As of March 4, 2024, Pacific Air Compressors is now a branch of Atlas Copco Compressors: Click Here For More Info
FinalPALogo cropped.jpg

How To Troubleshoot Air Compressors

troubleshoot air compressor

Industrial air compressors are the unsung heroes of manufacturing and production floors. From powering pneumatic tools to inflating tires, air compressors are an indispensable workhorse. However, just like any other mechanical system, air compressors are prone to occasional malfunctions which can result in downtime, compromised productivity, and even safety hazards.

This blog post is a comprehensive guide for anyone dealing with the intricacies of air compressor issues. We will walk through common problems that arise, provide step-by-step troubleshooting techniques, offer advanced repair methods, and share preventative maintenance measures you can implement to keep your compressor running smoothly. Whether you’re a seasoned industrial equipment operator or a new air compressor owner, this guide aims to be your go-to resource for all things air compressor troubleshooting.


Common Issues with Air Compressors

Air compressors may encounter a host of problems – some more prevalent than others. Here are a few common issues you might face in your air compressor’s life cycle:

Noisy Operation

Excessive noise can indicate a variety of issues, from loose internal components to imbalanced rotating parts. Noise can also be a sign of overworking motors or the presence of debris within the system. When left unaddressed, excessive noise can lead to serious damage over time.

Air Leaks

Air leaks are the proverbial ‘holes in your pocket’— any escape of compressed air represents a waste of both resources and energy. Leaks are a common problem and often occur at joints, fittings, and connections.

Pressure Fluctuations

Inconsistent pressure can cause equipment powered by the compressor to function improperly. These fluctuations can stem from issues with pressure switches, valves, and even the compressor’s air storage tank.


Air compressors that run hotter than normal are usually doing so because of poor ventilation, incorrect lubrication, or overworked components. This can not only present a risk to the immediate environment but may damage the equipment’s internal components as well.



Troubleshooting Steps

To address the issues faced with your air compressor, understanding where to start is crucial. Here are the basic steps to take when troubleshooting your air compressor:

Step 1: Check For Power Supply Issues

It may seem rudimentary, but several electrical problems can be at the root of air compressor issues. Begin by verifying that the compressor is getting the right level of power – checking breakers and fuses is a good place to start.

Step 2: Inspect Air Filters and Intake Valves

Clogged air filters can restrict airflow, consequently causing your compressor to work harder and potentially overheat. Similarly, intake valves can also become dirty or worn, causing air pressure issues.

Step 3: Examine For Leaks

Leaks can be identified by sound, touch, or with the help of a soapy water solution. Once located, you can either tighten connections or replace the faulty part as necessary.

Step 4: Monitor and Adjust Pressure Settings

Pressure settings are a significant factor in determining the performance of your compressor. Incorrect pressure settings can lead to erratic operation and wear on parts.

Step 5: Ensure Proper Ventilation and Cooling

Overheating is often due to insufficient ventilation. Ensuring that your compressor has enough fresh air can significantly reduce the chances of overheating.


Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

Some issues may not have straightforward solutions, and you may need to employ more advanced troubleshooting methods. Here are a few techniques:

Using Multimeters for Electrical Diagnostics

Multimeters can help you diagnose a wide array of electrical issues. By checking for continuity, voltage, and resistance, you can pinpoint the source of the problem quickly and accurately.

Conducting Airflow and Pressure Tests

Performing tests for airflow and pressure can help to identify leaks and issues with valves and gaskets that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Identifying and Replacing Faulty Compressor Parts

There are numerous parts within an air compressor that can fail. Identifying and replacing these parts requires a certain level of mechanical expertise, as well as specific tools and parts depending on your compressor model.


Preventive Maintenance Tips

Preventing issues before they occur is always the best strategy. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your air compressor in top shape:

Regular Cleaning and Lubrication

Cleanliness and proper lubrication are vital for the efficient and long-term operation of an air compressor. Dirty components can lead to inefficiencies and damage, while lack of lubrication can cause parts to wear prematurely.

Scheduled Inspections and Servicing

Routine inspections should be performed at regular intervals to catch and address potential problems early. Professional servicing at recommended service intervals is another crucial step in preventing failures and maintaining performance.

Training Operators on Proper Usage

Well-trained operators are your first line of defense against many air compressor issues. Ensuring they understand how to operate the equipment and spot early signs of trouble can make a significant difference.

Air compressors are complex systems that play a crucial role in numerous industrial and work-related functions. By learning to troubleshoot common issues, you can save time, money, and prevent unnecessary downtime. Remember, a well-maintained air compressor is a reliable air compressor.

Implement the tips and techniques outlined in this guide to ensure that your air compressor operates smoothly and efficiently. Regular preventative maintenance, paired with informed troubleshooting, will help you to minimize issues and keep your operations running without a hitch. If you find yourself dealing with a problem you can’t solve, it’s always best to consult with a professional to avoid potential damage to your equipment.

Pacific Air Compressors provides air compressor installation and maintenance in Portland, Oregon. We have a variety of parts for many different types of air compressors. If your air compressor is having an issue then shop our online store. You can also reach out to us to see which part works best for your air compressor.


Dear valued customers,

We normally keep all our inventory in stock. However, due to backorders from many of our vendors and parts shortages, some items that we have listed may not be in stock or could have a long lead time although they show as available on our store. If you need your items right away, please call or e-mail to ensure availability.