Broken Air Intake Filter


It's happened to me, and from the number of questions about it, it's happened to many others. Your air compressor has a broken air intake filter?

As we all know, the air compressor pump pulls in air as it cycles, and then pushes that air into the tank. The more air that goes into the tank, the higher the tank pressure.

The air that the air compressor pump is pulling into the compression chamber is not clean. Witness the top of the end table a fews days after the last dusting! The air is full of what I like to call "bricks and two by fours".

This dirty air can degrade the components of the pump if the compressor is pulling in air full of grit etc., so it's important to keep that stuff out of the pump. That's what the compressors broken air intake filter used to do!


broken air intake filter
The red dots identify the air intake filters on this lovely twin cylinder compressor pump.

With larger, more industrial type air compressors, there are usually lots of places to acquire a replacement for a broken air intake filter, or to buy the media that goes inside the filter, the part that actually filters the air.

For those with the low cost, big box store types of air compressors, few of these have a supply chain in place to provide after sale parts. What's a user of this type of air compressor to do when they have a broken air intake filter?

How to replace a broken air intake filter

Remove the broken filter, or the nub inside the intake port of the air compressor pump. Measure the size of the male thread on the filter, or the hole size in the pump. Use the fitting pages on this site (NPT and Metric) to determine what the size is if you are not sure.

Measure both the O.D. of the filter housing, and where possible, the O.D. of the hole in the side or bottom of the filter into which the air is pulled.

Google air compressor intake filter and you will find lots of after market filters.

Pick an air filter that has the same male thread size, the same or larger filter housing O.D., and the same or larger intake hole for air to get into the filter. As long as you are not restricting the air intake into the pump, pretty much any air compressor intake filter will do.

Air intake filter element is dirty!


If the air compressor is under warranty, get a recommendation for replacement from the manufacturer, if one is availailable.

Otherwise, I would buy the smallest (cheapest), 1" thick, furnace filter similar to this one:


broken air intake filter
Basic furnace filter to be cut up and used as element in air intake filter

After getting it home, I would remove the cardboard housing, and using my existing air filter element or housing as a guide, cut the media to fit.

If the filter housing has a space, I would cut two or three (or as many needed) rounds to fit the element, to increase the filtering capability of the intake filter.

Remember back when I wrote that the typical air intake filter was to remove "bricks and two by fours" from the incoming air stream. This filter element will do just that.

Obviously, if the air intake filter on your compressor is more elaborate than those I refer to you will need to pursue the right element more aggresively. Yet, if that were the case, likely a more elaborate filter element will justify an after market supply stream, and you mayhave no problem getting a replacement.

Good luck with replacing your broken air intake filter or filter element. If, after reviewing this information, you still have questions, feel free to post them in the ASK forum on this site.