All compressed air systems will have some amount of leakage. It is a good idea to set up a Leak Prevention Program. Keeping the leakage losses to a minimum will save on compressed air generation costs, and reduce compressor operation time which can extend its life and lower maintenance costs.
The Compressed Air Challenge estimates an individual compressed air leak can cost thousands of dollars per year when using $0.07/kWh.
- 1/16″ diameter hole in excess of $700/year
- 1/8″ hole in excess of $2900/year
- 1/4″ hole in excess of $11,735 per year
There are generally two types of leak prevention programs:
- Leak Tag type programs
- Seek-and-Repair type programs
Of the two types, the easiest would be the Seek-and-Repair method. It involves finding leaks and then repairing them immediately. For the Leak Tag method, a leak is identified, tagged, and then logged for repair at the next opportune time.
A successful Leak Prevention Program consists of several important components:
- Document your Starting Compressed Air Use – knowing the initial compressed air usage will allow for comparison after the program has been followed for measured improvement.
- Establishment of initial leak loss – See this blog for more details.
- Determine the cost of air leaks – One of the most important components of the program. The cost of leaks can be used to track the savings as well as promote the importance of the program. Also a tool to obtain the needed resources to perform the program.
- Find the leaks – Leaks can be found using many methods. Most common is the use of an Ultrasonic Leak Detector, like the EXAIR Model 9061. See this blog for more details. An inexpensive handheld meter will locate a leak and indicate the size of the leak.
- Record the leaks – Note the location and type, its size, and estimated cost. Leak tags can be used, but a master leak list is best. Under Seek-and-Repair type, leaks should still be noted in order to track the number and effectiveness of the program.
- Plan to repairs leaks – Make this a priority and prioritize the leaks. Typically fix the biggest leaks first, unless operations prevent access to these leaks until a suitable time.
- Record the repairs – By putting a cost with each leak and keeping track of the total savings, it is possible to provide proof of the program effectiveness and garner additional support for keeping the program going. Also, it is possible to find trends and recurring problems that will need a more permanent solution.
- Compare and publish results – Comparing the original baseline to the current system results will provide a measure of the effectiveness of the program and the calculate a cost savings. The results are to be shared with management to validate the program and ensure the program will continue.
- Repeat As Needed – If the results are not satisfactory, perform the process again. Also, new leaks can develop, so a periodic review should be performed to achieve and maintain maximum system efficiency.
An effective compressed air system leak prevention and repair program is critical in sustaining the efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of an compressed air system.
If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.