Steam engine

Oil or Oil-free air compressors?

Air compressor oil is formulated only for air compressor use. It has many essential functions, some of which include cooling the compressor, acting as a sealant and lubricating the compressor. If you don’t have air compressor oil, then your air compressor is going to heat up quickly and cause it to overheat. Many compressors that overheat will automatically shut down. This is why oil is vital to help remove the heat and allow your air compressor to run longer without getting too hot.

Your air compressor will often leak more air if it doesn’t have any oil as this also serves as a sealant to avoid any leaks. The leaks will reduce compressors productivity and will reduce the pressure that it produces. Using compressor oil means that all the moving parts are lubricated saving on the wear and tear of the motor.

What oil do I need to use?

Not every air compressor needs oil. Oil-free compressors are being efficiently used in various factories and across industries. Firstly figure out what model you have first. You can check your owners manual which should tell you what oil the manufacturer recommends using. Most synthetic oils are universal and can get used in all consumer-grade air compressors.

Is it a requirement to add oil to air compressors?

Oil-lubricated air compressors must use oil in them. If you have an oilless compressor, then you won’t be required to use oil as the machine comes precoated and sealed.

Can you use automotive engine oil in the air compressor?

No, you cannot. Auto engine oil contains additives that are bad for compressors. In many cases, using car oil in the compressor has caused build-ups in the valves of the air compressors pump. The build-up will cause early deterioration due to the strain that is on the air pump.

How often should the oil be changed?

It is advised to change the oil in the air compressor every 500 to 1000 hours of running time. The oil level should be checked on your air compressor each time that you use it. Read the tips for maintenance in the owners manual to ensure you are caring for the machine as expected.

Engine oil

Standard or synthetic oil

Synthetic and standard compressors can both work but how often you are using the machine will be what determines just what type of oil you choose to go with. Going with a standard oil will work fine, especially if you don’t use the compressor often. The conventional compressor oil is much cheaper than the synthetic type and is recommended for light or medium-duty use.

Using synthetic oil is more suited for the professionals who are using their industrial air compressors often at least three times a week. Those using air compressors in a commercial setting will often use the synthetic type. Using synthetic oil will give you better protection from the motor overheating, helps the machine to run a lot quieter and smoother and has a more significant temperature range for colder times.

​If you are unsure what oil to be using and whether your machine needs it either consult the owners manual or give the manufacturer a call. They will steer you in the right direction of what you need for your type of machine. Be sure to always check the use-by date on your oil as you don’t want to be adding stale oil to your compressor. It is important to follow all these steps efficiently in order to make the optimum use of your air compressor and ensure there is no excess waste of any kind. It is always advised to have the guidance of a professional on such matters.


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