How to setup an air compressor

Written by elizabeth knoll
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How to setup an air compressor
Air tools are very useful in home construction. (people at work, air compressor image by Greg Pickens from

An air compressor is a versatile tool to have in the home or garage. Many power tools run solely on compressed air. Some of these tools include staplers, grinders, nail guns and sanders. Air compressors have other uses as well, such as powering paint sprayers and inflating tires. Before you begin to use your air compressor, it must be set-up properly to ensure safe operation. Also, remember that compressed air can be very dangerous and cause serious injury if used improperly.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Air compressor oil
  • Ball valve
  • Pipe nipples
  • Pipe thread Teflon tape
  • Channellocks or pipe wrench
  • Air hose
  • Air tools

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  1. 1

    Locate the air compressor in an area that is free and clear from dust and debris. Even though air compressors have an air filter, excessive dust and debris will clog the filter and may even damage the internal components of the compressor.

  2. 2

    Plug the air compressor into a dedicated outlet of correct voltage. This will vary depending on the size of air compressor you are using. For most 115-volt air compressors, a dedicated 15-amp outlet will be sufficient to power it. The power consumption and voltage of the air compressor will always be listed on the service plate.

  3. 3

    Fill your air compressor with air compressor oil, if applicable. The oil should come up to the "Full" line in the site glass. Some air compressors are oil-less and some require oil. Consult your operation manual to see which type you've purchased.

  4. 4

    Install a shutoff ball valve on the discharge port of the air compressor. If your discharge port is female, you will need a small pipe nipple between the port and the shutoff valve. Remember to wrap at least two layers of pipe thread Teflon tape around the threads before screwing them together. Tighten the valve securely with a channellocks or pipe wrench.

  5. 5

    Connect your selected air tool to the air compressor using an air compressor hose. You may need a few pipe fittings to make the transition from the air compressor to the hose. Before screwing the hose or fittings together, wrap at least two layers of pipe thread Teflon tape around the threads.

  6. 6

    Check the drain valve at the bottom of the air compressor to make sure it is closed tight and turn the valve on the discharge port to the "Off" position. Turn on your air compressor and allow it to fill.

  7. 7

    Set the air pressure regulator on the air compressor to the appropriate PSI setting for the air tool that you are using.

  8. 8

    Turn the valve on the discharge port to the "On" position and test your tool to ensure it works. The air compressor will now cycle on and off as you use the air from the tank.

Tips and warnings

  • Air compressor "quick connects" for your air lines are convenient. "Quick connects" allow you to quickly connect and disconnect different air tools, as well as add and remove lengths of air hose.
  • Always turn the air compressor off and drain the air out of the tank before connecting or disconnecting air tools. Failure to do this may result in serious injury.

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