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How to Troubleshoot a Porter Cable C3150 Air Compressor

Mark Morris

Porter Cable is one of the major manufacturers of power tools in the American market. Their air compressors range in size from small, car emergency types, to large jobsite compressors. The C3150 is a medium-sized, 3.5-horsepower compressor with a 4.

Locking pliers and a wrench are all the tools needed to troubleshoot compressors.

5-gallon tank, that will charge to 150 psi, enough to power even the most demanding air tools. Electric compressors are all very similar, and when troubleshooting, three main problems will need to be addressed. First, the compressor must have a source of power. Second, it must be able to charge its tank. Finally, it must be able to maintain and deliver consistent pressure.

Compressor Will Not Start

  1. Track the power cord all the way back to the wall outlet, making sure that all plugs in extension cords and the like are properly plugged in. Make any needed adjustments, then try the power switch again. If this works, return to normal use; if not, continue to the next step.

  2. Test the outlet with a small lamp or radio. If this appliance works, remove any extension cords and plug the compressor directly into the outlet and test the power again. If this works, replace extension cords as needed; if not, continue.

  3. Check the reset button on the compressor. On the C3150, the reset is located on the rear of the motor housing. It is a small, black button. Press it in to reset and test power again. If this does not restore power, check the circuit breaker box for a flipped breaker. Look for a red square near the breaker to indicate a breaker that was recently tripped. Flip it to the full “Off” position and back on, then test the power.

  4. Locate the pressure release valve, located on the left side of the compressor, behind the control panel. Grab the ring and pull it to discharge pressure from the tank. This may engage the lower limiter and start the compressor. If these steps don't work, consider professional repair.

Building and Maintaining Pressure

  1. Plug the compressor in and turn the power on, if the pressure is suspect. Disengage all outgoing hoses and tools. Allow the pressure to build until the compressor shuts off. Check the pressure gauge. If it does not read 150 psi, proceed to the following step to bleed the tank. If it does, skip the next step and proceed to the one followingt to check the valves for leaks.

  2. Locate the bleeder valve on the bottom of the tank. Grab it with locking pliers and turn it counterclockwise to open the valve. Allow the air to blow out of the tank, until the air is completely dry. Turn the valve clockwise to close it. Allow the pressure to build back up and check the gauge. If it is still not reading 150 psi, seek professional servicing for your compressor.

  3. Use a spray bottle of soapy water to spray around the fittings on the compressor while the tank is charged, to check for leaks. Look for bubbles in the soap to indicate air escaping. Use a wrench to tighten fittings that bubble to stop the leaks. Replace cracked fittings, if required. Loosen and remove the fitting with the wrench, wrap Teflon tape on the threads of the new footing and insert it into the threads as the original was. Tighten it with the wrench. If this does not supply your tools with consistent pressure, proceed to the next step.

  4. Locate the black knob on your control panel. This is the pressure regulator. It controls the flow of air out of the compressor. Turn it clockwise to lower the flow, and counterclockwise to open it. Adjust it as needed to get the flow you want.