Compressed Air ..2

Plumbing compressed air is continued here.

The first page of information on compressed air plumbing, found here, talks about the plumbing of a home workshop type portable compressor.

This page discussed the fixed compressor installation.

While hard-piping of an industrial air compressor is normal, some folks opt to have a portable compressor able to be connected to fixed plumbing in the shop, and then use the portable plumbing when they have moved the compressor elsewhere.

The concepts for both heavy duty industrial compressor and home shop compressor plumbing are the same, the level of expense will vary substantially.

What Pipe

I am now moving into the plumbing the plant discussion, and it occurred to me that, so far, I have not talked about what air pipe to use when plumbing compressed air runs.

If you want to read about it now here is in-depth information on compressed air piping materials.

Fixed Compressor Installation

Filter First

First off, you will want a general purpose filter installed at the discharge of the compressor. That filter port size must be either the same pipe size as the discharge line, or bigger. If the filter is installed right at the outlet for a large compressor air tank, for example, you do not want to take the chance on restricting air flow to your plant air mains by having a too-small filter installed here.

What compressed air filters do and how they operate can be found here. There is not much point in rewriting all the info and adding it to this page. Go to the filters section first, if you are not sure about them, please.

Air Regulators

While small portable air compressors come with a regulator installed on the compressor discharge as a norm, there is generally no need to install one on the discharge from a larger, fixed installation compressor discharge.

I am a strong proponent of throttle down air pressure at the point of use, to reduce compressed air use and wear and tear on the equipment, you do not want to restrict air flow in any way from the plant compressor to the air mains in the factory or plant.

You will want to install an air regulator at every point-of-use in the shop, so you can adjust the pressure to the optimal setting for that piece of equipment.

Here is in-depth information on air regulators for you.

The drawing below shows the air filter where the compressed air exits the main tank.

After Cooler

In the drawing I show the compressed air passing through a compressed air cooler, one of which you will need if your plant is consuming a lot of compressed air.

High consumption of air means higher air temperature entering the plant mains, and that is not good for compressor water getting downstream as described on these pages.

The drawing also shows a drop leg and drop leg drain (very important) as the air line from the compressor tank heads up to the ceiling mains in the plant or shop.

Plumbing Compressed Air

If you are plumbing compressed air from the compressor for plant use, you will want to plumb the air in a similar fashion to what is shown in the sketch above.

If it is a home shop you are plumbing air for and you want a hard-plumbed-station into which you can plug the air from your portable air compressor, then this is the right way to plumb that station, particularly if you are going to be using the compressor in the fixed-installation a lot.

You have now plumbed properly from the compressor discharge or from the air tank, through to the air filter, perhaps through cooler or drier, and then to a Tee.

Below the Tee there is a section of drop line, at the end of which is a drain. This could be a manual drain, or an automatic float drain. If you use an lot of air, make this an auto drain, so the maintenance folks do not have to worry about remembering to drain it regularly.

Now you want to make the connection from the riser air pipe into the ceiling air mains.

Plumbing At The Ceiling

Plumbing Compressed Air

The line that goes up to the ceiling, whether supplying air up to the main, or bringing air from the main back down to an application, loops over the pipe, and connects on the top, as shown in the photo.

Any water that is in the riser line already will tend to stay in the riser, dripping down to the auto drain, and any water that has condensed in the air main, will tend to stay in the main, rather than following the air drops down to the air using equipment, since any water condensate in the mains will be on the bottom of the pipe, not up at the top where the air is taken from.

Do you plumb this way for your home workshop? Entirely up to yourself and the amount of air you expect to be using. If your air use is measured in hours rather than minutes, it is probably a good idea to install your air supply lines properly.

Here is more on plumbing compressed air.