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Air Compressor Intake Filter – Replacing, Locating, Cleaning & Purpose Guide

Published Categorized as Air Compressor Maintenance, Air Filters, Replacing Components 4 Comments on Air Compressor Intake Filter – Replacing, Locating, Cleaning & Purpose Guide

For obvious reasons, it is a very good idea to filter the incoming air into your air compressor pump. The environment in which air compressors operate within tends to be quite dirty, full of dust and other particulates!

As most applications require high-quality air it makes sense to have a high-quality air filter at the intake of the air compressor to protect the air compressor and the desired applications.

Table of Contents

What Is an Air Compressor Air Intake Filter?

A compressor air intake filter is the first line of defense of the system that stops dust and other contaminants from entering the air compressor process and equipment.

As you should know, the air compressor pump pulls in air as it cycles on, and then pushes this air into the tank. The more air that goes into the tank, the higher the tank pressure becomes.

The air that the air compressor pump is pulling into the compression chamber is not clean by all means. Have a look around your garage or workshop, I’m sure you can agree it’s full of dust!

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 try to keep that stuff out of the pump. That’s where the compressor’s air intake filter comes into play!

Below is an image of a twin-cylinder pump with two air intake filters identified by the red dots!

Air Compressor Intake Filter - Replacing, Locating, Cleaning & Purpose Guide
Broken Air Intake Filter

The filters can also come equipped with silencers which can reduce intake noise by up to 15 dB while maximizing air flow.

How Does an Air Compressor Air Intake Filter Work?

The air around most air compressors contains all sorts of contaminants such as dirt, metal swarf, moisture, mold, and sawdust just to name a few… I’m sure you can think of many more air impurities right?

So the air filter, which typically has a paper element very similar in construction to an ordinary automotive air filter, traps contaminants in this element and aims to only allow air through to the compression process.

Why Do I Need to Check My Compressor Air Intake Filter?

Due to its job of trapping particulates in its filter element to stop them from entering the compressor air stream, they can become very contaminated over time.

If they’re left unchecked or uncleaned for a long enough period, the contaminants that have built up will eventually become a plug to the air paths in the intake filter element.

This will force the compressor to work a lot harder to intake enough air for the system to work efficiently, causing you greater energy costs and certainly more frequent maintenance.

It could even get to the point that the compressor intake filters are so clocked up that the compressor will need to run for an extended period to get to the tank pressure cut-out level. And, during this lengthy time, the compressor motor could overheat and shut down the air compressor.

Now you must agree with me, it’s worth checking your air intake filter regularly to clean it and then replacing it when necessary!

How to Clean Compressor Air Intake Filter

There are a number of simple methods of cleaning your air intake filter that can be of great use to you!

Before doing anything, remove the filter from your compressor and then take the filter element out of that. When doing so, be careful that no dirt or contaminants fall into the air filter box.

Now that you have the filter element removed from the filter component, you can do any of the following:

  • Apply/spray cleaning solution and let it soak, then rinse thoroughly
  • Use a garden hose with a small amount of pressure and rinse the filter with water (rinse from in to out so that any leftover dirt falls out)
  • Dispense a small amount of liquid dish soap into a bucket with warm water and swish the air filter gently in the water, rinse thoroughly afterward in running warm water

Ensure that you let the air filter element dry properly before putting it back into the component and then using it in the compressor.

I would only recommend cleaning your filter a few times. As intake filters are generally not that expensive it may be a good idea to simply replace them with a new one!

How to Replace a Broken Air Compressor Air Intake Filter

  • Remove the air intake filter: First of all, remove the broken filter or the nub inside the intake port of the air compressor pump!
  • Measure the filter thread: 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 unsure.
  • Measure the filter diameters: Measure both the outside diameter of the filter housing and where possible, the outside diameter of the hole in the side or bottom of the filter into which the air is being pulled.
  • Find the part number: If the air compressor is under warranty, get a recommendation for replacement from the manufacturer, if one is available.
  • Find a replacement: Google “compressor intake filter” and you will find lots of after-market filters. Or even better, have a look on Amazon. They have some great very reasonably priced filters like the one below, that work as a silencer too!
  • Fit replacement: Fit the replacement air filter. Avoid using the air compressor without the air intake filter as this could lead to long-term damage.

Note: Pick an air filter that has the same male thread size, the same or larger filter housing outside diameter, and the same or larger intake hole for air to enter 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 Compressor Blowing Air Out Intake? visit our guide!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do I need a filter on my air compressor?

Absolutely! High air quality is an absolute must for any air compressor. Providing your pneumatic tools at the end of your line with clean air will significantly extend their lifespan and help reduce maintenance needs.

What is the function of the filter as a compressor component?

The sole function of a filter is to ‘filter’ out any particulates that are contaminating the compressors air stream. The aim is to have as high-quality air as possible being delivered to your pneumatic tools at the end of the line, and to do so, you need to filter out the dust, debris, moisture etc. so that the compressor itself and the tools do not get damaged!

By Bill Wade

About Air Compressors has been helping folks with their Air Compressor Problems since 2002 online. We're a community of DIY and Compressed Air professionals who are keen to support everyone across the globe with their air compressor issues and troubleshooting. Whether you're trying to identify an old air compressor, or troubleshoot an error code on a sophisticated new industrial air compressor - the community at About-Air-Compressors.com is here to help you

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