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When my air compressor cuts-out, air escapes. Why?

 
Every air compressor has its cut-in and cut-out points to regulate pressure and ensure it keeps working safely. But when your system cuts out, you may notice escaping air and wonder where it’s coming from, and why.

The culprit is the unload check valve. This regulator kicks into action when the compressor cuts out, helping to vent air in the line between the pump head and the tank (around the compressor piston). Without the valve, trapped air could damage the compressor motor when it restarts, blowing a fuse or circuit.

Far from a problem, the unload check valve helps protect your air compressor and prolong its working life.

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It shouldn’t take long to vent the air from the compressor piston area, after which time the air should stop escaping. If it continues, there’s a problem, and you’ll need to contact your compressed air engineer.

If you have problems with your air compressor, talk to us on 0114 243 2347.

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Is compressed air dangerous?

 
Cars (and vans, trucks and buses) killed 1780 people in the UK last year. Actually, that’s not true. 1780 people died on people’s roads last year. Many cars were involved. But the car was at fault in only a fraction of them. It’s a similar story with air compressors.

Whether it’s an internal combustion engine or an air compressor, the thing itself is rarely at issue. Where problems arise, it’s invariably a result of one of the following:

       Incorrect installation
       Poor / no training
       Poor / no servicing or maintenance
       Airborne particulates

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Every year or 12,500 miles, whichever arrives sooner, I have to take my car for a service. I know I could leave it, but to do so would increase the risk of more serious (and expensive) issues. It makes the car that bit more efficient, so some of what I spend on the service I recoup in greater efficiency. And I protect my warranty.

Following the right procedures is just as vital with an air compressor. First, it needs correct installation by compressed air experts who can ensure that, from pipework to electricals to tools and connectors, all is as it should be.

Installing the right filters protects product quality and scrubs particulates from the air. Maintenance and servicing protects airflow and pressure, and ensures filters keep performing.
And proper training ensures that correct operating procedures are followed, that issues are spotted, and that users know the limits of their understanding – so they avoid problems caused by tampering and ‘having a go’ at repairing issues.

What we’re saying, in this roundabout way, is that air compressors are not dangerous, but people – or at least, their decisions – can be. So to keep your air compressor safe, get it professionally installed, keep it well maintained, and don’t let anyone use it who isn’t trained.

For installation, servicing and maintenance of your compressed air equipment, call us on 0114 243 2347.

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Why isn’t my air compressor cutting out?

 
Somewhere in your air compressor, there’s a pressure switch. There are a few types, but essentially they all perform the same task. When the pressure in your compressor is too low, the pressure switch tells the compressor to kick in. When it reaches full pressure, the pressure switch is what makes the compressor motor cut out again.

At one end of the range the pressure switch ensures your compressor has a consistent pressure that enables it to perform. At the other end of the range it ensures the pressure doesn’t build to dangerous levels.

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So what does it mean if your air compressor never cuts out?

There are three likely explanations for this, and two result in the same answer: get your compressor serviced or repaired.

1. Continuous operation
Continuous operation air compressors are used where there’s a constant requirement for air, or where your compressor is likely to start and stop more than 12 times per hour. It’s important you know whether your air compressor is a continuous operation model because of what follows, so if you’re unsure, call us and check.

2. Failing to make pressure
A constantly running compressor could be a sign that it never reaches full pressure. That’s not dangerous – the pressure’s not high enough for that – but it could be damaging the quality of your finished products and it will definitely be causing significant wear – reducing the life of your air compressor.

3. Pressure build up
The alternative – and even more worrying possibility – is that pressure is continuing to build. Every air compressor has a pressure relief valve and if this is venting excess pressure in combination with a constantly running compressor (that’s not meant to run constantly) it’s a sure sign of trouble. Switch it off and call your compressed air engineers for repair.

Worse still, should the relief valve fail, you’ll be in a situation where the pressure continues to build with no release. That’s a potentially catastrophic scenario so it’s vital that someone in your operation is regularly monitoring your air compressors, and that you call for a repair when they identify a problem.

For air compressor supply or servicing, repair and maintenance, talk to Algar Air on 0114 243 2347.

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Five Unusual Uses For Air Compressors

 
Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual uses for air compressors.

Art Work

Air compressors are commonly used in garages and auto shops but not just for pumping tyres. Their versatility makes them very useful when it comes to more cosmetic work. Spray painting is much simpler with an air compressor and you get a much evener coat of paint.

While this is undoubtedly useful for cars and other vehicles air compressors are now getting more of a following in the art world. They can be used to paint furniture and be used on canvas as well, all you need is a spray gun attachment and you can use your air compressor in a whole new way.

Cleaning

You wouldn’t normally associate cleaning with an air compressor, would you? But while it might not seem like it, an air compressor can be a cleaning marvel on all sorts of objects and in all kinds of surroundings. With a blow gun attachment, you can transform your air compressor into a powerful cleaning device, with just a squeeze of the handle you can blow dust, dirt, and grime away.

This is very useful for cleaning machinery and getting into small spaces but it can also be used to clean up wood shavings and much more. You might be able to achieve similar results with a pressure washer but the intensity of the water can easily cause damage, so a gentler compressed air cleaning method can be the better option.

Gardening

At first glance, an air compressor might not seem like the best gardening tool and while you can’t use it to plant flowers it certainly does have its uses. We’ve already talked about how an air compressor can be used for painting and while it will certainly make painting your fence easier an air compressor can also help with another important gardening job.

With the right attachments, you can use an air compressor to blow away leaves and debris which can be a huge help and save you money on a leaf blower. This can also be used indoors to sweep up and clean floors as well.

Inflation

OK, so inflation might not seem like an unusual choice, after all, we all know air compressors can be used to inflate tyres. But why stick to just tyres? Most people don’t realise that they can also use their air compressor to inflate a range of other items.

Inflatable toys, furniture, mattresses and swimming pools can all be inflated with an air compressor and it’s a much quicker and less tiring way to do it as well. You might need a regulator attachment in order to inflate certain items safely especially if it’s for objects like balloons which will burst if the pressure is too high.

Snow Machines

Saving the most unusual to last! Snow machines can be all sorts of fun at parties and special events and with an air compressor, you won’t need to hire one. Now getting everything together to create your own mini-snowstorm will take a while and some practice but there are plenty of guides online for you to take a look at.

Want help in finding the right air compressor for your application? Talk to Algar Air on 0114 243 2347.

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Should you choose variable speed air compressors?

 
Variability was always something the air compressor industry was keen to eradicate. After all, variable pressures and flowrates tend to add to production time and rework. So it seemed counter-intuitive that variable speed air compressors would ever make their mark in the compressed air sector. But actually, it makes perfect sense.

Traditionally, air compressors have been on or off. They’re either giving you 100% or they’re giving you nothing – there’s no middle ground. That’s dramatically different from, for example, your car which, in addition to ‘off’ or ‘full throttle’, delivers a range of power depending on how heavily you plant your foot on the accelerator.

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It’s a similar situation with a variable speed drive (VSD) air compressor, which can adjust its motor and elements to match the demand. That could be a big deal for organisations relying on air power, especially when 70% of an air compressor’s cost is energy. VSDs could cut air compressor energy consumption by 35%. And since there’s less requirement for compressors to run flat out, there should also be a corresponding improvement in lifespan.

There is a catch. Variable speed air compressors are more expensive than their simpler, more traditional counterparts. Yet those businesses that have used them find the additional cost is more than covered by the savings in energy costs.

So, is it time you made the switch? To discuss which air compressor system is right for your business talk to Algar Air on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Could graphene save your air compressor?

 
You know graphene. It’s the flexible, carbon based material that’s 200 times stronger than steel, yet is just one atom thick (thereby also making it the world’s only 2D material). Now, researchers at the US’s Purdue University have developed a new type of non-liquid lubricant that uses graphene to reduce friction and wear.

As The Engineer reports, the lubricant’s applications range from missile systems to air compressors. Whilst we’re not any sort of authority on missile systems, the air compressor benefits look exciting.

“It [graphene] has superior thermal conductivity, high strength and provides ultralow friction,” said Vilas Pol, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.

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Friction is a perennial problem in compressed air. It’s there in the motor bearings. And it’s present in every hose, nozzle, joint and connector as the molecules of compressed air rub against the metal or plastic around them.

Remove friction and you remove heat and wear. You also reduce the amount of oil required as a lubricant in many current compressed air systems. Which means graphene could be the key to improving air compressor performance and reliability, whilst removing the risk of oil contamination from finished products.

As graphene lubricants may be some years away from commercial air compressor application, talk to us about the compressed air system that’s right for your business. Call Algar Air on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Air power

 
Last year, the global air compressors market was valued at $30.86 billion. Now, a new report predicts that by 2022 that figure will have grown to almost $39 billion. To put that in perspective, $39 billion is greater than the GDP of Morocco.

What’s driving the growth? Happily, the report by Zion Market Research and snappily titled “Air Compressors Market by Technology (Reciprocating, Rotary and Centrifugal) by Lubrication (Oil Filled and Oil Free) Market for Food & Beverage, Healthcare, Home Appliances, Energy, Oil & Gas, Electronics, Manufacturing and Others Application: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast, 2016 – 2022” has some answers.

The sheer flexibility of air compressor equipment is what leads them to occupy a pivotal role in so many workspaces. The fact that a report into the market needs 43 words to describe itself gives just some indication of the range and variety of roles air compressors are playing across industry.

Until now, the report notes that rotary-type technology has dominated the air compressor market, but the survey suggests a shift towards centrifugal technology over the next few years. To find out more about why that may be, check our post on the advantages of centrifugal air compressors.

The report also looked at trends in compressor lubrication, where it discovered (unsurprisingly) that oil-free air compressors are the natural choice for industries such as electronic assembling, food & beverage, and pharmaceuticals, where products need protection from contamination. Yet the oil-based air compressor market shows no signs of slowing and by the end of the reporting period in 2020 oil-based should still dominate the market.

Finally, the report explores sectors, with the largest growth areas for compressed air equipment to date having come from manufacturing – especially in boom territories such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America. For the future, the report suggests food & beverages will be the major compressed air growth segment, driven by a global move to improve food safety and health standards.

Want to talk about how your air compressor system could develop over the next few years? Call 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Advantages of centrifugal air compressors

 
A recent report by Zion Market Research explored current trends in compressed air technology and identified a shift from traditional rotary-type air compressors to centrifugal. Not all the advantages will be critical for every business, but for some, there are good reasons to switch:

Oil-free: As the report identified, not every market is worried about oil contamination, but some – food manufacture, brewing, pharmaceuticals etc, most definitely are. Centrifugal air compressors are 100% oil free, removing at a stroke the need for oil separators and filters.

Low maintenance: A rotary air compressor will need regular maintenance and replacement of things like piston rings, gland packing and valve plates. Fewer wearing parts means there’s less requirement for maintenance downtime, and less risk of component failure with a centrifugal system.

No pressure fluctuations: Traditional compressed air systems need to reduce pressure fluctuations; centrifugal air compressors don’t.

Compact: Centrifugal air compressors pack more air into smaller spaces, so you need less room for installation compared with a rotary model.

Virtually vibration-free: Particularly in larger air compressors, creating the right foundation to minimise vibration, and ensuring that vibration is not transmitted to neighbouring equipment, can be a challenge. Centrifugal air compressors create far less vibration, so the installation issues and impact on other equipment are less.

Which air compressor system is right for your business? For expert advice, talk to Algar Air on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Air compressors in the dental industry

 
You know the value of air compressors to your dental practice. They power such a wide array of handpieces that it’s hard to imagine life without them, but if you’re looking at replacing your compressed air system – or thinking of switching to air power for the first time, there are a few things you need to consider.

Any old air compressor won’t do

Air compressors produce moisture as a natural by-product of squeezing all those air molecules together. Given that your business is built on hygiene, in-system water contamination is an absolute no-no. That’s why dental air compressors lower the ‘dew point’ of the compressed air, ensuring more moisture can be captured and removed by the inline filtration system.

Oil free is an essential

Another by-product of many air compressors is oil vapour. A little oil floating around the system matters little if you’re using your compressed air to inflate car tyres or power a workshop drill, but it’s a serious issue in dentistry.

That’s why the Dental Compressor Regulations require dental surgeries to only use “compressed air… generated by an oil free compressor with an integral dryer, internally coated air receiver and a breathing air and bacterial filter downstream of the compressor.”

   >  We’re trialling a new way of recycling oil that cuts waste and increases space.

The compressor’s not the only part that counts

A steady, reliable flow of air is essential for any dental tool, but it’s not just the air compressor that’s responsible for delivering that steady flow. Pipework, connectors, filters and the handpieces you use can all influence the consistency of the air flow.

That’s one reason why the regulations also require your pipework system to be free from leaks, located away from any potential damage, and with appropriate isolation valves.

Right size?

We don’t simply mean does your air compressor deliver the reliable air power you need now. What about the future? If you don’t want to be upgrading your air compressor every time you add new tools, it’s important to build some flexibility into your compressed air system. That means choosing not only the right air compressor, but the right receiver tank too.

Remember, an overworked system may produce a less reliable flow of air and could produce more moisture, compromising patient safety. For help in choosing the right compressed air system for your dental surgery, talk to us.

Ready to replace?

Like any component, air compressors don’t last forever (although regular servicing and maintenance can extend their life hugely). When an air compressor or its filters start to show their age, you may notice air pressure drop or become inconsistent. Over time, contaminants may begin to escape the filters and you should check for this regularly. Hold a mirror up to any air powered handpiece and switch it on. If any moisture, dirt or debris appears on the mirror surface, call a compressed air engineer.

Want help or advice about the compressed air system used in your dental surgery? Call 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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What’s in Clara’s box?

 
Every now and again you find yourself being challenged to tackle projects that don’t quite fit the compressed air mould. Often, we find that’s because our clients trust us to tackle all sorts of projects. So what begins as a relationship all about compressed air, gradually becomes something broader.

Take Clara’s box. We had a call from a client who manufactures orthotics and prosthetics. They’d just taken delivery of a crate and were eager to open it and get the contents installed. But whilst they were keen for us to get the contents of “Clara’s box” (as it quickly became known – Clara was the Orthotic Clinician) up and running fast, we remained a little unclear as to what we’d find when we got there.

Undeterred, our engineers prioritised the job and swiftly headed off to the client. When they arrived, they found the box contained pieces of a ramp. It may not have had the remotest connection to compressed air, but it was needed urgently, because the client wanted to use it to test its prosthetic legs and feet.

As we were told, it’s one thing for a disabled person to test drive their artificial legs/feet on the flat; it’s quite another to be able to navigate hills. The ramp would enable them to do that, and there was a fitting due imminently.

So our engineers unloaded the ramp and installed it ready for its first use.

Challenge us to install your compressed air system. Or challenge us to install something else entirely. Talk to the ever-flexible engineers at Algar Air. Give us a call on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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“I don’t suppose you could…?”

 
Working with compressed air requires a wide range of skills from our engineers. In many ways, understanding air compressors and air flow is just the start of a skillset that also includes electrical engineering, plumbing, fabrication and more. So it’s hardly surprising that when our clients are faced with an engineering task they don’t quite know how to resolve, they tend to call us.

That was the case recently, when a client who operated a steelworks called to ask whether we’d be able to modify their small cutter. Our engineers went to investigate.

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The first thing that hit them was that steelworks operate on a different level of scale when it comes to describing their equipment. It may have been their small(er) steel cutter, but to any other business it would still have been considered vast.

The cutter was ageing, and that had given the client two options: modify it, to modernise the unit and make it more user friendly. Or replace it. The difference in cost amounted to tens of thousands of pounds.

That’s why, right now, the unit is sat in our workshop, getting some much needed TLC and a significant base unit modification that should keep it fit for purpose for plenty more years.

Have an engineering challenge and don’t know who to ask for help? Give us a call on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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A new approach to oil recycling

 
Work in the compressed air industry and you’ll find oil is a double-edged sword. We need it to lubricate machinery. But at the same time, oil in the pipes of your compressed air system can compromise performance and damage your finished products. It’s fair to say that much of our time is spent eradicating oil from compressed air systems.

If you’ve ever had problems with your compressed air installation, you may know all about the disruptive power of oil. But once it has been removed from the system and you’re back up and running, you probably don’t consider what happens to the oil we remove.

   >  Do you need a new compressed air system?
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What happens is this: we have to store it, and then dispose of it. Traditionally, we store oil in 20 litre cans, which take up a lot of floorspace. Some are full and awaiting collection, but they’re heavy to transport, costly to dispose of and complicated to recycle. Others are empty and waiting to be filled. In either case they’re still gobbling up valuable room that could be used for something better.

So we were delighted when one of our suppliers came up with a way of replacing the can. Right now, we’re trialling a new ‘wine box’ for our waste oil. Like a wine box, it’s a simple cardboard container that houses a liner into which the oil is poured. In the workshop, empty boxes weigh practically nothing and take up far less space than empty cans.

Once full, they’re lighter and easier to transport, and simpler (and cheaper) to dispose of.
It’s a switch that makes it easier for us to meet our environmental obligations, and one that helps us keep costs down for our clients.

To find out more about the environmental considerations of installing or maintaining a compressed air system, please call 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Fixing the factory fans

 
The thermometer in our workshop was nudging 30°C last week – most definitely not the time for the fans that keep your workforce cool to shudder to a halt. But that’s what happened for one local manufacturer, who saw temperatures on the factory floor start to spiral and the workforce start to wilt.

The fact that our Sheffield electricians were able to get to the factory in question fast, diagnose the problem and fix the fault was a godsend. But as the fans started spinning again, their work wasn’t finished.

   >  What to do if your equipment needs a service

One of the engineers was grabbing a quick drink from the water cooler when he noticed a build-up of limescale. Left unchecked, he knew that the water would gradually turn cloudy and taste tainted – and potentially lead to blockages, restricted flows and breakdowns. So the engineers contacted the manufacturer to organise clean-out kits, so the units could be returned to their former glory supplying crisp clean water.

This isn’t an unusual situation. Whether we’re installing a compressed air system, wiring up a new piece of equipment or fixing the pipework, if we spot an additional problem that needs fixing, we’ll fix it.

If you’re a business looking for a South Yorkshire electrical engineer you can rely on to go the extra mile, call us on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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Water, water everywhere?

 
Forklifts have a habit of bumping and denting walls and racking. But one local door manufacturer was particularly unlucky when their forklift caught and punctured a main waterline. Cue a major leak that swiftly brought the workshop to a standstill.

The real problem (aside from the unwanted indoor water feature) was that every passing minute was another minute of production lost. So the customer needed more than a callout; they needed a really speedy response. And when they called Algar Air, that’s exactly what they got.

Decades spent installing air compressor equipment has meant that our engineers are also qualified electricians and plumbers, with huge experience in pipework. So it wasn’t simply the fact that our engineer was on site within minutes that the customer really appreciated. It was that fact that the required repairs were completed within half an hour.

Water and pipework problems that need fixing fast? Call 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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A last minute compressed air installation

 
It’s enough to bring you out in a cold sweat. We were called by a roller shutter door company recently and asked for urgent help. A new washer, dryer and spray booth unit was due for delivery the following week, but our customer had spotted a major problem. Their existing piston air compressor didn’t have the capacity to supply the company’s new machinery.

Without the problem being rectified – and fast – they would need to rearrange the equipment’s commissioning, and that would mean heavy charges, lost time and lost production.

The solution wasn’t an easy one either. Delivering a compressed air system that could supply dry air to all the company’s equipment wasn’t simply a matter of switching a smaller air compressor for a larger one.

Instead, our engineers had to pull out all the stops, installing a full package including a 10HP air compressor, refrigerant dryer, 500 litre air receiver and connecting it all via 169m of 1” pipework.

With the clock ticking, our compressed air engineers worked long days to get everything completed on time. We even sourced and supplied second hand air compressor equipment to save the client money too!

Before you buy that new piece of air-powered machinery, check you have the compressed air to feed it. If you don’t, we’re ready to help. Please call 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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The air compressor set to revolutionise diving

 
AirBuddy

There’s a long acknowledged problem with diving. Rely on a snorkel and you’ll never get more than a few inches beneath the surface. Switch to scuba and you’ll need to carry a lot of extra bulk. The alternative is AirBuddy, a floating air compressor that lets you dive up to 12 meters deep, free from any restriction other than the hose that connects to your regular regulator.

The Kickstarter-driven invention is virtually impossible to capsize and operates on a rechargeable battery than keeps you supplied with air for up to 45 minutes per charge.

AirBuddy Battery

As an air compressor specialist (and in no way connected to this invention) what’s great about Air Buddy is the way it takes existing air compressor technology and finds new uses for it. That’s something our engineers have been doing for years.

So if you have an application that compressed air could benefit and want to explore your options with compressed air engineers, talk to us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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*Photos courtesy of AirBuddy

The air compressor equipment behind the humble pint

 
Pint of Real Kentish Ale

At the last count, the number of breweries in the UK stood at over 1,700, around 1,500 of which were micro-breweries. There are over 80 in London alone, and the total number hasn’t been this high since the 1930s.

What’s driving the surge, up 8% in the past year alone? Partly it’s our love of a traditional pint. Partly it’s the novelty that many micro-breweries can add to their artisan ales. And partly it’s because the process of setting up your own brewery has never been easier.

Key to that simplicity is compressed air. You’ll find compressed air equipment hard at work in breweries across the UK, performing tasks that range from powering conveyors to bottling and labelling; cleaning pipes to aerating yeast.

If you’re planning of launching a micro (or massive) brewery, or if you’re looking to find new ways to improve production in your existing facility, talk to us on 0114 243 2347.

You can find out more about our compressed air equipment for breweries here.

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*Photo courtesy of Flickr

The biggest movers in the automotive air compressor market

 
Air compressors have long been a feature of the automotive production process. So it’s no surprise to find that the market for air compressor accessories such as hose reels, pressure gauges and air filters is buoyant. What is new is where demand is coming from.

New market research reveals that although Western Europe is the second largest air compressor accessories market, the real growth is coming from those just ahead and behind of Europe in the rankings.

In China and India – the so-called APEJ market that currently sits top of the global trends – rapid industrialisation has driven the automotive market. It’s a similar story in Latin America, where major manufacturers see opportunities for big expansion.

If there’s a lesson for Europe’s automotive air compressor suppliers (of whom Algar Air is one) it’s that no market can be relied on to maintain its position in the global hierarchy. Growth means exploring opportunities for international trade, and diversification into other air compressor-dependent sectors – something we’ve long been pursuing.

Want to explore air compressor options for your automotive business? Talk to us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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Do I really need an air receiver?

 
An air receiver is an essential part of any compressed air system. A receiver is basically a tank that acts like a reservoir that feeds your air compressor. When demand on the system is high, the air receiver ensures there’s enough air to keep supplying your air tools at the correct pressure and flow rate. When there’s a little slack in the system it provides a space for the excess air to go, again protecting consistency of air flow.

In addition, air receivers can help remove moisture from your compressed air system. Moisture is a natural by-product of the heating effect of squeezing air molecules together in a confined space. Without an air receiver (and without other filters and dryers), more of that moisture typically finds its way into tubes, tools and the finished product.

But the air receiver provides a low pressure area in which air can cool and condense, ensuring your tools receive a cleaner supply of air.

Which air receiver do I need?

The standard rule of thumb is that your air receiver tank capacity should be 6-10 times the flow rate of the system. So, for example, if your air compressor has a rating of 25 scfm, the receiver tank should be capable of storing a minimum of 150 cubic feet.

Every receiver tank should have a pressure gauge and a pressure relief valve (to vent excess air) which should be set at 10% above the working pressure of the system. And there should be a drain facility to remove condensed water from the system. Each of the air receivers supplied by Algar Air has a pressure relief valve and an auto drain feature.

To find out more about air receivers, or to discuss which is the right air receiver for your specific application, talk to us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Myth busting compressed air

 
When you’ve been involved with compressed air as long as we have, you can find yourself confronted by the same old urban myths and conventional ‘wisdom’. So here, in no particular order, are the 4 compressed air myths we seem to spend most time challenging:

Compressed air is an inefficient source of power

Actually, providing your compressed air system is an equal match for the job you’re asking of it, it’s one of the most efficient sources of power for any business. Typically, where businesses have experienced problems with low pressure or inconsistent power, it’s because their air compressor is being asked to do too much.

The solution is to ask a compressed air consultant to design a system that will deliver all you need of it, rather than gradually building an ad hoc system that eventually becomes overloaded.

Compressed air is expensive

Leave your car engine running or the heating on 24/7 and costs will mount up. It’s the same with compressed air. As with any energy source, there is a cost, but you can keep those costs down with a well designed and well maintained system. From addressing issues of geography (i.e. not having your air compressor a mile away from the tools it’s powering), to addressing leaks, your compressed air system can be made to be as cost efficient as any other form of energy.

Compressed air is dirty

Only in a poorly designed system. It’s true that moisture and oil vapour tend to be natural by-products of using compressed air, and left untreated that could have an impact on anything from food production to paint spraying.

But with the right filters and dryers in place, and with a regular regime of servicing and maintenance, compressed air could help give your products an exceptional finish, entirely free from contaminants.

Compressed air is complicated

It doesn’t have to be, especially when you have an expert team to help. So if talk of airflows, pressure and purity leave your head in a spin, ask us to design, supply and maintain a compliant compressed air system that does everything you need of it, simply.

To make a start, call us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Is it normal for my air compressor to get hot?

 
If you’ve ever touched the air compressor head or any of its various pipes and tubes after it’s been running for a while, chances are you won’t do it again. Things can get pretty hot before your compressor reaches cut-out. But why is that? And is it normal?

To answer that second question first, yes, it’s completely normal. The reason for that is your air compressor has two major heat generators. The first is the electric motor, the heat from which will be conducted to other parts of the compressor.

The second (and most powerful) source of heat is the act of air compression itself. Squeezing air molecules together creates friction, and a by-product of friction is heat. Friction is the reason rubbing your hands together creates warmth. And it’s the reason matches light when struck against a matchbox.

The act of forcing air together creates a lot of friction and a lot of heat, which is conducted through the air compressor’s metal parts. Providing your air compressor cut out is operating as it should, there should be no issue with the heat generated, as it will dissipate during cut out.

Only if your air compressor isn’t cutting out after its regular duty cycle should you seek help. If that’s the case, or if you’re worried about any other aspect of your air compressor equipment, please call us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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How much air power do you need?

 
Whether you’re a small workshop running a single air tool, or a large manufacturing business running an entire factory floor’s worth of tools from an industrial compressor, there’s one simple fact of life in choosing the right equipment for the job. You need to be able to generate more air power than your tools require.

But how do you calculate the required air for your application(s) without overengineering things to such an extent that you end up paying to generate airflow you don’t need?

Follow these steps as a general guide only. For specific applications, call us first:

Q: Are you running one tool at a time from your air compressor, or several?
If you’ll be running one tool at a time, check the required CFM (cubic feet per minute) ratings of each of the air tools you’ll be planning to use. You’ll find the information in product descriptions (if you haven’t yet bought the tools) or in the instructions (if you have). For the purposes of this exercise, go with the highest CFM figure.

If you’ll be running more than one tool from the same compressor, you’ll need to add all the CFM figures together and multiply by 1.2 to account for the power loss inherent in running more than one tool simultaneously.

Q: Will you be running tools continuously?
The CFM ratings you’re working to will usually be averages, calculated on the assumption you’ll be using air compressor power in short bursts. That’s fine if you’re powering something like a nail gun, but not if you’re running something continuously, such as a conveyor belt.

So for tools requiring continuous running, multiply their CFMs by 4.

Q: Are you using extension hoses?
The closer you can place the tool to the air compressor, the less chance there is of losing any significant amount of air flow through hoses, connectors, filters etc. If you’re operating on a large scale, with tools some distance from the central compressor, you’ll need to factor in airflow lost over distance.

As that figure will vary depending on the hoses and connectors used, call us on 0114 243 2347 for help in calculating your requirements.

Tank size?
Now, you should have a CFM figure, telling you how much air flow you’ll need to be able to produce. To equate that to air compressor tank size, multiply the figure by 6, and opt for the air compressor with the tank size that meets or is closest to (but above) it.

Need help finding the right air compressor for your application? Talk to Algar Air’s engineers now on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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My air compressor won’t switch on. Help!

 
1. Plug your compressor into the wall socket

Is your air compressor using a power brick or extension cable? Plug the compressor directly into the nearest wall socket to ensure it’s not the extension cable that’s at fault.

2. Check the on/off switch

Yes, we know it’s blatantly obvious but checking there’s power to the unit removes another potential source of the problem. It doesn’t however, guarantee that power is reaching the motor.

3. Check the pressure

Most air compressors have cut-in and cut-out points, that is, the pressure minima and maxima beyond which the compressor won’t work.

If the pressure in the tank is lower than the cut-in pressure it won’t start. Unplug the air compressor and try one or both of the following:

  • Lower the cut-in pressure to see if that sparks the compressor into life, or
  • Drain the tank and start afresh. To drain the air compressor, open the tank drain valve (which will also remove water), or pull the pressure relief valve ring. Draining the tank also removes trapped air (which could be another reason for your air compressor not starting).

If you’re not confident tackling the above steps, or if the above fail to resolve the issue, you’ll need support. For expert advice, and to arrange a repair, please call us on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

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What is ‘wet air’, and how do I prevent it?

 
If you’ve used air compressors to any extent, chances are you’ll be familiar with the gurgling and spitting that happens at the business-end of the machine as your compressor produces water as well as air. You may also be familiar with the way moisture can, for example, throw tyres off balance, ruin your paint spraying or sandblasting, or simply reduce the air pressure.

Water is bad news for compressed air, but where does it come from, and how can you get rid of it?

In all but the most arid places on earth, water is a frustrating by-product of compressing air. It occurs because the air your compressor sucks in includes water vapour. The act of compression causes the water vapour to heat up, filling your airlines with steam, which then condenses as it cools.

Filters will remove some of the moisture, but for precision applications like paint spraying, that frequently won’t be enough.

The power of dryers

 
Dryers remove far more moisture than filters. We operate two types:

Refrigerant dryers (almost counter-intuitively) accelerate the cooling process. They ensure more water vapour condenses quickly, where it can be collected and removed before it has the chance to reach the drills, sprays, guns and conveyors at the end of your air lines.

Desiccant dryers use ultra-absorbent materials to remove even more moisture, creating near-zero humidity by removing moisture to -70°C dewpoint.

To find out which drying system is right for your air compressor application, call us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

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Spray guns: will any air compressor do?

 
In paint spraying, often the first time you know something’s wrong with your compressed air equipment is when your carefully prepared surface ends up with that tell-tale orange peel effect. By which time, of course, it’s too late to do anything other than strip it all and start again.

The perfect paint finish requires a team effort. It’s not all down to the gun, the air compressor, the hose or connectors; it’s the result of each of them working effectively together.

So, to give yourself the best chance of a finish to be proud of, follow these steps:

1. Start with the gun
Your spray gun of choice will tell you the required air volume and operating pressure. Naturally, choosing an air compressor that lacks the capacity to deliver what the gun requires is setting yourself up to fail.

2. Choose your air compressor
A clean, dry, constant supply: that’s the magic formula for a great spray paint finish. So, compare the requirements of your gun with the capability of your air compressor.

The gun will require a certain operating pressure (given in psi) and air volume (given in cfm) and, theoretically at least, providing the capabilities of your air compressor outmatch the requirements of the gun, all should be well.

But things aren’t quite that simple. First, the compressor needs to deliver its air cleanly. Oil or water in the mix can damage the finish irrespective of compressor power, so filters need to be fitted and clean.

Second, an air compressor’s ability to deliver its stated pressure and volume can diminish depending on the accessories used.

3. Check the accessories
Too long a hose, or a damaged hose, can dramatically reduce the ability of your air compressor to deliver the required amount of air to the gun at the right pressure. The same is true of the fittings used to connect the hose to gun and air compressor.

Pressure loss can vary greatly, from making minimal difference, to being sufficient to drop the psi below the levels required by the gun.

An air regulator can help keep things constant (although it can also contribute to pressure drops) so to find the right combination of gun, hose, fittings and air compressor for your application, you’re best seeking expert advice.

For help in designing the right air compressor system for your paint spraying application, call us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Is it really ok to buy a used air compressor?

 
The short answer to that question is yes. There’s no reason why used air compressor equipment shouldn’t be perfectly capable of doing the job you need of it, safely, efficiently and successfully for years to come.

The issue isn’t so much the quality of the equipment, but the quality of the seller. By law, all air compressor equipment used within the workplace should be well maintained and have been examined (and certified as such) by a competent person. The problem comes when you can’t be sure either of those things has happened.

So the first step in buying used air compressor equipment is understanding the provenance of the equipment itself. If you have the evidence of certification and maintenance then, as with the log book of a used car, you should be able to buy with confidence.

One way of ensuring the used air compressor equipment you buy is safe and reliable is to buy it from an engineer like Algar Air. After all, there’s no simpler way of ensuring your equipment passes muster than by buying from people who a) are the “competent people” the law requires to certify such equipment, and b) have the experience and know-how to keep it well maintained.

You can find out more about our used air compressor equipment here.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Can I rely on my air compressor’s horsepower rating?

 
The air compressors we supply and install are designed for a range of uses, and as a result they have a range of power outputs, providing enough horsepower for a single tool, or for a whole factory floor of them. But horsepower in the air compressor industry has proved to be a rather unreliable measure, so how can you ensure the equipment you choose has the power you need?

The uncertainty stems from years of manufacturing practises that saw the horsepower quoted in the product spec as a measure of peak power output, not constant power. Another common source of confusion was to quote the volume of air a compressor could deliver at a lower pressure than the industry standard (thereby artificially inflating the stated power of the equipment).

So if you can’t rely absolutely on the stated horsepower of the machine, what can you rely on? Well, start with the standard measurement, which is SCFM (ie the volume – in cubic feet – of compressed air delivered in a minute, at sea level, 35% humidity and at 68°, compared to the discharge PSI. At least when you compare the SCFMs of two competing air compressors, you should be comparing like with like.

Even then, if you’re to guarantee being able to generate all the air you need, our advice is to overestimate your air requirements by 40%. That way, you’re certain not to find yourself with a brand new air compressor that’s unable to deliver during your peak demand periods.

If you need help ensuring that the decision you make is the right one, we’re here to help. Give us a call on 0114 243 2347 or contact us.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Do you really need a callout?

 
Ask us to repair your air compressor equipment and we won’t charge you a callout fee, but we will run through some simple troubleshooting over the phone to ensure the problem isn’t something you can resolve yourself.

With all the tips below, if they don’t solve the problem, or if you don’t know how to carry out our suggested checks, give us a call on 0114 243 2347.

•  Air compressor won’t turn on

Has a safety cut out tripped? Check the overload relay and reset if necessary. Make sure the emergency stop is out.

•  Compressor is running but not producing any air

The air is supplied via an inlet valve controlled by a solenoid valve. Whilst you may be able to check whether the valves have power, you’ll probably need to call us to fix the problem.

•  Compressor is not getting up to pressure

Could be caused by a variety of problems including leaks somewhere in the system or problems with inlet filters. Before you call us, check that the level of demand isn’t outstripping the air compressor’s capacity. If it is, it will be new compressor equipment you need, not a repair.

•  Compressor keeps cutting out

Check that your air compressor has the recommended levels of ventilation to ensure it’s not overheating. Check the oil too, and top it up if necessary.

•  There’s water in your compressed air

It’s completely normal to have a little water coming out of your compressed air system as it’s a natural by-product of air compression. But if you check the condensate trap or the manual drain and there’s lots of water there, give us a call.

If the above suggestions haven’t solved the problem, or if your problem is not on this list, please call us on 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Why is my air compressor making that noise?

 
It’s not unusual for an air compressor to make a bit of noise, but you quickly notice the difference between business as usual and ‘something’s not quite right’. Odd noises don’t necessarily point to a major problem, but they are worth getting to the bottom of, not least because minor issues tend not to stay minor for very long.

My air compressor is:

 
Squealing briefly on start-up:
Don’t worry – this is quite normal.

Clanking:
Often a sign of a loose part, which means your compressor will need a swift service if it isn’t to result in a breakdown.

Hissing:
Can be a sign of a refrigerant leak.

Screaming:
Could be sign of extreme internal pressure. Switch the compressor off immediately and call us.

Clicking:
Often a sign of a faulty or failing thermostat.

Humming:
If it’s coming from the electric motor it could be a sign that the capacitor is on its way out. Call us for a repair.

Buzzing/Crackling:
If the noise is coming from around the fan motor it could be a sign of loose wiring, an arcing connection or a failing motor.

If your air compressor equipment is making a noise, don’t ignore it. Talk to use about servicing and repair that will keep your workforce safe, and production moving. Please call 0114 243 2347, or contact us.

What We Do

 
Servicing | Service Contracts | General On-Site Maintenance | Repairs / Remedial Work | Breakdowns | Pipework Installations | Electrical Installations & Work | Removal, Transportation & Reinstallations

Using Compressed Air Safely

Working safety with comp air cardAnybody who works with Compressed Air should know how dangerous it is. However if you have new staff or need a refresher BCAS offer a Working Safely with Compressed Air Course. Here’s a handy document from BCAS listing the dos and don’ts.

 

“Air at 1 bar can ‘pop’ an eyeball from it’s socket”

 

For those who wish to use the compressed air to clean we offer a JetBlack BlowerJetBlack-Nozzle-OSHA-Nozzle-Assembly  which regulates the pressure to a safe level. This means that you can have worry-free compressed air for any de-dusting tasks.JetBlack-Wall-Mounted

For more information please contact us on 0114 243 2347 or complete our online form.

“0.25 Bar of air can rupture a bowel, lungs or intestine”

Insist on BCASBe Compliant And Safe!

 

Top Ten Tips!

Top ten tips from BCAS (British Compressed Air Society) for Compressed Air users:
1. Understand your electrical usage.
2. Assess usage regularly.
3. Check if the demand is fixed or variable.
4. Decide on your air quality requirements.
5. Make sure the location of Air Compressor is ideal.
6. Test noise levels.
7. Check for Air leaks regularly.
8. Ensure regular Servicing and Maintenance.
9. Use Compressed Air Safely.
10. Recover heat.
For more details see the attached exert from this year’s BCAS Compressed Air Technology Guide

BCAS Member Logo JPG_gray

Are you leaking money?

That’s the case if you have air leaks in your Compressed Air Pipework. Depending on the size of your compressed air pipework system you could be pouring thousands of pounds into the atmosphere. Though compressed air is free the electricity to power the Air Compressor is not.

Pipework
Case study:
Papermill – DS Smith Ltd in Somerset
The mill was running out of air. Our engineer Geoff had said that he believed that this was due to, in the main, air leaks rather than the introduction of new equipment. They are currently running 3 off Atlas Copco 90kw Air Compressors and having turn on their back-up Compressor(s) Broomwade VM500 to run the plant. Geoff proposed that we carry out an air leak survey. We tested and labelled leaks while logging each leak to be able to calculate the total loss. When we put the final report together they were losing 556 cfm which equates to approximately £76,000 at 8p per kw per annum.
So next time the financial director comes to you asking how to save money – tell them to have a leak test survey carried out! Contact us now on 0114 2432347

Saving £££ – Interested?

We tend to find that the Air Compressor is the most neglected piece of equipment in any business. They are ignored and unloved by most but consider the crisis that ensues when the trusty Air Compressor does breakdown. Servicing your Compressed Air Equipment regularly significantly decreases the likelihood of breakdowns. Just like with a car if you have it regularly maintained then any faults that occur can be prevented from becoming terminal. For example; our engineer picks up that the Motor on an 11kw Air Compressor is starting to sound noisy. We change the bearings £350 (Parts & Labour) instead of the Motor running until it seizes which would result in a new Motor £695 (Motor only) the saving is plain to see. We are pleased to are offer servicing on all types of Air Compressors from small Piston Industrial Air Compressors 1.5kw upto 7.5kw on manufacturers like ABAC, Clarkair, Fiac, Fini, Nuair, SIP Industrial, for example. For the Larger Screw Industrial Air Compressors from 4kw to 160kw on manufacturers like Atlas Copco, Avelair, Broomwade, BOGE, Compair, Demag, Fini, Fluidair International, Grassair, Hertz Kompressoren, HPC, Hydrovane, Ingersoll Rand, Smart. We can develop a servicing schedule to suit your working environment and the manufacturer’s recommended servicing schedule.

Heat Recovery make more of your Air Compressor

The external BOGE DUOTHERM heat recovery system saves you real money because it can recover up to 72 percent of the input energy used in compression in the form of heat. This can be utilised to supplement your heating or for pre-heating water for use in an industrial process.
The DUOTHERM system is engineered for retrofitting existing screw compressors with a heat recovery system. A generously dimensioned high quality heat exchanger can be connected with a few simple steps to either the oil system of the compressor or the customer’s water system to provide hot water for heating purposes or pre-heating industrial water at no charge. The oil-water heat exchanger alone is capable of recovering up to 75 percent of the energy — thus cutting costs and protecting the environment. For more information please do not hesitate to call.

NEW – Low Noise Air Compressors

We are pleased to offer a NEW range of NuAir LowNoise compressors that have been designed to offer higher technical features to meet the specific needs of professional customers. This series is a compact version of the world’s most successful reciprocating air compressor, with easy access for maintenance that can be installed easily in any suitable location:

  • Single Phase, 13 amp supply
  • Portable
  • Larger Handles & wheels
  • Unique “Tech” Control Panel
  • Genuine B2800 Pump Unit (Belt Driven)
  • 2 year warranty (T & Cs apply)

Please contact us if this would be something that you’d like to know more about.

Have you revised your Written Scheme recently?

We received a frantic phone call this month from someone who’d just received a fine for not having their ‘Compressor Certificate’ which in actual fact was the Air Receiver/Tank Certification. The Compressed Air is stored in the Air Receiver/ Air Tank, so it is the most dangerous part of the Air Compressor if it is not regularly inspected (which is a visual and ultrasonic inspection) and regularly drained of condensate, to be correctly disposed of through an Oil/Water Separator System.

We talked the Garage through the legislation (Pressure Safety System Regulations 2000) surrounding Compressed Air Installations, explaining the Written Scheme of Examination and directing them tohttp://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg178.pdf for more details. We then organised the production of a Written Scheme and are now on with the Ultrasonic testing of the Air Receiver. If the garage had been a customer of Algar Air’s already we’d have made sure they knew about the legislation and helped them comply with it.

Need more Air but don’t want to buy another Air Compressor?

There are certain cases when we can extend pipework and include an Air Receiver/Air Tank to provide air to a part of the factory where the pressure might drop off. This month we did just that for a Lift manufacturer. We installed a full 2” Galvanised Steel Ring Main in an extension to their factory using 2” Pipe, Bracketing, Fixings & Fittings, including Isolation Taps. We installed a 1000 Litre vertical Air Receiver to store Air due to the Air Compressor being situated at the other side of the Factory. We connected into the old Ring Main at 2 different points to give an even flow of air into the new Ring Main. We will always listen to your requirements and try to come up with a solution to any problem.

Size does matter!

We have specialist pipework engineers who aren’t just fitters. The engineering knowledge is vital to the correct sizing of Pipework Installations. This month we installed a full 1” Compressed Air Ring Main into a new factory with twenty three 1” drops in required locations for Hard Metal Machinery using 1” Pipe Galvanised, Isolation Taps, Bracketing, Fixings & Fittings & electrically installed 50 metres of 4mm, 4 Core, SY Cable & 2 off 32amp Isolators for both Air Compressors, ran-up & tested.

You name it – we can do it!

We have always prided ourselves on our ability to offer our customers an all encompassing service. The aim for us is to offer the best customer service possible while removing the stress of the customer having to manage the work. Our staff come from various industrial backgrounds each being able to service and maintain Air Compressors but also having another set of skills we are able to offer. As an example this month at one of our Customers; a Manufacturer and Supplier of Doorsets, Ironmongery and Screenshots:

  1. Supply & install Hi-Line CDA15 Fridge Dryer with Pre & After Filters.
  2. Relocate Fork Lift Truck Charger.
  3. Install 2 off Emergency Lights.
  4. Install Electrics for Glue Machine.
  5. Install Fuse board.
  6. Edge Bander repairs.
  7. Pipework from Compressor to new machines.

Is your Compressor Noisy?

It is important to keep regular checks on your Air Compressor. Any changes in noise can signify a potential expensive Bearing failure. This was the case with one of our local Prisons. Our contact on site notified us of the Air Compressor running noisier. We attended site straight away and on clearing security along with our escort the engineer soon discovered the fault was down to the Motor & Airend Bearings starting to fail. We arranged to remove the machine, install a temporary hire Compressor and carry out the relevant work to the Atlas Copco Air Compressor. Removing the need for the replacement of either the Motor or Airend or possibly the entire Air Compressor, if the unit had failed.

Wrap up and keep warm!

Advice for your Compressed Air Systems through the winter period. Don’t forget to prepare your building and Compressed Air equipment ready for the cold snap.

We can all take measures to prevent damage and breakdowns to our Air Compressors and associated equipment caused by extreme cold temperatures. Here are a few tips from us.

  • Drain all Air Receivers, Condensate Drains and Electronic Drain Valve etc of water to prevent ice forming
  • If possible; insulate any Oil/Water Separators that exposed to the elements
  • All Rotary Screw Air Compressors need to be covered or have small heaters installed inside so they don’t drop below freezing. Please contact us for further information about an installation
  • We’d be happy to assist you by carrying out a site survey for your specific circumstances
  • If you need any De-icing Salt for the icy conditions to come please contact the office for a special offer price of £9.95 (exc Vat) per 25kg bag. Please call 0114 2432347 and quote NOV09

Written Scheme of Examination Updates

Recently, current customers will have received their annual review form for their Written Scheme of Examination. If you haven’t already please return the completed form as soon as you can.

It is extremely important to keep your Written Scheme of Examination up to date so all your Compressed Air equipment is scheduled to be inspected at the correct intervals. If you don’t have Scheme already or haven’t received your review form please contact head office on 0114 2432347. If you would like more information on the regulations please visit our ‘Legislation Page’ on our website.

Waste Carrier Licence

New Waste Carrier Licence received! As per the Waste (England & Wales) Regulations 2011 we are certified for the next three years to remove your hazardous waste from site. Please remember as Hazardous Waste Producers you will need to Register** your business with the Environment Agency so we can remove the Waste Oil and any associated Oil contaminated Compressed Air Service Items. Please visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk for more information.

The sources of hazardous waste in compressed air systems are.

  • Condensate
  • Oil from servicing
  • Used oil filters elements
  • Desiccant
  • Air filter elements
  • Air end/pump items

Our Waste Carrier Licence Number for your records is CB/WM3184TH. If you’d like a copy of our certificate please email info@algarair.co.uk or each engineer carries a card.

**You may not need to register if you produce less than 500kg of Hazardous Waste per year