The importance of ambient air quality.

Where you install your air compressor has a direct impact on compressed air quality, your air compressor's operation, and consequently, your compressed air system's reliability.

Air compressors need air, primarily for the function of compressing it and sending it down pipes to perform work, and also as a critical cooling medium to keep air compressors running the way they should, consistently, reliably and efficiently.  

Ambient air intake should have been designed to feed from an outside source with appropriate ducting.

What is ambient air anyway? And why is it important?

Air is a mixture of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Water vapour also accounts for 1% of its constitution, on average.

Air also contains various particles and contaminants, such as dust, pollen, as well as pollution, which is the introduction into ambient air of any substance that has harmful effects on the environment and people, such as vehicle or industrial exhausts, etc. And depending on where you are, it can be visible, or invisible, have odour or be odourless. Being aware of air quality is important for many reasons, not just the effectiveness and efficiency of a compressed air system.


Caution: Using oil-free air compressors won't prevent oil and other contaminants from entering your system.

When air compressors are located in areas that have polluted or smelly air, then, so too will the compressed air being used for the work also be contaminated.  Our compressed air system auditors are often tasked with determining the reason for ‘bad smelling’ compressed air; for example, we have visited large manufacturing facilities where employees had been sent home due to the odour in the compressed air.  Most often, the cause of this is polluted air from the environment being drawn into the inlet of the air compressor.

Critical applications often call for oil-free air compressors, lending users a sense that the compressed air is cleaner, but often we see intakes to these air compressors coming from parking garages, or beside highways where the air is filled with pollutants.

Fact, if your oil-free air compressor is drawing air with oil particles and other contaminants, these oil particles and contaminants will ultimately end up in your compressed air, if appropriate compressed air treatment isn’t implemented.



It's important to assess your ambient air quality.

Let’s reiterate...atmospheric air that is dirty will ultimately affect your air compressor’s reliability: Inlet filters clog more quickly affecting air compressor efficiency, oil life will be shortened by ingesting incompatible chemicals, etc.

Our compressed air system auditors have seen air compressor oil turn to jelly from the air compressor drawing in water treatment chemicals from boilers/coolers, which will clog, causing air compressors to run hot, leading to heat-related maintenance concerns.

The costs of drawing dirty air into your air compressor can add up quickly:

  1. Increased maintenance of filters.
  2. Shorter oil life.
  3. Clogged coolers overheating reducing air compressor life.
  4. Polluted compressed air results in an unhealthy, and possibly unsafe workplace environment.

As one can see, it is important to assess the ambient air quality of any application, because it not only has a direct impact on your air system's operational effectiveness and efficiency but also on the health and safety of your people.