The “How To” Guide to Air Compressor Maintenance

Air compressors are a necessity for many business owners and can often be a huge investment. The good news is, a well maintained air compressor can last for up to 10 years with the proper care.


Sizing and Installation

Preventative maintenance for air compressor begins before you even purchase it. It’s important to purchase the right air compressor for the function you’ll be using it for in order to get the greatest longevity out of the system. A common mistake is that people buy an air compressor that is too large for the application they need it for. Do your research ahead of time at

Once you purchase the right-sized air compressor, it’s important that you install it properly in a space that is well ventilated, since the most common problem with air compressors is over-heating.


Regular Checks

You should check your air compressor daily, monthly, quarterly and annually to ensure that it stays well maintained. The owner should do a visual inspection every day to check for any alarms or oil leaks. Almost all air compressors these days have built-in microprocessors that will alert you about maintenance issues, like a filter that needs to be changed or a temperature problem. These alerts are much like the oil or gas light going on in your car: They let you know there’s a problem, and it’s your responsibility to take care of that problem.

For monthly, quarterly and annual inspections, it’s best to call in a professional. If you have a relatively small air compressor, you can do the monthly checks by yourself, but every air compressor owner should have a professional inspect their machines on a quarterly and yearly basis. John Henry Foster can help you with its Preventative Maintenance Program, which includes pre-scheduled visits so you won’t have to remember to schedule your inspections. You can choose to pay based on time and materials, or choose a flat rate billing option. Rates vary based on the size of the air compressor.


Monitor temperatures

            As stated above, the most common problem with air compressors is overheating, and summer is the most common time of year to experience this. Aside from installing your air compressor in a space that is well ventilated, it’s important to keep the air compressor coolers clean. A build-up of dust or debris can clog the coolers and keep them from working properly. It’s also important to keep all of your air compressor oils and fluids at their proper levels.



            Depending on the size of your air compressor, it can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. Air compressor owners usually start to notice more problems after five years, but with the right maintenance they can easily last for up to 10 years. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to spend the cost of your air compressor in annual maintenance costs. For example, if you purchased an air compressor for $50,000, you should expect to spend about the same each year on materials to perform preventative maintenance and labor costs.



Preventative care? The biggest thing to get the proper life out is to apply the proper compressor for the application. Generally people buy too large of a compressor and they don’t install it in the processor


1. Sizing of the compressor is key

2. Installation of the compressor. Proper ventilation

3. OEM specifications for PM maintenance schedule. The manufacturer requirements as far as the pm goes, they’ll have the schedule of how often


Preventative maintenance. Oil filers, lubricant, air filters.


Daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly and checks. Your daily checks should be by the people who own it. Depending on the size of the machine, monthly can go ownership and have a professional come in. definitely quarterly and yearly should have professional. Rates vary based on size of the machine. $120/hr.




Author Bio: Matt works for John Henry Foster, a hydraulic and pneumatic equipment company based in St. Louis, Missouri.