Posts Tagged ‘champion air compressors’

Figuring the correct pipe size for your compressed air distribution system is an important task. 
Pipe that is sized too small can create big pressure losses and reduce operating efficiency. Replacing piping is costly.  On average, 70% of a contracted piping job goes for labor and 30% for materials.

Do you know the biggest mistakes made in figuring compressed air piping sizes?
Many people who plan the piping never consider the fittings or the future.

Every pipe fitting creates a certain amount of increased frictional air loss that is equal to a specified length of pipe.
For every 100 feet of pipe you will have a ONE POUND PRESSURE DROP caused by frictional air loss.
Any turns in the pipe at fittings, ells, tees, and valves increase pressure drops even more.  That’s why the EQUIVALENT LENGTH OF PIPE (FT.) for PIPE FITTINGS chart was developed to help you determine the best pipe size for your system.

Are you planning to add more equipment in the next year or two?  Then plan for larger piping now.  Since the material costs in piping are low compared to installation or replacement cost, it’s wise to select pipe of an adequate size. If there is any doubt that a pipe size may create a pressure drop, use the next largest size. Remember that an oversize pipe compensates for possible scale build-up and provides for future expansion of the overall air system.

Steps to figuring what size piping your compressed air system needs:

  1. Determine your air compressor’s maximum CFM.
  2. Draw a piping schematic and show all pipe fittings, valves, etc.
  3. Measure and write the corresponding lengths of pipe on your schematic, then total the length of all straight pipes needed and note that on your schematic.
  4. Using TABLE 1, find your compressor’s CFM number on the far left column,
    and then go to the right until you see the column header with nearest length in feet to your total pipe length. Find where the CFM & PIPE LENGTH intersect on the chart and it will show the recommended pipe size for that length.
  5. Take that pipe size to TABLE 2 and use the table to find all the EQUIVELENT LENGTHS OF PIPE needed for each PIPE FITTING.  Write these lengths on your piping schematic at each fitting.
  6. TOTAL all the EQUIVELENT LENGTHS OF PIPE needed for each PIPE FITTING and add to your total of straight length of pipe.  This will give you a new and more accurate total pipe length needed.
  7.  Take your new total of EQUIVELENT LENGTH OF PIPE IN FEET back to TABLE 1 and use this number to determine the PIPE SIZE you need.
  8. Think of the FUTURE!
    Now is the time to plan for larger piping that may needed for additional future equipment.
How to figure the right air pipe size

Table 1- The right pipe size

Table 2 - to help figure the right air piping size

Table 2 - to help figure the right air piping size

The best thing you can do for your compressed air system is establishing a regular, well-organized maintenance program and strictly following it. Such a program is critical to maintaining the performance of a compressed air system and will save you time and money in the long haul. One person should be given the responsibility of ensuring that all maintenance is performed properly, on schedule, and is adequately documented.

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What are the standard recommended minimum maintenance procedures for air-cooled reciprocating compressors? 


Routine Maintenance for Air-Cooled Reciprocating Compressors

Every 8 Hours (or Daily)
• Maintain lubricant level between high- and low-level marks on bayonet gauge. (Discoloration or a higher lubricant level reading may indicate the presence of condensed liquids). If lubricant is contaminated, drain and replace.
• Drain receiver tank, drop legs and traps in the distribution system.
• Give compressor an overall visual inspection and be sure safety guards are in place.
• Check for any unusual noise or vibration.
• Check lubricant pressure on pressure lubricated units. Maintain 18 to 20 psig when compressor is at operating pressure and temperature. High-pressure rated compressors should maintain 22 to 25 psig of lubricant pressure.
• Check for lubricant leaks.

Every 40 Hours (or Weekly)
• Be certain pressure relief valves are working.
• Clean the cooling surfaces of the intercooler and compressor.
• Check the compressor for air leaks.
• Check the compressed air distribution system for leaks.
• Inspect lubricant for contamination and change if necessary.
• Clean or replace the air intake filter. Check more often under humid or dusty conditions.

Every 160 Hours (or Monthly)
• Check belt tension.  

Every 500 Hours (or 3 Months)
• Change lubricant (more frequently in harsher environments).
• Check lubricant filter on pressure lubricated units (more frequently in harsher environments).
• Torque pulley-clamp screws or jam-nut.  

Every 1,000 Hours (or 6 Months)
• When synthetic lubricant is used, lubricant change intervals may be extended to every 1,000 hours or every 6 months, whichever occurs first (change more frequently in harsher conditions).
• Inspect compressor valves for leakage and/or carbon build-up. The lubricant sump strainer screen inside the crankcase of pressure-lubricated models should be thoroughly cleaned with a safety solvent during every lubricant change. If excessive sludge build-up exists inside the crankcase, clean the inside of the crankcase as well as the screen. Never use a flammable or toxic solvent for cleaning. Always use a safety solvent and follow the directions provided.  

Every 2,000 Hours (or 12 Months)
• Inspect the pressure switch diaphragm and contacts.
Inspect the contact points in the motor starter. 

Compressors may be shipped without lubricant in the crankcase. Before starting the compressor, add enough lubricant to the crankcase to register between the high and low marks on the dipstick or on bull’s eye sight gauge. Use the specified lubricant or consult the manufacturer for recommendations.
 Certain synthetic lubricants have proven under extensive testing to minimize friction and wear, limit lubricant carryover, and reduce carbon and varnish deposits. They will support the performance characteristics and life and are highly recommended. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the correct amount of lubricant and viscosity to use for your model and application. Use the supplier’s lubricant analysis program.

For your next order of Compressor Lubricants and Filters – call 1-888-229-9999…

Or click here for SERVICE KITS and Lubricants for your compressor.

*SOURCE: Improving Compressed Air System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Best Practices and the Compressed Air Challenge®.

Ask a Question:
What causes pressure drop in my compressed air system?

Any type of obstruction, restriction, or roughness in the system will cause resistance to air flow and cause pressure drop.



In the distribution system

, the highest pressure drops usually are found at the points-of-use, including undersized or leaking hoses, tubes, disconnects, filters, regulators and lubricators (FRLs).


On the supply side of the system

, air/lubricant separators, aftercoolers, moisture separators, dryers and filters can be the main items causing significant pressure drops. The maximum pressure drop from the supply side to the points-of-use will occur when the compressed air flow rate and temperature are highest.
Your Compressed Air System components should be selected based upon these conditions and the manufacturer of each component should be requested to supply pressure drop information under these conditions.

When selecting filters, remember that they will get dirty.
Dirt loading characteristics are also important selection criteria. Large end users who purchase substantial quantities of components should work with their suppliers to ensure that products meet the desired specifications for differential pressure and other characteristics.



The distribution piping system

often is diagnosed as having excess pressure drop because a point-of-use pressure regulator cannot sustain the required downstream pressure. If such a regulator is set at 85 psig and the regulator and/or the upstream filter has a pressure drop of 20 psi, the system upstream of the filter and regulator would have to maintain at least 105 psig. The 20 psi pressure drop may be blamed on the system piping rather than on the components at fault. The correct diagnosis requires pressure measurements at different points in the system to identify the component(s) causing the excess pressure drop. In this case, the filter element should be replaced or the filter regulator size needs to be increased, not the piping.


How to Minimize Pressure Drop

Minimizing pressure drop requires a “systems approach” in design and maintenance of the system.   
Air treatment components, such as aftercoolers, moisture separators, dryers, and filters, should be selected with the lowest possible pressure drop at specified maximum operating conditions.
When installed, the recommended maintenance procedures should be followed and documented.

Additional ways to minimize pressure drop are as follows:


• Properly design the distribution system.


• Operate and maintain air filtering and drying equipment to reduce the effects of moisture, such as pipe corrosion.


• Select aftercoolers, separators, dryers and filters having the lowest possible pressure drop for the rated conditions.


• Reduce the distance the air travels through the distribution system.


• Specify pressure regulators, lubricators, hoses, and connections having the best performance characteristics at the lowest pressure differential. These components must be sized based upon the actual rate of flow and not the average rate of flow.