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.

Though all oil-lubricated compressors from different compressor manufacturers may have slightly different oil change processes the overall concepts presented on these pages will work for all oil-lubricated compressors.

Some of the questions you will want to have answers to before you open the compressor oil sump are covered on this first page.

Does Your Compressor Even Need Oil?

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

Not all compressors are oil lubricated. In fact, a lot of the little DIY type air compressors now available from the big box stores are added-lubrication oil-free. they are factory lubed for life, so you cannot change the compressor oil in these compressors because there isn't any to change.

Does Your Compressor Have An Oil Sump?

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

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

Does Compressor Have 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 continuous lubrication while the compressor is running.

The typical DIY type oil-lubricated home compressor will be the splash lubed variety. If it is splash lubed there will be no extraneous oil pump on the compressor, meaning there is none to maintain or replace. If your compressor is designed to be splash lubed, that process works just fine.

Type Of Oil In The Compressor?

What oil do you use in your compressor?

My rule about what compressor oil to use is simple. If my air compressor is under warranty, I use the oil that is recommended by the manufacturer and usually noted in the compressor manual. If the warranty period for the air compressor has passed, then I buy compressor lubricating oil from my hardware store to use in my compressors.

For me, this rule applies my home DIY compressors only. Some of the more sophisticated and larger compressors - rotary screw, vane etc. - used by industry have very specific requirements for oil. You must use the oil recommended by that compressor manufacturer or you void the warranty or cause oil-related issues.

Compressor Oil Only Please!

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 harsh, compressor lubricating environment. These additives are not necessarily found in automobile oil, air tool oil, etc.

The additives that are other types of oils are not compatible, and in fact may damage, your air compressor. If it does not say compressor lubricating oil on the package, don't put it in your compressor.

Oil Change Frequency

It is recommended by your compressor manual that you 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.

Let's get down to the process of actually changing your compressor oil on this page.

Ask A Question About How To Change

        Compressor Oil Right Now?
If, after you've read these pages, you still have questions about your compressor oil, visit this compressor change forum. Have a read of the issues others have asked about. If your compressor oil question is not already answered there, use the form on that page to ask a question.