How to Reduce Moisture in Your Air Compressor Lines

Using Pneumatic pressure to operate tools is an absolute must in your garage, but most of these tools DO NOT like excessive moisture mixed into the air. Moisture in the air lines can cause rust the inside of the air tank or air lines or even your air tools. Excessive moisture in your shop air can cause a decrease in performance as well as premature failure of the pneumatic tool. If you’re using a paint gun it can also allow the moisture to creep into the paint gun and contaminate your paint job. We decided to put together a list of the reasons and corrections to cut down the moisture in your air lines.

The first thing you need to understand is that your air compressor can not compress or dissolve the moisture in the air around it that’s being sucked in. That means that if it is extremely humid when you’re running your compressor it will compress the air, but not the moisture in the air it will still be present in the air coming out of the tank. Also the longer your compressor runs the hotter the air that comes out of your compressor will be which means there will be more moisture that will be present. Some compressor types by nature also put out hotter air and will require an air dryer before your air tools.

Undersized Compressor– A compressor that is overworked will get extremely hot and will create hotter air coming air which will cause more moisture to be present in your air lines. Especially with piston driven compressors the more they run the hotter they tend to get. If you’re using a piston driven compressor that is having trouble keeping up with the air tool or media blaster your using it is going to be putting out air with a ton of moisture in it. An easy fix to help in this situation is to add a good moisture separation system. A quality separator and desiccant system will remove the majority of the water in your air, but will require regular monitoring if your compressor is really being overrun.

Failing Compressor- An aged, failing compressor will become less and less efficient and will begin to create additional heat and moisture as it fails. Usually you will notice increased run/fill times, excessive moisture in your air lines, and a louder mechanical noise coming from a piston driven compressor. Most compressors can be rebuilt and returned to their original performance. We suggest looking into rebuilding or replacing your compressor as even a good water separator can’t fully correct a badly failing compressor.

Inlet Air Temperature- The same holds true with the temperature and humidity entering your compressor. If you live in an area that sees high humidity you will have more moisture issues than other areas of the world with low humidity. If you live in an area like this and have a climate controlled shop you may want to keep the compressor indoors where it can benefit from the cooler inlet air. Some professional or industrial compressed air systems will add a refrigerated air dryer to keep the compressed air going to outlet cool and moisture free. While these are extremely helpful, they tend to be expensive for the DIY/Home user. We suggest adding a good air dryer, separator or desiccant water trap to make up for the humid or hot air surrounding the compressor. We also like to keep removable inlne air filter on hand that can be added for additional piece of mind.

Air Line Routing- If you’re running an air line directly off the tank of your compressor there is no chance for the water to be trapped or separated from the air. We’ve found that if you make a run of hard lines from the air tank that go uphill and then down hill you will force the water in the air to drop and be trapped in the low points of your hard lines. Add a drain at the lowest points and you can easily remove the excessive water from your air lines. Depending on the size of your air system you may want to add a few of these “zig zag” moisture traps with drains to capture the water.


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