Is Water Damaging Your Production Process?
Updated: May 26
During the hot summer months, we see a large increase in service calls related to excessive moisture in compressed air systems. We wanted to share a few of the troubleshooting steps that we take to not only detect excessive moisture but also to resolve the issue.
How to Detect Moisture in Your System
When moisture starts to build up in your compressed air systems it behaves in much the same way as water does in any other application. It works its way down hill or downstream. Water will build up at low points in piping, in air holding tanks, or at hose reels and other points of use. If you are seeing water in these areas, it is safe to assume that you have significant amounts of moisture built up throughout the rest of the compressed air system.
This can rust out receiver tanks, ruin mechanical valves and damage downline equipment. If you are not sure if you have water in these areas, ask your maintenance personnel if they are draining water from ball valves at these low areas or find out from the production personnel if they are losing product to water damage at the point of use. If you identify water in your system, these are some of the commonly applied troubleshooting steps:
Basic Troubleshooting Steps
Make sure you have automatic drain valves installed and operating properly.
Check that your timer drain has been reprogrammed since the winter months and is operating on an updated schedule.
Consider a “Smart Drain” or a low loss drain such as the Bekomat to minimize the amount of air lost in the drain process and maximize cost savings.
Install a bulk moisture separator to eliminate a large portion of the moisture before it ever gets to your tanks or air treatment equipment.
Check that all in-line filters have been serviced recently and are operating as they should.
Inspect your air dryer and ensure that it is operating properly. High ambient temperatures take a toll on your dryer quickly, so make sure your room temperatures are as low as possible.
The last point on the troubleshooting list references compressed air dryers, however it is worth pointing out that this may be one of the most important components to removing moisture from your system. It is also the component at the root of most of the service calls pertaining to moisture.
In most applications we are dealing with a refrigerated dryer. This is a simple, relatively low maintenance piece of equipment that will usually do a good job of keeping moisture out of your air lines. If the dryer appears to be functioning properly but you are still getting moisture in your lines, consider what other elements could be working against the dryer.
Does your piping system transition from indoor to outdoor after the dryer? If so, you may need to consider changing the path of the piping or even looking at a desiccant dryer to achieve a lower dew point.
It is also worth inspecting the pre and post filtration for the dryer. If dirty, oily, or heavily saturated air is entering the dryer, it may not be able to keep up. A final item to consider is your receiver tank set up. An ideal system will include a wet tank and a dry tank where the wet tank is before the dryer and the dry tank is the processed air on the other side of the dryer.
We hope that these tips have been helpful. If you find yourself in need of a professional inspection of your compressed air system, give us a call!
For more information contact:
Jeff Douglas, ESA’s Manager of Service