Air Compressor Piping Diagrams and Tips

An air compressor piping diagram is created by connecting an air compressor to any end-user tool through the use of a pipe. As simple as it may sound, creating your own piping diagram at home is rather a complicated process. Besides, you need the specific requirements of your project to come up with the correct piping.

Such requirements include proper ventilation and isolation, as is the case with a spraying workstation. Such diagram requires that it should be created in close relation with an outside wall with heavy air filtering. This means that you will need to place the station near an outside wall. A curling machine, on the other hand, requires that you cool the machine first which should be then placed near an outside wall as well.

General rules of Air Compressor Piping Diagrams

  • The discharge pipe should be of the same size as the compressor outlet.
  • The inlet and discharge outlet should be designed in such a way that they allow for smooth flow air over the entire piping diagram.
  • The main lines should slope at least 10 cm away from the air compressor to allow the air to cool at room temperature before it travels through the pipes.
  • The first air drop should be 50 Feet from the compressor for optimal performance. Also, each drop should be used for a single air user. Multiple air users should not be connected to the same drop.
  • Shut-off valves should be installed to allow air to stop along the way for filter maintenance when needed.
  • Drain valves help the system to dispose of the contaminants that build up, especially during periods of heavy use. Drain the system daily and increase the intervals as the need arises.
  • Consider installing an extra receiver at the end of the line to take care of peak air demands.
  • Read and understand piping requirements before installation. Use expert’s help if necessary.

Piping is a critical component when it comes to developing a successful compressed air system. The compressed air faces the risk of pressure drops and contamination along the way. When designing your piping, the following tips will help you minimize the chances of poorly pressurized air.

1. Material used

The materials used in the piping system will play a significant role in the quality of your pressurized air. Pipes come in a variety of materials which includes steel compressed air pipes which tends to be stronger, and they can withstand high pressures and temperatures. However, they are more expensive, bulkier, and also they corrode quickly.

Plastic air pipes, on the other hand, are lighter and they don't have problems with rust. Corrosion by lubricants can lead to leaks in the air system, and this is not something you want to take a chance with. They are, however, not able to withstand high temperatures. There are also aluminum pipes, and they are the most preferred because they can are can be easily cut and installed.

It is essential to highlight that using unsuitable material in an air compressor piping diagram can lead to mechanical failure, damages, or severe injury or even death.

2. Size and distance

The diameter of the pipes and the distance to the end-user device has a significant effect on the pressure of the air at the point of use. When the pipes are too small, the pressure of the air may increase beyond the end-use application recommended levels. In the same way, if the distance between the piping system and the point of use is too far, the pressure may drop below the recommended level.

This can lead to an overworked system which can cause premature wear and costly maintenance. Also, an increase in pressure can lead to an increase in energy requirement, which can drive up the costs further.

3. Consider the layout

When it comes to the piping layouts, you can either have a straight piping layout or the loop one. Square plants go well with a loop style piping. Air flows through the loops and drop down at each point of use. A straight piping layout, on the other hand, is used in longer and narrower plants and it tends to be less expensive than the loop one. When determining which layout is suitable for your plant's design, it is always important to consult an expert to avoid unnecessary pressure drop or extra costs.

4. Avoid sharp angles

When you include a lot of sharp angles in your piping diagram, the speed of the airflow slows down, and consequently, the pressure is decreased. The flow of air is also interrupted when making the sharp turns. There is also a waste of energy when the air ricochets around the pipe when the air is speeding up again after a sharp turn. As such, the most efficient pathway is a straight one, and also it is not recommended to include many sharp angles within the piping diagram.

5. Regulate moisture levels

Moisture has adverse effects on piping as it tends to destroy the pipes through the resulting rust. In addition, it can cause obstructions in the system, clog the nozzle as well as contaminating other parts. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid moisture in the world of compressors as air will always have a certain amount of moisture. We can, however, try and control the amount of moisture when working with air compressors.

Moisture causes the internal pipe to rust and corrode, an internal problem that we cannot see. As a result, the pathway becomes rough, which in turns reduces the pressure of the air. However, you can reduce the moisture when it is close to your work station by changing the supply inlet from the bottom to the top of the compressor. Moisture is heavier than air and by doing so, you will reduce the amount of moisture taken with the air.

You can also use an aftercooler which is known to remove more than 50% of the liquid from an air compressor piping diagram. Although it is impossible to keep the system moisture-free, you should try as much as possible to reduce the level to avoid damaging the piping and improve the efficiency of your air compressor.

6. Keep obstructions under control

Corrosion is the primary cause of blockages. Obstructions clog the piping system, and this can decrease the pressure of the air severely. It is easy to spot an obstruction within your piping as you will notice very high pressure just before where the obstruction is and very low pressure after the obstruction.

These obstructions can be kept under control by having effective air filters to remove specific particles that clog up your piping system. Also, you can use a narrow pipe or reduce the distance the air has to flow through.

Also, you can invest in non-corrosive material, which means that there will be no rust or corrosion. As such, there will be no time wastage, and you will be not be exposed to risks associated with pressure build-ups.

7. Temperature

Temperature fluctuations in the working area are likely to affect the quality of the compressed, especially when the pipes are not housed in the same room. The pipes may pass underground or through other rooms which may expose them above or below their recommended temperature level.

Extreme heat can cause the pipes to heat up, making them to wear, and it can also be dangerous to users. Temperatures below freezing, on the other hand, can condensate air within the system. It is therefore important to know temperature fluctuations in your work station to take the appropriate measures.

8. Maintenance requirements

You will need to plan for future maintenance needs when planning your compressed air piping diagram. This requires that a bypass pipe be put in place to continue transporting compressed air when maintenance needs to be done. The bypass pipe should have a valve to cut air supply when the main piping resumes. You can also plan for extra piping to meet rising demand allowing more air to be directed to as many end-user devices as possible.

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