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No Air Pressure? Check Your Gaskets

Gaskets | KB Delta

Over time, the parts in an air compressor can wear or warp. As this happens, you won’t get the same level of performance when using the compressor. Sometimes, which part needs repairs isn’t obvious. Instead, you have to determine potential causes based on the symptoms. If your issue is a lack of pressure in the tank, then one of your first checks should be the gaskets.


Gaskets and Air Compressors

Air compressors work by bringing air into a tank. The pressure builds as more air is fit into the confined space, causing the air to compress. Then, when the air releases, a large amount of kinetic energy is created as the air expands. The energy is used to for a variety of functions, such as powering air tools.

The gasket is a key component to the pressure building process inside an air compressor. As pressure builds, higher amounts of force push against the gasket. If a gasket fails, the air heading into to the tank fails to compress inside the space. Instead, it releases back into the system. This means that the pressure inside the tank remains stagnant, even though the air compressor is running.

If the pressure in the tanks doesn’t rise properly, there won’t be enough stored energy to complete the desired tasks, like running your air tools.

Luckily, a blown gasket doesn’t render the entire compressor useless. Instead, you can simply repair the air compressor by replacing the faulty gasket. When done properly, the new gasket allows the pressure in the tank to build properly, and your ability to run tools or manage other jobs is restored.


Examining Gaskets

If you suspect a blown gasket, your first step is a visual inspection. Inspect the gasket’s surfaces for warping, as the sides of gaskets are supposed to be straight. If the gasket is warped, then it needs to be replaced.

It’s important to note that a gasket can look fine and still be faulty. That means a simple visual inspection is often not enough to determine whether it is time for a replacement. A primary sign that the gasket is blown is when it starts blowing hot air. So, even if the gasket looks fine, if you are having issues maintaining air pressure and the compressor is venting hot air, then replacing the gasket is a good step in the repair process.


Replacing Gaskets

The easiest way to replace gaskets is with a replacement gasket kit. These kits have everything you need to replace the broken part. Most gasket kits include the head gasket, valve plate gasket, and outlet tube seal. When shopping for these kits, make sure you choose an option designed to fit the current make and model air compressor you have. Gasket kits are not universal, so, if you buy the wrong one, the included parts won’t fit properly. Only use parts designed specifically for your type of air compressor.

Before you start working on your air compressor, it is important to let it cool down completely. Internal operations in an air compressor generate a significant amount of heat, and that heat is transferable to the parts and surfaces in the air compressor. Certain parts, like the compressor pump head, will reach temperatures that are hot enough to burn skin. Wait until everything has cooled to room temperature before attempting repairs.

You also need to release the pressure from the air tank before starting any repairs. That way, you can make sure the pressure is managed safely, lowering your chance of injury. Otherwise, the pressure will release once you break a seal. Depending on when and where that occurs, injuries are possible.

Since you will be working inside the compressor, make sure to wear gloves. This protects your hands from cuts and abrasions while you work, and can prevent dirt and grime from reaching your skin.

After the preparations are complete, simply follow the included instructions to replace the gasket. If no other repairs are required, you can return everything to its original place and begin using your air compressor again. However, if your compressor still won’t build enough pressure, there are other causes to investigate.


Other Causes of Low Air Pressure

A blown gasket isn’t the only cause of low air pressure. If that’s not the source of the problem, there are a few other points to check. First, any leaks or restrictions will prevent pressure from building. Leaks allow air to escape the compressor, so the amount of pressure required isn’t reached. Restrictions in some of the tubing can also limit air moving through the compressor. If there isn’t enough air to compress, you won’t get the pressure you need.

Another cause is a restricted air intake. If the air compressor cannot bring in enough air, there is not enough material to compress. This results in insufficient pressure. You may also see the same results when the service hose is too small.

In some cases, a slipping belt results in insufficient pressure. In this case, not enough force is being exerted, or the intake of air is inconsistent. A slipping belt may need to be adjusted to improve function or might need replacing if it cannot maintain suitable pressure to operate the engine properly.

If you’ve acquired your compressor from a reputable Local Air Compressor company, it’s possible that your purchase comes with a warranty. This can be advantageous, as it might help you address and resolve such issues without incurring additional costs.


Referring to the Owner’s Manual

Many owner’s manuals have additional troubleshooting tips and repair recommendations. If the above issues are not responsible, consider referring to the manual for additional guidance. Additionally, information may be available on the manufacturer’s website.

The manual also contains safety information regarding air compressor operations and repairs. Make sure you wear all recommended safety equipment when working on or with the compressor. Failure to do so can result in serious injuries.


Maintain a Store of Spare Parts

Spare parts, like gaskets, aren’t always available for older compressors. Over time, manufacturers change their designs, so a gasket kit for one model is not guaranteed to work on another.

Once you locate appropriate spare parts, consider purchasing a few. That way, if a repair is needed, you have the compressor parts on hand. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about an insufficient supply.


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