Air compressors are clean, powerful, inexpensive, and enjoyable to use. There are just a few things to do to properly maintain your compressor.
Tools and equipment like air compressors, pressure washers, and generators go a long way to making a day out on the job, or in the shop, productive and enjoyable. Being able to use your tools while out at a job site is not really just a nice idea. It's actually a necessity. There's a good chance that if you use these sorts of tools you already know a lot about the ins and outs of the actual equipment. But let's explore this just a bit and see what basics should be tended to when using one.
Air compressors are not very complicated machines. They are basically high pressure tanks that pressurize when their engines or motors are running. You hook up a hose and attach the needed tool, then get to work. Whether you are running sanders, sprayers, or a host of other air powered tools, these amazing machines make it all possible.
But do you know how to take care of air compressors? Most people just use it and use it, and never really pay attention to basic care and maintenance. This is, of course, a mistake. Machines with moving parts wear out and have to be lubed. It is important to put a few drops of tool oil in the hose nipples and in the tools themselves. This is a simple step that everyone can pay attention to.
Another important maintenance-type thing to pay attention to is how air compressors are situated while in use. I know how it is. You show up to do a job and don't really pay that much attention to whether your compressor is on a secure, level surface or not. The problem with not having it level is that the oil in a gas compressor has to stay level for it to really do its job. I realize that it's not like the thing is going to blow up if it isn't level, but the life of the unit will be shortened. Easy enough to avoid, so you might as well tend to the basics.
Air compressors come in a wide range of configurations. My first one was a small pancake unit. I think it was only 2 gallons. Enough for basic brad nailers and sanders. If you plan on using it for running paint guns then you'll likely need one that has at least a 6 gallon capacity. The cost jump between the smaller sizes and a larger unit, like a 20 gallon, isn't really all that much. So, if you plan on using lots of pneumatic tools then spring for as large a compressor as you can justify. You'll never regret having a greater capacity, but if you buy too small you are sure to wish you hadn't been such a penny pincher.
I like air compressors. They are fun to use, easy to maintain, open up a whole new range of tools you can use, allow for true portability, and are relatively inexpensive. I can highly recommend getting one to anyone interested in any of those things.