A properly designed air compressor system can offer any number of benefits. For instance, according to the Unviersity of Minnesota, about 80 to 90% of the electrical energy used by your compressed air system will be converted to heat. If your system is properly designed, between 50 to 90% of this heat can be recovered to heat water or air. If just 50% of heat loss was used to heat process water, about $4,100 worth of natural gas can be saved per year.
Of course, the operative words here are "properly designed." Few things can cause more damage to air compressor pipes and tubing than the condensation that often accumulates in a compressed air system. Here are a few simple rules to follow if you want to keep condensation from messing with your air fittings and compressed air system.
Never underestimate the power of condensation.
Condensation in your compressor piping might not seem like a big deal. What’s a little moisture to a mechanical marvel, right? Wrong. Water in any capacity can contribute to rust and scale in your air fittings. In addition, water can damage important lubrication and ultimately lead to excess maintenance for issues that may have been prevented otherwise.
Remember: condensation isn’t always consistent.
The amount of condensation forming in your system will depend on a variety of factors, and is especially sensitive to seasonal changes. This is in large part due to the amount of moisture in the air on a given day. For example, a compressor operating in a temperate climate with low humidity won’t produce as much condensation as one running in a tropical climate with high humidity.
Always slope your pipe downward.
Gravity can solve many air compressor condensation problems. Simply sloping your pipe in both the main air header and in branch lines downward will allow for much easier water drainage. Pipes should slope downward at least one inch per every 10 feet of line. This amount of pitch forces condensation downward and ultimately makes for easier maintenance and drainage.
Stainless steel is more effective against condensation.
When you’re trying to prevent condensation from corroding your pipes, stainless steel is an excellent choice in material. It’s especially important to consider in a non-lubricated compressor system, as stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion. If you can’t avoid condensation, you may still be able to avoid corrosion.
No matter what kind of machinery you’re running, moisture is the enemy. In addition to keeping these four rules in mind, make sure you’re taking the time to perform regular maintenance on your equipment.