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When is It Inappropriate to Use Compressed Air?

If you have kids, you know what it is like to have to follow them every time they leave a room to turn off the light that they probably left on. Now that winter is nearing, we are also getting more sensitive about how we set the thermostat at home. We keep it lowered at night or when we have to be home for a longer period. We check if any faucet is dripping, or if the toilet is working properly. These are just some ways we try to lower our utility costs at home.

But how about that compressed air system you use at work? Few people know that compressed air is their most expensive utility. For one, it uses electricity. It also requires labor and materials for maintenance. That is after your initial investment and depreciation, of course. Unfortunately, compressed air is also taken for granted, wasted, or even abused.


Here are some inappropriate uses of compressed air and what we can do to avoid them:


  • For Drying or Process Cooling – We can use low pressure blowers for this purpose, or even fans.
  • For Vacuum Generation – Use electric vacuum pump instead.
  • For Cleaning Up – Opt for a broom and a mop for your floors, a brush or a duster on other surfaces.
  • For Personal Cooling– If possible, just use fans.
  • For Idle Equipment – You can always turn off the air valve that is supplying the equipment.
  • For Air Motor Driven Mixers – Use electric mixers instead
  • For Sparging – Make use of low pressure blowers or even electric mixers
  • For Abandoned Equipment – This, we think, you can completely disconnect from your air system

Of course, you may be poorly using your compressed air system as well, when you just allow leakage to atmosphere without doing anything about it. What you can do is to either repair or just replace malfunctioning parts like bad couplers, hoses, pipe joints, solenoid valves, and more. This is very similar to just allowing your kids to leave the lights or appliances on even when they are not using them.


Aside from being wasteful, misuse of compressed air could also be dangerous. Compressed air that is accidentally blown into one’s mouth, for example can easily rupture organs like your lungs, intestines, or stomach. Dislodged particles that come from blowing off clothing may also be blown into your colleague’s eyes and cause damage. Compressed air can also enter your blood stream by mere skin penetration or through an open wound. This can prove to be fatal. Finally, you can blow an eye out of its own socket with as little as 12PSI.


With those dangers, you would probably think twice before carelessly using your compressed air system. Compressors can be really helpful, but it is up to us to use them responsibly.

Manometer of an air compressor closeup photo

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