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Air Compressor 101: How to deal with water in your compressed air system?

Anytime an air compressor draws in air, it is then compressed to about twelve (12) times normal atmospheric pressure. Moisture that is present as a vapor in air starts to condense. As the compressed air moves through the system and cools, more condensation occurs . The effect is more predominant in summer because of higher humidity. This water, if left in the system, can damage the air compressor and components connected to your compressed air system and possibly contaminate your product. Piping will rust, this rust will mix with the compressor oil and the dirt particles that are introduced into the system through the inlet of the compressor.

Even though it’s not possible to prevent moisture from entering your compressed air system, you can reduce the amount. This can be accomplished in stages, using different mechanisms throughout your system.

1) Drains:   The first place moister accumulates is in the receiver tanks. When compressed air emerges from the pump, it’s hot which temporarily keeps the water in its vapor state. But when it gets to the tank it will become liquid again and that is where it will collect. So dependable draining of the tank is critical to getting rid of moisture in your compressed air system. This can be accomplished most simply with a manual drain but timer-based drains and pneumatic drains are always a better bet.

2) Separators:   Another solution is a mechanical separator, which is typically installed downstream of the air compressor tanks. They look like an in-line air filter, and uses centrifugal force to separate water by directing the air in a spiral. Depending on the compressed air’s temperature, these Water Separators are able to remove 40-60% of water from the compressed air.

3) Refrigerated Air Dryers:   If further steps are needed in order to remove moisture from the system, look next to refrigerated air dryers. Temperature, pressure and moisture content are interrelated, and by chilling the air this step take out more water.

4) Desiccant Air Dryers:   Desiccant air dryers can be another step that gets air very dry and are helpful in painting, printing and instrument applications, or when compressed air meets ambient temperatures of less than 34 degrees. Desiccant dryers range from -40 degrees to -100 degrees in dew-point based off of the selected model.
Contact one of our staff for more info on moisture removal for your application!

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