This website receives hundreds of questions about troubleshooting air compressors. In an effort to make some sense of the many questions received and answered, I have tried to categorize some of the questions into similar postings on each page. This is the troubleshooting compressor three page, page three of questions and answers. Read on, please.

At the bottom of this page is a form on which you can ask a question of your own about compressor troubleshooting in particular if it applies to air compressors smoking, or getting far too hot.


Question about a compressor burning smell from?

I have a new IR SS-5 compressor with less then 15 hrs on it and I started getting a burning smell, specially in the air. It is in a 26 x 28 residential garage and wide open to air. I drained the oil and replaced but still the same, I drained the tank and the first little bit it almost seemed like oil, a black milky water and then came clear approximately about a 1/2 cup in total drained out. I left open for a day then closed up and filled with air and right away the smell came back, any ideas?


Compressing air generates a lot of heat. Some of that heat comes off the motor as it’s running against load, and more comes off the compressor head and line to the tank since smashing air molecules together generates a lot of friction, and that generates heat. When you say the burning smell is in the air, do you mean around the air compressor, or coming out of the air line?

I suspect your compressor comes equipped with a thermal overload switch, which should shut it off if the motor overheats beyond the norm. I assume it’s under warranty? Though it may just be a new car smell type odor, as the compressor heats up, the paint may be off-gassing. If under warranty, and if the problem persists, get the vendor to diagnose it further.

It were my compressor, I’d open the tank drain valve part way to let the air bleed, and I’d let it run continuously for a while. If it is not a continuous run model, shut it off after 15 minutes and let it cool for at least that long. Keep us posted, using the forum linked below, OK?

Question about air compressors smoking and getting hot?

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