How to Replace an Air Compressor?

How-To Compressor Types Compressed Air Wiki Replacing an Air Compressor Compressors

If your compressor has seen better days and is on its last leg, or perhaps it does not meet your requirements any longer, it might be time to educate yourself on what is available and how to go about replacing your old compressor with a new one. Investing in a new air compressor is not as easy as buying new household items, which is why this article will cover what to look for and whether it makes sense to replace the air compressor or not.

Do I need to replace my air compressor

Let us start by looking at a car. When you first drive off the lot with a brand new car, there are no worries and the thought of buying another car does not cross your mind. As the years go by and breakdowns, along with increased maintenance, occur more often, one starts questioning whether putting band-aids on a big wound is worth the effort. It might make more sense to replace the car altogether. Just like with cars, it is important to pay attention to various indicators that would point to the need of replacing your air compressor.

A compressor's lifecycle is similar to the one for a car. When the unit is new and performing at its optimum, there are no worries and or thoughts about the need for a new one. Once the compressor starts breaking down, performance decreases while the maintenance costs increase. When this happens it is time to ask yourself an important question, is it time to replace my air compressor?

Whether you need to replace your air compressor or not will depend on many variables that we will cover in this article. Let’s take a look at some indicators that could lead to the potential need of air compressor replacement.


One of the easiest indicators that your compressor is experiencing problems is a simple shut down during operations. Depending on the season and or weather conditions, your air compressor could be shutting down due to high ambient temperature and overheating. The cause of high temperature could be as simple as clogged coolers that need to be blown out or dirty air filters that need replacement, to a much more complex internal problem that would need to be addressed by a certified compressed air technician. If the shutdown can be taken care of by blowing out the coolers and changing out the air / inlet filter, then replacement would not be necessary, it is a simple matter of keeping up with the maintenance of the compressor. However, if the problem is internal and is caused by a major component failure, you will have to weigh out the costs of repair vs new replacement and make a decision that is in the best interest of your company.

Pressure drops

If your facility is experiencing pressure drops, it could indicate a variety of issues that should be addressed as soon as possible. Oftentimes, air compressors are set to a higher pressure setting than what is required for standard operations. It is important to understand the pressure settings for end users (machines that utilize compressed air for their operation) and set the air compressor pressure according to those needs. Machine operators are normally the first ones to notice pressure drops, as the result of low pressure can shut down the machine they are working on or result in a quality issue of the product being manufactured.

Before considering to replace the air compressor due to pressure drops, you should have a full understanding of your compressed air system and ensure that no other variables / obstacles are contributing to the pressure drops. It is important to inspect all your in-line filters to ensure that the filter element (cartridge) is not fully saturated. Furthermore, it is important to inspect your piping system to ensure that the diameter of the pipe is appropriate for the length of the run as well as the capacity of the compressor (HP or kW). It is not unusual for small diameter pipe that is extended for longer distance to create pressure drops, ultimately affecting the end users (machines).

(add sizing chart for diameter of pipe and flows)

If the filters and piping system check out ok and the pressure drops still occur, this might indicate that the compressor is undersized for the current need of the facility. This is a good time to check and understand whether any additional pieces of equipment have been added and or if production needs have increased. If the demand and flow requirements have increased, the current compressor will not be able to keep providing the facility with adequate flow at the needed pressure, therefore resulting in pressure drops across the system. In this case, it is best to contact a compressed air sales professional to perform an air study in order to gain a better understanding of your current air demand and size an appropriate unit to handle the new and future requirements.

Age of Compressor / Breakdowns

Air compressors are just like any other machine and at times they come the end of their life / operation cycle due to its age and or condition. Depending on the extent of the breakdown and needed repairs, it is important to perform due diligence and decide whether it makes sense to continue pouring money into a leaky bucket or to invest into a new and more efficient unit. Oftentimes, one problem can lead into more breakdowns, ultimately costing you more money than it would take to purchase a new, reliable air compressor. With the compressor being a heart of most manufacturing / industrial operations, it is important to perform scheduled maintenance in order to extend its operational lifecycle. Ultimately, it is smart to request a repair quote as well as a new compressor quote in order to compare pros and cons that should help with the decision making process.

How do I replace my compressor?

replacing an old compressor with a new one

Replacing an air compressor can become stressful and oftentimes one can find themselves making a rush decision due to immediate need or making the wrong decision based on lack of proper understanding of your current and future compressed air needs. It is important to understand what type of air compressor you currently have and whether to replace it with similar technology or something different (click here to learn more about different types of air compressors). Having a proper understanding of your compressed air flow / pressure and daily operations is key in making a replacement decision. It is important to discuss the replacement process with your maintenance shop to ensure that there is proper electrical supply for the new unit, especially when upsizing the air compressor. Unless you are absolutely sure about what is needed to replace your air compressor, it is always suggested to contact a compressed air sales expert to seek professional advice.

How to replace a piston compressor with a screw compressor?

Piston air compressors a great option as an entry level compressor, but oftentimes facilities either outgrow the unit or are unable to deal with the negative effects of piston compressors. If you need a consistent and or increased flow (CFM) and are looking for something that is compact, efficient, reliable and quiet, going with a rotary screw would be a great option. It is quite frequent for a company to start out with limited need for compressed air, but as production / customer demand increases, so does the need for increased output and larger compressor that can handle the demand and increased duty cycle. It is important to understand the difference between a piston and rotary screw air compressors and the capabilities of each technology (click here to learn more about difference between piston and rotary screw air compressors). It is easy to over or undersize your next compressor, which is why reaching out to a compressed air professional is encouraged and preferred.

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