Adding an air system to your garage is an essential upgrade if you regularly use air-powered tools for automotive or craft purposes. Instead of dragging a compressor all over the place, you can have readily accessible sources of air in key locations throughout the garage, all ready for use in a moment's notice. While such a project may seem daunting at first, when taken as a series of smaller steps it is quite manageable.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Oil filter
- Moisture filter
- Various fittings and joints
- Adhesive (optional)
- Brackets with screws
- Soapy water in sprayer (optional)
- Putty epoxy (optional)
Consider your workspace and your air needs carefully. Where do you most need air hookups? How many do you need? Are there areas that can share a hookup? Determining the number and location of air hookups in advance will save you a lot of work later.
Invest in a quality compressor. Small compressors are usually not sufficient to provide enough air for the entire garage, but if your needs are small, they may work. Typically a standing compressor is used for full-room system. Its large tank allows more air to be stored, reducing the amount of time that the motor must work, which extends its lifespan.
Position the compressor in an out-of-the-way space in the garage. It should have a few inches of clearance on all sides for access, with the pressure regulator and gauge in easy reach. If cars will be parked in the garage, make sure that the compressor does not prevent the car from fitting in the space.
Attach oil and moisture filters to the compressor if it is not already equipped with them. Pressurised air always contains small amounts of water and oil from the motor, which you should strip out of the airstream before they reach your tools.
Run an air pipe from the compressor to the ceiling. You may choose to use flexible hose, PVC pipe or metal tubing. Base this selection on your own budget and needs. PVC and metal are more durable than flexible hose, but they also costs much more. If you plan to only use your system for occasional hobby purposes, cheaper hose may be the better option.
Attach the pipe to the wall with brackets. One every six to 12 inches will prevent the hose from coming loose.
Attach a tee fitting to the pipe at the ceiling. If you are using flexible hose, you can simply push fittings in place. If using PVC or metal, you must use the appropriate adhesive to guarantee an airtight fit.
Extend the pipe from one side of the tee fitting all the way around the garage to the other side of the tee. Position it a few inches below the ceiling. Use elbow joints at the corners, and more brackets to hold it in place. Having the pipe run along the ceiling instead of the floor eliminates the risk of stepping on it or otherwise damaging it.
Splice in tee joints above the areas where you want air hookups. The open end should point down toward the floor.
Extend pipes down from the tee joints to the height that you want the hookups. Once again, hold them in place with brackets.
Install air valves to the end of the pipes. You can use valves equipped with manual air shutoffs (to prevent air from constantly flowing) or quick-release valves, which automatically close until you plug in a tool.
Turn on the compressor and check the system for leaks. If you hear one but can't find it, spray the joints with soapy water. The leak will cause the soap to bubble. To seal the leak, turn off the air and coat the leaking area in putty epoxy.
Tips and warnings
- Most air tools operate at 90 PSI (pounds per square inch), so your compressor should handle at least that.
- Larger compressors have an emergency bleed-off valve located on the underside, accessible in the space between the bottom of the tank and the legs. Keep this area clear of obstacles.
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