How to Control Pressure in an Air Compressor

Controlling the pressure per square inch (psi) while using your air compressor is important for operating efficiency and safety. While your air compressor is equipped with a pressure switch that shuts it down when the compressor reaches maximum pressure, operating at too much pressure for the given tool causes the machine to operate inefficiently. An air compressor is equipped with a pressure regulator, typically located between two gauges, one for tank pressure and one for line pressure. Adjusting this regulator while watching your gauges for your desired psi is the key to controlling pressure.

Controlling air compressor pressure is the key to using your compressor efficiently.
  1. Connect your desired tool to the air compressor.

  2. Fill your air compressor tank to its maximum rated pressure.

  3. Adjust the pressure regulator down to 0 psi while you are running the connected tool.

  4. Adjust the pressure upward toward the tool's rated running pressure while the tool is still running. Read the air line pressure gauge to determine when the desired psi has been reached. This is the gauge closest to the connected tool.

  5. Lock the regulator when the air line pressure gauge displays your desired pressure reading.


  • Use protective goggles when dealing with pneumatic tools to protect your eyes from projectiles.
  • Use caution with any power tool.
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