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5 Important Factors of Compressor Maintenance to Know

Compressor Maintenance | KB Delta

Compressors are essential tools for many industries, including the natural gas industry, the blow molding industry and the medical technology industry. Compressor valves are the life force of the compressor, responsible for gas and air flow in the cylinder. The valves must be as hard working as they are durable. However, compressor maintenance is a must if the compressor is to continue working well.

The compressor valves are in constant motion every day and can build up wear and tear under the heavy workload. However, compressor design has become increasing efficient over the years. Finding high quality valve parts for any type of compressor has never been easier.

However, proper compressor maintenance is required to extend the lifespan of valve parts and to ensure that they continue to run smoothly. Whether you are looking to purchase a new compressor valve, or to keep your current one shiny and new, these five tips are key to understanding the steps and importance behind regular compressor maintenance.

The compressor is at the heart of any refrigeration system, and most of the repair required when a system fails boils down to this single piece of equipment. The critical elements are the same as when you’re an expert certified in HVAC systems or a DIY die-hard looking for HVAC repairs. As a result, regular compressor maintenance may be an essential requirement of your refrigeration system.

1. Safety

Before you begin your compressor maintenance, make sure your compressor’s power is cut off.

The compressor pressure should be at zero, or else you will be at risk for injury. Follow plant tagging procedures to ensure the power is not turned back on during maintenance accidentally.

2. Valve Types

There are various kinds of valves that control different compressors. When purchasing compressor parts or a compressor valve repair kit, be sure to customize the parts for your specific compressor. When hiring a professional for maintenance, find a company that has experience with your model.

Reciprocating compressors, for example, are used for many industries like the natural gas industry. Reciprocating compressors compress air with a crankshaft-mobilized piston and cylinder.

Here are the three main valve types used for a reciprocating compressor:

  • High-Flow Valves: High-Flow Valves are usually used to purify and regulate gas flow. The disc rings are designed in a V-shape that is ideal for gas containing debris of any kind.
  • Plate Valves: Plate valves have a valve disc and a dampening disc that are ideal for high pressure. The dampening valve cushions the blow of acceleration that comes with the acceleration of the valve disc sealing.
  • Radiused Disc Valves: Radiused Disc Valves are used for high pressure and elevated temperatures. They have thermoplastic concentric rings that are durable enough to treat sour gas.

3. Disassembling and Cleaning

Top-rate professional compressor valve repair companies are the best option for compressor maintenance.

If you are authorized to perform checkups yourself, here are the steps necessary for standard, reciprocating compressor valve maintenance.

Steps for Compressor Maintenance

  • Turn off power source and check pressure gauges to be sure the compressor is depressurized.
  • Remove nuts that are holding the outer cover and remove from studs.
  • Lift the valve out and remove the gaskets.
  • Remove screws on valve seat.
  • Remove channel guides and clean valve plate surfaces with a scraper or wire brush. Be careful not to scratch the metal on the plates during this process. The surfaces of the plates must be completely smooth and flat to avoid turbulence when operating.
  • Use a non-flammable solvent for cleaning.
  • Check for carbon build up on surfaces. A cylinder lubricator may need to be added if there are uneven pieces of carbon.
  • After parts have been cleaned, check for worn or rough spots, particularly on the seat of the valve.

Fixing Compressor Issues

  • If there are jagged edges or cracks, use a grinding machine. A grinding machine is a machine that uses pneumatic pressure to remove a thin layer of metal from surfaces. The pressure the grinding machine puts on the valve surface leaves the metal smooth and even which is necessary to keep compressor valves moving at such constant rates.
  • Next, lapping is used to polish the surface. Grinding machines can leave scratches on the metal surfaces of the valve seat, so the lapping process is necessary to smooth everything out for optimal function. Lapping paste is used for removing rust and other damage. Apply lapping paste to a lapping block and then move the flat seat of the valve over it in a figure-eight motion. These pastes can be oil based or water-soluble. The particles that allow it to smooth away unwanted build up are: silicon carbide, glass, aluminum oxide, carborandum, silica and boron carbide. When polishing compressor valve parts, you can decide between a variety of paste consistencies. There are extra fine pastes that contain fewer hard particles and extra coarse pastes that contain more. There are also options in between the two. Decide on the appropriate coarseness based on the level of build up you want to remove.
  • Once the seat surface is satisfactorily smooth and even, reattach valve guides to the seat, replace springs, and screw in stop plate. Replace springs and channels if this resurfacing was necessary.
  • Check the lift of the channel on a dial indicator. Too much lift causes malfunctions. Check the indicator against the manufacturer manual to see what level of lift is allowed.
  • Put the valve back into the casing.

4. Monitoring Tools

Temperature monitors in the cylinders will help you keep tabs on any change in the temperature of the cooling water that surrounds the cylinders. The condensation from the cold water can damage and stall the valves if the temperature is too low. Performing a weekly check for temperatures and build up is the recommended way to prevent damage and to avoid replacement costs.

The filter in your compressor keeps dirt and other debris out of the compressor. Therefore, it should be checked frequently and replaced when needed.

5. Replacement Parts

Cleaning and repairing parts is not always enough to keep your compressor running efficiently. Sometimes parts need to be replaced.

The function of the compressor valve requires all parts to be smooth, clean and aligned properly. With the valve moving air and gas flow over a million times per day, the slightest blemish or discrepancy on the parts can sometimes cause malfunctions like reversal of movement, also known as flutter.

If a valve part needs to be replaced, there are companies that can provide a multitude of valve designs. Finding a company that has top quality valve parts and maintenance is important. The material the parts are made from will determine the durability and level of compressor maintenance that the part will require.

Staying on top of weekly and yearly maintenance checks is paramount to keeping your compressor functioning properly.

Luckily, with compressor valve production advancing more every day, compressors have longer life spans and require less and less maintenance.

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