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How To Replace An Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

Published Categorized as Air Compressor Maintenance, Air Compressor Valves, Replacing Components No Comments on How To Replace An Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

If you’ve diagnosed or suspect that your air compressor tank check valve is on the brink of failing or has failed, you’ve come to the right place. This guide to air compressor check valve replacement will streamline the replacement process for you. Together, we’ll ensure your equipment returns to its peak performance swiftly.

Table of Contents

Procedure To Replace An Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

Whether you’re maintaining your compressor or fixing a problematic valve, replacing the tank check valve is a straightforward task that’s essential for the smooth operation of your air compressor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you get it right.

Skill Level Needed: Low. This task primarily involves mechanical fastenings without the complexities of electrical components.

Time Required: Based on various forums, the process typically takes around 1 hour. This time frame depends on dealing with 1-10 fasteners which need to be both undone and secured back.

Parts/Consumables Needed:

  • A new tank check valve
  • PTFE tape / Thread sealing compound to ensure air-tight connections
  • Clean cloth
  • WD40 for easing corroded connections

Tools Needed:

  • Spanners/wrenches
  • Wire Brush
  • Likely some screwdrivers, depending on your compressor model

How-to Steps:

1.0 Removing the tank check valve

Always begin by ensuring the air compressor is powered off and unplugged.

Release any trapped air to depressurize the compressor tank.

Depending on your air compressor model, the tank check valve might be closely integrated with the pressure switch and manifold, requiring their removal. In some models, however, the tank check valve is located separately. Disconnect any associated components like the pressure switch, unloader valve plumbing, and manifold, if necessary. I’ve provided more guidance in the next section of the article if you’re finding it difficult to locate your tank check valve.

2.0 Inspection & Cleaning

After removal, inspect the old tank check valve and the threaded connection on the tank. Look out for signs of corrosion on threaded connections. Clean the threaded connection in the tank with a wire brush to clear any old sealant or corrosion. The application of WD40 can help in cleaning and easing these corroded parts. As a note, you can’t directly test the tank check valve’s functionality without putting it under pressure – running the compressor.

3.0 Attach The New Tank Check Valve

Position the new tank check valve correctly. Remember, tank check valves have a specific directionality, allowing airflow only one way. Look for an arrow or indication on the valve to guide you.

Reattach by reversing the removal process. Use PTFE tape or a thread-sealing compound where needed to ensure leak-proof connections.

In some cases, you will have a second fitting to attach to the tank check valve itself which will serve as an interface for the unloader valve/exhaust port outlet pipe.

4.0 Test & Verification Procedure

Once everything is in place, power on the air compressor. Listen for unusual noises and ensure there are no air leaks. Verify that the new valve holds pressure as it should.

Remember, always consult the specific manual of your air compressor model when changing the compressor tank check valve, as nuances may arise based on brand and design.

How To Replace The Tank Check Valve on a Pancake Air Compressor

This video should help you locate and change the air compressor tank check valve on pretty much any pancake-style air compressor.

How To Replace The Tank Check Valve on a Horizontal Air Compressor

This video should help you locate and change the air compressor tank check valve on many horizontal tank-style air compressors.

How To Replace The Tank Check Valve on a Vertical Air Compressor

This video should help you locate and change the air compressor tank check valve on many vertical tank-style air compressors.

How to Locate the Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

To find the air compressor tank check valve, one must have a general understanding of its position relative to other components. The check valve is a critical component that ensures air flows in a single direction, preventing backflow into the compressor pump. Knowing its location is crucial for maintenance, troubleshooting, and replacement. Let’s explore the probable locations and what to look out for.

Likely Locations on the Air Compressor

  • Near the Pressure Switch: The check valve is often located near the pressure switch since it’s instrumental in managing airflow when the compressor is off.
  • Compressor Pump Outlet / Main Charge Pipe: Another common place is close to the compressor pump outlet. Given its role in managing airflow, it’s logical to find it near the outlet/charge pipe.

Components It’s Attached To

  • Unloader Valve: The check valve usually has a connection to the unloader valve. This connection ensures that when the compressor is off, air doesn’t flow back into the pump.
  • Manifold: In some models, the check valve might be connected to the manifold. It’s the central point where multiple pipes converge, making it a likely connection point.
  • Compressed Air Pump Outlet / Main Charge Pipe: In all cases, if you trace the outlet pipe of the air compressor pump, you’ll find this attached to the check valve.

Likely Locations on a Pancake Air Compressor

Pancake air compressors can tend to have their tank check valves located separately to the pressure switch as their electronics and control system are located centrally on top of the air compressor.

Likely Locations on a Horizontal or Vertical Air Compressor Tank

On an air compressor with a conventional cylinder pressure vessel upon which the pump and control system are mounted on the curved side of the tank, the tank check valve can find itself located directly under the pressure switch.

What The Tank Check Valve Looks Like

When trying to visually identify the check valve, look for a component that resembles a metal cylinder or tube. It may have threaded ends and sometimes an arrow indicating the direction of airflow.

Components That Might Obscure the View

In some air compressor models, the check valve might be obscured by:

  • Protective casings or covers: These are designed to safeguard internal components but might need to be removed for access.
  • Hoses or pipes: Sometimes, the check valve is hidden behind hoses or pipes. Carefully tracing these can lead you to the check valve.

While the exact location can vary based on the air compressor model and brand, understanding the general vicinity and its connection points will guide you in locating the check valve. Always refer to your compressor’s user manual for model-specific details and ensure safety precautions are taken during any inspection or maintenance process.

How To Find A Replacement Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

To find a replacement air compressor tank check valve, it’s essential to first identify the specifications of your current valve and then explore available options for a suitable substitute. This guide will walk you through the process of examining your faulty valve for specific markers, consulting user manuals and manufacturer recommendations, and finally sourcing either a direct OEM replacement or a compatible generic option. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to ensure your air compressor is back up and running with the right part.

Identifying the Current Specification

Before diving into the vast sea of replacement parts, it’s crucial to understand the specifications of your current tank check valve.

  1. Serial Numbers / Markings / Physical Features: Begin by examining the faulty valve. Most tank check valves come with identifiable markings that indicate their rating and thread size. This could be in the form of engravings, stickers, or stamped information. Additionally, pay attention to the type of threads – whether they’re male-male or male-female. This ensures that the replacement will fit seamlessly into your compressor setup.
  2. Typical Recommendations from Manufacturers: While tank check valves may seem universal, it’s always a good practice to check with the manufacturer. Some air compressors might have unique specifications, or the manufacturers may have preferred partners for replacement parts.
  3. User Manuals: A treasure trove of information, user manuals often provide explicit details about replacement parts, including model numbers and specifications. If you’ve misplaced your physical manual, many manufacturers offer digital versions on their official websites.
  4. Q & A Forums: While dedicated forums for tank check valves might be scarce, broader forums covering air compressors or DIY repairs can sometimes offer nuggets of wisdom from experienced users.

Finding a Replacement Tank Check Valve

Now that you’ve armed yourself with the necessary information, it’s time to embark on the quest for the perfect replacement.

Direct Replacement: For those who prefer sticking to original parts, many OEMs provide direct replacements. A quick visit to the manufacturer’s website can lead you to the exact part you need, ensuring compatibility and peace of mind.

Compatible Replacements: If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option or if the OEM part isn’t available, there are numerous generic tank check valves in the market. These aren’t brand-specific but instead focus on features and sizes. Ensure that the valve’s features, especially its rating and threaded connections, align with your compressor’s requirements.

While finding a replacement tank check valve might seem daunting, a methodical approach- starting with understanding your current valve’s specifications and then exploring both OEM and compatible options – can make the process much smoother. Always remember to double-check the compatibility, especially if opting for a non-OEM part, to ensure the safety and efficiency of your air compressor.

Where to Buy a Replacement Air Compressor Tank Check Valve?

You can buy air compressor tank check valves from most hardware stores that stock air compressors either online or in store. Places like Amazon have increasingly provided a wide ranging catalogue from a number of Original Equipment Manufacturers and aftermarket providers of replacement parts for air compressors. If you’re struggling, remember this is a support community and you can always comment below for input from our experienced air compressor users and compressed air professionals.

How to Dispose of a Broken Air Compressor Tank Check Valve

When faced with a broken air compressor tank check valve, your first question might be, “Can you throw a broken tank check valve in the trash?” The simple answer is, while you technically might be able to, there are better and more sustainable ways to dispose of it.

Sustainability / Ethical Options

The good news is that the air compressor tank check valve isn’t composed of any hazardous materials. It’s most likely made of brass, a metal known for its recyclability. Recycling metals like brass not only conserves valuable resources but also reduces the environmental impact associated with mining and refining new metal. When you recycle such parts, you’re contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly world.

Instead of tossing it into the trash, consider the following sustainable methods:

  • Recycling: Many recycling centers accept metals. By recycling broken compressor parts like the tank check valve, you ensure they’re processed and reused appropriately.
  • Reuse: Some local workshops or hobbyists might be interested in used parts, even if they’re broken, for their projects. A quick online search or visit to a community board can lead you to interested parties.

While at a glance, there doesn’t seem to be stringent legal obligations related to the disposal of such items, regulations can vary depending on where you live. It’s always a good practice to check with local waste disposal or recycling centers to ensure you’re adhering to any area-specific guidelines.

While it might seem tempting and easy to throw away broken tank check valves, considering the environmental benefits, it’s worthwhile to recycle metal compressor parts. It’s a small step that has a broader positive impact on our planet.

Life Expectancy of a Tank Check Valve

When installing or replacing parts in an air compressor, understanding the life expectancy of each component is vital. Among these components, the tank check valve plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal functioning. But how long does a tank check valve last, and what factors influence its longevity?

What’s the Life Expectancy of a New One / Frequency of Replacement?

Tank check valves, due to their straightforward yet essential function, typically have a longer lifespan than parts with more complex mechanical movements. While the exact duration can vary based on the manufacturer, usage, and environmental conditions, many users find that a quality tank check valve can last several years before needing replacement. However, it’s worth noting that the longevity is often measured in cycles rather than time.

Life Measurement Units (Hrs / Cycles / Peak Uses)

Unlike other compressor parts that might wear down over time due to constant movement, the tank check valve functions based on cycles. Essentially, it doesn’t “move” during the compressor’s operation but cycles open and closed each time the compressor starts or stops. Therefore, the measurement of its lifespan is based on the “number of cycles” rather than “hours of operation.” The distinction is vital for users to understand to ensure timely maintenance or replacement.

Stated Life Expectancy Using Relevant Units

Given the cycle-based operation, pinning down a precise lifespan can be tricky. Many manufacturers might not specify a particular “number of cycles” before a valve might fail. Since the user manual often doesn’t classify the tank check valve as a “consumable” component, it suggests that with proper care and under normal operating conditions, the valve should last throughout much of the compressor’s lifetime. However, in practice, the lifespan can range widely based on several factors which we’ll delve into next.

Factors that Will Impact Life Expectancy

Several factors can influence the longevity of a tank check valve:

  1. Quality of the Valve: Higher quality valves, often those from reputable brands or original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), tend to last longer.
  2. Frequency of Use: Compressors that are used more frequently will cycle their check valves more often, potentially leading to earlier wear.
  3. Environmental Factors: Exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, or corrosive environments can impact the valve’s durability.
  4. Maintenance: Regular checks and maintenance can extend the life of a valve, while negligence can shorten it. Clean, well-maintained components invariably last longer.
  5. Common Causes of Failure: Over-pressurization, debris in the system, or chemical corrosion can cause premature failure.

While the tank check valve is designed for durability, its life expectancy can vary based on several factors. Regular inspections and understanding its cycle-based operation can aid in predicting and preempting any potential failures, ensuring the smooth operation of your air compressor. If you ever wonder, “How long will a new tank check valve last?”, consider its operating conditions and the factors mentioned above for the most accurate estimate.

Common Causes of Tank Check Valve Failure

The tank check valve, an integral component in air compressors, is responsible for maintaining consistent pressure levels and ensuring seamless operation. However, like any mechanical part, it’s not immune to wear, tear, or unexpected failures. To ensure the longevity and efficiency of your compressor, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of a failing check valve and understand the potential causes behind such malfunctions.

Common Causes Behind Check Valve Failures:

  • Corrosion: Corrosion can be attributed to environmental factors or excessive moisture affecting the valve’s internal components.
  • Moisture Build-up: A tank replete with moisture is a breeding ground for parts malfunctions, and the check valve is no exception.
  • Infrequent Use: A compressor that’s left dormant for extended periods might have its check valve becoming “sticky” or even unresponsive due to inactivity.
  • Mechanical Wear and Tear: Even under regular use, the relentless operational cycle of the compressor can lead to the gradual degradation of its parts, including the check valve.

Rare or Unusual Causes:

  • Manufacturing Defects: Although rare, some valves might possess inherent defects, leading them to fail prematurely.
  • External Pressures or Damage: Any undue external force, like an accidental drop or impact, can be detrimental to the valve’s integrity.
  • Contamination: Air that carries contaminants or impurities can lead to blockages or malfunctioning of internal components, including the check valve.

A keen eye for symptoms combined with a basic understanding of potential failure causes can significantly prolong the efficiency and lifespan of your air compressor. Regular maintenance, timely interventions, and being alert to the signs of a compromised check valve are your best defenses against unexpected downtimes and costly replacements.

How to Spot the Signs of Tank Check Valve Failing & Failure

To diagnose a failing or completely failed tank check valve a regime of regularly monitoring your air compressor and being aware of these early symptoms can help ensure timely maintenance or replacement, extending the life of the unit and avoiding more significant complications down the line.

Symptoms of a Tank Check Valve Nearing Failure

  1. Intermittent Air Leaks: Instead of a continuous leak, you might notice periodic leaks, especially when the compressor is starting or stopping.
  2. Delayed Startup: The compressor may take longer than usual to start or build up to the desired pressure, indicating the check valve isn’t maintaining pressure as efficiently as it should.
  3. Fluctuating Pressure Readings: If the pressure gauge displays inconsistent readings, it could mean the check valve is struggling to maintain consistent pressure in the tank.
  4. Unusual Noises on Shutdown: When shutting down, you might hear a brief hissing sound or a prolonged release of air, indicating the check valve isn’t sealing properly, even if it’s not yet continuously leaking.
  5. Slight Moisture Accumulation: Before complete failure due to corrosion, you might notice a small amount of moisture accumulation near the valve or in the air lines.
  6. Sticky or Stiff Operation: If the valve feels challenging to move or adjust, it might be getting “sticky” due to infrequent use, contaminants, or the early stages of corrosion.
  7. Minor Visual Wear: A visual inspection might reveal the beginnings of corrosion, minor cracks, or other physical signs of wear on the check valve.

Symptoms of a Tank Check Valve That Has Completely Failed

  1. Continuous Air Leaks: Air will leak continually from the unloader valve, especially when the compressor is stopped. This is a clear indication that the check valve is not holding any pressure back at all.
  2. Compressor Never Reaches Cut-Off Pressure: The compressor will keep running without reaching the desired cut-off pressure, leading to an overworked compressor and higher energy consumption.
  3. Inability to Maintain Pressure: Even if the compressor can build pressure, it won’t be able to maintain it. The pressure will rapidly drop once the compressor stops.
  4. Constant Leaks During Operation: Apart from leaks when stopped, you might notice air continuously escaping through the unloader valve even when the compressor is running.
  5. No Pressure Build-Up: In severe cases, the compressor might not be able to build up any pressure at all. This symptom indicates that the check valve is stuck open, allowing air to flow back towards the compressor continuously.
  6. Significant Moisture Issues: If the failure is due to corrosion from moisture, there might be water in the compressed air, leading to reduced tool performance and potential damage to air tools.
  7. Visible Damage: Upon inspection, the check valve might exhibit visible damage like severe corrosion, cracks, or deformities.
  8. Unusual Noises: When the compressor shuts down, there might be loud hissing sounds or even a brief backflow “pop” as the air is released backward due to the failed valve.

If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly. Operating an air compressor with a completely failed tank check valve can be hazardous and will drastically reduce the efficiency and lifespan of your compressor.

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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