How to Clean an Air Compressor Tank

The air compressor stores the compressed air inside its tank. This pressurized air inside the tank eventually condenses to water which can rust the tank. Regular cleaning is essential to remove this moisture and keep the tank dry. Besides, the dust from a dirty tank can clog the pump hampering the compressor’s efficiency. So, if you have an air compressor, clean it regularly to make the device last longer. Here is the expert guide on how to clean an air compressor tank. 

In this article, I’ll discuss how to clean air compressor tanks. Besides, you will also find out what makes these compressors dirty and why regular cleaning is essential. So, let’s get started- 

Steps for Cleaning Air Compressor Tank

steps for cleaning air compressor tank

Regular cleaning of the air compressor is essential for proper maintenance of the device. Here are the stepwise procedure for cleaning your air compressor tank- 

Step 1: Turn Off the Device

Turn Off the Device

When cleaning the air compressor, you must power off the device. This will guarantee your safety while cleaning the device. Besides, it will prevent any unexpected damage to the air compressor. 

Step 2: Disconnect the Power Source

disconnect the power source

Plug the air compressor out of the power source once the gadget has been turned off. This will prevent the device from sudden turn on when cleaning the tank, which can be dangerous.  

Step 3: Release the Tank Pressure

Release the Tank Pressure

It is essential to empty the tank before removing any valve. So, release the tank pressure to ensure the tank is empty. If you release the valve without relieving the pressure, it will slam into you. And in case the valve hits your eyes or any sensitive area, it can cause severe injury. So, for safety purposes, never miss this step. 

Step 4: Find the Drain Valve

Find the Drain Valve

Now, find the drain valve of your air compressor. Usually, the valve is located at the bottom of the compressor tank. However, in some air compressors, the drain valve is placed at the corner of the tank. Yet, if you fail to find the valve, go through the manual instruction book that came with the compressor. 

Step 5: Water Draining

Water Draining

Remove the valve and let the water inside the tank drain out. Now you may wonder where this water comes from. The pressurized air inside the tank gradually condenses to water with decreasing temperature. And eventually, it resides at the bottom of the tank. Regular tank water removal is essential to avoid rusting, which can cause permanent damage to the device. 

Step 6: Clean Dust/Sludge

Clean DustSludge

A ton of dust and debris may accumulate inside the tank when you don’t clean the tank regularly. For this reason, your tank requires a deep cleaning. To do so, follow the below instructions- 

  1. Connect a pressure washer to the valve opening.
  2. Throw the muddy substance outside with a pressure washer or a water and baking soda solution. After adding this, shake it and leave the mixture for a while. It will remove all the dust and sludge from the tank.
  3. Add more water into the tank with the pressure washer and drain it until clear water comes out. 

Step 7: Leakage Check 

Leakage Check 

If there is any leakage in the tank, the dust and debris can enter the pump while cleaning. This will eventually clog the pump affecting the performance of the air compressor. This type of leakage is very common for air compressors. 

You might be wondering how to determine if my compressor has any leaks. As the leakage is too tiny, they are not visible; you need to check the ‘hush’ sounds from the tank indicating leakage. 

To locate the exact leaking spot, go for the soap testing method. All you need to do is, insert the soap solution in the tank and detect the location of the leakage following the bubbles formed. This leakage usually occurs due to loose bolts or broken gaster. Go through the guidelines of the manual to fix this.

Step 8: Close The Drain Valve 

Close The Drain Valve 

Once your cleaning is done, close the tank screwing the drain valve. Close the valve tightly to avoid any leakage. To ensure proper valve tightening, use thread tape. It will seal the tank completely. 

Step 9: Sanitize Your Compressors 

Sanitize Your Compressors 

After the breakdown of the coronavirus, sanitization has been a part of our lives. The same goes for compressor cleaning, especially when you have a portable compressor. Soak a piece of cloth with disinfectants to clean the high-touch surface area of the compressor, like- the handle, valve, gauges, buttons, controls, etc. That’s it; your air compressor is cleaned. 

Thus, following these simple steps, you can quickly clean your air compressor. 

Why Do Air Compressor Tanks Get Dirty?

Why Do Air Compressor Tanks Get Dirty

Air compressors can get dirty for several reasons. Here are the most common possibilities for making the device dirty- 

Dirty Environment: The surrounding environment has a great effect on the health of the air compressor. If your device is installed in an unclean or damp environment, it will quickly get dirty. 

Oil leakage: The air compressor having oil leakage issues gets dirty quickly. Because as the oil leaks and runs down the tanks, the dust and dirt from the surrounding easily accumulate on the tank surface. Thus, it makes the air compressor dirty. 

dewalt electric

Improper Maintenance: Using a compressor for a long time makes the device dirty. There are some regular cleaning routines with an air compressor that include- filter cleaning, water draining, regular oil checking, etc. When these routines are not followed, your air compressor is too dirty. 

How To Know If Your Air Compressor Needs Cleaning? 

How To Know If Your Air Compressor Needs Cleaning 

Here are the ways you can know if your air compressor requires cleaning or not- 

  • Rust Going Beyond the Lines: If you find rust coming out of the tank, it indicates it has been rusted from the inside. Besides, while draining the tank, your compressor is rusted if you find brown or black water coming out. In this case, you need immediate cleaning. If the rusting is too severe, you may be required to change the tank or repair it, which can be quite expensive.
  • Lower Pressure Rates: If dirt and debris get into the pump, it causes clogging. Eventually, the air compressor can’t hold the pressure for long. Clean your device as quickly as possible if you experience similar problems. 
  • Unusual Noise: The air compressor may produce unusual noise due to pump and filter clogging. And so the device needs immediate cleaning.

However, don’t go for these cleaning instructions. Instead, clean the air compressor regularly for proper maintenance. 

What Happens If You Don’t Clean The Air Tank Regularly?

What Happens If You Don_t Clean The Air Tank Regularly

These are the following issues that your air compressor will face if you don’t clean it regularly-

  • Tank Rusting: The most crucial step while cleaning the air compressor tank is draining the water. If you don’t drain the water regularly, it will form rust and damage the tank permanently. 
  • Damage to the Pump: dust and debris reaching the pump clog it, preventing the device from running smoothly. 
  • Shortens Lifespan: A dirty air compressor hinders the air compressor’s performance. And this directly hampers the durability of the air compressor. 

So, if you want your air compressor to perform effectively, clean it regularly. 

FAQs About Cleaning Air Compressor Tank 

How long can an air compressor tank last? 

An average air compressor can easily last 10 – 12 years. However, proper maintenance and regular cleaning can last much longer than that. 

How to dry out an air compressor tank?

After draining the air compressor, leave the valve open to let the moisture out and dry the tank. You can also use a dryer to dry out the air compressor tank properly.

How often should you clean your air compressor?

The frequency of air compressor cleaning depends on the usage. It is generally better to clean the device every three to six months. However, the draining of the tank must be done more repeatedly.

How do I clean the sludge/mud out of my air compressor?

You can quickly clean the sludge/ mud out of the tank using a pressure washer. Insert the washer in the valve opening, and run water into it. You can also add water and sodium solution for better results. Leave the solution for a while, and then use the pressure washer brings the dirty water out of the tank. Drain them well and dry the tank properly before closing the valve. 

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