed air system. Knowing which one suits you will take some research and the good, old-fashioned process of elimination.

There’s safer. There’s better. There’s also cleaner. Anyone who works with cars is more than aware of eco-friendly initiatives being pushed on all fronts, both as an effort to clean up the air as well as save money. Energy audits recently conducted by the U.S. Department Of Energy (or DOE) have suggested over 50% of compressed air systems have low-cost energy conservation opportunities. These go for small and medium-sized industrial facilities alike. When you consider up to 90% of the electrical energy used by an air compressor is converted to heat, there’s more potential to potential energy than you realize.

You can likely see where this is going. Your air compressor should have a good heat recovery unit. A proper one should be able to recover anywhere from 50% to even 90% of heat for heating either air or water. Nearly 50,000 British thermal units (or Btus) are available per 100 cfm of compressor capacity. For the compressed air system that doesn’t have an air receiver tank you can always reduce your on and off cycling of the compressor. Since the tank is sized to the power of the compressor the majority of the time, an adequate compromise would be a 50 hp air compressor using a 50 gallon air receiver.

What else should you know before investing in compressed air piping material? Pressure loss is something to keep a close eye on so you don’t risk an accident. Pressure loss in a properly designed system will be no more than 10% of the available discharge pressure capability. You can easily find this gauge on the outlet of your model. Pressure loss greater than 10% should have you evaluating your distribution system to better identify which areas are receiving the pressure drops. Artificial demand is created when end use is supplied air pressure higher than required.

Compressed air piping material and compressed air fittings should be able to withstand the good and the bad. This includes leaks, damage and regular wear and tear. Compressed air system leaks, in particular, are notoriously costly and can see you growing frustrated easily. A mere eighth of an inch diameter hole in a 100 psi system can waste thousands of dollars in energy. This is why regular maintenance, even if it’s just a check-up, will keep you from tearing your hair out amid all your responsibilities.

Compressed air system design does best when you do. Know your pressure drops, run regular maintenance checks and you’ll be an energy saving expert in no time.