How To Choose Air Filters For Your Compressors

Investing in proper air filters for your shop compressors is one of the best things you can do for your equipment, and your bottom line.

They not only protect your equipment from pollutants, water, dust, other particles and corroding agents, but air filters cleanse the air you breathe, maintain power output of your most important tools, and help to keep your paint jobs contaminant free.

By using the proper filters, and replacing them at appropriate times, you're reducing your maintenance costs with preventative care, improving workplace safety, and lowering shop downtime. Invest in air quality and clean tools by finding the best air filter for your shop compressors.

The Different Types of Air Compressor Filters

Nearly all filters work the same, filtering oil, chemicals, dust, and other particles out of the compressed air as it flows from the compressor to tools.

What varies is their material, construction, position, and filter intention- what they're meant to filter out. For instance, the standard piston or rotary screw compressor typically pushes out a lot of water and oil and will require particular filters and maintenance.

Depending on your air compressor, its specifications and the type of work you're doing, here are a few different types of filters that may be needed:

High particulate filters

High particulate filters are designed to filter out the small particles or actual solids- dirt, dust, pollen, metallic pieces that could cause degradation of your tools as well as ruin paint jobs.

Using high particulate air filters for painting and shops with high body work should be considered.

Vapor (or charcoal) filters

Vapor filters remove vapors, gaseous lubricants, and chemicals that rush through the air compressor. It uses an absorption process with activated carbon and a carbon cloth to capture contaminates.

The issue with this filter lies in the absorption process- it's meant for gaseous contaminants, and not liquids. Any liquids, such as aerosols, that pass through the filter, will wear out the filter through saturation. After a couple of hours it will no longer be useful. To help avoid this, you can use a coalescing filter as the first stage of filtration, and then follow it with the charcoal/vapor filter.

Coalescing filters

Water is one of the most damaging substances to your equipment. It's a naturally forming liquid in the compression process, and one of the most difficult to continuously filter out.

Coalescing filters do the job by removing water, oil, aerosols, paint fluid, etc., by collecting them in the filter media, and merging them into a pool in the media. The droplets collect in a moisture trap that can be easily emptied. The caveat with this filter is that they may also collect particulates. If not changed regularly, the particulates may become trapped and cause pressure drops.

Compressor intake filters

The efficiency of your compressed air system relies on your intake filter. It cleans the air before it is released into your compressor, and acts as the first stage of filtration.

By keeping the initial intake of air cleaner, your filters and compressor will stay cleaner for longer.

Important Things to Consider

Learning the different types of filters available was the most important step in determining how to choose air filter for your shop compressor, but there are other things to consider:

  • Type of compressor- The type of compressor you operate will have its own requirements and fittings. Always read the instructions or manual for your specific compressor to determine which filter will work best.

  • Filter quality and ratings- Getting a filter that doesn't work for your compressor, or getting a low-quality filter, is just as bad as not replacing your filter. Always get quality filters to ensure proper filtration.

  • Filter pressure drop- Air filters cause varying degrees of pressure drop depending on how porous they are. The more restriction of air, the more your compressor has to work. Find a filter that balances air flow with proper filtration.

  • Filter temperature- Air compressors typically uptick the intake air temperature by fifteen degrees. This means that the operating temperature should stay somewhere between 50 to 85 degrees to avoid freezing or overheating and shutting down.

  • Filter brand- Not all filters are created equally. Purchase from a brand that has a reputation for quality.

  • Filter check specifications- Your air compressor manual should give specifications for the type of filter you should be using, as well as information on how frequently it should be changed/ indicators that it should be changed.

Choosing the proper air filter, and replacing them regularly, should be a regular part of your compressor maintenance- along with cleaning and oiling. Knowing the filters your compressor requires and the key points above will keep your equipment lasting longer.

When to Replace Your Filters

There can never be a designated timetable for when your filters need changing because each shop, use, and level of contamination is different. It should be part of your body shop's routine to regularly check and replace filters on air compressors and airlines if you want to avoid costly compressor repair and associated setbacks.

Keep a regular schedule for cleaning all compressor parts, oiling what's necessary, and check all filters at the same time. This will ensure that they never go too long without being changed.

They should be changed once they become saturated, are showing signs of wear and tear, or there is a noticeable change in the output of your compressor.

Air Compressor Maintenance

Air filters are the key to keeping your tools running as they should and your maintenance costs low. Along with other routine air compressor maintenance, never neglect the filters. It's important to purchase quality filters every time, and always consider the above factors and filter types.

Want to know more about maintaining your air compressor, use Auto Body Toolmart's air compressor troubleshooting guide.

For more help with air filters, or to find the right replacements for your compressor, contact Auto Body Toolmart, or browse through out collection of quality air filters.

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