Tuesday, April 11

Maintaining Your Inlet Compressed Air Filters

With warmer spring weather comes a lot of extra contaminants in the air- especially pollen! Those of us with allergies know the pain and annoyance it brings about to our bodies, and just like us, our compressors can become congested with increased pollen levels too! This is why it is extremely important to go into spring with clean in-line air filters and keep them maintained throughout their life. Let’s go over how we do this:

How Filters Work

An inlet air compressor is used to prevent any pollutant from entering the compressed air system and contaminating the air. These parts of the compressor generally get lots of use, so they need to be maintained or replaced regularly. Like any other part of a compressor, the filter will only perform properly if it has been sized and installed correctly. An improperly sized and applied filter will waste time, energy, and will increase your chances for contaminated output. The strength of an in-line air filter can be measured in microns. Microns refer to the microscopic particles in the air that the filters are working to keep out of the compressed air system. These filters not only come in different micron ratings, but also in standard or high-pressure options as well.

A compressor filtration system is made up of more than just one part. They include a filter cap, discharge, element, bowl & bowl guard, and a drain. The filter cap protects the filter by helping direct the flow of air during the filtration process. The filter discharge is the area where purified compressed air exits. The filter element is the part that works to trap and eliminate the pollutants. This is the portion of the filtration system that needs to be cleaned and changed regularly. It is also the portion of the filtration system that you can most obviously see when it is dirty. The filter bowl and bowl guard are the areas that collect the debris at the bottom of the filter. These pieces are meant to prevent the contaminants from re-polluting the compressed air. Finally, a filter drain can come in manual or automatic forms. It releases all the collected water, oil, and dirt from the filtration system. This part will need to be regularly drained for efficient operation.

Common Pollutants They Prevent

There are many types of pollutants that can clog up or contaminate your compressed air. Since it is spring, it is most likely that pollen is the largest threat to your system right now. Aside from pollen, below are more common forms of pollutants that try to enter your system:

  • Water/moisture
  • Cleaning agent residues
  • Paints & solvents
  • Oils & lubricants
  • Smoke & exhaust
  • Wood chips
  • Rust & metal particles
  • Dust
  •  Humidifiers
  • Insect sprays
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Sanding residues

Inlet Filter Maintenance

As mentioned briefly above, your filtration system will need regular maintenance and replacement. Here are a few steps for successful filter maintenance:

  1. Establish a consistent schedule: Having a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule for your entire compressed air system will also prompt regular air quality and filter checks. This should be done monthly with quick self-inspections. You will also want to establish a schedule with your compressed air provider for preventative maintenance at least once a year for a more in-depth inspection of your system. Zorn Compressor & Equipment offers great maintenance agreements to take the thinking out of scheduling for you and to prevent any overuse of your filters.
  2. Clean the exterior of your compressor & its environment: Any debris, even particles as small as dust, left on or around your machine can enter your filters and clog them up. If your filter is fully clogged, it can’t work properly, and your airflow will likely become polluted. Since your filters are already working hard to catch pollutants that are flying around in the air, you want to prevent adding any unnecessary work to them by wiping your compressor down every time it is turned off.
  3. Be aware of air quality: It is a common best compressed air practice to operate your compressor in an open-air workplace with proper ventilation rather than a small workshop near heavy machinery or tools that are constantly giving off pollutants. If you are unsure about the quality of the air your compressor is putting out, we can perform an air quality audit to ensure it is clean air and meeting all air quality standards in your industry.
  4. Clean and replace filters regularly: We’re going to say it again! The most important part of air compressor filter maintenance is inspecting, cleaning, and/or replacing the actual air filter regularly. Regularly is different for each filter based on type of air use, environment, hours operating, and type of filter.

How To Clean a Filter

Each specific filter can differ for care instructions. Always consult the owner manual of your filter before proceeding with cleaning procedures. The following are general steps for cleaning any type of compressor filter.

  1. Turn the compressor off and let it cool completely.
  2. Unscrew and remove the filter cap from the filter base.
  3. Visually inspect the inside of the top cover and locate any concerns.
  4. Remove the filter element from the base and inspect the entire element.
  5. Blow any dust, dirt, or debris away from the element with low-pressure compressed air.
  6. If it is observed that a replacement is not necessary, gently secure the element back how it was. If a replacement is necessary, then replace the filter element with a new one.
  7. Reattach the top cover and make sure the filtration system is secure.

How to Know When to Replace Your Filter

If there is ever a question whether to replace your filter- you should probably just replace it to be safe! A few indications that a replacement filter is needed are: damage to any pieces of the filtration system (especially the element), your filter is consistently not performing as it should, your filter is old and it has been a long time since it has been cleaned or replaced, your filters are used a lot, your air take air quality is consistently poor, your industry has strict quality standards that need to be consistently met, and the filter is starting to get dirty.



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. 

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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.

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