One of the most common problems with any compressed air system is getting water in your compressed air. This can have a seriously damaging effect on downstream equipment or on product quality if, for example, the air is being used for paint spraying or in food manufacturing. The water is normally more of a problem in the summer, or as the outside temperature increases.
Water (or more technically condensate) is generated during the compression process within your air compressor. The water is sucked in to the air compressor as part of the atmospheric air. When the air is compressed it releases most of the water, since compressed air cant hold as much water as normal air. The water is carried along with the compressed air into the receiver and downstream pipework as a cloud of small droplets. These droplets normally stick to pipe walls or collect in the receiver when the air velocity reduces. Sometimes the air is moving so quickly that the water cant drop out of the air and ends up squirting out of the nozzle with the compressed air at the point of use. Alternatively it may end up collecting at a low point in the pipe and then get squirted out all in one go.
Having said all this, however, the condensate that gathers in your pipes is not just water, it is infact a mixture of water and compressor oil, making the liquid that gets squirted out quite nasty and not suitable to just be tipped down a drain. In fact it is illegal to simply pour untreated condensate down a drain. Click here to find out more about what you need to do to clean the condensate before you can pour it down a drain legally.
The good news is that water in your compressed air lines is a problem that can normally be easily solved by doing a few of the following simple things.
Stopping water in compressed air
1/ Always carry out your compressor daily checks making sure you are doing your compressor daily checks may be enough to solve your problems. particularly drain the water from your receiver and filters
See our video about daily checks here
2/ Fit a water trap or spinner in some situations fitting a water trap just before your downstream equipment may be enough to solve your water problem
3/ Fit a compressed air dryer and filters. If you are still suffering from water in your air lines you probably need to buy a dryer and filters. This is not an expensive fix. For a small compressor the dryer can be as little as a few hundred pounds to buy and filters will cost about the same.
Find out more about dryers and filters by watching our short dryers video
Installing a dryer and filters is usually quick and shouldn’t need your compressor to be turned off for more than a few minutes. A correctly sized dryer will solve your water in your air line problems even on the hottest, most humid day.