Top 13 Air Compressor Problems and Solutions

Air compressors are excellent for both industrial and commercial uses. These devices are multi-functional, portable, and affordable. But like operating other machines, you will also face air compressor problems and you need solutions.

However, no worries; this article will give you a clear idea of the issues you may face with your air compressor. Here, I’ve listed the top 13 air compressor problems and their solutions. So, let’s start the discussion-

Common Air Compressor Problems & Their Solutions

While running an air compressor, it is pretty normal to face some issues. These problems may arise due to internal air compressor issues or improper maintenance. Here are the most common problems of air compressor and their solution- 

1. Compressor Failure 


Compressor failure is the most common issue while operating an air compressor. It includes a sudden stop of the device or doesn’t start. Below are the causes and solutions to these problems- 


  • No Electrical Power: A cord plug-in is a must if you use an electric air compressor. Without an electric supply, the device won’t start. 
  • Insufficient Air Pressure: The air compressor fails to start when inadequate pressure corresponds to the cut-in pressure. 
  • Low Oil Level: An oil-lubricated air compressor won’t start if the oil level is lower. 
  • Defective Power Switch: If the power switch is broken, the air compressor won’t start or shut off. 


  • Connect the air compressor to the power source. 
  • Check the pressure switch adjustment and select an appropriate PSI rating. 
  • Keep the oil level in check and refill when necessary. 
  • Check the power switch and repair/replace it if it doesn’t work. 

2. Excessive Noise While Operation 

excessive noise while operation

The air compressor makes a noise while operating, which is quite normal. But when you find your device producing unusual noises or louder than the average level, it is a matter of concern. Such noises signal internal malfunction that can cause several reasons, such as- 


  • Loose Parts: If the parts of air compressors like- bolts, flywheel, belts, or clamps get loosened, it produces noises during operation. 
  • Lack Of Oil: low oil level or worn-out oil tank can cause loud noise. 
  • Issues With Piston: Loud noise is produced when the piston hits the valve plate. 
  • Placement Problem: If the air compressor is improperly placed on the floor, it creates loud noises and vibrations. 


  • Tighten all the loose parts. 
  • Check the oil level or any possible cranks in the tank and take appropriate measures. 
  • Inspect the piston of the air compressor and remove any unexpected dust or objects from it.
  • Place the air compressors properly on the floor. Ensure all the feet of the device correctly fall to the ground. 

3. Air Leaks 

When you stop the filled air compressor, but the gauge shows low pressure, it indicates a leakage. Hissing noise also means air leaks. You can find the leaked part by running your fingers around the air compressor. And thus, try to feel air escaping over the surface of the device.  


  • Excessive Energy Usage: When your air compressor uses excessive energy or operates for a long time without any break, it causes air leaks. 
  • Holes in Tube/ Hose: A hole in the tube or hose of the air compressor is the most common reason for air leakage.
  • Malfunction of Relief Valve: If the relief valve is not functioning correctly, it causes air leakage. 


  • Replace the relief valve if it has leakage 
  • If there is a hole in the tube or hose, replace them with a new one ASAP. 

4. Pressure & Air Flow Issues 

pressure and air flow issues

Air pressure and airflow issues are more common in air compressors. You may notice it can produce enough pressure in the tank. Sometimes it can’t reach above a particular PSI or can’t produce any pressure at all. This situation may occur for several reasons, these include- 


  • Dirty Filter: If the filter is dirty, the air gets trapped and restricts the airflow. 
  • Broken Valves: The torn or worn-out valves hamper the normal pressure and airflow of the air compressor. 
  • Air Leakage: Due to air leakage, the air inside the tank escapes, not allowing the air compressor to reach its peak PSI level.
  • Low-Pressure Gauge Setting: If you are not getting enough pressure from your air compressor, check the settings. A low-pressure gauge setting may be its reason. 
  • Loose Belt: When the air compressor’s belt is loosened, it leaks air, which causes pressure and airflow issues. 


  • Clean the filter and replace it if necessary 
  • Replace the valves if any hole is detected
  • Check the settings of the air compressor and place it in the appropriate PSI
  • Tighten the belt and joints of the air compressor 
  • If you fail to identify or solve the issue, consult an expert

5. Excess Oil Consumption

excess oil consumption

Frequent oil refilling requirements or oil tanks getting empty faster than usual indicates excessive oil consumption. This problem will cause overheating of the air compressors. Besides, it will also increase your maintenance cost due to rapid oil purchases. 


  • Air Intake Restriction: If the air can’t reach inside the air compressor due to any hindrance, it causes excessive oil intake.
  • Worn Piston Rings: If the piston rings are worn out, the air compressor requires more energy to produce air pressure. And for this reason, extra oil is burnt.
  • Excessive Oil in The Tank: Filling the oil tank to the brim can cause excessive oil consumption
  • Improper Oil Viscosity: If the consistency or viscosity of the oil is not proper, which means oil thickening, it will intake more oil. As a result, the oil in the tank will not last long. 


  • Clean the air filters regularly
  • Remove if any object hinders the airflow 
  • Replace worn piston rings & install them correctly 

6. Milky Oil in the Oil Tank

Milky oil in the oil tank

The oil inside the tank will appear foamy or milky. It hampers the performance of the air compressor. The causes of such problem are as follows- 


  • Water Entrance: When an air compressor is usually operated in a highly humid area, water may enter the oil reservoir. Contact of water with oil causes a milky texture in the oil.


  • Keep the air compressor away from wet areas
  • Use self to place the air compressor instead of putting them directly on the floor.

7. Oil Discharge 

Oil discharge

When operating the air compressor, you can face oil discharge issues. Such a situation results in excessive oil consumption and thus increases your maintenance cost. Apart from this, oil discharge also increases the risk of accidents like fire breakouts. Dewalt tools


  • Excessive Oil Refill: Filling the oil tank to the brim causes oil discharge.
  • Inappropriate Piston Installation: When the piston ring is installed upside down, it causes oil discharge. 
  • Tilted Air Compressor: If the air compressor is placed so that the air tanks remain tilted toward the ground, it causes oil discharge.
  • Leakage in Oil Tank: A hole/leakage in the oil tank gets the oil out of the tank, causing oil wastage 


  • Fill the oil tank up to a certain level. Avoid overfilling it.
  • Install the piston ring correctly.
  • Ensure the air compressor lies flat on the floor (not tilted).
  • Repair the oil tank if it has any leakage. 
  • Check the viscosity of the oil and replace it regularly.

8. Vibration Issues 

vibration issues

The air compressor vibrates while operating, which is very typical. But it would be best if you considered the degree of vibration. Excessive/unusual vibration can cause due to the following reasons- 


  • Loose Mounting Bolts & Belts: If the bolts and belts of the air compressor are not tight enough, it causes vibration while operating.
  • Improper Compressor Placement: When the compressor is placed in a tilted position, and all the legs of the air compressor are not at the same height, it causes unusual vibration. 
  • Unplain Surface: If the surface or floor of the air compressor is not plain, the air compressor will vibrate more. 
  • Mismatched Flywheel and Pulley: An incompatible flywheel and pulley cause the air compressor to vibrate abnormally. 


  • Tighten the bolts and belts of the air compressor.
  • Ensure all the legs of the air compressor are at the same level.
  • Place the air compressor on a plain surface.
  • Use rubber caps on the feet of the air compressor. It will significantly minimize the vibration of the air compressor. Plus, it lets the device stand firmly on the ground. However, most air compressors come with rubber caps. In case your one lacks, get rubber caps for yours. 

9. Excessive Belt Wear 

excessive belt wear

The belt of the air compressor connects the motor to the air pump. And a worn-out belt can hamper the performance of the device. So, it is essential to know the reason for belt wear and the solution to this problem.


  • Too Tight/Loose Belt: If the air compressor belt is too tight or loose, it wears or tears the belt easily.
  • Pulley Misalignment: When the pulley is placed inappropriately, which doesn’t adjust with the flywheel, it wears the belt. 
  • Wobbling Flywheel: A wobbling or unbalanced flywheel can damage the belt of the air compressor. 


  • Ensure the perfect fit of the belt.
  • The pulley and flywheel must be placed correctly.
  • If the belt is damaged, replace it with a new one. 
issues related to receiver pressure

The receiver of the air compressor sometimes fails to intake sufficient air due to low air pressure. The opposite case also may occur where receiver pressure grows too rapidly. It may cause for several reasons, such as- 


  • Dirty Air Filter: The accumulation of dirt in the air filter resits air flow which drops the receiver pressure. 
  • Excess Water in the Receiver: The pressure may grow too rapidly due to excess water accumulation in the receiver.
  • Worn Out Receiver Valve: Expired, leaked, or worn-out receiver valve drops the receiver pressure. 


  • Clean the air filters.
  • Check the receiver valve and replace it if there is any leakage.
  • Ensure the valves are dry. 

11. Excessive Hot Emission 

excessive hot emission

When the air compressor emits excessive hot air, it suggests internal issues with the device. It also causes damage to the surrounding area. However, such a problem may cause due to several reasons, which are as follows- 


  • Dirt Accumulation: When the filter gets dirty, it doesn’t allow sufficient airflow, resulting in excessive hot emission. 
  • Poor Ventilation: Insufficient ventilation restricts airflow, which is one of the main reasons for hot air emissions. 
  • Worn Valve & Head Gasket: A worn valve and head gasket increase the workload on the air compressor. It eventually overheats the air compressor, which results in hot air emissions. 
  • Limited Air Intake: Due to low air pressure and limitation of airflow also cause excessive hot air emission. 


  • Clean the filter.
  • Place the air compressor in a well-ventilated area so air can pass easily.
  • Replace the valve and head gasket if defective.
  • Remove any object that hinders the airflow of the air compressor.

12. Fuse Blows Off

fuse blows off

When operating the air compressor, you may face fuse-blowing issues. This occurs due to several reasons, it includes- 


  • Using Cord Extension: Electric air compressors with short lengths require cord extension. Using such extensions hinders sufficient current flow, which eventually blows fuses. 
  • Excess Current Flow: When the current flow is higher than the tolerance level of the air compressor, it blows a fuse.
  • Old Motor: Using the same motor for years wears out the motor. These motors have issues like loose capacitor wires, worn windings, and other faults that cause fuse blow. 


  • Use a direct power connection; avoid using cord extension.
  • Ensure the current flow matches the capacity of the air compressor. In this case, always consider the voltage & amps rating of the air compressor. 

13. Air Tank Rusting   

air tank rusting

The capacity tank of the air compressor may rust from the inside. This is one of the most severe issues with air compressors when the entire device may require replacement. An excessive rusting issue eventually creates holes in the tank and hampers its performance. 


  • Excess Water Accumulation: Air compressed inside the air tank condenses to water at low temperatures. And this water accumulation is the reason for the air tank rusting. 


  • Drain the air compressor regularly.
  • Ensure the air tank of the air compressor is dry.
  • If the rusting issue is too extreme, air tank replacement is essential, which can be expensive.

How Do I Know If My Air Compressor Has a Problem?

how do i know if my air compressor has a problem?

To know if your air compressor is having any issues, follow the below problem testing methods –

Pressure Test

If you notice that the air pressure of the air compressor fails to reach the required PSI, know your device is having some issues. Another way to identify this issue is by checking the air storage capacity. First, fill the air tank with the air compressor and check the pressure ratings inside the tank. Now, turn off the device and wait for a while. If the air pressure decreases gradually, it indicates an issue with the compressor. Such problems can occur due to valve or tank leakage.

Soap Test For Identity Air Leakage

Soap testing is the easiest way to identify air leakage correctly. In this case, apply soapy water around the tank body and valves. And if you notice any bubbles, your air compressor leaks in that area. 

Oil Consumption Tendency

If you find that your air compressor is consuming more oil than usual, it indicates some issues. So, keep the oil level and oil consumption in check. 

Noise Check 

Air compressors produce noises while operating, which is normal. But when you find extreme and unusual noises, stop the air compressor. It may happen due to some internal issues. However, improper placement or loose screws can also cause louder noises. 

Therefore, if you find any of these issues in your air compressor, take a step immediately. Following the solutions and guidelines, as discussed at the beginning of the article, will help you. Yet, if you need help to identify or solve the issues, contact expert and find a solution ASAP.

How Does Proper Maintenance Increase Air Compressor Lifespan?

how does proper maintenance increase air compressor lifespan?

Proper air compressor maintenance is essential to run your device for a long period. It includes regular oil checking and refill, draining, filter cleaning, and pressure checking. And you can increase the lifespan of the air compressor in the following ways- 

  • Lower oil or excessive oil levels can cause issues with the air compressor. Again, using the same oil for long changes the oil’s viscosity, which hampers the device’s performance. So, check the oil level and refill the oil tank regularly. Doing this will keep up the efficiency of the air compressor and save the device from fire breakout issues caused due to oil discharge. 
  • Regular air tank draining protects the air tank from rusting. And thus, it can increase the lifespan of the air compressor.
  • A dirty filter resists the airflow of the air compressor, which decreases the air pressure. Regular filter cleaning will solve these issues. 

Thus, following these steps ensures proper maintenance of your air compressor and thus increases the machine’s lifespan.

The Bottom Line 

Air compressors often show up with some issues while operating. To face these issues, you should have a clear idea about the situations you may face with an air compressor. In this regard, this article will be a great help to you. 

Reading this article, you now know about the most common problems of air compressors and their solution. And if your air compressor shows any of these problems, try solving the issue as per this article’s guidelines. Yet, if you fail, go to an expert and solve the issue ASAP to avoid sudden accidents. 


What causes a compressor not to build up pressure?

An air compressor can’t build up pressure for several reasons. These include- intake valve failure, leakage in the valves, dirty filters, etc. 

What causes air compressor failure?

Air compressor failure can occur due to poor maintenance, wrong installation, wear out, motor failure, rust in the air tanks, power surges, and more. 

How do you fix a compressor that won’t build pressure?

To fix a compressor that doesn’t build pressure:

  1. Check if there’s any leakage in the valves.
  2. Clean the filter and ensure the compressor has sufficient oil or current supply.
  3. Inspect the pump rings, evaluate the belt condition, and take necessary steps to solve if any issue is found.

Yet, if you need help solving the case, consult an expert. 

How do you check for compressor problems?

To check for compressor problems, you should conduct a pressure test to ensure proper pressure is built up. Then identify if there are any leakage issues. Again, louder noise is also a consideration to check compressor problems. 

What to do after determining your air compressor’s problem?

After determining your air compressor’s problem, you should first solve the issue on your own. And if it doesn’t solve the problem, contact a mechanic or export. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email