As the days get hotter, have you checked your air compressors recently? Cleaning coolers now means fewer repairs down the road.
Dirty intercoolers and aftercoolers can increase the temperature inside the compressor due to higher humidity levels and rising temperatures. If you do not schedule time for maintenance, your coolers may schedule it for you, causing a loss of plant air.
Dirty or aged intercoolers can increase air temperature and reduce air density in the compression stage, resulting in a reduction in the efficiency range or turndown. Ultimately, this will decrease the airflow produced. In the summer months, heat and humidity can exacerbate this situation, further compromising an air compressor’s capacity.
These factors create the perfect environment for a surge, which occurs when inlet flow is reduced to the degree that is insufficient to overcome the discharge pressure of the compressor. Compressors that experience surge are operating in a state of aerodynamic instability. Surge is a state of the air compressor that, if experienced long enough it could cause harm to the components of the compressor.
Another important cooler to keep clean is the oil cooler. Oil coolers help maintain the air compressor’s oil at a steady temperature level of 115-125F. Higher temperatures above 140F can affect the quality of the oil and lead to varnish. Anything below 115F will carry water, which decreases oil lubricity, leading to early bearing failures and failures of other parts that are lubricated by the oil. Keeping the oil cooler clean will help maintain the oil temperature at the ideal 115-125F/C levels.
Recommended Cooler Cleaning
With this in mind, FS-Elliott’s scheduled maintenance guidelines call for annual inspection of all heat exchangers, including intercoolers, aftercoolers, and oil coolers.
- Intercooler(s) & Aftercooler - Replace tubesheet gaskets every 8,000 hours or annually
- Oil Cooler - Replace tubesheet gaskets every 8,000 hours or annually
- Drains - Test condensate drain valves or auto drain traps every 2,000 hours or quarterly
- Check the cold temperature differential (CTD) - Check every 2,000 hours or quarterly
Your authorized FS-Elliott channel partner or sales representative
can provide the know-how to inspect, maintain, and help keep your compressors operating at peak efficiency. Check in with them to prevent your air compressor coolers from experiencing heat stroke.