Preventing Oil Contamination
Preventing oil contamination is critical to ensure long
lubricant life. A compressor acts as a large vacuum cleaner, ingesting air and
dust and all other pollutants. The first step to reducing contaminants is to
verify that the air inlet filter to the compressor is changed regularly. In high
dust application, an air inlet filter may need to be changed far more often than
the oil or the separator. Many compressor manufacturers offer high dust inlet
filters for environments, such as wood working shops, cement plants and dusty
locations. If conditions are extreme, a filter box can be installed on the inlet
of the compressor made up of rectangular inlet filters. The filters must be
changed regularly to ensure that the compressor is receiving an adequate flow of
air. Clogged filters that restrict the air flow can prevent the compressor from
getting adequate cooling, which will greatly decrease oil life.
Also, compressors should never be installed in areas where they
can ingest harmful pollutants. This includes areas near diesel exhaust fumes, or
other combustion areas. Also chemicals that are used in cooling towers like
chlorine and bromine are often ingested into compressor intakes, and can form
acids that can quickly deplete the additives in your oil.
Additionally normal wear in a compressor from bearings and gears can form wear
particles. With proper oil changeovers, the harmful effects of these particles
as well as ingested foreign particles can be reduced. Oil must be tested
regularly through routine oil analysis to ensure that the lubricant is still
functioning well. Oil that is in operation beyond its useful life can cause oil
varnishing and metal to metal contact.
Synthetic compressor oil can lengthen time between oil changes,
but steps still must be made to guard your compressor against harmful
contaminants. Proper oil analysis can verify that your oil is performing well,
and can greatly increase the life of your compressor.