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Preventing Water from Getting into Your Compressed Air Lines

Have you ever experienced that frustrating situation when you were intending to use your compressor expecting compressed air to come out only to be surprised by water coming out instead? How annoying!

More than the fact that it’s annoying, though, the important question is – how did that water get there and how does it affect your air compressor? Let’s address the questions one at a time.

First of all, we know, based on what we learned from science class, that the air we breathe also contains water (in a gaseous state). In the compressed air industry, the amount of water is measured by dew point and relative humidity. Meaning, the hotter the air, the more water compressed air can hold. That is why you can find more water in your compressed air during a hot summer day immediately after it has rained.

When you compress air to 100 PSI, the volume is reduced to about eight times its original volume. This is something similar to squeezing a sponge. When you squeeze, the gaseous humidity undergoes a phase transformation to a liquid state. This is mainly because as the gas was compressed, it also met 100% relative humidity or its saturation point. At this point, it could no longer hold water in suspension. That’s why there’s water coming out!

Why is it important to have dry compressed air?

Water is highly corrosive. It can rust pipes and speed up wear on pneumatic valves and cylinders. Additionally, it can lower the quality of your end product in these ways:

  • Rusting your finished metal products
  • Spoiling raw products
  • Causing orange peel on paint finishing
  • Inconsistent equipment operation

Can this corrosive water be prevented from entering the compressed air system?

Of course, you can! The simplest way would be through water traps, after-coolers, drip legs, and coalescing filters. While they remove liquid contaminants from the compressed air, the relative humidity stays 100%. That only means that once there is additional cooling, more water will condense and will then be seen at use points all throughout your system.

For example:

  • Compressed air that is going through refrigerated air
  • Pipes outside the wall during winter months
  • Additional cooling when compressed air travels through the pipes

If you want to bring down the dew point or relative humidity, you can try using refrigerated air dryers, regenerative desiccant air dryer, and membrane type air dryers.

Some of the benefits of clean and dry compressed air include lesser wear on your equipment, improved efficiency of equipment, and improved quality of the end product.

Are you having trouble with moisture in your compressed air system that you want to be controlled? Call us today!

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