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Q) What is the difference between PSI and SCFM?

A) SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet per Minute. It indicates the volume of compressed air delivered by the compressor. This is the most important measure of air compressor performance. PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is the measure of air force delivered by the air compressor. When using an air tool with a compressor, the tool will require a minimum SCFM and also a certain PSI to operate the tool properly.

Q.) What is the difference between a single-stage and two-stage compressor?

A.) Stage refers to the number of times intake air is compressed in a pump. A single stage compressor compresses intake air one time before sending the air into a storage tank. Single stage compressors are the more common types of compressor that consumers are used to using. Two stage compressors compress air two times before sending air into a storage tank. Two stage compressors are much larger machines that are designed to be used by multiple users simultaneously because of their higher SCFM output along with their higher maximum working pressure of 175 PSI.

Q.) Why is my compressor not reaching maximum pressure? (troubleshooting)

A.) First determine if there are any leaks coming from the compressor tank and/or pipe fittings attached to the tank. The best way to do this would be to fill the tank with as much compressed air as the pump will allow and shut the unit off.

The next step would be to use some soapy water solution, in some type of spray bottle, and spray it on all tank welds and pipe fittings to see if there are any air leaks. If there are weld leaks, the tank will need to be replaced. If there are pipe fitting leaks, they will need to be tightened and/or removed and new pipe tape applied to all threads.

The next step would be to check the tubing going from the pump to tank, as well as the check valve (located where copper tube meets the tank) and pressure switch connectors, to see if they are properly tightened/connected. After correcting any of the above problems, run the compressor to see if this fixes the problem.

If no type of air leaks are detected from the above process, the problem could be a bad gauge or pressure switch. Replace the tank gauge first to see if this fixes the problem. If that does not fix the problem, replace the pressure switch and run the compressor to see if it will reach maximum pressure. If this does not fix the problem, the pump would need to be inspected. Check the intake filter first to make sure that it is clean. The next step would be to spray the soapy water solution to the outside of the pump while the unit is running to see if there are any gasket seal leaks.

If none exist, the next step would be to check the pump head bolts to make sure that they are properly torqued/tightened. The next step would be to tear the pump down and inspect the internal parts such as the piston rings, cylinder and valves for excessive wear. If any of these parts are worn out, replace them and run the compressor to see if this fixes the problem.

Q.) What pressure do I set my regulator for my air tools?

A.) Compressor driven Paint Spray Guns should be setup to use 40-50 psi. All other air tools should be set to use 90-100 psi, as a rule of thumb.

Q.) Is my compressor supposed to hold air in the tank for a long period of time?

A.) In theory, your compressor tank should be able to hold compressed air for an indefinite period of time when not in use. Because of the numerous pipe fittings and connections to the compressor tank, it is not uncommon to loose a certain amount of air from the tank over a period of time.

Q.) How often do i need to oil (lubricate) my air tools?

A.) The air motors in your air tools must be lubricated daily or before each use, and after each use to prevent corrosion inside the tool. An air motor cannot be oiled too often, but can become messy if over oiled.

Q.) How do I oil (lubricate) my Air tools?

A.) Air tools only need be lubricated in one area, the air motor. The air motor uses compressed air to power the tool. Because moisture in compressed air will rust the air motor, you must lubricate the motor after each use. You cannot lubricate an air motor too often.  Step 1:  To lubricate the air motor.   1) Disconnect the tool from the air supply, hold it upside down, so the air inlet faces up.   2) Pull the trigger on the tool and put 3-4 drops of air tool oil in the air inlet. Pulling the trigger helps circulate oil throughout the motor.   3) Connect the tool to an air supply, cover the exhaust port with a towel, and run the tool in both directions. Remove the towel, and your tool is ready to use.

Q.) How do I determine what size of air compressor I need?

A.) The most important rating for an air compressor is the SCFM output. This is also the input rating that the air tool requires to operate properly. For best results, consider the tool that you anticipate using with the highest SCFM rating and purchase a compressor with an output of 1.5 times that rating. For example, if you want to use an impact wrench that requires 5.0 SCFM, you would want to purchase a compressor that puts out 7.5 SCFM. If you anticipate using multiple tools simultaneously, add the SCFM requirements for all tools and multiply by 1.5 when choosing a compressor to use.

Q.) What features should I select for durability?

A.) Aluminum versus cast iron cylinders. When run for a long period of time, pump cylinders get quite hot. Aluminium cylinders may lead to early failure because heat would cause warping and structural changes in the metal. In contrast, cast iron can run all the time and may not have heat failure.

Q.) Where should the air compressor be installed?

A.) Compressors make heat. It should be installed in a place with good air circulation. Putting it in an enclosed place will overheat the unit and damage it.

Q.) How do I measure true power? 

A.) The way to measure true power instead of just looking at the advertised peak HP, is to measure the time it takes to pump the reservoir tank of known volume from a known starting pressure to a known ending pressure. Then you can figure the true CFM from the difference in starting and final pressures, times the volume of the tank, divided by the time it took to pump up.

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