Compressor tank check valves fail from time to time. Here are some troubleshooting tips for buying a replacement compressor tank check valve when that becomes necessary.

Typically a compressor tank check valve failure occurs due to contamination building up inside the check valve, which prevents the flapper or seating ball from closing tightly enough to prevent air back flowing through the valve.

For more information on how air compressor check valves work, what they do and why they exist – check out our guide explaining everything you need to know about Air Compressor Check Valves

Table of Contents

Symptoms of an Air Compressor Tank Check Valve Failure

The symptoms of a compressor tank check valve failure include air bleeding out the unloader valve all the time the air compressor is stopped.

If you are experiencing symptoms that suggest that the compressor tank check valve has failed, the first thing to do is to attempt to clean the check valve.

General Tips for Check Valve Inspection

It’s critical to also conduct regular inspections on all parts of the air compressor including the check valves. This can include but not limited to:

  • Checking the valves for leaks
  • Looking for any signs of corrosion, rust or mineral build-up
  • Ensure you replace the valves if there are extensive leaks or damage
  • Open & close the valves to ensure they are not seizing up
  • Conduct an inspection on the pressure and temperature of fluids flowing through them
  • Ensure they’re not close to or over the rated limit for the valves

If you need to clean everything, the valve must be disassembled and taken out. Hydraulic fluid can then be used to wash this, or whatever fluid is present in your system. 

How to Clean Air Compressor Check Valves

Cleaning the check valve first involves removing it from the compressor tank and  disconnecting any air lines as that is accomplished.

Blowing air through the check valve in the opposite direction of normal flow, using some sort of solvent to clean out the inside of the check valve, and sometimes simply by flushing them with hot water can resolve the issue.

It is important to keep your check valves clean so that damage is prevented. A towel can suffice to wipe excess dirt and dust off, if the debris is plastered all over the valve a wire brush can be of great use. It’s important to keep the valve lubricated as this can ensure optimum operation and better efficiency. Lubrication will keep you from having to replace or repair the check valve so soon. 

If those fail to clean the valve then that means it’s time to replace the check valve and buy a new one.

Common Issues With Compressor Tank Check Valves

Leaky Tank Check Valve

Many folks, with an air leak at the pressure switch, may think that the switch itself is leaking or that the unloader valve has failed, and is allowing compressed air to bleed out of the air tank.

While a leaking unloader valve is a possibility, the more frequent occurrence is that the check valve has not seated properly, and is allowing air to bleed out of the tank, when normally it should be shut tight allowing no compressed air to escape.

Depending on how much debris was in the check valve seats or the level of check valve failure that had occurred, would determine whether the leak out of the unloader valve was slight or a lot of wasted compressed air.

If you have a leaking unloader valve, first make sure the compressor power is off, that the tank is drained of all compressed air, then remove and clean or replace the check valve assembly to stop the leak.

The check valve can also break down and on occasions cause a significant amount of oil to pour out the inlet. 

Cold Start Valve Leaking

Having an issue with your cold start valve leaking on your check valve?

If the “cold start” valve is leaking, the air has to be coming from the tank. If the cold start valve is truly a valve, then it’s purpose is to allow air out briefly when the compressor stops, and to shut off the flow out when the compressor is running.

Test it! By that I mean pulling the assembly, wiping it down, putting the part that goes into the tank into your mouth, and blowing through it.

However, some compressors do without an unloader valve entirely, putting a small hole in the line or fitting to the tank, and bleeding a small amount of air all the time. This costs the compressor owner wasted energy, yet saves the compressor manufacturer the cost of an unloader valve. Once the compressor cuts out in high pressure, the hole bleeds the air over the piston to ease the restart.

How to Test Air Compressor Check Valves?

How to test if your air compressor check valve is bad and not working effectively? I will provide you with this simple method:

First detach your check valve from the air compressor if you haven’t already, and wipe away any debris left on it. Now referring back to the image displaying the 3 ports, wrap your lips around the valve below the tank threads at port 1 and blow!

If the tank ball check or flapper valve is working efficiently, no air should exit either of ports 2 or 3. IF air does leak out one or both of these ports then your check valve is not seating.

You should try washing the valve following the guidance already presented in this article. If the leak still persists, I would recommend replacing it.

I have picked out a couple useful youtube demonstrations on how to test air compressor check valves:

1)

2)

How to Replace Air Compressor Check Valves

At this point I assume that you have removed the check valve from the air compressor. If not, please do so and have a close look at it so that you can identify your replacement. 

buying a replacement compressor tank check valve
Tank Check Valve Images: amazon.com

These are a couple of compressor tank check valves shown above. Others may vary slightly from these, yet pretty much all will have the common elements as shown in the graphic.

Have a close look your check valve and determine where the line enters it from the top of the compressor pump (marked 3), where the line goes if there is an air line from the compressor tank check valve over to the unloader valve (marked 2), and at the thread that threads into the compressor tank to determine its size (marked 1).

As long as the replacement tank check valve you acquire has these elements in common sizes with the old, the new tank check valve should work, regardless of the brand or supplier.

Not sure about fitting thread sizes? Visit our NPT fittings and Metric fittings pages for information about figuring out the thread sizes on the air compressor tank check valve.

Replacing your Tank Check Valve with a Different Valve

It is not necessary to replace the compressor tank valve with one of the exact same make, a situation that may become necessary when smaller, lower cost, air compressors have a parts failure and parts for it are not available at all.

It is necessary to replace the tank check valve with one that has the same operation and fitting sizes, though bushings can be used if necessary to change the size of one or more of these threads to modify them to fit.

If you use your browser to search for “replacement compressor check valve”, you will find quite a selection.

Try to find one that looks similar to your existing valve. In particular, one that has a similar thread size, and similar connection ports for the lines from the pump head and the one that plumbs over to the unloader valve.

Once the compressed air gets into the air tank that is where it should stay until such time an air tool is connected to the discharge coupler on the compressor, and air flows down the air line to the air tool. Compressed air should never escape back up past the compressor tank check valve flapper to escape out the hose to and through the unloader valve.

If that is happening it’s time either to clean or to replace the valve, and if cleaning it doesn’t work following our guide, I hope this guide on how to buy a replacement compressor tank check valve helps.

Comments & Responses on Check Valve Issues

Coleman compressor – How do you clean check valve?

Air bleeds from compressor after charging.

How do you know if it is the check valve?

How do you clean check valve?

Checked all lines in and out of tank and compressor.

Unloader valve discharges a lot of air while compressor operating. Compressor is a Coleman.

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Where the air bleeds from is important.

The first step is to have a look at the the sitemap for the pages on this site that explain the operation of the UNLOADER VALVE and also the operation of the CHECK VALVE.

“How do you know if it is the check valve?” The answer to that is described on the pages.

Also noted is the typical location of the check valve where the line from the top of the compressor pump enters the tank. Often, there is a tee off of an air line over to the pressure switch, and this is the line that goes, again normally, to your unloader valve.

It sure sounds like your check valve is leaking. Dump all the air from the compressors and unplug it before you start disassembling the line into the tank to pull the check valve, inspect it, make sure it closes, and reassemble.

Would you please provide the Coleman compressor model number and upload a photo or two of it too so we can all see what the model looks like?

Campbell Hausfeld VT558704 check valve bad

by Sam
(Plainfield, IN, USA)

Is my Campbell Hausfeld VT558704 check valve bad on our shop air compressor?Campbell Hausfeld VT558704 parts diagram

Campbell Hausfeld VT558704 parts diagram
Photo: Master Tool Repair

When the pump is off, the unloader valve is constantly releasing air.

I’ve tried to remove the check valve from the tank but the bottom of the valve is connected to something inside the tank so I can’t remove the check valve to verify that it is the problem… any suggestions?


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I don’t have any idea what the check valve would be attached to inside the compressor tank. As far as I know, it shouldn’t be attached to anything

If you visit the CH website here:

www.chpower.com/manualsearch/

…you can input the part number and download the manual and parts list.

I did so, and have added the section of the parts image relating to the check valve.

Item #20 is the check valve, and item #21 is the gasket that seals the check valve onto the manifold.

Once you have removed the air line from the check valve, compressor off and tank empty of air first of course, the valve itself should screw right out of the manifold.

I ask anyone that has this type of compressor to comment, if they have successfully removed and replaced the check valve, to help Sam out.

Check valve leaking on Emglo

by Bob Ally
(Lakeland Florida)

I have an issue with the cold start valve leaking on my check valve . I Just replaced the pressure switch and the check valve on an Emglo portable air compressor and still have the same issue.Air Mate AM78HC4V

Air Mate AM78HC4V

Any suggestions?

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Model number
by: Bob

The model is Air Mate AM78HC4V 1.5 HP
The pressure switch that was replaced is 90/125 1 port, unloader, on/off Furnas style.
Hope this helps

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Air Mate AM78HC4V leaking
by: Bill

OK, thanks. I’ve uploaded an image so that we all know what compressor we are talking about.

If, when you say “cold start valve leaking on my check valve” you are referring to the unloader valve leaking when the compressor is off, then it’s still your tank check valve that is leaking, Bob.

The unloader is open all the time the compressor is off. The only place air can be coming from after the pump unloads is the tank. The only way air can be coming out of the tank with the compressor off is if the tank check valve leaks.

If I’ve misunderstood the question, please clarify for me.

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Check valve leaking
by: BOB Ally

Bill, Thanks for the comment, perhaps I should clarify that when I turn the compressor on the air is escaping from the small “cold start” valve on the side of the check valve.

So consequently the tank never builds up pressure.

As I stated earlier I’ve replaced both the pressure switch and the check valve. Hope this helps, Thanks

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Cold start valve
by: Bill

Bob, I’m having a tough time visualizing what you mean by the “cold start valve” on the side of the check valve.

Please add a couple of photos of the check valve / cold start valve.

Once again, if, when you say “cold start valve leaking on my check valve” you are referring to the unloader valve leaking when the compressor is off, then it’s still your tank check valve that is leaking.

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Cold Start leaking
by: Bill

Hi Bob…

I’m in the throes of reviewing  the information you sent. Thanks.

I was not aware that this model of Emglo has basically two unloader valves, the “cold start” valve you refer to being one of them.

The purpose of both is to ensure there is no additional air-pressure load whatsoever on the pump piston when the compressor goes to start, this aiding cold weather starting.

If the “cold start” valve is leaking, the air has to be coming from the tank. If the cold start valve is truly a valve, then it’s purpose is to allow air out briefly when the compressor stops, and to shut off the flow out when the compressor is running.

So, if it ain’t the tank check valve that’s leaking, then it’s got to be a failed cold start valve. Did you replace it?

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Cold start valve
by: Bob

Bill, thanks for the comments, the whole check valve is new including the cold start valve it was all one assembly. I’m thinking since it is a “second” unloader valve that I will just remove it and cap it off. thoughts?

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Plugging cold start valve
by: Bill

Bob, you replaced it, I get that. Did you test it?

By that I mean pulling the assembly, wiping it down, putting the part that goes into the tank into your mouth, and blowing through it?

The other thought I had is… is this a new condition?

Some compressors do without an unloader valve entirely, putting a small hole in the line or fitting to the tank, and bleeding a small amount of air all the time. This costs the compressor owner wasted energy, yet saves the compressor manufacturer the cost of an unloader valve. Once the compressor cuts out in high pressure, the hole bleeds the air over the piston to ease the restart.

If your compressor has some years on it, meaning that parts are wearing, the fact that it’s not building pressure to cut out may not be pressure switch or unloader (cold start) valve related at all, but be a symptom of a failed pump valve or cylinder seal?

So, do you know if the “cold start” valve leaked all the time the compressor was running before the replacement?

Check valve blew on 40400 compressor

by Nathan
(Houston, TX, USA)

I have a Central Pneumatic 2HP 8 Gal compressor (40400) about 2 or 3 years old. I use it only about once a month for a few minutes at most.

It just blew what is described as the “check valve” in the manual. Part of it that actually looks like the head of a bolt actually broke and shot off.

I called the 1-800 and they said that the part was not available.Central Pneumatic 40400 air compressor

Central Pneumatic 40400 air compressor

I have looked a bit online, but can’t even see where I can buy another one. It looks like a very simple device. My guess is it is a pressure release safety valve that blows if the pressure is too high. I don’t think that is the issue. I think it was more that the part was a bit weak, but if I get a replacement I will check the pressure and make sure.

Anybody have an idea on getting a replacement?

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Hey Nathan… you talk about the check valve, but then, it sounds like you may be talking about the PRV valve?

Either should be available and they need not be necessarily the same brand.

How about another post with a photo showing what it is you are looking for? Actually, upload a couple, one showing where the device was on the compressor, and another a close up of the broken device.


Check Valve for 40400
by: Anonymous Mike!

This site claims they carry parts for 40400, I have not find any negative reviews about them.

(Link removed as it no longer works – moderator)

If the link wraps, copy and paste all of it carefully, AnonymousMike!

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Thanks
by: Nathan

Thanks for the reply and the offer of help.

I looked at the newer model from Harbor Freight with the same HP and tank size and the part looked the same. When I got it it did have the opposite male/female threads, but I can find a fitting to fix that.

The problem I ran into was removing the old part. It shattered. as I tried to remove the mail part stuck in the female threads on the tank.

I broke one tool made to extract pipe in this situation. When I got another one I ended up denting the tank just pounding the tool in to place.

At that time I figured I had done enough damage and I had better cut my losses.

Thanks anyway.


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