Using an Air Compressor
Using an air compressor can be really helpful for a wide array of things including powering up spray pistols, nail guns, staple guns, sanders, ratchet wrenches, reciprocating saw, and many other pneumatic tools.
An air compressor can also be useful for inflating tires and even cleaning the furniture.But using an air compressor is not really that easy.
Even though you get several benefits from having one, you’ll have to know exactly what to do if you want the best results. For that, we recommend learning how to use an air compressor as well as all the different factors that you need to consider.
Here, we explain in 10 steps how you can use an air compressor for your garage for all the different applications. Take a look and find out!
10 steps how you can use an air compressor
Gather the Supplies
The first thing you need to consider before using one is all the gear or supplies you need. Whether it is a power tool, hand and eye protection, the hoses, power cord extensions, and more – always remember to have everything close before using one of these.
If you are looking to a compressor with an oil pump, you’ll have to bring oil along as well. The same happens with the tools such as a socket wrench so you can open the oil tank and add some. Additional attachments or tools can help as well. Whatever it is, make sure you have them close before starting.
Sometimes, even bringing the compressor manual can be helpful, especially if you are a beginner with one of these.
Check the Compressor
Almost all compressors need constant maintenance and checks if you want them to work correctly. Most old options, for example, typically need to be filled with oil, especially after several days, weeks, or months without use.
We recommend changing the oil at least twice every year. The right oil level should be about two-thirds of the oil-checking stick. If the stick doesn’t show that level, you’ll have to change and add more oil.
Here are a few additional considerations to have before using an air compressor:
- If you need to buy oil, most hardware and auto part stores have them. Use the same type of oil the compressor had before changing it.
- If your compressor is oil-free, never add any oil to it. Just make a fast check in all of its parts without adding any oil.
- For adding oil, you can use a funnel, it’s always the best and easiest choice for such a process.
- Check all the parts of the compressor before connecting it. Make sure the tank is not broken or cracked. Also, check the hoses connections in search of any buildup.
Attach the Hose or Power Tool
Now that you are ready checking and doing maintenance to the air compressor, it is time to attach any hose or tool you want to use. Here’s how it goes:
- Place the compressor on the ground. Then find the regulator valve; a copper-like plug that has a hole in the middle. Attach the hose to this valve.
- Next, you’ll have to connect the power tool to the hose. You can do this by sliding the plug of the machine into the end of the hose where the air goes out. Make sure it fits tightly.
- If you instead use an attachment such as a coupler for inflating tires or a spray cleaner, then you can just attach the head to the hose, and that’s it.
Connect the Compressor to an Outlet
To connect the compressor, you’ll need to find an outlet with a 3-prong entrance. This is the ideal option for air compressors and the one you’ll be using. If you can’t find any connector close, you may use an extension with the right head. Here’s how to connect the machine:
- Check that the compressor has the power switch turned off. Do not connect the compressor if it is turned on as it could be dangerous and damage the machine.
- We recommend only using extensions that are of exceptional quality. Avoid using any extension that doesn’t offer a consistent flow of energy.
- If you don’t find any usable extension, you can instead attach two hoses to the discharging valve. Attach the second hose to the end of the first one, they should fit tightly enough.
- If you connected the compressor with an extension cord, you'd have to try the compressor for a few minutes and make sure the current is constant. But more importantly, you’ll have to check that the compressor doesn’t overheat. If the compressor works correctly, then you can keep going.
Put Safety Accessories & Clothing
Before starting to use the compressor, it is essential to wear the right clothing and accessories to prevent any damage to your body. Especially if you are operating power tools such as nail guns, staplers or sand guns, you’ll have to wear the right items. Here’s what we recommend:
- From safety goggles to closed-toed boots or shoes – wear things that protect your eyes and feet. Also, wear protective gloves that prevent any splinter or unusual debris from harming your hands.
- Some compressors can emit a very noisy sound for some people. If you want, wearing some ear muffs can be helpful.
- Operating an air compressor can also have a minimal but present fire danger, so if you can get items that are not flammable, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. Also, try to keep the machine away from flammable objects as much as possible.
Turn on the Compressor
Now it is time to start the compressor, but you’ll have to turn it on first and check that it works the right way. For this, you’ll have to wait for it to pressurize. Here’s what you should do:
- Start by flipping the electrical switch on the tank. Then you can remove the safety lock or valve many compressors have. You’ll hear a buzz and a potential whizz coming out the machine.
- While doing this, check the pressure gauge to make sure it is working correctly. The needle should stop moving once the pressure achieves its maximum level.
- If there’s a second small gauge close to the large one, this is the one that checks the pressure in the hose. It should also be static once the pressure reaches it.
- Once you pull the trigger on the machine, the small gauge should start to move along with the big one. This should be happening along with air coming out of the hose.
Set up the Compressor
To set up the compressor, you’ll have to both check the right pressure depending on your needs and adjust the regulator accordingly. Here’s how to do this:
- Start by checking how much pressure the power tool you’re going to use demands. Most of the time the PSI mark is near the handle of the tool. If you are not using any attachment, dismiss this step.
- Once you know the right PSI range, you can start adjusting the regulator accordingly. This regulator is located close to the hose or on the hose.
- You will be looking for a knob. It turns clockwise to close and counterclockwise to increase how much air passes through to the tool.
- Check the small gauge to know how much air passes through the hose. Make sure it shows the right amount according to the needs of the tool.
- The large gauge shouldn’t move at this time until you trigger the compressor.
Operate the Compressor
You have the right air pressure, the attachments and tools connected, so you are ready to start using the compressor on whatever operation you need it for. But you’ll need to know how:
- Before pushing the trigger on the machine, make sure the hose is filled with air. For that, you’ll have to check the gauge. This will let you know that there’s still air in the tank.
- Every time you pull the trigger to use the compressor, the pressure in the tanks will drop so the air will drain out. You’ll need to wait for the tank to refill to use the machine again. They refill automatically.
- If the machine stops working unexpectedly, make sure to check the gauges. Sometimes it happens that the tanks drain out completely and you didn’t notice. Especially with small tanks with less than 5 gallons, this is pretty common.
- If the tank drains and needs to refill, you won’t have to touch anything. Just let the machine get air and pressure alone. Only change the regulator levels and make other adjustments in case you are replacing a hose or a pneumatic tool.
Drain Condensation & Shut Off the Compressor
As soon as you stop using the compressor, you’ll need to shut it off entirely and drain the pressure out. Here’s how this goes:
- First, start by opening the drain valve in the air tank without turning the compressor off. Just twist the valve counterclockwise, and any pressurized air inside will blow out the moisture inside the pressure tank.
- Once the condensation has run out of the tank, you can turn the valve clockwise again and close it. It is essential to do this every time after using the compressor. This will let the condensation out which prevents the tank from rusting & corroding.
- Now you can shut off the compressor. Don’t detach the hose once you shut it off, first drain the hose of any air. To do this, you can twist the knob on the pressure regulator, so no air goes inside the hose.
- Finish by turning the compressor off completely and disconnecting it. The pressure will come out slowly. You can pull the pressure relief valve to make this process quicker.
Detach, Disconnect and Store
To end the whole process of using a compressor, you’ll need to remove every hose, attachment or power tool. Then unplug the machine from its power source, and start gathering the cables & accessories together to store it.
We recommend storing the compressor in a dry place, especially with temperatures that aren’t too hot or too cold. This will let the compressor work well again when you need it.
Now that you are familiar with the whole process of using a compressor, it is time you start using yours. It doesn’t take more than just a few minutes to set up. And it doesn’t take much to unplug and store either.
Just remember the details and every step. Eventually, you won’t have any problem starting to use an air compressor.