Compressors are valuable machines at the heart of every industrial process you know. These mechanical devices are utilized extensively across a wide range of industries to compress gas/air using pistons. They also help deliver the compressed fluid or gas to specified areas at pre-set periods.
In many cases, compressors work practically round the clock as they compress and transport gas at high pressures. As a result, they start wearing down through great strain or overuse. This is a common phenomenon, and you can always increase a compressor’s efficiency by replacing worn components, oil, filters, etc., in order to get things or processes running seamlessly.
However, a time will come when even the costliest of repairs will no longer cut it. You will have no choice but to invest in a compressor replacement. This could ruin the productivity of your business if you don’t know the signs to watch out for.
Knowing the problems that lead to compressor failure is also crucial. This will help you put the necessary measures in place in order to prevent the new unit from going the route of its predecessor.
Causes of Reciprocating Compressor Failure
Several issues can be responsible for compressor failure. Many of these issues often result from the following:
- Motor burnout
- High condensing pressures
- Charge loss
- Replacement issues
- Liquid slugging, etc.
These are issues that a specialized and certified compressor technician can fix. However, there is a more severe cause of compressor failure you need to know.
Compressor Burnouts: What Causes It?
Compressor burnout is one of the most severe forms of equipment failure. But it doesn’t just occur on a whim; several factors contribute to this anomaly.
Here are the most common causes of compressor burnouts you should know:
- Extremely High Condensing Pressures
Compressors are designed to cool the returning gas – i.e., suction – the machine. This action helps eliminate some amounts of heat and reduces the temperature of the compressor.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t occur when there is improper airflow or insufficient returning gas. This is often a result of charge loss or the high superheat value of the gas. This leads to overheating.
High condensing pressure is associated with dirty condensers and faulty fan motors. Likewise, it can be linked to inadequately-seized condensers and fan controls set incorrectly.
- Increased Temperature of the Compressor’s Motor Windings
When the temperature of your compressor’s discharge area or motor windings suddenly increases, the equipment burns out.
This is because high temperatures do away with the insulation material of the compressor’s motor windings. When this occurs, there is a loss in the motor’s electrical resistance, resulting in a short to the ground as well as open windings.
Moreover, a high temperature usually results in the breakdown of oil, making it insufficient enough to provide the needed lubrication. This significantly increases the friction of the internal components, which also causes them to wear down, and the chain consequences continue until the machine stops functioning optimally.
4 Signs That You Need a Compressor Replacement
But how will you know the time has come for you to replace the old compressor with a new one?
Here are 4 signs that inform you the time has come for a compressor replacement:
1. Severe Vibration
One of the major significant hazards associated with compressors is vibration. This is an unavoidable byproduct of the equipment’s compression action as it operates daily. However, failure to maintain vibration within tolerances that reduce damage eventually results in a severe change of integrity.
When a cylinder closes or opens, pressure pulsation swiftly propagates through the compressor’s piping. This potentially results in fatigue cracks that are not easy to detect until it is almost too late. It is usually only discovered if maintenance procedures are appropriately scheduled and handled by certified professionals.
Compressors with single-acting cylinders usually generate pressure pulsation only at 1x running speeds. But compressors with dual-acting cylinders can generate pressure pulsation at 2x running speed.
2. Mechanical Wear and Tear
The piston in a compressor contributes to the machine’s compression motion. This often results in unavoidable mechanical wear and tear, whether or not the equipment is maintained appropriately using specified or recommended levels of lubrication. It is only a matter of time before that section of the compressor gives out entirely.
Pro engineers are capable of extending the life of modern compressors by readily adjusting the materials or alloys that the pistons are usually made of. The goal is to make them as lightweight as possible but not so lightweight that it renders the machine useless. Pistons in reciprocating compressors must have strength, be compatible with the gas that is compressed, and be relatively weighty.
But this could happen, and if a new piston cannot be purchased and installed by pro technicians, a new compressor unit may be the only way out in order to save time and resources.
3. Loud Noises
The action of the piston in a compressor generates lots of noise. The noise is much louder compared to that of centrifugal or screw compressors. This severely limits the exact place you may be able to set up or install your compressor.
4. Blow-out of Cylinder Rod Packaging
If you start the compressor in error, a severe issue may arise as the discharge valve may still be in the closed position. This results in a significant increase in pressure that may eventually blow out the packing around the cylinder rod.
Most compressors come with relief valves designed to work as sentinels in order to warn operators to take action. But this sentinel is not 100 percent guaranteed to work all the time and can fail to relieve the entire output of the machine.
Compressors are practically or literally perpetual motion machines that work almost tirelessly across a wide range of industries. This eventually results in the wearing down of its components or severe damage that calls for a total compressor replacement. Unfortunately, even the new unit will soon go the way of its predecessor if specific measures are not set.
Fortunately, the tips shared above will help prolong the lifespan of your compressor. However, awareness of compressor problems is only the first step; you need to know what to do to prevent, circumvent, or fix the issues at the right time. This will help improve the overall performance of your treasured industrial equipment.
From industry standards like Ariel compressor parts to Ingersoll Rand and Worthington compressor parts, we carry compressor parts you can trust and the service you can count on.