How to Repair Air Compressors


Air compressors require three main functions in order to be effective. They must have a source of power, they must be able to contain pressure and they must be able to control the flow of compressed air. Most repairs that can be completed by users will fall into one of these categories. Following a logical flow when troubleshooting makes finding and making repairs simpler. Due to the risk of damaged pressure tanks rupturing, more complex repairs should be carried out by professional technicians.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Soapy water
  • Teflon plumber's tape
  • Screwdriver

Restoring Power

  • Check to make sure that the cord is plugged into the outlet firmly and that the power switch is on. If power is not restored, locate the "Reset" button located on the side of the compressor motor, typically near where the power cord is attached. Look for a round black or red button. Depress the button to reset the circuit breaker. If power is not restored, continue to the next step.

  • Trace the cord to ensure that all connections are snug. Plug any cords in that are loose.

  • Locate the circuit breaker box and check for circuit breakers that have tripped. Look for a small red square near the breaker to indicate a breaker that has tripped. Flip tripped breakers to the full "Off" position then back to "On." If power is not restored, continue to the next step.

  • Test the outlet by plugging in a small radio or lamp. If the outlet works, remove any extension cords and plug the compressor cord directly into the outlet. Test the compressor again. If power is not restored, take the compressor for professional servicing.

Building Pressure

  • Unplug hoses and tools. Turn the compressor on and allow it to charge. Spray soapy water around the fittings of the compressor and check for bubbling to indicate air leaks. Release the pressure from the tank by pulling the air release valve. Look for a small plastic/metal valve near the air outlet with a pull ring attached.

  • Remove fittings that have actively bubbling soapy water surrounding them with a wrench. Turn the fittings counterclockwise to remove them. Wrap teflon plumber's tape around the threads of the fittings.

  • Thread the fittings back into the compressor and tighten with the wrench. Test again, charging the compressor and spraying with soapy water. Replace fittings that still leak.

  • Charge the compressor. Locate the bleed valve on the bottom of the air tank. Grip the valve with locking pliers and turn it counterclockwise to open it. Allow the air to blow the condensation from the tank until the air escaping is dry. Tighten the valve by turning clockwise.

Adjusting Air Flow

  • Remove the plastic shroud from the top of the compressor by removing the screws with a screwdriver. Lift the cover off to expose the pressure limiter screws; there will be two screws. The lower control screw, closest to you, controls when the compressor comes on. The upper screw controls when the compressor goes off.

  • Start the compressor and make a note of the pressure setting when the compressor kicks off. Adjust pressure up or down with the upper control screw. Tighten the screw clockwise to raise the pressure, or counterclockwise to lower it.

  • Pull the pressure release valve and make a note of the pressure when the compressor comes on. Adjust the lower control screw to raise or lower the setting. Replace the cover and replace and tighten the screws with a screwdriver.

Related Searches


  • "Air Tools: How to Choose, Use and Maintain Them": Rick Peters; Sterling Publishing, 2000
  • Photo Credit tools image by Stelios Filippou from
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