If your industrial or manufacturing plant has an air compressor that helps to power pneumatic tools, then you probably understand that maintenance of the compressor is essential if you do not want to experience any downtime. Part of this maintenance should involve changing the oil that keeps the internal piston lubricated. If you take care of the oil and pay attention to it, then you may notice some slight changes in the oil. This may be able to tip you off that there is a problem with the compressor. Here are just two signs that you should look out for.
If you go to change the oil in the oil reservoir and notice that the fluid appears milky, then this means that water has seeped into the area. A great deal of fluid is entering the air intake system, and some of this water is finding its way into the oil reservoir. It is typical for water to be contained in the air compressor tank. The air usually contains some water vapor, and the percentage of fluid is referred to as the relative humidity. When the air moves through the air intake, the piston compresses it and stores the air in the holding tank. As more and more air is forced into the tank, the pressure increases and water vapor moves out of the air and condenses on the inside of the tank. In a typical situation, only a small amount of water will collect, and the water will release through the automatic drain valve.
Unfortunately, water can start to condense as soon as the piston compresses the air. This happens if your facility is extremely humid. Since oil will move directly from the reservoir and splash onto the piston, water can easily mix with the oil. If too much water enters the reservoir, then the piston may not be properly lubricated. This can cause an efficiency issue, since more friction will be created by the piston.
If you see milky oil, then your air compressor will need to pull in less humid air through the intake. In most cases, this means the unit will need to access outside air. A manifold and hose adapter can be placed over the intake part of the system, and the hose can be placed outside. Speak with your air compressor technician or specialist so one of these devices can be ordered or specially built for your air compressor. While you wait for the new intake attachments, try to place a dehumidifier in the building to reduce some humidity.
Oil in Air Stored in the Tank
A small amount of oil may mix with the air that is stored in the compressor tank. Oil will splash up onto the piston shaft and housing. Most of the oil will be forced downward as the piston head moves inside the housing. A thin layer is likely to be left behind, and the oil will leave the output hose.
However, you should not feel any oily output as pneumatic tools are used. This can greatly compromise the function of the tools. If oil is noticed, then it is likely that the gasket and head of the piston needs to be replaced. The head is likely not making direct contact with the housing, and oil is seeping into the air that is being compressed. This problem is likely to get worse as the piston head and gasket deteriorates, so it is wise to fix the issue as soon as it is noted.
You can change the piston head yourself. The piston will be located in the pump housing unit of the air compressor. Remove the housing cover, locate the piston, and inspect the head. If the head is visibly worn and cracked, or if the rubber gasket is around it is broken, then you know that a replacement is required. Release the screws that attach the piston head to the shaft, and pull off the head. Take the head to your air compressor parts supplier so a new one can be purchased. The head will typically come with the gasket attached, so this part does not need to be purchased separately. Attach the new head and replace the pump housing cover when you are done.
For more information or assistance, visit resources like http://www.compressor-pump.com.