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Should I Repair or Replace My Broken Air Compressor?

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Should I Repair or Replace My Broken Air Compressor?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

11 March 2021

If compressed air is an essential part of your day to day business operations and downtime would cost you considerably in lost production, then the question of whether to repair or replace a broken compressor is a particularly important one for you. While opting to repair will obviously be cheaper than buying a new compressor, it may not be the most cost-effective choice in the long term. This guide looks at the various factors that need to be considered before making a decision either way.

Factors to Consider

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Cost is the primary consideration, both immediate and over time. While a new compressor can be expensive, it’s worth noting that when the cost of ownership over a ten year life span is taken into account, the actual purchase price of the new compressor is only around 10% of the overall cost, with electricity bills being the major expense by far (around 75%). Other factors that will influence your decision whether to repair or replace include the age of the compressor, its energy efficiency compared with newer models and its former repair history and overall reliability (i.e. is it likely to break down again in the near future?). Before you make a decision either way however, it would be a good idea to check the system over, in case the breakdown is due to something that can be easily fixed.

Troubleshooting Tips

Your compressor may have broken down for any number of reasons, and not all of them are indicative of irreparable damage. Things that you or your maintenance staff might be able to check include; 

  • The power source – Is there something else in the system between the compressor and the power supply that may have caused the compressor to fail? 
  • Oil levels – When was the last time you checked and adjusted your compressor’s lubricant levels? 
  • Excessive noise – Unusual noises while the compressor is running could indicate problems with bearings, flywheels, belts or crankcases.  
  • Excessive oil consumption – This can indicate worn piston rings, poor or restricted air ventilation or loose bolts, all of which can be corrected with minor adjustments or replacements. 
  • Excessively hot discharge air – This usually means a problem in your cooling system, which may need to be repaired or increased in capacity. 
  • Excessive belt wear – This is usually caused by belts being too tight or too loose or out of alignment. If you can make such adjustments yourself, you will save on repairs.  
  • Regularly blowing fuses – This could be because they are not the right size for the electrical load of your compressor. Replacing them with the correct size may be all that is required. 

Remember, even if you can’t fix the problem yourself, if you can identify the general area of concern, this may help a repair technician to find and fix the actual fault much faster, thereby saving you money.

When to Replace Your Compressor

If you are unable to find the cause of the problem yourself and are faced with the choice of paying for an expensive repair or purchasing an even more expensive replacement unit, here are some of the arguments for replacing rather than repairing your compressor; 

  • If it has broken down once, then it is more likely it will happen again.  
  • Compressors are becoming more energy efficient all the time, so the cost of a new unit could soon pay for itself in electricity savings.
  • If your compressor is an older model, finding parts for it may be more difficult, time consuming and expensive.  
  • Your old compressor may be too small for your company’s current needs, so replacing it with a larger unit could be an ideal opportunity to future-proof your business.

When to Repair Your Compressor

On the other hand, repairing your compressor may be a viable solution in certain circumstances; 

  • If it is relatively new and has not yet done many operational hours. 
  • If it has not yet been superseded to any great extent by newer technology. 
  • If it is a model that spare parts are readily available for.  
  • If it is generally reliable and the repair is not indicative of bigger problems to come.

Who to Call for Help With Your Decision

With over 60 years delivering compressed air solutions to the Australian market, Atlas Copco can provide you with a new compressor that’s perfectly suited for your operation and delivers the best possible cost of ownership. If you decide to repair, Atlas Copco’s onsite air compressor maintenance service can visit your premises anywhere in Australia 24/7 and perform quality repairs using genuine parts to minimise the likelihood of future breakdowns. Whichever is best for your situation, Atlas Copco has the right solution, so visit the website or call 1800 023 469 for all your compressed air needs.

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