While there are multiple issues that can cause an air compressor to shut down, the most common problem by far is simply overheating. This is an especially commonplace issue when the outside temperature starts to rise. Thus, during the dog days of summer, it’s more critical than ever to understand why air compressors overheat, and what actions may be taken to mitigate this risk.

What Causes Compressors to Overheat?

There are a number of reasons why an air compressor might overheat. Some of the usual suspects include:

The room is too hot

Most compressors function best with an ambient temperature of no more than 100 to 110 degrees. If the room is too hot, it can cause the compressors to shut down. Of course, this is pretty easy to regulate simply by ensuring your thermostat is working, and that you check the temperature in your mechanical room at least a couple of times per day.

The cooler is clogged

If the ambient temperature isn’t the problem, then it must be something mechanical. One possibility is clogged coolers. Over time, dirt accumulates inside the cooler. A quick fix is to blow out the cooler in the reverse direction of the normal air path, which can help shake out much of that accumulated debris.

The air dryer drain is clogged or broken

Air dryers are used to reduce the amount of moisture present in compressed air. Some air dryers use refrigerant, and these can also help keep the air cool. If your air dryers seem like they aren’t working, check them for clogs or for mechanical failure.

Your compressor’s oil level is too low

During normal operation, your condenser will pass small amounts of oil. Without adequate oil levels, your machine will not have proper flow through the cooler. This can result in overheating.

The inlet filter is clogged

A final consideration: What if there’s excessive dirt in the inlet filter? This may cause the machine to work harder than normal, resulting in overheating. The inlet filter should be changed every six months, but you may want to throw in an extra filter change during the hot summer months.

How Can You Prevent Your Air Compressor from Overheating?

To prevent overheating, the first step is to make sure you have a plan in place for routine maintenance. At the very least, you should have your air compressor inspected once or twice a year. While annual service calls can help you prevent some of your machinery’s wear and tear, you’ll also need to take some steps to address everyday fluctuations in operating conditions. For example, you might consider installing temperature and humidity sensors at critical points. Also, train your team members to respond appropriately to signs of excess heat or humidity.

For additional help maintaining your compressors, we welcome you to contact Engineering Sales Associates. We’d love to tell you more about our maintenance plans, including AirShield, which can help you eliminate system downtime and reduce energy costs. Reach out to us whenever you’d like to learn more.

Arthur Pue

Arthur Pue is the President of Engineering Sales Associates. Connect with him on LinkedIn.