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Air compressors can be very useful tools for everyday work, depending on your profession. These pieces of equipment are used to power pneumatic (air) tools and are commonly found in industries such as manufacturing, engineering, automotive, construction, and decoration.
In this article, we will briefly discuss how to use an air compressor, using a Porter Cable model as an example. Porter-Cable is one of the most popular air compressor brands on the market today, so it’s a good example to use to demonstrate the setting up, use of, and maintenance of an air compressor.
The methods and techniques we describe in this article can generally be applied to almost any air compressor. We hope you find this page useful and informative, especially if you’ve just gotten yourself an air compressor, or are considering getting one, and aren’t sure what to do next.
What is an Air Compressor?
First, let’s run through the basics. We’re sure you’re fully aware of most of this if you’ve ever used pneumatic tools before, but it’s good to have it fresh in our minds.
Air compressors pretty much do what it says on the tin: compress air. In basic language, the air is sucked forcibly into a tank (different compressors use different methods to do this). As more air is forced into this enclosed space, it begins to “compress.” This means that the pressure is increasing in the tank.
When you use a pneumatic tool (for example, a pneumatic hand drill), you connect using an air line. This air line is connected directly to the air compressor. When you pull the trigger, compressed (or pressurized) air is released into the tool, powering it.
When the quantity of air in the tank becomes low, the pressure also drops. The air compressor simply turns back on to up the pressure again, drawing in more air until it reaches its maximum shutoff level.
This cycle happens on repeat over and over again each day, powering many possible different tools.
Setting Up a Porter Cable Air Compressor
When you set up an air compressor, it can be somewhat intimidating. Porter-Cable models are, however, known for their simplicity and ease of use.
Different air compressors may require slightly different setup procedures, but these general principles can be applied to all of them. For some extra things you should think about and know, keep reading until the next section, “Things to Consider.”
- Get your air compressor unboxed and moved to the location that you want it to be used. If it’s not a portable model, this will be much easier said than done. Most air compressors nowadays are relatively maneuverable, though. Most come with wheels and a handle, at the very least. You will also need to set up the air compressor as detailed in the instruction manual.
- Without switching it on yet, ensure there is a power source. Almost all air compressors run on mains electricity, but some use fuels such as gasoline or diesel. If this is the case, you must make sure the area is well ventilated. For those that run using electricity, – which will be most models – you simply need to plug it in.
- You will see two valves on the side of the Porter-Cable compressor and one underneath. Make sure the valve underneath is closed.
- After this, turn on the air compressor. The sudden noise shouldn’t cause you any alarm. It will sound like a loud rumbling, or perhaps something akin to an old diesel engine. This is simply the compressor drawing air into its tank. If you hear a sort of hissing sound, make sure that the valve you closed is fully closed.
- Keep an eye on the pressure gauge on the side of the compressor. When it reaches the shutoff level (as will have been detailed when you bought it, and in the owner’s manual), the compressor should shut off, and the air pressure should stay level.
- If this is the case, all is good. If the machine keeps on sucking air in until it reaches a dangerous pressure (as will be indicated by the pressure gauge), switch it off immediately. This, however, is unlikely to happen.
- Once you’ve seen everything is good, connect up your pneumatic tool, and away you go.
- The Porter-Cable air compressor will switch on every now and then to top up the air pressure in its tank. Don’t worry; this is completely normal. There’s no need to stop using the tool during these times.
Things to Consider
- Where are you keeping the air compressor? – As well as factoring in ventilation – if your machine uses fuels for power – you should also consider noise pollution. Being exposed to loud noise for extended periods could damage your hearing. It could also lead to relationships with your neighbors becoming somewhat frosty.
- How loud is the air compressor? – Unfortunately, getting a silent air compressor is impossible, but you can get air compressors that are much less loud than others. Look for a quietness guarantee – some compressors only put out around 65 dB, which is generally about as good as you’re going to get.
- How difficult is the compressor to set up? – Can you set up your new machine by yourself, or will you need to rope in some extra professional help? It’s no problem if you do – just give yourself the time to do this and plan if you need to.
Why Should I Use Porter Cable?
Many good air compressor models exist, and many of them use reasonably similar methods and techniques. Porter-Cable is a well-established brand and is known for high quality, long-lasting machines that are relatively simple to use. In our opinion, they’re one of the best bets, especially if you’re new to working with air compressors.
We hope you found this article both useful and interesting for setting up a new Porter Cable air compressor. Let us know how you got on!