air compressor in the cold ????????????

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Forum topic by Shawn Masterson posted 02-09-2013 02:47 PM 968 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1946 days

02-09-2013 02:47 PM

I live in northern Indiana and sometimes in the winter it gets below 0 I have a 60 gallon two stage 5 hp compressor with an open frame motor, so it is exposed to the dust. I have been thinking about putting in the lean-to out side in order to get it out of the dust and make some room, not to mention get the noise out of the shop. I am just concerned about it out in the cold as far as the oil being to cold and the lines condensating with the change in temp as the air comes in the shop and causing problems. I just don’t shorten the life on a compressor that should last another 20+ years. any thoughts???

6 replies so far

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 2941 days

#1 posted 02-09-2013 03:06 PM

I live in the St Louis area so I get my share of cold weather . I have my compressor outside in it’s own small insulated building. Wired in a small electric heater to a thermostat that goes down to 30 degrees so I set it just a little higher so it won’t go below 32. Also installed a remote wireless thermometer that reads inside so that I can insure that the heater and thermostat are working.

To compensate for the heat buildup during the summer, I set up the roof so that I can prop it open it to let the excess heat escape.

Inside the shop, the air goes through over 40 ft of copper tubing to act as a cooler to keep the condensation reduced. After the 40 ft, the air then goes through a water separator to get rid of more condensation. After the separator, it is plumbed out to each station where there is a drip leg installed to catch more condensation. The drip legs are drained every month whether they need it or not.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View johnstoneb's profile


2914 posts in 2170 days

#2 posted 02-09-2013 03:10 PM

Your going to have condensation where ever you put it that is just a fact with air compressors. Put a moisture separator on it (install the separator where it won’t freeze) and moisture traps with drain valves at all your drops. Drain the tank of moisture periodically. The moisture doesn’t harm the compressor so much as contaminating the surface of whatever your blowing off or finishing. I’ve worked in a lot of shop where the compressor was in an unheated area and as long as the system is installed properly to catch and drain moisture. They have lasted a long time.

Puzzleman was posting same time. Everything he said is good. If you don’t have room for 40 ft of line before the water separator. You can get by without it. All the lines should drain toward the water traps or drip legs. The heater is a good idea. Insulate the lean-to well. The whole deal with the moisture is to trap it and drain it before it can contaminate your work. Moisture is a by product of compressing air The higher the humidity and the greater the temp changes the more your going to have.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 2941 days

#3 posted 02-09-2013 03:16 PM

Forgot to mention that the compressor has an automatic drain valve that keeps the moisture out of the tank by releasing pressure every 10 minutes for 4 seconds.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View josephf's profile


197 posts in 2094 days

#4 posted 02-09-2013 05:07 PM

I did not see any one mention useing synthetic oil .May just fix the problem . I remember it would get so cold truck would start moving before i put it in gear ,changed out all my gear oil and also made the truck feel smoother .seems like changing your compressor over is a no brainer , it will also most likely improve it’s life .I did my compressor when framing in colorado and it solved the slow start problem .

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3241 days

#5 posted 02-09-2013 08:29 PM

When I lived in the mountains, a local garage had problems starting his compressor. The oil would get so thick that the circuit breaker would trip when starting. Switching to a synthetic oil solved the problem.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2923 days

#6 posted 02-09-2013 09:01 PM

Josephf, that was going to be my suggestion.

I put synthetic oil in all my compressors regardless of where they are used, just helps them start easier and they last forever. I have one I bought in 1985 and it still runs fine…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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