Clean Up Clean Up… Everybody Do Your Part

Okay, if the title doesn’t get the song stuck in your head, maybe the YouTube video will. Whenever our kids were younger, my wife and I would start to sing this song when the kids didn’t want to help clean up, and then we would just be singing and trying to get them to clean up with the words. Eventually, they would help…

1 – Clean Up – Barney

So what does this have to do with industrial compressed air? Well, the compressed air system generally starts in a remote corner or location in the facility that not many people venture to. It is often where there is minimal routine cleaning that can directly impact the well-being of the air compressors for a facility.

We’ve blogged about this many times on critical ways to improve your compressed air system, and we often touch on ensuring you have clean compressed air. That all starts with the room or areas the compressors are housed in. If you keep the area clean and keep the air exchanging there, then the compressor has clean, fresh air to entrain and begin the compression process. If your compressor condensate drain just goes into a puddle and oil dry gets thrown on top of it, then that dust and debris all begin to become airborne over time. That gets entrained into the intake and not to mention the smell and biomass that begins to generate is rather foul. If oil or some other lubricant gets spilled and not cleaned up when it happens, then when a real leak develops on the compressor it can’t be found because the area is already covered in oil and grime that never gets cleaned.

The notorious “Compressor Closet” that never gets opened in a small shop.

When trying to perform preventative maintenance and the area is littered with debris, oil dry, unused parts, and dimly lit, you can’t easily see or find all the maintenance points on the equipment and will often spend more time trying to clean the area up than the actual maintenance takes. Adding a cleaning process to the weekly routine of the area is one of the best things that can be done for the compressor room/area. It makes operators more aware of where the compressed air is coming from and should anything not look right, it makes it easier to see and report.

If you would like to talk about other key components to optimizing your compressed air system, contact an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno, Application Engineer

The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance

The first brand-new car I ever bought was a 1995 Ford Escort wagon. I was playing in a band pretty much every weekend (and the occasional weeknight), and my digital piano case fit perfectly in the back – I took it with me to make sure when I went to test drive it. Over eleven years, I put just shy of 200,000 miles on it, and, aside from gas, oil, and tires, had a little under $1,000 in repair costs.

There used to a legendary warning about not buying a car made on a Monday (since the auto workers were presumably recovering from the weekend) or a Friday (since they were equally presumably distracted by getting ready for the weekend). Some folks only buy a particular make of automobile (or shun another) because that’s the make their favorite race car driver (or least favorite) drives. I don’t know what day of the week that Escort was made, and I couldn’t tell you which race car drivers are loyal to the Ford Motor Company, but I CAN tell you that I followed the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to a “T”. And I’m pretty sure that had a LOT more to do with that little red wagon’s longevity than a bunch of auto workers’ attention to detail (or lack thereof) or who’s popular on the NASCAR circuit.

The same is true for many components that make up your compressed air system. You’re going to want to change the lubricating oil in your compressor on a regular basis (as recommended by the manufacturer) for the exact same reasons you change the oil in your car’s engine. You need to replace particulate elements in compressed air filters, same as you need to periodically replace your car’s air filter.

For point-of-use devices – like most EXAIR compressed air products – preventative maintenance largely comes down to replacing those particulate elements in your filters. Products like our Air Knives, Air Wipes, Air Amplifiers, E-Vac Vacuum Generators, Reversible Drum Vacs, and Vortex Tubes all have relatively small passages that the air has to flow through, so it’s critical to their performance to supply them with clean air. In fact, if you DO supply these products with clean air, they’ll run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free. That’s why all of our product Kits include a Filter Separator with a 5 micron particulate element, and a centrifugal element for moisture removal.

Good engineering practice calls for point of use filtration and moisture removal, such as that provided by EXAIR Filter Separators.

One question we get on a pretty regular basis is, how often do you have to change the particulate element in our Filter Separators. Good engineering practice calls for replacing that element when the differential pressure across the filter reaches 5psi. Now, you can measure the pressure on either side of the Filter Separator and change the element when the outlet pressure drops 5psi from the inlet. If you can shut down long enough to do so, that’s an efficient way to do it – that ensures you get the most ‘bang for your buck’ from that element.

Of course, those elements don’t cost all that much – but shutting down a production line, for even the few minutes it takes to replace an element, can get VERY costly. Facilities that run 24/7 will usually plan some downtime for periodic maintenance on SOMETHING…and they’ll just replace their Filter Separator’s particulate elements during those downtimes.

If you’ve got questions about getting the most out of our products – and, by extension, your compressed air system – give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
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The Importance Of Preventative Maintenance

The first new car I ever bought was a 1995 Ford Escort Wagon. It got GREAT gas mileage (which was important for my 25 mile one-way commute to the day job), and had ample room to haul my keyboards & amplifier rig (which was just as important to my side hustle as a potential rock star). Since it only had four miles on the odometer – and, it was the first purchase I ever financed over a period of YEARS, I decided to follow the owner’s manual’s maintenance schedule religiously. And it paid off: I got eleven years and just shy of 200,000 miles out of one of the least expensive cars ever made. It was actually still running like a top when I sold it to “upgrade” to a minivan, which suited my needs at the time for a vehicle that fitted the car seats for our little boys (who are now a U.S. Marine and a hippie college student, respectively). I actually followed the maintenance schedule for that minivan too, and got 14 years & almost 180,000 miles out of it, without a major breakdown.

Whether you call it “preventive”, “preventative”, “scheduled”, or “planned” maintenance, there’s an old adage that applies in any case:

“If you don’t plan maintenance, it’ll plan itself without regard to your schedule.”

While following the proverbial “owner’s manual’s maintenance schedule” doesn’t guarantee against catastrophic failures, it’s awfully good insurance against them. For your privately owned vehicles, I encourage you to follow the owner’s guide as best you can. For your compressed air system – from the compressor to the devices it provided compressed to (and everything in between) – there’s likely similar documentation to follow, and for good reason. Consider:

  • Air compressor maintenance. Failure to properly maintain a compressor can increase energy consumption by not keeping it operating as efficiently as possible. For example, just like not periodically replacing your car engine’s air filter will impact your gas mileage, failure to do the same for your compressor’s intake air filter will impact its production of compressed air.
  • Air leaks are costly. Not only do they waste the money you spent on running the compressor (a leak that’s equivalent to a 1/16″ diameter hole costs you over $700.00 annually – let me know if you want to do the math on that), your system pressure takes a hit too. Pressure drop caused by those leaks (plural because there’s rarely just one) can create what’s known as “false demand”, which costs you money as well: every 2psi increase in compressor discharge pressure makes for a 1% increase in power consumption. So, it’s really important to stay on top of them. Regularly scheduled surveys with an instrument like EXAIR’s Model 9207 Ultrasonic Leak Detector allows you to quickly find – and then fix – those leaks.
EXAIR Model 9207 Ultrasonic Leak Detector comes with everything you need to find out if you have a leak (with the parabolic disc, lower right) and then zero in on its exact location (with the tubular extension, bottom).
  • Filters, part 1: I already mentioned the compressor intake filter above, but the rest of the filters in the system need attention from time to time as well. Filter manufacturers typically call for replacing the element in a filter when pressure drop reaches a certain point. I’ve seen published values of 2-5psi for that. Of course, that may not occur at a convenient time to shut down everything downstream of that filter, so lots of folks replace those elements as part of planned maintenance evolutions that require depressurization of that particular part of the system anyway. Dirty filters mean you have to increase their inlet pressure to maintain the same outlet pressure you had when they were clean – and the same 1% increase in power consumption for a 2psi pressure increase applies here too.
  • Filters, part 2: most compressed air operated products have small passages that the air has to flow through, and without filtration, those can get clogged with dirt that the intake filter doesn’t catch, solid particulate from compressor ‘wear & tear’, and rust from header pipe corrosion, just to name the “usual suspects”. An argument could be made that installation & upkeep of properly rated Filter Separators at the point of use of these devices is part of those devices’ planned maintenance. In any case, it’s akin to the awfully good insurance against catastrophic failures I mentioned earlier.
Good engineering practice calls for point of use filtration and moisture removal, such as that provided by EXAIR Filter Separators.

Again, many of the components that make up a typical industrial compressed air system will have a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, but if they don’t, how can you properly plan for it? Monitoring of certain system parameters can be a valuable tool for determining how often some planned maintenance should be performed:

  • Power consumption of the compressor. The benefit of measuring & logging this on a regular basis is, if you see sudden changes, you can start looking for what’s causing them. Maybe a bearing or belt is wearing out, some leaks have popped up, or a filter’s clogged. In any case, it’s an indication that SOMETHING needs attention. Large industrial compressors might even have power monitoring in their control scheme. If not, there ARE other parameters you can measure…like:
  • Pressure and flow. EXAIR’s Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters make monitoring these parameters quick and easy. Managing the readings can be done with our USB Data Logger, or you can get it on your computer, via a Zigbee Mesh Gateway, with our Wireless Models.
EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are made for iron, copper, or aluminum compressed air pipe in sizes from 1/2″ to 8″ diameters. Options include Pressure Sensing, Wireless Output, USB Data Logger, Hot Tap, and Metric display.

At EXAIR, we’re committed to helping you get the most out of your compressed air system. If you’d like our help with that, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
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Featured image courtesy of Compressor1creative commons license

Troubleshooting 101: Super Air Knife

Yesterday, I was working with a customer on troubleshooting a Super Air Knife. He had brought the knife into EXAIR’s demo room so I was able to verify a few items very easily.  When trouble shooting air knives there are no moving parts, so it is very small list of items to check.

  1. Check the Air Supply

  2. Check the plumbing

  3. Check the inside of the Air Knife for debris

The customer had a 36″ Super Air Knife ,and he was seeing some weak spots in the air flow as well as a gradient in flow from one side of the knife to the other.  The first thing I did was to install a pipe tee with a pressure gauge in both ports on the bottom of the knife.  This would allow me to monitor the pressure we were supplying to the knife to calculate the air consumption and ensure the our piping was not starving the knife for air.


Feeding the knife with equal pressure from both sides, is necessary for any air knife 24 inches or longer. The customer immediately noticed that the flow from the knife lost any sort of gradient, once it was fed in (2) locations. Still the air knife exhibited a spot in the flow where air velocity significantly decreased.  Since we were getting correct pressure and supplying enough air, we decided to remove the cap from the Super Air Knife.  Under the cap we found a variety of debris and one dreaded piece of PTFE plumbing tape. The plumbing tape was suppose to prevent air leaks throughout the compressed air system, but a piece had become lodged in the air gap of the Super Air Knife preventing air flow through a small portion of the Super Air Knife.  As you can see, once we followed a few simple steps to ensure proper installation of the Super Air Knife, it was quick and easy to narrow down what caused the lack of performance. This is yet another reason to make sure you have clean and dry compressed air, as well as use a point of use filter separator.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer