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Old 08-19-2008, 08:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Air Compressor Installation Ideas

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 ” 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.
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Last edited by dennis111; 08-28-2008 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

This is good information, thanks for posting. When I mounted my compressor I use rubber biscuits that I found at Northern Tool in the pressure washer section. The flat washer in the photo is what came with the compressor

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Old 08-28-2008, 06:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Hey Dennis, great write up. I'm trying to figure out a system setup like your and I was wondering what type of copper tubing you're using. Type L/Type M? I can't seem to find any information on copper tubing psi ratings anywhere. Our compressor is running 175 psi and we're nervous about the burst pressure of the tubing.

Here's some background:
175 psi compressor
The line is going about 75-80 feet from the compressor
We were thinking about 1/2in copper tubing (is that diameter going to affect anything?)

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by 72BlackOnBlack View Post
Hey Dennis, great write up. I'm trying to figure out a system setup like your and I was wondering what type of copper tubing you're using. Type L/Type M? I can't seem to find any information on copper tubing psi ratings anywhere. Our compressor is running 175 psi and we're nervous about the burst pressure of the tubing.

Here's some background:
175 psi compressor
The line is going about 75-80 feet from the compressor
We were thinking about 1/2in copper tubing (is that diameter going to affect anything?)

Thanks in advance.
That's kind of small for that long of a run. The longer the run, the more resistance there is to airflow. Therefore, longer runs require larger diameter, more freely flowing pipe. I would suggest at least 3/4". An extra storage tank at the end of that 80ft run like Dennis has would also be a good idea.

I'm no authority on the different types of copper pipe, but would -assume- whatever is used for water should work fine.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by 72BlackOnBlack View Post
Hey Dennis, great write up. I'm trying to figure out a system setup like your and I was wondering what type of copper tubing you're using. Type L/Type M? I can't seem to find any information on copper tubing psi ratings anywhere. Our compressor is running 175 psi and we're nervous about the burst pressure of the tubing.

Here's some background:
175 psi compressor
The line is going about 75-80 feet from the compressor
We were thinking about 1/2in copper tubing (is that diameter going to affect anything?)

Thanks in advance.
To tell you the truth, I do not know which type of copper I am using. It was originally part of the garage radiator heating system that I disbanded. Because you have a higher pressure compressor, you are correct in questioning the strength of the system. Perhaps someone more qualified in this area will speak up and offer you some advice. Otherwise, review this manual as it has about everything you could ever want to know about copper piping: Copper.org: Copper Tube, Pipe & Fittings: Technical References: Copper Tube Handbook: Download the Copper Tube Handbook

Personally, I would use as much 3/4" piping as possible for the main trunk. Not only will it create more overall storage capacity, it helps the system to better supply constant air to high usage devices. Any short runs could be done in 1/2" though.
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My little 65' Stang street car:



Dart 428W NA, 4 Spd, 4:33, on pump gas pushing 3550lbs.

10.553@127.81 with a 1.466 60'

Last edited by dennis111; 08-28-2008 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Aha.... I see, we were actually thinking that the smaller pipe would keep the psi higher instead of restricting the airflow. Another reason we were considering 1/2in pipe is because it's cheaper too....
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Oh yeah, what did you use to connect the joints? Straight soldering wire? I found this soldering "paste" that you brush onto the pipe, stick it into the joint, and then heat the surrounding area until the paste seeps out. Anyone have any experience with that? It sounds really good, but perhaps too good to be true....
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Old 08-29-2008, 04:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

I treated mine like a standard water system and used the readily available plumbing type flux and solder.

We use the same stuff in the industrial environment, but there again, our plant's, two 200hp compressors were built for a max of 100-110lbs output. To prevent pressure drops, the plant system uses a 4" main trunk (copper$$$) that makes a complete circle around the outer extremes of our 5 acre plant. Drops to most of the production equipment are 1/2" in diameter or larger.
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My little 65' Stang street car:



Dart 428W NA, 4 Spd, 4:33, on pump gas pushing 3550lbs.

10.553@127.81 with a 1.466 60'
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

I've got a couple things to add.
First it was not mentioned so I'll say that you should never use pvc for air lines, even the schedule 80 stuff. It is not designed for it and the sudden closing of a valve or air tool will cause a hammer much like a water hammer and burst the plastic pipe sending plastic chards into the air and causing injury if you're nearby. Dont believe me ask at a reputable plumbing supply store(not home depot or hardware store).
I used galvanized pipe throughout my garage with drip tees and drains very similar to yours. I have two drops for air hoses, one drop for my blasting cabinet and one connection up high for my sir hose reel. The galvanized was cheaper than copper when I priced it so that's what I got. I also have a pressure gauge just like yours.
Next, for the water seperator to function the best it should not be mounted close to the tank as above. It should be 10-15 feet from the tank for the best water removal.
I had no choice but to put my whole compressor in the attic above the garage. I do have it sitting on a 1/2" thick rubber mat for vibration and noise but it's still noisy down below due the whole thing sitting on the wood attic floor. The sound transmits through the whole house!
One more tip. I kept thinking of what could happen of something failed on the compressor (mechanical, belt, or the motor itself) while it's up in the attic or if I wasn't home because I'm bad at turning things off when I'm not using them. So I wired a twist timer into the motor starter and now when I want to use the compressor I just have to go over to the wall in the garage and twist the knob to whatever time I think I'll be needing the air. When I leave the garage or the house I know that the timer will time out and nothing will happen when I'm gone. Just a sefety feature that gives me piece of mind.
Does anyone have experience with the automatic drains for the compressor tanks? I bought one from harbor freight but I never installed it. Does anyone here have one?
Great tips Dennis and I hope you realize I'm just trying to add to your already great thread.
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Old 10-06-2008, 08:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Great write up as always Dennis and lots of other good tips as well..I definetly need to install a drain pipe on mine as it is stuck in the corner and the drain in the bottom is a pain to get too..Mine has wheels on it so it can be easily moved around (if it wasn't buried in junk )and it is actually pretty quiet. I guess partly because it is sitting on the rubber tires which would act somewhat like the rubber pads you installed under yours..
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Old 11-08-2008, 02:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Dennis, that's a great writeup and a very professional job. Very clean install.

I may get flamed for this but, Falkinman stated that you should never use PVC. There is an auto-repair garage a couple for miles from me that has two lifts and a relatively large compressor. The entire shop is plumbed using PVC. I know the owner quiet well so I felt comfortable asking him about the integrity of his system. His answer was he installed it over fifteen years ago and has had no problems. Matter of fact several of the shops in the area are plumbed with PVC.
That's not saying it's a good thing, but people do use it.
I myself prefer black pipe over most other materials. That is what we used in the Gas Meter shop I worked in.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Not trying to argue but his pvc air lines are a time bomb waiting to go off. They're 15 years old and getting even more brittle with age. Sure he has been lucky but do you want to press your luck? These are a bunch of mechanics who installed the pipe and not a plumber. The manufacturers of the pvc do not recommend using it for air, bottom line. Like I said in my previous post, ask at a good plumbing supply store(not Home Depot) and if you get a knowledgable guy at the counter he will tell you the truth about it. I took no offense to what you said retyler. I knew that people do this so I figured someone would say it. Hell, I was going to do it myself!
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

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Originally Posted by Falkinman View Post
Not trying to argue but his pvc air lines are a time bomb waiting to go off. They're 15 years old and getting even more brittle with age. Sure he has been lucky but do you want to press your luck? These are a bunch of mechanics who installed the pipe and not a plumber. The manufacturers of the pvc do not recommend using it for air, bottom line. Like I said in my previous post, ask at a good plumbing supply store(not Home Depot) and if you get a knowledgable guy at the counter he will tell you the truth about it. I took no offense to what you said retyler. I knew that people do this so I figured someone would say it. Hell, I was going to do it myself!
gotta agree mate,i personally would never use pvc pipe,i know for a fact it does become brittle with time,but thats just my opinion
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Std copper (type L or M) 1/8 through 1" joined with 50/50 solder is rated at 200 psi at 100 degress ambient. Another good tip for getting rid of water is to run you air line up the wall from as low as possible t as high as possible, 180 degree back down to about 1 or 2 feet from the floor, plumb in a T with a drop pipe and a drain, then plumb back up the wall to the rest of your system. If possible keep a 1% grade back to the trap you have built. If you have a really long run you can put a dip in the run with a drop pipe and drain to catch the water. Not quit as pretty as a srtaight run but it is effective. On my system I ran the drain outside so I don't have to wipe up the water when I drain it. I have glass bowl traps at both ends of my shop and they never have any water in them.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Air Compressor Installation Ideas

Since Dennis posted a link to this on another site i am going to add my .02 worth. First the compressor manufacture say to leave the compressor bolted to the pallet or skids it came with, keeps the feet from cracking at the tank. On the trap if you use a bigger size pipe for the drop (say 2"x18") with the valve on the bottom it will hold more moisture before it gets full and goes out the air hose. As far as the PVC pipe goes mine has been up over 20 years and it has never broken, shattered or cracked. It has been ran into, yanked off the wall (kid got the hose caught on the bumper) and cut and modified many times and when i cut it it is just as soft as a new piece, now i have had water pipe and a couple years down the road had to repair it and yes it was brittle to the point where you go to cut it and it breaks and will not cut. One thing bad about it though it does promote water buildup (kind of makes it's own) more so than steel or copper pipe. Had a friend do his shop in copper and he was always blowing apart joints and his pipe had bulges it from weak spots, i think he was running around 175 psi and do not know what grade pipe he used. Now i am getting a bigger shop and thinking about how i am going to do the plumbing on it, i am leaning towards the black pipe but rust i think might be an issue down the line, galvanized is out of the question as i have seen it come loose and chunks come out of the lines. Might do some more research on the copper as my PSI is around 175 and don't want the same results as my friend had with his.
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