Why Do Compressed Air Systems Need Drying?

It’s no secret that air compressors produce moisture, and they are also vulnerable to outside moisture. Many people install dryers to protect their compressed air systems. So, why does compressed air require a dryer?

Compressed air systems require a dryer because excessive moisture can cause corrosion. Corrosion can damage the valves, gaskets, and seals that are necessary to prevent air leaks in your compressor. Dryers can also improve tool performance, keep water out of the oil, and keep water off of products you clean and produce.

Refrigerated dryers and heated desiccant dryers are the best options. Follow along as we explore everything you must know about dryers for compressed air systems.

Why Does Compressed Air Require a Dryer?

Whether you use a dryer to protect your air compressor from corrosion or keep water out of the oil, they are infinitely useful. Let’s look at all of the benefits you can gain from connecting a dryer to a compressed air system.

Dryers Fight Corrosion

Corrosion is the biggest problem for any air compressor, but you can avoid it if you use a dryer. Everything from the motor, nozzles, and air tools to the valve can corrode and get rusty over time. Without a dryer, moisture will slowly accumulate and create the perfect conditions for rust to form.

This can ruin the motor and valves and make your air tool attachments useless. Corrosion can cause blockages, and that can lead to a dangerous buildup of pressure. Air compressors can even explode when the pressure becomes too much, and that’s the last thing you want.

Not only will that slow down your output, but it can also injure you and the other people in your vicinity. Air leaks can also happen when key parts, such as the valves become loose and corroded. Dryers can reduce corrosion and stop it before it forms so each of the parts of your air compressor stays in good shape.

You Can’t Avoid Moisture

Moisture is always an element when you work with an air compressor. Whether it be the moisture in the air around you or within the compressor itself, it’s unavoidable. Air typically cools down once it enters your compressor, and that alone can create moisture.

Everything from the hose to the condensate tank will be exposed to water when this happens. This is even worse when you work in a humid room, especially if it’s hot. Air compressors are quite sensitive to temperature and humidity, and that’s why they require a dryer.

Sure, you can run an air compressor without a dryer, but the moisture will still be there. This will make the room uncomfortable and create the perfect conditions for rust and corrosion within your compressor.

Tool Performance

There are countless tools available to attach to an air compressor. Some of these tools may not be able to withstand moisture as well as others, and they require a dryer. Air may struggle to pass through these tools when there is too much condensation in the nozzles.

Many air tools have tiny openings where they connect to the compressor hose as well as at the tip where they shoot air out. Because of that, even the smallest beads of water and debris can disrupt the performance. It’s much easier to unclog hoses and tools when you work with dry air.

Dry compressor air is clean and better than running humid air through attachment tools. Not only will the air tools last longer, but they will also be less prone to clogs and even leaks.

Protecting Materials

Air compressors are used in countless industries to make a wide range of products. Whether it be auto parts or textiles, compressed air encounters so many types of materials. Chances are, the vast majority of these products aren’t meant to encounter moisture during the manufacturing process.

For example, air compressors are a big part of the auto body industry. People use air compressors to paint cars, and that’s much harder when moisture is involved. The moisture will slow down the drying time of the paint and even change its appearance altogether.

Compressed air is also used to produce textiles, and moisture can alter the consistency quite a bit. Many factories blast fabrics with air to clean them before shipping them off to distribution centers. The last thing you want to do is leave moisture behind on a shirt or blanket and alter the dye or fabric before it goes to stores.

Stop Water From Coming Out of the Hose

Your air compressor’s hose can spit water and that can waste plenty of time at work. The moisture moisture within your air compressor, the more likely it is to spit out water. Your compressor’s condensate tank should collect most of the water, but it can’t keep up if there’s too much moisture.

Excessive moisture causes water to leak from valves and gaskets. These parts can also wear out and let water leak out where it shouldn’t. Dryers provide peace of mind so you know water won’t come out of the hose and leak out in your workspace.

Water Can Mix With the Oil

Dryers are useful for any type of air compressor, but they’re especially helpful if you have an oil-injected compressor. The last thing you want is for water to mix with your air compressor’s oil. Excessive moisture can cause water to settle into the oil in your compressor.

Once the water is in the oil, it will sit there indefinitely and weaken it. This can decrease your compressor’s lubrication and ultimately affect its performance. Proper, undiluted oil is necessary to reduce the compressor’s noise and stop the metal parts from rubbing against each other.

What Type of Dryer Do You Need for an Air Compressor?

Refrigerated dryers are the most common option for air compressors, but desiccant dryers are great as well. Desiccant air dryers are diverse because they come in non-heated and heated models. Heated desiccant air dryers are expensive, but they’re more effective than non-heated desiccant dryers because the heat makes them work faster.

That said, most people choose refrigerated dryers because of the low cost. They don’t lower the dew point as quickly as heated desiccant dryers, but refrigerated dryers are much simpler. You set it up and attach the dryer to your air compressor via a pipe.

Membrane air dryers are also a great option, especially if you want to keep your electricity bill low. The key feature is a hygroscopic membrane and they are great for working in sterile environments. You are more likely to find membrane air dryers in medical facilities than at auto body shops or factories, however.

So, Do Air Compressors Need Air Dryers?

Air dryers are necessary for air compressors in many professional settings. They greatly reduce the moisture within an air compressor and that can protect the components. Dryers lower the dew point, so less water will work its way into the hose, condensate tank, valves, and seals.

This protects key components from rust and corrosion that can damage your air compressor. Your compressor will last longer if you install an air dryer. Air tools will also last longer, and you won’t have to worry about water diluting the oil in your compressor. Moisture is hard to avoid with air compressors, so dryers are worthwhile to reduce damage.

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