Wednesday, December 27

Effects the Cold Weather Can Have on Your Compressed Air System

Temperatures are dropping and it is important that you have read our winterization blog post and are winterizing your compressed air system in preparation for the colder months. Want to know what could happen to your system without winterization? Read the following blog post to see how cold weather can impact your compressed air system.

Thickening Oil

Colder weather causes oil viscosity to rise meaning your oil can become too thick and hurt the functioning of your compressor’s motor. Since oil is used to lubricate the internal workings of your machine, thicker oil means less lubrication capabilities. This means your compressor will have to use more power to work harder to operate, as well as increasing wear and tear on your compressor’s internal parts. With the motor working overtime to compensate for less lubrication, the motor’s lifetime will also decrease. Eventually, as your oil thickens and no action is taken, breakers can start to trip and ultimately the power can shut off which means your compressor will also shut down.

Cracking or Leaking Seals & Hoses

Rubber pieces, and those parts made of similar materials, become stiff in cold weather. The harder and less flexible these parts come, the increased risk of cracking and leaking with any use.

Water Freezing

Water freezing can wreak havoc on numerous areas in your machine. As we know, when water freezes, it expands. You can imagine how many issues this can cause within your compressed air system. Let’s go over a few of the major places you should be paying attention to:

Condensate Traps & Tanks

Condensate within your compressor will settle in low places, like tanks, or be collected in condensate traps. If this condensate freezes, blockages will occur in these vital parts of your compressor. Frozen condensate also corrodes exposed metal which can bring about even more issues in your system.

Water Hoses & Fittings

As we discussed earlier, water expands as it freezes. If the water within your water hoses and fittings starts to freeze, as it expands it can cause cracks and breakage in these pieces, making them unusable and ultimately requiring replacement.


Filters are made to trap contaminants and let cleaner air through. If frozen water, or ice, forms in these filters, air will not be able to flow through. This ice can also cause breaking and fractures in the filter that can cause pressure drops in your facility.


Sometimes, if temperatures are extreme enough, cold weather can cause freezing to form in the oil. While it is rare for oil to freeze completely, it is possible that ice will form in your oil which prevents the oil from being able to lubricate and seal your compressor. This can bring about a multitude of issues but ultimately leads to malfunction and can stop your compressor from working all together.

Piping Systems

Like the water hoses and fittings, freezing in your compressed air piping, causes expansion of the water and blockages in the piping system, making it hard for the air to travel to its necessary destination. Ultimately, this causes a risk of cracking the pipe and leaking to occur.

Inability To Turn Compressor On

The inability for a compressor to turn on in cold temperatures is most common in rotary screw units. These machines had a low ambient air temperature limit switch that will prevent the compressor from starting in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as these temperatures can be damaging to the compressor.

Parts Corrosion

When your air compressor becomes less efficient due to winter weather, it is most likely due to condensate buildup within the internal components. Increased time that this condensate is trapped in the internal workings, the higher the risk of rust forming and corrosion happening becomes.

Dryer Issues

Drying capacity can decrease as temperatures also decrease.

Refrigerated Air Dryers

  • Over-Efficiency
    • It’s odd to say that your dryer will be “too efficient,” but that is exactly what can happen in cold temperatures. As the refrigerated dryer dehumidifies the compressed air, this moisture can freeze and cause major damage to the entire dryer system.
  • Drain Valves
    • These valves can freeze in either an open or shut condition. While air may be able to escape through, this can cause a blockage from the condensate that is supposed to drain out. If the moisture cannot leave the system, the dryer is not serving its purpose. This trapped moisture can also freeze and create further blockages and issues within your refrigerated dryer.

Desiccant Air Dryers

  • Blockage in Control Lines
    • The wet air that enters the system can freeze within the dryer pipes which causes a roadblock in the control lines. This ultimately causes malfunction within the tower switching valves which can either decrease their functioning or stop them from functioning at all.
  • Purge Air Flow Issues
    • You may also observe a reduction in purge air flow from frozen exhaust silencers or mufflers. If this part becomes completely frozen, purge air flow will stop completely, and the entire drying capacity of the desiccant air dryer will decrease.

Hopefully you do not experience any of these issues because you have read our Winterization blog post and have properly prepared your system for the cold temperatures. However, even if you have properly winterized your system, you should still be checking all these commonly effected places throughout the colder months to ensure your system is protected and operating efficiently. If you do start to observe the beginnings of any of the above problems, call Zorn Compressor & Equipment as soon as possible. Waiting will only hurt your system further and possibly cause irreparable damage that will be costly to your business.


Zorn is the Midwest leader of custom, engineered compressed air and vacuum solutions. We provide the best customer experience by understanding your applications and needs and offering an unparalleled commitment to customer satisfaction. 

Our comprehensive product and service solutions keep you running 24/7.

  • Reliable equipment
  • Trusted brands
  • Seamless, easy installation
  • Post-sales support
  • Local, 24/7 service

Our compressed air experts look forward to meeting you to discuss your equipment and support needs. Please contact us directly at (262) 695-7000 with any questions or to schedule service for your system moving forward.

cold weather wreaking havoc on your system?