Air Compressor Not Working – Troubleshooting Tips

Air Compressor Not Working

Air compressors are common tools found in both industrial settings and home garages. However, like any other tool, they are prone to occasional malfunctions.

One common issue is the air compressor not working. This problem can occur due to various causes such as power issues, motor problems, and tank leaks.

Power issues often stem from an inadequate power supply or faulty electrical connections. You can typically resolve these problems by ensuring your air compressor is connected to a suitable power source, and all electrical connections are in perfect condition.

Motor problems might be due to overheating or worn-out parts. If your air compressor motor is overheating, ensure it has adequate ventilation and is kept away from other heat sources. Worn out parts require replacement for the air compressor to function properly.

Tank leaks are a result of holes or cracks in the air compressor tank. These can be harder to fix and often necessitate a new tank.

Table Of Contents
  1. Air Compressor Not Working – How To Fix?

Air Compressor Not Working – How To Fix?

Identifying the root cause of your air compressor not working is the first step towards troubleshooting. Therefore, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance checks to prevent these issues from arising or worsening.


When your air compressor isn’t functioning properly, it can hamper your operations. However, with a careful diagnosis of the problem and proper maintenance, you can get your air compressor back to working efficiently in no time.

Common Reasons Why Your Air Compressor Might Not Be Working:

1. Power Issues:

Your air compressor might not be receiving sufficient power or no power at all. This could be due to a blown fuse, a tripped circuit breaker, or faulty power outlets.

2. Overheating:

If your air compressor is too hot, it might shut down as a protective measure. This is often caused by improper ventilation or overuse.

3. Clogged Filters:

If the filters of your air compressor are clogged, it can restrict airflow, causing your compressor to work harder and potentially leading to a breakdown.

4. Oil or Lubrication Problems:

Insufficient lubrication can cause excessive friction in the compressor’s moving parts, leading to wear and tear and eventual malfunction.

5. Damaged Seals:

Damaged or worn-out seals can cause air leaks, reducing the efficiency of your air compressor and potentially causing it to stop functioning.

6. Worn Out Compressor Parts:

Over time, parts like the motor, pump, and valves can wear down or fail, causing your air compressor to stop working. Regular maintenance is crucial to detect and replace worn parts.

r Compressor Not Working - Infographics

Diagnosing Air Compressor Issues:

1. Inadequate pressure

If your air compressor is not building up the necessary amount of pressure, check for any leaks in the hoses and fittings. Also, verify the integrity of the check valve; it might be faulty.

2. Motor issues

If the motor isn’t starting, it could be due to a blown fuse or a problem with the electrical wiring.

3. Excessive noise

Unusual noise may indicate a loose part, lubrication issues, or a failing motor.

4. Overheating

If the air compressor is overheating, it may be due to a blocked air filter or an issue with the cooling system.

5. Air leaks

Persistent air leaks can be a sign of cracks in the hose or a failing valve.

6. Oil leaks

Oil leaks could indicate a problem with the oil seals or the gaskets.

Always remember to disconnect the air compressor from the power source before attempting any troubleshooting or maintenance.

Solutions To Common Air Compressor Problems:

1. Problem: Overheating

Solution: Ensure the compressor is in a well-ventilated location to help keep it cool. Regular maintenance and cleaning of the air filter can also prevent overheating.

2. Problem: Oil Leaks

Solution: Check for worn-out parts and replace them. Always use the correct oil grade specified by the manufacturer.

3. Problem: Irregular Pressure

Solution: Drain water from the storage tank on a regular basis. Also, ensure the pressure ranges are set properly according to the compressor’s manual.

4. Problem: Excessive Noise

Solution: Noise could be an indicator of loose parts. Tighten any loose bolts or screws and replace worn-out belts if needed.

5. Problem: Motor Failure

Solution: If the motor fails to start, check the power supply and ensure it’s properly connected. Consider calling a professional if problems persist.

Professional Help And When To Seek It?

Recognizing when to seek professional help, be it for physical health, mental wellbeing, career advice, or personal growth, is a critical aspect of self-awareness.

Often the signs that you may need assistance are subtle and easy to overlook. Physical symptoms like persistent fatigue, unexplained aches, or changes in appetite can indicate a need for medical attention.

In terms of mental health, feelings of persistent sadness, anxiety, or disturbances in sleep patterns are common indicators that professional help may be beneficial.

Similarly, if you find yourself constantly dissatisfied at work, or facing challenges you cannot overcome on your own, seeking advice from a career counselor could be a wise decision.

Remember, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather an act of strength and self-care.

How Do You Troubleshoot An Air Compressor?

Troubleshooting an air compressor involves several steps:

1. Check the Power Source:

Ensure the compressor is properly connected to a power source. Make sure the power cord is in good condition and the outlet is functioning.

2. Inspect the Pressure Switch:

If your compressor isn’t starting, the issue may be with the pressure switch. Ensure it’s set to the correct pressure.

3. Examine the Air Filter:

A blocked air filter can affect the compressor’s performance. Clean or replace it if necessary.

4. Look at the Valves:

Valves can often become stuck or broken. Inspect them and replace if needed.

5. Examine the Belt:

A loose or worn belt might be the problem. Tighten it or replace it if it’s worn out.

Remember, always disconnect the compressor from the power source before starting any troubleshooting steps. If these steps do not resolve the issue, it might be time to call a professional.

How Do I Reset My Air Compressor?

To reset your air compressor, follow these steps:

1. Unplug the Air Compressor:

Always start by unplugging the compressor from the power source to prevent any electrical accidents.

2. Release the Pressure:

Find the pressure release valve, usually located on the side of the compressor, and turn it to release any air trapped in the compressor.

3. Check the Compressor for Issues:

Inspect the compressor for any visible issues that could be causing it to malfunction. This includes checking for any loose wires, leaks, or blockages.

4. Reset the Compressor:

Locate the reset button, often a red or black button on the motor, and press it. This should reset your compressor. If it doesn’t, the problem could be more serious and may require professional attention.

5. Plug the Compressor Back In:

Once you’ve reset the compressor, plug it back into the power source and check if it’s working properly.

Remember, safety first. Always consult your user manual or a professional if you’re unsure about any steps in the process.

Do All Air Compressors Have A Reset Button?

Not all air compressors are equipped with a reset button. However, many electric air compressors, particularly those designed for home or small business use, have a reset button, also known as a circuit breaker.

This button automatically pops out when the motor becomes overloaded, interrupting the electrical flow to prevent damage.

It’s a safety feature that helps in avoiding overheating and potential motor burnout. To restore power, you simply press the button back in after the unit has cooled down.

But it’s important to remember that variations can occur across different models and brands, and some air compressors, especially older or larger industrial models, might not have this feature.

How Do You Reset An Air Compressor Pressure Switch?

Resetting an air compressor pressure switch involves a straightforward sequence of steps.

1. Ensure the air compressor is off and disconnected from any power source.

2. Locate the pressure switch. It’s typically a box-like component with a large red on/off switch and a smaller pressure adjustment knob or screw.

3. Release the air pressure from the tank. You can do this by opening the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank.

4. Once the air pressure is completely drained, turn the adjustment screw counter-clockwise to decrease the pressure setting. Turn it at least 4-5 full rotations.

5. Close the drain valve and restart the compressor. It should automatically stop when it reaches the newly adjusted pressure setting.

6. If the compressor does not stop or the pressure is still too high, repeat the process until the desired pressure setting is achieved.

Please be cautious while performing these steps. Always refer to the user manual of your specific air compressor model for accurate information. If you are unsure or uncomfortable performing these tasks, it is recommended to seek professional help.

How Do You Fix An Air Compressor That Won’t Build Pressure?

There are several ways you can fix an air compressor that won’t build pressure.

1. Check for leaks:

The first step is to check for any leaks in the system. This can be done by applying soapy water to all connections and observing if any bubbles form. If leaks are found, tighten the connections or replace the faulty parts.

2. Check the intake valve:

If there are no leaks, the issue may be with the intake valve. If the valve is broken or worn out, it might not be able to maintain the necessary pressure. The intake valve might need replacement or repair.

3. Inspect the pressure switch:

Sometimes, the pressure switch may not be functioning correctly, leading to issues in building pressure. Ensure it’s set to the correct pressure level for your compressor.

4. Examine the check valve:

If air is leaking out of the pressure switch, the check valve is likely faulty. You may need to replace it.

5. Look at the pump:

If none of the above solves your problem, inspect the pump for damage or wear. You may need to repair or replace the pump.

Remember, always ensure to consult your air compressor’s manual or seek professional help if you’re unsure about performing any of these checks or procedures.

What Causes A Compressor To Stop Working?

A compressor may stop working due to a variety of reasons, with some of the most common being:

1. Overheating:

This is often caused by an overworked compressor running in a poorly ventilated area. Over time, this can lead to the compressor overheating and ultimately, failing.

2. Incorrect Suction Lines:

If the suction lines are incorrectly sized, the compressor can either be starved of refrigerant, causing it to overheat, or flooded with too much refrigerant, leading to its demise.

3. Electrical Problems:

An inadequate power supply, faulty motor, or wiring issues can also cause a compressor to stop working.

4. Wear and Tear:

As with all mechanical equipment, compressors have a life expectancy. Over time, wear and tear can cause parts to fail, leading to the compressor ceasing to function.

5. Poor Maintenance:

Inadequate maintenance can lead to various issues such as clogged filters and leaky ducts, which can in turn, cause the compressor to stop working. Regular maintenance checks are crucial for ensuring the longevity of a compressor.

What Is The Common Failure In Compressor?

One common failure in compressors is overheating, which can lead to a range of issues, from performance inefficiencies to complete system failure.

Overheating can occur due to various reasons – it may be a result of inadequate ventilation, excess refrigerant, or mechanical failures within the compressor.

A compressor that is regularly overheating should not be ignored as it often indicates an underlying issue that needs to be addressed to prevent further damage and costly repairs.

How Do I Know If My Compressor Is Damaged?

Identifying damage to your compressor can be a bit tricky, especially without the right knowledge. However, there are certain signs that could indicate potential issues.

If your compressor is making strange noises, it could be a sign of internal damage.

Alternatively, if your system is blowing warm air instead of cold, or if the compressor doesn’t turn on at all, these could be signs of a malfunction.

Additionally, a noticeable increase in your energy bills could also be a red flag. If you observe any of these signs, it’s important to seek the help of a professional to diagnose and address the issue.

How Do I Know If My Air Compressor Motor Is Bad?

To establish if your air compressor motor is bad, you should be attentive to particular signs and symptoms. The most conspicuous red flag is the motor failing to start when you attempt to power it on.

The motor may also run hotter than usual or exhibit irregular noises, such as buzzing or humming, indicating a potential issue.

Moreover, if the compressor takes longer than usual to fill the tank or cannot reach the pressure it once did, these could also be signs of a bad motor.

Remember, it’s always best to seek professional help if you’re unsure.

Why Do Air Compressors Go Bad?

Air compressors can go bad due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is poor maintenance. Air compressors require regular checks and servicing to ensure optimal performance.

Neglecting this can lead to issues like overheating, improper pressurization, and eventual breakdown. Another factor could be the quality of the air compressor itself.

Cheaper, lower-quality compressors may not withstand heavy usage or harsh conditions, leading to quicker degradation.

Overworking the air compressor, or using it in conditions it was not designed for, can also lead to its failure.

Lastly, contaminants in the air can cause damage to the internal parts of the compressor, reducing its lifespan.

Can An Air Compressor Be Repaired?

Yes, an air compressor can indeed be repaired. In many cases, issues with an air compressor may be due to minor problems such as a loose part, a faulty valve, or an air leak.

These types of issues can typically be fixed by a professional, and in some instances, even by the owner themselves with the right knowledge and tools.

It’s always important to first diagnose the problem accurately before attempting any repair work.

However, if the compressor has a major mechanical issue or is severely old and worn out, replacement might be a more cost-effective solution.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Air Compressor?

The cost to replace an air compressor can vary greatly depending on the make and model of your unit, its size, and the complexity of the installation process.

For a residential central air conditioning system, you might expect to pay anywhere from $1,300 to $1,800 for the compressor alone.

However, when you factor in the cost of labor and any additional parts that may need to be replaced, the overall cost could range from $2,000 to $4,000.

Commercial-grade and industrial air compressors can cost significantly more. It’s always best to get a quote from a reputable HVAC professional to determine the exact cost for your specific situation.

How Do I Know If My Air Compressor Motor Is Bad?

Identifying a bad air compressor motor can be challenging, but there are several signs to watch out for.

A motor that is not functioning properly may make unusual noises, such as grinding, squealing, or rattling. You may also notice that the compressor struggles to start, or doesn’t start at all, which could be indicative of a motor problem.

Excessive vibration during operation or overheating may also point towards a faulty motor. Additionally, if your air compressor is not delivering the same level of pressure as it once did, this could be due to a worn-out motor.

It’s important to consult with a HVAC professional if you suspect motor issues, to prevent further damage and maintain the functionality of your unit.

Can An Air Compressor Be Fixed?

Yes, an air compressor can often be fixed. The feasibility and cost-effectiveness of repairs depend largely on the nature and extent of the problem.

Simple issues such as leaks, faulty valves, or minor electrical problems can typically be resolved at a relatively low cost.

On the other hand, more complex problems, like a damaged motor or compressor, may require more expensive repairs or even a full replacement.

Regular maintenance can prevent many common issues, extending the lifespan of your air compressor.

Always consult a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and fix any problems with your air compressor, as DIY repairs can potentially exacerbate the issue.

Why Is My Compressor Running But Not Building Pressure?

If your compressor is running but not building pressure, there could be several possible causes. One common issue is a leak in the system.

This could be in the hose, the connections, or the tank itself. Another possibility is that the valves or gaskets in the compressor are worn out or damaged, preventing it from pressurizing properly.

Alternatively, issues with the motor, such as a wrong motor rotation, can also lead to this problem. It could also be a case of a dirty or clogged air filter restricting the air flow.

Lastly, an overfilled oil level in oil-lubricated compressors could cause low pressure build-up. It’s important to have your compressor inspected by a professional if it’s not building pressure to find the root cause and correct it.

What Causes An Air Compressor To Lose Pressure?

Several issues can cause an air compressor to lose pressure. A common culprit is a leak in the system, either in the hose, fittings, or the air tank itself.

Air can escape through these gaps, causing a drop in pressure. Faulty valves or gaskets can also lead to pressure loss, as they can prevent the system from sealing properly.

A clogged intake filter can restrict the flow of air into the compressor, resulting in lower pressure. An overfilled oil level in oil-lubricated compressors can also inhibit pressure build-up.

Lastly, inefficient or worn out parts, such as a deteriorating piston ring or a faulty pressure switch, can cause a decrease in pressure.

Regular maintenance and inspections can help identify and correct these issues early on, ensuring your air compressor operates at its optimal pressure.

Do Air Compressors Have Fuses?

Yes, air compressors typically do have fuses. The fuse is a crucial component that protects the air compressor from electrical faults and overloads.

It acts as a safety device that interrupts the flow of electricity in the event of excess current, thereby preventing damage to the air compressor or a potential fire hazard.

The location and accessibility of the fuse can vary depending on the design and model of the air compressor.

If the compressor isn’t starting or functioning as expected, one of the things to check could be the condition of the fuse.

Always remember to unplug the compressor before inspecting or replacing the fuse, and consult with a professional if you’re unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question #1

Why won’t my air compressor start?

There could be several reasons why your air compressor won’t start. It could be because of a faulty power supply, a damaged motor, or even an overheated compressor.

Question #2

Can a bad capacitor cause an air compressor not to start?

Yes, a bad capacitor can prevent your air compressor from starting. If the capacitor is not storing enough electricity to start the motor, the compressor will not turn on.

Question #3

What happens when an air compressor overheats?

When an air compressor overheats, it can shut down as a safety measure to prevent damage to the motor. Overheating can also cause internal parts to warp or melt.

Question #4

How can I tell if my air compressor motor is bad?

Signs of a bad air compressor motor include a buzzing or humming sound, the compressor not starting at all, or the compressor starting but not building up pressure.

Question #5

Can I fix my air compressor myself?

It depends on the issue. Simple problems like a tripped circuit breaker can be fixed at home. However, issues like a bad motor or capacitor should be handled by a professional.

Question #6

How do I reset my air compressor?

To reset your air compressor, turn off and unplug the machine, then press the reset button (often found on the motor housing). Wait a few minutes before plugging it back in and turning it on.

Question #7

Why does my air compressor trip the breaker?

If your air compressor is tripping the breaker, it may be pulling too much power. This could be due to a faulty power cord, a bad motor, or even an overloaded circuit.

Question #8

What can cause an air compressor to not build pressure?

An air compressor might not build pressure if there’s a leak in the air line, if the valves are damaged, or if the compressor rings are worn out.

Question #9

How do I know if my air compressor pressure switch is bad?

If your air compressor doesn’t turn on or off as it should, or if it’s releasing air when it shouldn’t be, these could be signs of a bad pressure switch.

Question #10

Can I test my air compressor at home?

Yes, you can perform a basic test at home by turning on the compressor and observing if it starts and builds up pressure. For more complex issues, you might need to hire a professional.

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