How To Change
       Compressor Oil

How to change compressor oil? On these pages I will provide as much of a step-by-step process for you as I can. The process of changing compressor oil is normally not difficult. It can, however, be really messy if you are not careful.

All oil-lubricated compressors from different compressor manufacturers will have slightly different oil change processes. I do think though that the overall concepts will work for all oil-lubricated compressors.

Ask Question

If, after you've read these pages, you still have questions about your compressor oil, go here and read the questions and answers others have posed. If your question is not already answered, there is a form on that page where you can ask a question about how to change compressor oil.


Does It Use Oil

This may sound a bit silly, but it is a mistake easily made.

Not all compressors are oil lubricated. Make sure that your compressor is. A lot of the little DIY type air compressors available from the big box stores these days are lubrication oil-free. You cannot easily change the oil because there isn't any!

Oil Sump

Oil lubricated compressors have an oil sump similar in concept to an automobile oil pan.

Lubricating oil that is added to the compressor flows down into the oil sump and sits there, waiting for the compressor to start.

Splash or Pump Lubrication

When the compressor is running, depending on the size and type of air compressor, oil will either splash up from the sump into the areas that require lubricating, or there will be an integral pump to pump the oil from the sump up to the parts needing lubrication.

The typical DIY type oil-lubricated home compressor will be the splash lubed variety. If it is splash lubed there will be no expensive oil pumps to install and maintain, and, if the unit is designed to be splash lubed, that process works just fine.

Type Of Oil

I want to deal with the type compressor oil issue as many requests come in from folks wanting to know what oil to use in their compressors.

My rule is simple. If my air compressor is under warranty, I use the oil that is recommended in the manual.

If the warranty period for the air compressor has passed, then I buy compressor lubricating oil from my hardware store.

This rule applies to home DIY compressors only. Some of the more sophisticated and larger compressors used by industry have very specific requirements for oil, and you must use the oil recommended by that compressor manufacturer or you void the warranty or cause oil-related issues.

Do Not

Do not use any other type of oil in your air compressor except oil that is clearly labelled as Compressor Lubricating Oil.

Compressor oil has the proper additives to make it suitable for the compressor lubricating environment. These additives are not necessarily found in automobile oil, air tool oil, etc.

Also, the additives that are other types of oils are not compatible, and in fact may damage, your air compressor.

Change Oil When

Change the compressor oil regularly, like you do in your car.

For the DIY type air compressor user, unless you are using it all the time, follow the manual guidelines or change the oil once a year.

If it is an industrial air compressor being used continuously, depending on the model of your air compressor and the manufacturer's recommendations, consider changing the oil every 300 hours of compressor operation.