DIY: How to Build an Air Compressor


Making an air compressor is an inexpensive way to add to your collection of home improvement tools. Air compressors operate tools and inflate tires. They can also be used to spray paint when working on projects such as automobile paint jobs. While there are several ways to build an air compressor, one of the easier methods is to use an old refrigerator. With a few extra items that can be found at your local tool shop or home and garden store, you can build your own air compressor.

Things You'll Need

  • Tube cutter
  • 3 feet of 3/8-inch-internal-diameter air hose
  • Masking tape
  • Marker
  • 4-way T-connector
  • Air gauge
  • Old refrigerator
  • Safety valve
  • Dolly
  • Remove all the Freon from the refrigerator. Attempting to drain the Freon on your own could damage your refrigerator -- as well as violate federal air quality laws. Have a certified technician remove the refrigerant.

  • Cut the excess copper tubes. Use the tube cutter to cut the copper tubes that are hanging from the compressor. Leave as much of the copper tubing inside the compressor as possible.

  • Use masking tape and a marker to label the terminals and wires. Trace the power cord into the refrigerator's wiring. When you find the terminal, apply the masking tape to the terminals.

  • Remove the wiring. Take out all the wiring with the exception of those that will connect to the pump and capacitor of the refrigerator. Connect the base of the pump to the ground wire and connect the power cord wires to the capacitor.

  • Bend all the copper lines vertically. Handle the lines carefully so as to not crack or kink them.

  • Position the refrigerator so it is away from the ceiling and walls. It is best to leave at least 15 to 20 feet of clearance. Plug your refrigerator into an electrical socket. Place your fingers onto the ends of the copper tubing. One tube will act as a vacuum. Use masking tape to mark the other line. This will be your supply line.

  • Connect the air hose to the marked supply line. Clamp the hose to the four-way T-connector. The T-connector should be connected to the air gauge, safety-release valve and your supply line.

  • Use the masking tape to bind together any fittings, assembly or wiring that are sticking out. Place your air compressor onto a dolly so that it is portable.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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