An air compressor is a device powered by an electric motor, gas engine, or diesel engine to increase the pressure of air stored in its tank. The compressed air is used for various purposes, such as powering industrial-level tools and blow cleaning.
Many people wonder if it is safe to lay an air compressor on its side and the answer to this question depends on several factors. This article will discuss the pros and cons of laying an air compressor on its side and provide guidelines to safely use yours.
Benefits of Laying an Air Compressor on its Side
Laying an air compressor on its side offers a few major benefits that can help in many situations. For starters, it can make the compressor more easily accessible. It can also help to save space and reduce the impact of the compressor on the environment.
Additionally, it can help with better air circulation around the compressor. Let’s explore the benefits of laying an air compressor on its side in more detail.
Increase in Efficiency
It is generally accepted that an air compressor should be placed in an upright position; however, laying a reciprocating piston-type air compressor on its side has several advantages.
Laying the machine on certain diagnostic points makes it easier to take measurement readings and observe various signs to detect impending changes or failures within the system.
Also, since machines may be inadvertently left inoperable for longer periods than usual due to current supply shortages, it may be beneficial to lay a machine on its side to reduce unnecessary wear and tear during long periods of dormancy.
In addition, manufacturers also recommend laying a reciprocating piston-type air compressor on its side because it can improve cooling efficiency and increase total output.
Such benefits are increased efficient cooling of the motor caused by increased surface area and improved oil circulation within the motor when tilted on its side. This increased efficiency can lead to reduced energy costs and faster heat dissipation during long-running operations, even if the compressor remains inoperable for long periods.
Reduced Risk of Damage
Laying an air compressor on its side can reduce the risk of oil leakage and wear and tear on certain machine parts, particularly the compressor valves and gaskets. This position also minimizes mechanical vibrational damage due to an unbalanced load distribution or a compressor’s normal operation.
When an air compressor is placed on its side, the spray of cooling oil is evenly balanced over all interior surfaces, reducing the number of oil leaks or pooling over one side only. Maintenance costs related to oil leakage are thus reduced.
Additionally, when set on its side, a compressor’s motor thermal protection components can more easily maintain temperatures within factory specifications; this helps to prevent any potential overheating issues and long-term health risks associated with them.
Potential Risks of Laying an Air Compressor on its Side
Laying an air compressor on its side is a common practice when transporting or storing it, but there are potential risks associated with this method. Before attempting to lay your air compressor down on its side, it’s important to consider the potential issues that can arise from doing so.
Specifically, it could lead to problems with the performance of the compressor, and it could also lead to long-term damage to the machine. Let’s explore these potential risks in more detail.
Risk of Oil Leaks
When an air compressor is designed and manufactured, it is not intended to be laid on its side or tipped in any direction. Doing so can result in several problems, including oil leakage from the seals and gaskets. Leaked oil contributes to excessive operating temperatures within the compressor, which can cause component failure and damage to electrical components.
Additionally, if your compressor contains a lubricant system (such as a crankcase lubrication system), placing it on its side may cause the lubricant to move away from some important parts of the compressor, such as valves and piston rods. This lack of lubrication could damage those parts.
In general, horizontal compressors should always be mounted with the cylinder head facing up for proper draining. In contrast, vertical compressors should be kept upright as they only drain downward when oriented properly.
If you must lay an air compressor on its side or tip it in any direction, make sure you drain all external traces of oil before doing so by attaching an appropriate drainage tube or by tilting it slightly and then turning it back upright through a couple of full rotations to ensure that no oil remains inside.
Be sure to use wood blocks or other soft materials to protect the surrounding area while doing this process. Sloshing around potentially flammable liquids such as gasoline can cause sparks or fire if not properly accounted for.
When an air compressor is laid on its side, the risk of reduced airflow or suction can arise. This can happen when the compressed air in the tank can no longer freely move between the compressor and its outlet due to gravity. If a compressor is left on its side, gravity pulls the air directly into one of the outlets while creating a vacuum at the other outlet due to a lack of pressure.
This could result in reduced airflow and suction power and potentially lead to leaks or damaged equipment being used downstream. Additionally, if an air compressor is overloaded when laid on its side, there is a higher risk of overheating than when installed upright. Therefore, users must be mindful of load capacity and total airflow needs when laying an air compressor on its side.
It is not recommended to lay an air compressor on its side. This can cause serious damage to components such as the tank, pressure switch, electrical motor, seals, and gaskets due to the sudden change in pressure within the system. It is also possible for lubrication oil in the pump motor and/or compressor head to be drained away from vital components, resulting in overheating and other potential damage.
To prevent any permanent damage or hazards resulting from mishandling an air compressor, it is best practice to use a proper lifting device according to manufacturer guidelines when moving a unit from one location to another. On top of that, always install any additional support, such as rubber feet or shock mounts, where needed, so that if the unit needs to be laid down, it’s done so with minimal risk of damage or injury.