Skip to content
Tips for Air Compressor Maintenance

Tips for Air Compressor Maintenance

Tips for Air Compressor Maintenance

Reading time: 5 min

From paint sprayers and nail guns to impact drills and power sanders, many tools rely on pressurized air in order to function. Air compressors are compact, portable machines designed to provide a dependable source of pressurized air on job sites.

While there are several common types of air compressors, they all work by taking in air from the surrounding environment, compressing it, then expelling the pressurized air through pneumatic hoses.

While air compressors are generally easy to care for, and require less maintenance than other forms of heavy equipment, they still need to be properly maintained.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of air compressor maintenance. By properly caring for your air compressor and meeting its maintenance needs, you can ensure it will continue to provide value to you and your team for years to come.

Benefits of Air Compressor Maintenance

Maintaining an air compressor is straightforward, as these machines tend to be less complex than other forms of heavy equipment. However, their lowkey maintenance requirements sometimes cause them to be overlooked.

Like other forms of heavy equipment, air compressors that aren’t properly maintained can break down, leading to delays on the job and expensive repairs.

Since many construction tools require pressurized air in order to function, an air compressor that goes down can cause all the air-powered tools on a job to be rendered totally useless.

By properly caring for your air compressor, you can avoid these hassles and ensure your team has reliable access to pressurized air. 

Not only will proper maintenance make your air compressor more reliable, it can also extend its lifespan, saving you money. In fact, a properly maintained air compressor can easily last up to 10 years or more.

Air Compressor Maintenance

Properly caring for your air compressor involves meeting its regular and periodic maintenance needs, such as frequent inspections and oil changes. In addition, you’ll need to monitor key areas like filters, to ensure the compressor is working efficiently.

How Often Should You Conduct Air Compressor Maintenance?

When creating a preventative maintenance plan for your air compressor, it’s helpful to categorize your maintenance tasks into four categories: tasks to be completed each day before use, tasks to be completed each day after use, weekly/monthly tasks and annual tasks.

Daily Tasks Before Use

Before operating your air compressor each day, examine it for any signs of wear. Some areas to check include the compressor’s hoses, electrical wiring, connections, gauges and instruments.

In addition to checking over the compressor’s components, you should also begin each day by checking the compressor’s oil levels. Oil is crucial to the way an air compressor functions.

Not only is compressor oil responsible for lubricating the internal components of the compressor, but it also helps filter contaminants from the pressurized air and maintain the air’s moisture level.

Before operating your compressor, make sure it has sufficient compressor oil and that the compressor oil has not become contaminated.

Daily Tasks After Use

After using your air compressor, it’s important that you take the proper steps to drain the compressor. As you use the compressor throughout the day, moisture from the compressed air collects in the compressor’s tank.

Most air compressors are designed with a receiver tank, which is specially designed for collecting this accumulated moisture. Typically, compressors feature a valve for draining this condensation.

Drain your compressor at the end of each shift by slowly opening up the valve on the receiver tank. Keep in mind the expelled moisture will be contaminated with oil, so you’ll need to drain this condensation into a bucket or oil pan.

If you’re using your compressor heavily throughout the day, you might even drain the receiver tank more than once. Keeping the receiver tank empty, especially when not using the compressor, will prevent rust and corrosion from forming in the tank, extending the life of your compressor.

Weekly and Monthly Maintenance Tasks

In addition to the tasks above, there are several maintenance tasks that need to be performed on a weekly and/or monthly basis. Like the engine of a car or tractor, an air compressor’s engine needs to be monitored and maintained to operate at full efficiency.

At least once per week, thoroughly inspect the compressor’s vital components:

  • Ensure the coolant and engine oil are topped off
  • Check that the air inlet filters have not become clogged
  • Inspect the air filter and replace it as needed
  • Tighten any loose bolts
  • Check the vibration pads
  • Inspect the belt guard and tighten it if necessary
Annual Maintenance Tasks

Certain components need to be serviced at least once per year. In particular, the compressor’s fuel filter, engine oil, engine oil filter and air inlet filters should be changed at least annually, if not more often.

Types of Filters in Air Compressors

Most rotary-type air compressors feature three main filters: an oil filter, an air inlet filter and an air/oil separator. Each filter plays an important function in the compressor and needs to be carefully maintained or replaced (if needed).

Oil Filter

The compressor’s oil filter cleans the oil as it passes through the machine, keeping it free from contaminants.

An oil filter that has become clogged or dirty will not be able to clean the oil, and contaminants may begin to build up in the compressor’s oil. When this happens, the compressor will lose power and may even begin to overheat. It’s critical to replace your compressor’s oil filter at the interval specified in its service manual. Also, be sure to use the type of oil filter specified in the compressor’s manual.

Air Inlet Filter

The primary role of air inlet filters is to keep particles and moisture from entering the system, which could cause damage to the compressor’s internal components.

These filters are prone to becoming dirty and clogged, which is why it’s important that you inspect them regularly. Dirty air inlet filters can be cleaned, but if you haven’t replaced them in over a year, it’s recommended you replace them.

Air/Oil Separator

The air/oil separator filters the compressor oil out of the air before the air is expelled. This way, the oil is kept inside the compressor and does not exit the system together with the pressurized air.

Maintaining the air/oil separator is crucial in applications where the expelled air needs to be clean and free from oil droplets, such as in paint spraying or wall texturing.


Air compressors are key machines on construction sites. They provide a reliable source of pressurized air, allowing your team to work efficiently and use air-powered tools. The best way to keep your air compressor running smoothly and on the job is by implementing a well-designed preventative maintenance plan. Through regular inspections and regular fluid and filter changes, you can keep your compressor humming and the air flowing.

If you’re looking to replace a part on your air compressor, look no further than EquipmentShare’s Online Parts store. Our collection of OEM and aftermarket air compressor parts has what you need to stay on top of your machine’s maintenance. Can’t find the component you need? Contact one of our parts experts and get personalized assistance.

Back to Machine Maintenance
Previous article Maintenance Tips to Maximize Your Compaction Roller's Life
Next article How to Care for Your Aerial Lift: Tips for Preserving Your Equipment