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How to Quiet an Air Compressor

Anyone who has ever (and we mean ever) had to work with an air compressor has gotten fed up with it at one time or another. That constant starting and stopping of the motor, the peace and quiet shattered by the rumbling and tumbling of the machine deciding it needs to top itself up with air, are enough to irritate us. Don’t misunderstand us; we put up with all this raucous noise because the air compressor is important to almost every profession, from mechanics to decorators. But do we have to?

Well, sort of. But there are ways to make it easier. While it is, as you can imagine, impossible to eliminate noise coming from an air compressor, there are certain steps you can do to take the edge off. These steps should make your working environment just a little more peaceful (or we should probably say, less hectic).
It’s important to neutralize the sound as much as possible because loud air compressors can, slowly, damage your hearing. Once your hearing is gone, you can’t get it back, so it’s important to protect it as much as possible.

A Health and Safety Warning

Garage Air Compressor. Adjusting Pressure in a Car Tires.

Some people suggest piling things up against your compressor to reduce noise. This is an effective method and will work to deaden sound. However, it can come with some serious consequences if it’s not done carefully.

Placing any flammable material near the compressor could cause it to catch fire. You must also make sure that the compressor can still cool itself through the cooling fans, as blocking off this area could cause the compressor to either break or, in the worst-case scenario, also catch fire.

Finally, piling things up against the compressor can cause a kind of “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. While this might be nice for your mindset, you may begin to forget to do basic maintenance on the system, such as checking the oil level. Forgetting this can, again, be catastrophic.

For these reasons, piling things against your compressor to reduce noise is not a course of action that we would recommend. Rather, read on for some great tips and tricks you can use to reduce noise – tips that are also less of a risk to you as a worker.

Methods to Quiet an Air Compressor

Row of air compressors

Let’s analyze the issue to keep ourselves in the know about the problem we face.

Air compressors are loud. There’s no real way around it. There are very few genuinely quiet models (the best will probably be around 40 dB). The noise of the compressor comes when it switches on, to draw air into the tank, compressing it, so it’s ready for use when you connect up and switch on your pneumatic tools. The compressor is not drawing air all the time, so it doesn’t make a huge noise all the time. Depending on how much you use pneumatic tools, the air compressor may be on up to 60% of the time. (In extended periods of use only, of course).

So, somehow, we have to find a way to prevent that noise (which cannot be helped) from traveling through the air to reach our ears. Or, at least, we have to find a way to stop most of the noise from reaching our ears.

First of all, there are the obvious methods.

  1. Make sure the compressor is situated far away, in another room, or behind closed doors, etc. This keeps the noise as physically distant as possible and reduces the level of sound that reaches your ears. However, don’t remove the noise from your premises and compromise your neighbors’ peace and quiet. They probably won’t be too pleased.
  2. Wear ear mufflers – good quality mufflers can completely reduce the amount of sound that you hear, making compressors seem nothing more than a distant whirr. However, they do have the added disadvantage of making you very unaware of what’s going on in your surroundings.
  3. Replace your old unit with a newer one – as obvious as it sounds, often old units make considerably more noise than newer models.

Other small changes you can make:

  1. Get a muffler installed on the intake – this will keep noise levels down, but might cost you a bit to get it installed. Alternatively, you could always try to buy and install it yourself.
  2. Using rubber grommets around the motor will help to absorb much of the sound coming from it. Rubber grommets should be relatively easy to install and not cause you too much trouble once they are in. You may need to replace them eventually, but they’ll do a good job at keeping your workspace a bit less loud for a decent length of time.
  3. Purchase sound deadening mats and cover your air compressor with them – make sure these mats are from a legitimate source and that you don’t cover anything to do with the intake or cooling systems, as mentioned earlier.

Conclusion

It’s important to reduce noise as much as possible, especially with loud pieces of equipment such as air compressors.
We hope some of the methods we have suggested might come in useful for you and would love to hear about any other things you’ve tried.

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