As noted on many other pages on this site, a frequent reason for an air compressor running, but not building any air pressure, is that an internal gasket has blown. The gasket may look OK, but once the pressure in the tank reaches a certain point, the backpressure against which the pump has to work increases to the point that the compressor gaskets let go.

If that happens, the air that is supposed to be pumped down into the tank, simply flows back and forth inside the pump, and the air pressure in the tank stalls.

I get more and more questions from owners of DIY type air compressors about getting gaskets to repair their compressors. This fellow has an air compressor that is only 8 months old, yet he is told by the manufacturer that no spare parts are available any more.

I suspect in that case there were never any spare parts for this compressor from the get go!

Ingersoll Rand 54429600 Valve Plate Gasket

One type of valve plate gasket – an Ingersoll Rand 54429600 Valve Plate Gasket
Photo: www.portlandcompressor.com

What is to be done, then, when you need to replace a gasket in your air compressor pump but that gasket is no longer available?

Can You Make Your Own Compressor Gaskets?

What some visitors to this website say is that they make their own compressor gaskets.

They acquired some gasket material, often from an auto parts supply shop.

A compressor pump head gets very, very hot in operation. When sourcing replacement gasket material, recognize that. Yes, you can burn skin with the heat generated on a compressor pump, so any gasket material has to be heat resistant.

Here is an example of a typical pump head, separated into parts, and you can see where the gasket on this pump goes.

exploded view of compressor pump showing compressor gaskets

Expanded view of compressor pump showing gaskets and valve plates.

After disassembling the pump head they located all the gaskets. They then either removed them to use as a template to make new ones, or used the surface where the original gaskets were installed as a template, if the gasket was beyond removal in one piece. With the old gasket template as a guide, they marked the new gasket material appropriately, and cut the material to suit.

If your air compressor won’t build pressure past a certain point, the most frequent causes seem to be either the intake or high pressure reed / flapper valve is failing, or a gasket is letting go. You may, nor may not, be able to see the failure point if it is the gasket. Yet, once you have the pump apart, you might as well eliminate that as the potential problem, by installing new gaskets.

If your compressor supplier tells you that gaskets for that compressor are no longer available, then making your own is the logical choice.

Where to get compressor gasket material?

If you Google “high heat gaskets material” you will find many sources. There does not appear to any difficulty in procuring gasket material almost anywhere.

One quick and usually good source if an automotive parts store.

Good luck building your own compressor gaskets.

We are appreciative of the suggestion by Joe Taylor. Recently he said “I found the best material for making head gaskets for air compressors is copper, soft copper you can get it from most of your roofing company stores that sell copper flashing they have it in 22 gauge and also 24 gauge are use the 22 gauge stuff I buy it from the store in a sheet and then cut and make my own gaskets. Seems to be more reliable than the paper products you get at the automotive store. I hope this helps everyone! Look for the roofing companies that handle metal roofs and copper flashing. Have a good time making them.” Thanks very much for that tip too, Joe.