Effects of Oil Contamination
As air compressor oil degrades, it causes many costly problems.
The most noted problems are decreased bearing, gear and element life due to
particulates in the oil in the form of dust, varnish, and wear metals.
Additionally as oil is spent, in can form varnish and sludge that can coat the
inside of the compressor system, and foul everything it touches: the gears,
bearings, element, oil lines, separators and oil sump. These conditions
are often noted in reduced compressor life, and can show up as vibration and
elevated air outlet and oil temperatures. The heat and vibration itself
can act as a catalyst and speed up the rate of the oil degradation.
Oil Contamination Also Increases Utility Costs
The detrimental effects of oil contamination coupled with
overdue oil changes can also reduce the efficiency of the compressor. This
occurs in small part to the reduction in ability for the oil to lubricate
properly, but most of the noted loss is due to the fouling of the separator.
As the contaminated oil in the compressor clogs the oil separator, the pressure
drop across the separator increases. The pressure must be overcome by the
system, which directly affects utility bills due to the increased horsepower.
As a rule of thumb, for every 2 psi increase in system pressure, there must be a
1% increase in horsepower to overcome it. Thus, by changing the compressor
oil and separator regularly, money can be saved not only from the reduction in
mechanical wear and varnish formation, but also from reducing the pressure in
the system, which will save on utility bills. Quality air compressor oil
is expensive, but changing it regularly will save you money.