When Do I Need to Replace My Pneumatic Compressor Valve?

Intense air compression is at the heart of every effective pneumatic system. Compacting air into a confined space allows compressors to imbue dense gas with immense kinetic energy. Pneumatic compression can transfer powerful strength to lifters, pushers, ventilators, and moving arms alike.

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However, pneumatic systems also rely on keeping as much compacted air inside their pipes and chambers as possible to work. Leaky compressor valves underperform, waste energy, and can rapidly lose psi while in use, so at some point they need to be replaced. The resulting sudden loss of control and pressure drops can prove hazardous.

Keep a close eye on this small yet vital intake chamber for signs of fatigue and flux at all times. The faster you replace a faulty or failing pneumatic compressor valve, the more expensive wear and tear you’ll save yourself long-term.

What Is A Pneumatic Compressor Valve?

The compression valve (or air check valve) is a sealed ‘gate’ that stops air from leaking back out of the system once inside the loop. A simple disc and spring metal diaphragm permits the one-way travel of air, and a metal structure prevents resistance backflow during pumping. Some pneumatic systems employ multi-stage compressor and secondary flapper valves throughout the loop to ensure better safety and control.

As most pneumatic systems rely on a reservoir of pressurised air to work, you’ll often find the primary compressor valve mounted on seals and threaded in near the tank’s main air entry point.

Why Do Compressor Valves Usually Fail?

Pneumatic compressor valves degrade or fail due to damage caused by a mix of these four factors:

  • Chronic excessive air intake (overload)
  • Chronic excessive, unchecked backflow
  • Improper installation
  • Metal fatigue

Common Signs of Compressor Valve Degradation and Failure

Look out for these tell-tale signs of valve wear:

  • Misaligned valves (i.e. the valve isn’t completely flush with the entry screw and seals)
  • Slow or unreliable compression
  • Hairline cracks, chips, or dents on the valve itself
  • Low-pressure warnings (i.e. unusual gauge readings)
  • Unexpected hissing, rattling, and creaking noises
  • Excessive vibration and temperature build-up
  • Significant pneumatic underperformance against benchmarks
  • Gradual loss of running tank pressure when the compressor is off
  • Build-up of particulate (e.g. dust)

How Can I Test My Compressor Valves?

Power down, depressurise, and drain the pneumatic loop before carefully unbolting and removing all of your check valves. Quickly check to see if the containment seals are flush while doing so – the problem may not be with the valve’s body itself!

Once you’ve removed your check valves, blow gently through the intake end while holding a finger over the exit. You should feel a flow of air. Check for obstructions, broken parts, or warping.

Once done, reverse the valve’s main direction and try again. You should feel absolutely nothing – the spring mechanism inside deliberately blocks backflow. If it allows anything through, then something’s wrong.

Perform a detailed visual check on the valve’s sides and interior, too. Is the valve clean, smooth, and mechanically intact? If you experienced a backdraft or the valve looks worn, stained, or otherwise damaged, it’s time to order a replacement.

Quick-Replace Valves and New Pneumatic Parts From Hydrastar

At Hydrastar, we supply a wide range of pneumatic and hydraulic components from leading manufacturers, and can advise on the best system design strategies to reduce wear and optimise performance. Get in touch today to find out more.
How To Minimise Downtime With Pneumatic Plant And Machinery.