Maintenance tip: Compressed air systems are not "set and forget"

Oct. 5, 2015

Don't forget to maintain your compressed air system!

Over the years, I’ve visited many compressor rooms and measured many systems, and I must say am always amazed at the variety of conditions I see. Some compressor rooms are so bright and clean you could eat off the gleaming floor. The compressors and clean, shiny and like new. Booklets of information are readily available to instruct operators how to best maintain and operate the system equipment. These locations make me smile because I know that lots of attention is paid to ensure the system is running smoothly and that someone has taken ownership of the system and will not let it go to ruin. In these plants I usually have to work to find significant efficiency savings.

Other systems are not so pretty. The compressor room is a dirty and dark place with layers of oily dust deposited on every surface. Pools of compressor lubricant form on the floor, waiting for an errant step, slip and fall. Tags on the compressed air equipment hang, stained with oil, showing equipment in failed condition with maintenance schedules overdue. These systems put a frown on my face. Nobody in the plant cares about this system, and complete system failure is just waiting to happen. Finding energy savings in systems like this is quite easy.

Not surprisingly, it is the forgotten system that is typically very inefficient.  Compressors that are poorly maintained consume more power and more annual costs than those in a good state of repair. And other things like leaks, drains, heat problems, failed air dryers, clogged filters, failed lubricants are typically found in forgotten systems.

Compressed air systems require lots of attention from your maintenance staff. To ensure optimum performance and lower costs, don’t skimp on the compressor maintenance budget.

Compressed Air Challenge has a Fact sheet to help you with your compressor maintenance. To download it click on this link. Learn more about compressed air system maintenance at Compressed Air Challenge’s Fundamentals of Compressed Air seminars. A calendar of seminars is on our website.

About the Author

Ron Marshall

Ron Marshall first developed his skills as an industrial compressed air systems expert at Manitoba Hydro, where he worked for 38 years, supporting more than 600 energy efficiency projects. He now operates his own compressed air energy efficiency consulting firm where he provides technical advice, system auditing, and training.  Ron is a level 2 instructor with Compressed Air Challenge and conducts training internationally. Contact him at [email protected].Want to learn more about compressed air? We would suggest sending key staff to one of our Compressed Air Challenge seminars to help them learn what is possible. To learn more about upcoming training opportunities visit the CAC calendar at

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