How To Drain Air Compressor The Correct Way?

As frequently as we use our air compressor, it’s our responsibility to take care of the machine to prolong its life. Taking proper care of your air compressor includes draining it as needed. But the question is, how to drain air compressor?

All air compressors feature a valve that you can use to drain your air compressor. It’s called a drain valve. The valve comes in different sizes and shapes depending on your air compressor model.

I’ve spent hours collecting every piece of information I should be aware of while draining my compressor. Use these instructions to drain your compressor, and don’t forget to help others.

Where Is The Drain Valve Located?

When you’re using your compressor for the first time, it’s easy to get lost in all those valves and switches. Many users fail to locate the drain valve on their air compressors. Even though the location may vary in different models, the drain valve is most likely found below the air tank.

It’s simple science. If you want something to fall out of a container, gravity must do its magic. That’s why drain valves are located below to empty the tank quickly.

One or two compressors may feature their drain valve on one side of the tank. Even though it’s designed in a way that you won’t face any difficulties emptying the tank, the bottom valve is much better.

What Are We Draining?

Remember that we’re not draining air out of the tank. It’s water. This may come as a surprise, but that’s precisely what we’ll throw out of the tank.

So, how did the water get inside? When we fill the tank with air from the atmosphere, it contains vapor. Compressing the air inside the tank results in producing water droplets.

It’s just a simple process of separating the air from the vapor. Water droplets then get collected on the bottom of the tank. And that’s what we should drain.

How To Drain Air Compressor?

Draining your air compressor isn’t rocket science. You can do it effortlessly without seeking any professional help. If you own an air compressor for your DIY projects, you better learn how to drain air compressor because you’ll need it frequently.

Step 1: Turn Off The Machine

I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to turn the machine off before you do anything. You must unplug your device from the power source. Then, detach any tools you may have been working with.

It’s a critical step before moving on to the next step. To make sure the machine doesn’t cause an accident, keep it shut while draining the tank.

Step 2: Reduce The Pressure

Before you can use the valve to drain your compressor, you must decrease the machine’s internal pressure. The pressure level should be somewhere below 10 psi.

Step 3: Locate The Drain Valve

Now that your compressor is ready to be empty of water locate the drain valve. As I’ve mentioned before, the drain valve is located somewhere at the tank’s bottom or lower side.

If you can’t find the valve, try the instruction manual. That will clearly indicate which part of the tank is the drain valve.

Step 4: Don’t Forget A Drip Pan

You need a drip pan or a container to hold the water coming out of the air tank. To avoid ruining the floor, ensure to place a tray beneath the drain valve. Try to keep a fixed container near your compressor to use it whenever you need it.

Step 5: Open The Valve

The valve may be different in different model air compressors. Some look like an actual valve, and some don’t. If you can’t figure it out, check the manual for help.

It should be pretty easy to open. Make sure that you open the valve all the way. Keeping the valve half-closed will result in remaining water inside the tank.

Opening the valve will let the water out automatically. For those who have an air compressor featuring a side valve, you’ll have to run the air compressor for a short while before draining the water out.

Start the compressor, run it for a while, shut it off, and then open the valve. The pressure will help flow the water out of the tank. 

Step 6: Tilt Your Compressor A Bit

If your compressor is small or medium in size, tilt the tank very carefully to let out any remaining water inside the tank. Make sure you don’t drop the compressor.

Step 7: Close the Valve

Once you’re certain that all the water has been let out of the tank, close the valve tightly. You can use soapy water to check if there’s any leak in the valve. Push the valve back in place or turn it clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on your air compressor setting.

What Are Others Saying?

Auto Drain Your Compressor

The process I explained is the manual way of draining your air compressor. Auto draining the tank has two aspects. You can either get an automatic drain valve or compressors that come with an auto draining system.

But those are primarily industry-level compressors. For a home compressor, you can get an automatic drain valve if you run your machine regularly.

You can connect the valve to a 12V power source and set it to drain your compressor at a specific time every day. Don’t forget to keep a dripping pan below the tank to hold the water.

Auto drain valves are most appropriate for those who use their machine daily. If you don’t run your compressor regularly and only need it for specific jobs, an automatic valve won’t be of much use.

When To Drain Your Air Compressor

If you are using your air compressor regularly, you must drain the tank regularly. If you only use the machine for specific home tasks, you should drain it after each use.

The intention of draining water out of the tank is not to let moisture build-up inside the tank. Each time you use your air compressor, there will be water inside the tank. So, it’s essential to drain the tank proportionally to your usage of the machine.

Why Should You Drain Your Air Compressor

  • Water can corrode. Over time, there will be a development of rust inside the tank, resulting in damaging your air compressor’s structural integrity. Worst case scenario, your air compressor will explode.
  • The remaining water inside the tank can get to your air tools resulting in permanently damaging them. When the air tools draw air from the tank, water can accompany the water and get inside the instruments.
  • The water will block the space inside the tank where the air is supposed to be. This means a smaller area for the air and reduced efficiency of your air compressor. Also, the pressure gauge won’t be able to give the proper readings if there’s water inside the tank.
  • Sucked particles together with water can interfere with airflow. It will also get in the airways of your air tools and permanently damage their efficiency.

Cautions To Follow

  • Make sure you’ve unplugged your machine from the power source before you can do anything else.
  • Remember to wear goggles and gloves to protect yourself.
  • While tilting the compressor, be very careful not to drop your compressor. It can result in damaging the tank and result in bursting the machine.

Tightly close the valve after draining out the water. If you need, make the valve airtight using threading tape.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I keep the drain valve open while storing my compressor?

Even though there are controversies about this issue, in my opinion, you should keep the valve closed. Keeping the valve open will indeed let any remaining moisture out of the tank. However, it can result in insects crawling inside the tank and reducing the machine’s efficiency.

Q: How much water will my air compressor produce?

It depends. How much you are using your air compressor determines the amount of water it creates. As I’ve explained earlier, the more air you use, the more water droplets the tank will create.

Q: Can I run my air compressor while keeping the drain valve open?

If you keep the valve open, there will be less pressure inside the tank, decreasing the machine’s efficiency. Sometimes, professionals keep the valve slightly open in tasks like spray paint to get dryer air.

Q: Why should I drain my air compressor?

The water can create moisture inside the air tank, resulting in rust. Rust will make the tank’s wall thinner and decrease the machine’s efficiency. This is the primary reason you should drain your compressor, among other reasons.

Final Verdict

It’s not tough to figure out how to drain air compressor if you know your way. However, ignoring the safety protocol may result in a disaster. To keep yourself safe and your air compressor runs like an A-grade machine, it’s essential to take proper care.

If you don’t drain your machine, soon there will be rust inside the tank, and your precious air compressor won’t be able to run as it’s supposed to.

So, the responsibility falls down on you to keep your air compressor safe from such a disaster. And draining the tank is a part of taking proper care.

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