Can you leave an air compressor pressurized?

Do you own an air compressor and do you wonder if it’s harmful to leave it pressurized after usage? Well, I was wondering the same, so I did some research and collected my finding below.

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You may have come across various situations in your daily life that find the use of an air compressor, either proffesionally or as a DIY-er. You already know that it is oke to leave your air compressor pressurized. But keep reading to learn about all the nuances.

What happens if you leave an air compressor pressurized

Leaving an air compressor pressurized does not have any immediate bad effects. Since most compressors are designed to tolerate pressurization without the tank suffering a catastrophic failure. But be careful. A continuously pressurized tank will weaken its seal.

Is it Bad to Leave an Air Compressor Pressurized

Not having to worry about keeping an air compressor pressurized may seem great to many inexperienced users. But please be aware that this could result in a decreased lifespan of your compressor tank. This could go unnoticed for a long time, leaving you with wasted energy and a repair job to complete after that. Or worse, having to buy a new one. Check out my buyers guide if you’re thinking about buying a new one.

How often should I drain my air compressor?

The air compressor must be drained at least once in a couple of days. This applies to those who use their compressor on a daily basis for applications such as surface cleaning and in machine shops. 

However, compressors also find use in certain places for filling up tires. While this may be a regular affair at a garage shop, it is not always the case. 

What if you do not frequently use the air compressor? In such situations, draining the compressor as soon as you are done is highly recommended. This is to avoid the possibility of you forgetting to depressurize your tank after usage. 

While this may seem harmless, this could cause severe damage to your compressor and tank if left unattended for durations longer than a couple of days. Therefore, draining your tank immediately is a precautionary action that could do you a lot of good.

Can a pressurized air compressor explode?

I’m sure every air compressor owner wondered at least once if it’s possible for a pressurized air compressor to explode. Althought it is very unlikely, there are some scenraio’s in which this might happen.

This will increase the chances of an pressurized air compressor to explode:

  • Poor maintenance
  • Extended durations of pressurization
  • Accumulation of condensation in the tank

Poor maintenance can result in improper sealing of the air. Water is a common by-product in the functioning of an air compressor. This water accumulates in the tank. Extended durations of pressurization can increase the amount of water and condensation in the tank.

On some rare occasions, this accumulation can seriously compromise the integrity of the tank. If they are not regularly drained, they interact with the interior which results in corrosion and rusting. 

If this pressure is concentrated on a specific area of the tank, it can result in a forceful release of air, which could result in an explosion. 

How should I store my air compressor?

Storing your air compressor properly plays a crucial role in maintaining and increasing its longevity. In a few simple steps, I will explain to you how to do so.

Keep your air compressor indoors, in a dry and clean space. This helps you regulate factors like temperature, humidity, and ventilation. Doing so will help you slow down processes like corrosion, which degrade various components over time. 

Basements and outdoor sheds are not preferable though. While basements are at a higher risk of flooding, outdoor sheds may not have the essential heat and moisture insulation to protect your compressor. 

Keep your compressor on an elevated platform. This helps you prevent water damage due to groundwater. Prepare your compressor for storage, especially if it is long term. Allow the compressor to pressurize once you have switched it off. When the regulator knob indicates zero levels, then unplug it from the wall or have the battery removed and stored separately. 

Ensure that various connections are also disconnected. Draining the tank completely is the last procedure you must complete. Inspect your compressor for leaks and flaws. This will ensure you have a machine in working condition when it’s time. 

Should I drain my air compressor after every use?

Draining your compressor after every use is not necessary unless you use it very rarely. A good practice would be to drain the compressor tank every couple of days for daily use. This helps you remove the condensate and moisture gathered inside the tank, slowing down the corrosion process. 

The process is not as time-taking as many people think. So how do you drain the compressor?  Most compressors have a drain valve that allows you to drain the water manually. This allows you to do so at your convenience. 

However, some models have pneumatic valves and automatic timer systems to complete the draining process without human intervention. This is especially useful if your compressor is located in a difficult to access location, or if you are someone who forgets to drain your tank regularly. 

In such situations, sensors on the drain circuits detect when the liquids cross a certain threshold, and ensure the timely evacuation through the pneumatic valves. However, be prepared to spend a considerable amount if this is your preference.

How long can you Leave an air compressor running?

The maximum run time of a compressor depends on two factors. They are the duty cycle and type of compressor itself. The duty cycle is equal to the run time of a compressor divided by its total cycle time. This helps you clearly understand how long your compressor can run continuously. However, this also depends on whether your compressor is the reciprocating or screw type. 

How long can you Leave a Compressor Running

A reciprocating compressor must not be run continuously for more than 50% of the duty cycle or the listed duty cycle, whichever is lower. This type of compressor generates large amounts of heat while having basic cooling systems. As a result, the internal parts tend to heat up, which can become dangerous beyond the duty cycle. 

Doing otherwise can cause damage to your internal mechanisms, causing valve failures. This will result in the compressor running throughout without compressing the air, increasing your electricity bills needlessly.

A screw-type compressor can be run continuously. They have advanced cooling systems that efficiently remove heat from the inside. However, this has a drastic effect on the efficiency of the compression itself. Thus, running this type of compressor is possible, but inefficient.

How long do air compressors last?

Most air compressors are designed to run for at least 10-15 years. They are expensive, and often play a crucial role in certain industrial and household applications. As a result, it is an investment for the long run. Carefully think it through before making a purchase.

Air compressors are machines that need to be taken care of though. Proper maintenance, installation, and operating procedures can ensure your compressor lasts for a duration longer than the manufacturer suggests, without losing out on efficient performance. 

Right now, I am using the Oil-Free pancake CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor for the last 3 years. I like tat this Craftsman is still fairly portable and it supposed to be quite durable because it has an oil free pump.

I’ve used some other air compressors as well in the past, and I ‘ve created a buyers guide about them, might be wortwhile reading if you’re still in doubt. I have also written a detailed article about the best air compressor for roofing work that might be helpful as well.

Do not neglect procedures like draining the tank and adhering to the designed manufacturer duty cycle. While doing otherwise might have temporary benefits, the long term damage caused to your compressor can drastically shorten its lifespan, forcing you to buy a new replacement that may cost you a fortune. 

2 thoughts on “Can you leave an air compressor pressurized?”

  1. I have an Emglo stacked 4 gallon compressor that was manufactured in 1988 and it’s still going strong. Recently had to replace the switch, but that all that’s gone wrong with it ! They don’t make them like they us


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