Winter is coming… and colder temperatures that come with it. So, it is time for us to talk about how to prepare your compressed air system to deal with these changes. Equipment is built to be run within a given set of parameters, and one of those is temperature. A system that isn’t prepared for cold weather can suffer in efficiency, performance and reliability. Here are some of the best ways you can combat the negative effects that winter weather can have on your compressed air system.
Control the Ambient Environment (if possible)
If possible, put your system indoors so that it is under more standard and controllable conditions. A standard compressor shouldn’t be left in freezing conditions when it isn’t operating. Ideally, you should keep your compressor room’s ambient temperature at least 45° Fahrenheit. You might have to heat the compressor room, but you can also adjust your ventilation system. During the hot months of summer, you may need your louvers open fully to increase air flow, but during winter you might want to adjust them in order to keep that warm air in the room. If the room temperature is fine, you can look into implementing a heat recovery system in order to heat other areas in your facility and save on energy costs.
Weatherize Your Compressor
If you must put your compressor outside, it is important that you weatherize it. This could involve adding weather stripping, insulation and even heaters inside of the compressor. Exposed parts should be well insulated or have heat trace in order to prevent damage from frozen condensate. A heater can help keep your lubricant warm and limit the impacts of condensate. If you have any of these items, you will need to check them regularly to make sure that they are working in the way that they are designed to.
Select the Correct Dryer Setup
Make sure that your dryer can handle the change in temperature or add additional dryers to mitigate the condensate. If you have condensate in your system during winter, it can freeze and cause numerous issues.
Change Air and Oil Filters
Regularly check your air and oil filters to evaluate whether they are in good condition to perform as they should. Dirty filters can decrease the efficiency of your compressor quite a bit, so change them out regularly.
Lubricant can become thicker and be less effective in cold weather. Thick lubricant requires more power to rotate the pump, which can overload the motor and lead to premature wear on the compressor. To combat this, regularly check your lubricant pour point, and make sure that it remains fluid in the environment.
Clear Drains and Air Intake Openings
With the changing temperatures also come rain and snow. Check and clear your drains and intake openings regularly in order to limit the impact that blockages and other issues can have on your system.
Adjust Water Cooling System
In the cold months, you are at risk of having your cooling water pipes freeze. If this happens, even though it is cold outside, your compressor will overheat, and it could cause damage or down time. You should consistently check to make sure that there is cooling water flowing through your system and monitor your compressor’s temperature levels so that you can adjust water temperatures as needed. You should also look at your piping and make sure it is well insulated in areas exposed to cold temperatures.
Find and Fix Leaks
Leaks can be a huge drain on your compressed air system. Fixing leaks can increase the efficiency of your system tremendously, so it is important that you find and repair them. If your company doesn’t have a leak prevention program, it could be very beneficial for you to implement. You can either do this yourself or hire outside experts to help you. Performing an energy audit of your compressed air system can show you how much energy you are wasting in the different areas of your plant, including how much those leaks are costing you.