Oil Contamination Detection
The buildup of contaminants in your oil is inevitable, as air
compressor systems not only ingest large quantities of contaminants, they also
create contaminants as byproducts of chemical reactions in the compressed air
system, as well as through mechanical wear of internal components. To keep
your compressor from wearing and failing prematurely, you must change your oil
before its useful life is spent. This can only be accomplished by
monitoring your oil through routine oil analysis.
Common Oil Analysis Tests
There are many tests and measurements associated with oil
analysis, which can vary somewhat depending on the laboratory and the type of
oil being tested. Some tests though are almost universally performed, and
they can provide a baseline and an ongoing method to determine your compressor
The most common and informative test is the TAN or Total Acid
Number Test. This will indicate the amount of acids in the oil, which
deplete the oil of its additives and hasten the oils degradation.
Additionally, the PH of the oil is usually tested, which will give also give and
indication of the buildup of acids. Other common tests check viscosity, specific
gravity, foaming characteristics and various measures of contaminants including
metals and water.
Laboratories that perform oil analysis will provide you with an
oil analysis report, that should be charted to aid in scheduling oil
changeovers, and indicating wear in the compressor. Oil analysis can often
provide early warning prior to failure, through the presence of wear metals, and
can indicate of coolers and oil systems need cleaned by indicating oil varnish.
Preventative maintenance should include oil analysis.