How to Troubleshoot a Portable Electric Air Compressor

Creating compressed air also creates moisture. It’s important to always drain the compressor tank before operating the unit. If you don’t, you can end up with a tank full of water, not air. Assuming you take this basic step every time you use the compressor you should get years of service out of the machine.

In the event of a problem, troubleshooting is easy and is often related to wear.

  1. Check the machine is plugged in at the power supply if the machine doesn’t run.

  2. Verify the unit’s power switch is in the On position. If the machine appears to not be running, often it’s because the tank pressure exceeds the cut-in pressure. The tank is within the correct pressure parameters to provide air to the pneumatic tool and the compressor doesn’t need to run. When the tank pressure drops enough, the unit will start again.

  3. Check the ambient temperature. Conditions below freezing will cause the machine not to run. Move it inside for half an hour and try again.

  4. Tighten the fittings if you believe air is escaping. Don’t over tighten them. Brush a solution of soapy water on the fittings to check for air bubbles.

  5. Remove and clean the check valve. It can be blocked and can cause an air leak at the pressure switch.

  6. Reduce the demand on the compressor if the machine won’t build pressure. It’s also possible you have a blown gasket, so replace it. It’s under the head. Valves may be worn or broken, you may have to replace them. It also might be because he head is simply loose, so tighten the bolts.

  7. Check for a leak at the tank. Age can cause leaks in the tank welds. Use the soapy solution on the welds too. A leaking tank will need replacing. Don’t try to weld it—it can rupture the next time you use it.