The ideal operating temperature for an air compressor usually ranges between 4°C to 35°C. So, when it comes to winter and the temperatures drop, the cold can have a significant impact on your compressed air system – specifically if your ambient temperature drops below this range.

What Effect Do Cold Temperatures Have on Air Compressors?

  • Low ambient air temperatures can cause air compressors not to turn on. In particular, rotary screw compressors with a temperature limit switch that prevents the compressor from starting when the temperature is below 4°C.
  • Air compressor motors must work twice as hard due to the lubricating oil getting thicker in colder temperatures. With a lessened lubricant ability, the compressor pump requires more power to operate.
  • There is a high risk of the moisture in the compressed air that is withdrawn by the refrigerant air dryer to become frozen and damage the larger drying system. This is also an issue with desiccant air dryers as the moisture can freeze inside the piping causing tower switching valves to malfunction.
  • With these issues occurring in the air dryers, it can make them operate less efficiently and increase the chance for increased condensate throughout the system; this leads to internal rust and corrosion.

Tips to Safeguard Your Air Compressor in Cold Temperatures

  • Make sure you treat your cooling system to prevent water freezing in low temperatures. You should make sure any exposed drains or pipework are properly insulated to avoid split pipes and prevent condensate from entering your air supply. If your pipework could drop to a lower temperature than the dewpoint on your refrigerant dryer, it could be beneficial to add some trace heating.
  • Always check air intakes in wet weather to ensure they are protected from any moisture saturating the air filter or form ice on the air intake. When your compressor, dryer or oil-water separator is not being used, use that time to remove any condensate or cooling water.
  • Install a heat recovery system to recover the 90% of heat that is produced by compressing air. This heat can then be used to heat water or spaces during cold weather. 

Winter Air Compressor Maintenance

An ongoing maintenance plan is also a good way to ensure you stay on top of your air compressor during winter and these cold temperatures. Air Power East can service and help to maintain compressors, so get in touch with us today.

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