Your Guide to Piston Ring Maintenance

Like with other compressor parts, proper piston ring maintenance is important. Here’s what you need to know in order to maintain their quality and function.

Your Guide to Piston Ring Maintenance - KB Delta

Here’s a guide to piston ring maintenance to enable you to maintain the quality of your rings for a long time.

A long life span of piston rings will save you money in the long run, since you won’t have to replace them every so often or worry about the failure of the machine they are used in. And given how important these units are, it is needful to ensure they are in good condition at all times.

Now if you don’t know where to begin, let’s show you the different types of piston rings and their maintenance.


Types of Piston Rings

The different types of piston rings are:


  • Compression Rings
  • Wiper Ring


1. Compression Rings

The combustion chamber of the engine is sealed with compression piston rings (also known as pressure rings). As such, the rings seal above the piston while preventing the leakage of combustion gases from this chamber.

These rings also help in the transfer of heat from the piston to the piston walls.

On the other hand, the location of compression rings is dependent on the engine design. There are cases where you’ll find these rings on the first grooves of the piston.

It’s also worth noting that the top compression rings are well lubricated through the control of oil by shearing the layer of the oil left by the oil ring.

2. Wiper Ring

These rings are also known as backup compression ring or Napier ring.

Wiper rings are installed below compression rings and they help to clean the excess oil from the liner surface.

These rings also serve as a backup ring to stop the further leakage of gas that may have escaped from the top compression ring.

What’s more, a good number of wiper rings feature a taper angle face whose placement is towards the bottom. The position of this ring provides a wiping action when the piston moves towards the crankshaft. More oil is consumed if the wiper ring is wrongly installed with its tapered angle closest to the compression ring.

3. Oil Control Rings

Engines also operate with oil control rings also known as scraper rings. These rings regulate the amount of oil passing through the cylinder walls and also aid in the even spread of lubricating oil around the liner’s circumference.

What’s more, their scraper name is derived from their ability to scrape off oil from the cylinder walls and return it to the crankcase.

The rings also disallow the passage of oil from the space between the cylinder and the ring’s face.

There are two main types of oil rings and these are one-piece and two pieces oil rings.

Contact pressure between the liner surface and the ring is increased by giving the rings chamfered edges on the outer sides of the lands or facing the combustion chamber. This enhancement reduces oil consumption as a result of improved oil scraping from the bore.

Two-piece oil control rings, on the other hand, feature a cast iron or profiled steel ring. They also have a coil spring made from heat-resistant spring steel.


When Do Piston Rings Need Maintenance?

It is important to know when your piston rings need maintenance to ensure you don’t inspect them more often than required.

To that effect, the following will help you decide if your piston rings are in dire need of maintenance.

1. Low-Level Performance

Even the best engine can have a decline in its performance, and if that’s the case with your engine, it may need maintenance of its piston rings.

Here, a simple replacement of the piston rings will restore the quality performance of the machine.

2. Reduction in Piston Quality

Piston rings often come with additional coating or a chrome layer to make them more durable.

However, if this protective layer seems to be wearing off earlier than expected, then it’s a sign that your engine needs to be checked.

3. Excessive Oil Consumption

If your engine needs more oil than usual to run, then it could be a sign that its piston rings need to be changed.

Excess oil being consumed may also lead to a high release of smoke from the engine.


How to Carryout Piston Ring Maintenance

In your quest to carryout piston ring maintenance, do the following:

1. Clean the Piston Rings

Carefully remove the rings from the engine and then proceed to clean the piston, as well as, the grooves that hold the rings.

2. Clean the Oil Return Holes

More oil than needed can accumulate in the oil return holes.

Accordingly, use diesel or kerosene to clear these excess deposits in the holes. You can then examine the piston to find any defects it may have.

3. Replace the Piston Rings

A replacement of the piston rings is needed in some cases. One of such cases is when the grooves on the piston have worn out, thereby requiring that you replace the entire piston.

Another scenario is when the high-level performance of the engine is not restored after you’ve taken time to clean the piston and ensure it’s in good condition.


Things to Be Checked During Inspection of Piston Ring

How can you tell if your piston rings need cleaning or replacement? It’s with an inspection.

To make the most of the time you’ll check out the rings, keep an eye for the following:


  • Use a screwdriver to press the piston rings to determine the tension of the rings. You’ll also be able to determine if the ring is broken since broken rings do not produce spring action.
  • Check for the freeness of the grooves and if there are carbon deposits causing them to get stuck. The grooves may break and damage the liner if there are lots of carbon deposits in it.
  • Check the clearance between the ring and the groove and calculate the wear.


Change the piston rings if there is a need for a replacement.


Your Guide to Piston Ring Maintenance - KB Delta



Piston rings are an important part of the piston and even the engine, which makes their regular maintenance needful.

However, proper maintenance begins with knowing the different types of piston rings out there and their functions.

These functions can only be performed and for a long time if the piston rings are in good condition. A decline in the performance of these rings will require the best maintenance for them.

Accordingly, make the most of the tips we’ve outlined above to ensure your piston rings and engine stand the test of time.

  • Metallic Plates

    KB Delta manufactures and stocks a complete range of metallic compressor valve plates and rings for the natural gas, refrigeration and P.E.T. industries.

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    Our specialized precision tooling and proprietary lapping process gives our customers the highest quality thermoplastic plates and rings in the industry.

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    We manufacture our own springs and stock over 2 million springs for a variety of OEM spring styles, forms and materials.

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    KB Delta offers one of the most complete lines of valve internals in the industry. All of our parts are manufactured to OEM Standards in performance and efficiency.

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    KB Delta offers a full line of valve repair kits for all the major reciprocating compressor manufacturers.

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    KB Delta specializes in manufacturing compressor valve parts for high pressure air compressors used in the P.E.T. plastic bottle manufacturing industry.

Industries we serve

Natural Gas Industry

The processing and refining of Natural Gas into a marketable products, by separating gas into pipeline-quality natural gas and a stream of mixed natural gas liquids and the transportation of natural gas to through a series of reciprocating compressor stations and pipes, and from there to end users.

Blow Molding Industry

This industry manufactures blow molding machinery. Injection stretch blow molding process has two main different methods, a single-stage and two-stage process; these are the methods by which hollow plastic parts are formed.

Medical Technology Industry

The medical technology industry is an important part of the healthcare sector. It includes most medical devices which aid the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and illnesses. Established centers of this industry include the United States and Western Europe.