Here I will offer some ideas that will help your air compressor system to work cleanly, more efficiently, and quieter. Although many of these ideas have been thrown around in various posts, I have decided to group them into one area.
When I first installed my air compressor, I bolted it to the concrete floor. The compressor would vibrate and the noise would carry into adjacent rooms of my garage. You could not talk freely when in the air compressor room and the noise was annoying in the shop. To this end, I ordered some sugar wafer looking mounting pads from an industrial supply catalog:
These mounting pads were originally 12” square and consist of 2 strips of medium hard rubber which sandwich a thick cork center. Once installed, the difference in sound from the compressor was phenomenal. I can now carry on a conversation when the compressor is running and I have to listen hard to tell when it is running when working in the shop.
If you have hard lines run throughout your shop from your compressor, you can also reduce vibration noise by attaching the compressor to the lines with a length of large diameter high pressure rubber hose:
My hardlines are all ¾” copper and I used 1” diameter rubber hose which uses larger attachment fittings. This reduces restriction to the system.
Air compressors generate a lot of heat and the condensation tends to build up in the compressor tank and lines. Immediately off of the compressor I have a shut off and a typical water removing filter, as seen on the right of the following photo:
The rubber hose mentioned above also helps to keep heat from being transferred directly to the hard lines. Where the rubber meets the hard line, I added a water trap, which is essentially a long horizontal tube with a manual valve. When this valve is opened, collected moisture can be dumped into a bucket, as seen on the left hand side of the compressor:
Lines should never be put into the attic of the structure—I made that mistake with an installation in a different garage and I could never keep the moisture problem at bay. Now I try to keep all air lines on the walls of the structure. My current compressor room has a drop ceiling which I did not want to take down so I bought some pipe insulation to cover the pipes. In this case, it extends 2' above the ceiling before the lines exit into the other room of the shop:
My hardlines pass through a couple of walls. Where the pass through, I drilled a large hole and surrounded the line with rubber heater hose to keep it from vibrating and to allow for possible expansion:
My hardlines nearly surround my garage and I have several locations that I can plug an air hose into. Some come down the wall and stop:
Others are found under the workbench:
In both cases I used a plumbing shutoff at each line, a water trap, and a manual dump valve to drain the trap. Here is another closeup of the water trap and dump valve:
As mentioned before, my hardlines practically surround the garage. They are at their highest location just above the compressor and the trunk lines continually slope downward at a rate of approximately 1” for every 10 feet of line away from the compressor. 40 feet from the compressor it has dropped nearly 5” lower than at the compressor. This allows moisture to get to the various traps via and not lay in the pipes:
Although my lines are located near the ceiling, it would be better to run them at shoulder height to keep them away from the ceiling heat. Since I am always active in my shop doing who knows what, I preferred to keep them as high as possible plus this location helps me clear the various doors in the shop.
Now that the air compressor is so quiet and located in a separate room from the main shop, I needed a way to tell if it was building pressure. I added a large air pressure gauge to one of my drop lines so I can always see it with just a glance:
Yes, I added it to the “I LOVE ME AND THE GT” wall so I can see that too. LOL
Since my hard lines extend over 45 feet from the compressor, I bought a very cheap 20 gallon tank at an farmers auction and plumbed it into my system at the farthest distance from the compressor. In addition to offering more reserve pressure, it helps to buffer the system when lots of air is suddenly being used:
When I use a paint gun, I add additional filter and a regulator to my system. This is a portable setup since I rarely break out the paint gun and my air compressor is rated at 110lbs which most tools can handle:
As far as air compressor maintenance goes, I have an easy to access ball drain valve under the tank to drain out the moisture and I have added a drain tube to my compressor to cut down on the mess of changing oil. The tube goes to a small valve that is located in such a way as to be hard to accidentally open. It is very easy to put a bucket under the valve to catch the oil:
The square rubber block (actually a chair leg tip) is a support to prevent mishaps through normal vibration.
In summary, most of us take our air compressors for granted and basically just plug them in and let them run. Sooner or later, you will get tired of the noise and moisture in the system. The above tips should give you a decent guideline to a better air compressor experience.