Air systems can be used for a lot of different purposes including driving pneumatic tools, spraying paint, and operating large pieces of equipment in small and large businesses. No matter what the purpose, the one common thing between all these systems is that moisture will build up in the process of compressing the air. It is a side effect that can not be eliminated, but there are ways to deal with the moisture before it gets into the system.
Water and Compressed Air
The air you breathe every day has water in it. Depending on where you are located, the amount of water may be different. In high humidity areas, the air will have more water in it than in dryer climates, but it is there. It stands to reason then, that if there is water in the air before it is compressed, there is going to be water in the air after it is compressed. The amount may change by area, but it will always be there.
Condensation In The Air System
When air is compressed, the air heats up to about 180 degrees, turning the moisture in the air to a water vapor. Once the vapor comes in contact with cooler components like the inside of the air tank, the hard plumbing that the air runs through, or the tools you are using, the vapor cools and the water condensates in the system. As the air is used, it cools rapidly and the condensed water can then freeze inside the tool or equipment.
Drying The Air In Your System
Start the day by draining the system of water using the valve at the bottom of the tank. When the valve is opened, the air will push the moisture out of the tank. Let the tank drain until the air coming out is dry. Installing a water separator on the line coming out of the air tank is the next option. It will trap water and moisture coming out of the tank as the system is running, keeping it out of the lines. The separator can be drained as often as needed to keep the air dry, so check it regularly to determine how often it needs to be drained. In a system that requires it, dryers can be installed throughout the system, but keep in mind that if you install them, they need to be drained and not neglected.
Cooling The Air
There is another method of removing the moisture from the air that is commonly used in large industrial systems. Installing a refrigerated dryer to cool and dry the air in your system will remove moisture because the cold air can't hold moisture. As the air in the system is cooled, the water settles to the bottom of the cooling coil and can then be drained out of the system. It is not a solution that is really required for all air systems, but if you need to ensure the air in your system is completely dry, combining all of these steps and components will help.
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