Air filter elements for air compressors are some of the most important replaceable parts on an entire compressor. Air filters remove the dirt from the intake air, dirt which will cause increased wear and frication in the interior of your compressor. A new, clean filter will insure that an air compressor operates at its maximum efficiency. A dirty or clogged air filter restricts the airflow, and starves the compressor, throttling back its efficiency. If a compressor runs in this state for a prolonged period, the compressor also risks overheating because the compressor has to work harder to create the required air output.
If a filter becomes worn or is physically damaged in some way, dirty air will get past the filter elements. Once inside the compressor, dirt and debris collects on the moving parts, and increase the internal friction, and rate of wear. Over a period of time, the abrasive action on the pump parts can cause increased maintenance costs, and premature part or pump failure.
So when deciding on a maintenance schedule for air compressors, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Like the habit of changing the oil in a car every 3000 miles, the manufacturers schedule for your air compressor is designed to prevent problems, and catch maintenance issues before they cause performance problems in your compressor.
When checking the filter, remove the air filter element from the filter housing and physically inspect it at least once a month. If the filter is paper, look at the filter’s outside surfaces and the inside surfaces. The outside perimeter should show signs of impregnated dirt and dust. However, the inside of the paper should still be clean and the filter’s original color. If the dirt has traveled through the paper or foam pores and is visible on the inside surfaces of the filter, the filter should be replaced. Also examine the filter to identify if the filter is worn, or physically damaged in any way. Some of the things to look for include:
- The paper or foam filter material could be ripped
- The rubber flanges on the top or bottom of the filter could be cracked
- The metal mesh which strengthens the filter could be physically damaged, or torn
If any of these conditions exist, discard the filter and replace it with a new, OEM filter element. This leads to the second important topic in air compressor maintenance reviews. Compressors are designed for a long lifetime. In some cases they last longer than the company which manufactured them. In other cases, manufacturing methods change between the time a compressor was purchased and installed, and today when you are looking for parts. In all cases, when you are looking for aftermarket air compressor parts, make sure you purchase from a company that can track back to the original manufacturer’s part number, and find OEM replacement parts. A part that is kind of, sort of, almost right is the wrong part, and shouldn’t be installed in your compressor.