The versatility and convenience brought about by an air compressor make the equipment an invaluable asset for your garage. Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional, owning an air compressor is bound to make your projects easier to execute. You are at an even better place if you own an air compressor that can keep pace with air tools that exhibit a high CFM. However, choosing the ideal air compressor for your garage is just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the task lies in creating an effective plumbing setup that caters to the entire garage space. For this reason, most garage owners tend to find themselves in the pneumatic dilemma of successfully running air compressor lines in garage spaces.
The first step to effectively running air compressor lines in garage spaces is picturing your preferred layout, which largely depends on the number of drops you plan to include in the setup. A linear setup is the way to go if you intend to have a few drops on one to two garage walls. Otherwise, consider opting for a closed loop system. The linear setup tends to be less tedious as it comprises a single pipe running from one garage point to another. On the other hand, the closed loop system comprises a pipe that forms a curve by coming into contact with all the garage walls, allowing you to have as many drops as you like. Each of these setups has its pros and cons, and your choice also depends on several factors.
Types of Setups
As the name implies, the linear system entails a single pipe running from one spot to another without including diversions. This system is much less demanding and ideal, especially if you have limited garage space or short pipe length. A linear setup graces you with a variety of layout options to choose from, which include:
- Overhead Linear Setup
The overhead setup uses a single pipe with a suspended air hose reel at one end for convenience. In this way, you can still have one drop while avoiding the hassle of constantly dragging the air hose to different parts of the garage. Also, since the air hose is suspended, the overhead setup tends to be space-saving and eliminates the risk of stumbling over hose pipes on the floor.
- Side Wall Linear Setup
This setup is also suitable for limited garage spaces as it entails a pipe running through one garage wall. The pipe should be connected to the mains system via a hose that passes through a filter. One end of the pipe should be attached to a regulator and the air hose reel, which then delivers the air to your equipment.
Advantages of Linear Systems
- They are suitable for small-sized garages.
- The linear overhead setup is ideal for crowded garage spaces
- The systems require short piping and are, therefore, economical
- Running them is less demanding
Disadvantages of Linear Systems
- Not suitable for large garage spaces that handle multiple applications simultaneously.
Closed Loop Systems
These exhibit more detail compared to linear setups. If you have large garage space, you most likely intend to include multiple drops on all the garage walls, and this is where the closed loop system comes into play. The pipe, in this case, cuts across all the garage walls to sustain multiple pressure drops.
The system prevents some drops from being too far away from the compressor, resulting in uneven distribution of pressure. It tends to minimize the distance between the compressor and the drop that would otherwise be far from it. Strategically locating enough shut-off valves is of utmost importance when using this system for convenience during maintenance.
Advantages of Closed Looped Systems
- Ideal for large garage spaces that conduct multiple applications altogether
- Even distribution of pressure is guaranteed despite having multiple drops
- The system minimizes pressure loss
- It is more energy efficient
Disadvantages of Closed Looped Systems
- They could be expensive as they require lengthy piping
- Installing them is more involving
Choosing the right pipe material
Whether you use a linear or closed loop system, a lot of pressure is involved. That said, using weak materials to run your air compressor lines could have dire consequences. Below are some of the most suitable materials to use when running air compressor lines in garage spaces:
- Black Iron Pipe: Topping the list is the black iron pipe owing to its pocket-friendly price. This material is readily available in different pre-threaded lengths that can also be customized depending on your preference. On the downside, black pipe is prone to corrosion and is relatively heavy.
- Copper Pipe: Copper grants you the privilege of customizing the pipe into any desired shape. Unlike black pipe, this material features a lightweight design and is resistant to corrosion. However, it is more likely to make a dent in your pocket.
- Aluminum Pipe: The lightweight design and durability of aluminum qualify it for this list. The material is also available in pre-threaded lengths and doesn’t rust. Unfortunately, it is relatively expensive.
- Stainless Steel Pipe: Like copper, this material cannot be corroded when condensation occurs. However, its installation process tends to be more involving as it does not come in pre-threaded lengths.
Tips for Running Air Compressor Lines in Garage
- Strategically locate your air compressor. The ideal location for your air compressor exhibits sufficient air circulation or adequate ventilation. The compressor should be placed in an easily accessible location, such that it can be accessed from all the garage workstations through hoses. More importantly, consider blocking the wheels and placing the unit on a flat surface to prevent it from moving around.
- Drain and refill the engine oil regularly. The oil serves as a crucial component by lubricating the compressor’s motor. Regularly replacing the oil helps regulate heat and eliminate accumulated debris, which would otherwise compromise the motor’s functionality.
- Put on the appropriate attire when using the compressor. This entails tying up hair and avoiding loose clothing as these could get entangled and lead to accidents. It is also advisable to wear protective or closed shoes that can safeguard your feet while working.
- Check for any leaks and tighten loose parts before operating the compressor. Loose parts and leakages could result in low pressure or, even worse, cause accidents. Check the hoses for leaks and ensure the fixtures are intact for utmost convenience.
- Keep the compressor away from other household members, especially if you have pets or children running around.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use PVC piping for compressed air?
Although PVC piping is a popular preference, it should not be used for compressed air. PVC piping exhibits brittleness and cannot withstand the pressure associated with air compressors. Too much pressure could result in the PVC pipe breaking explosively, which could lead to serious damage.
What size pipe do I need for compressed air lines?
Your ideal pipe size largely depends on the size of your garage. The size of your pipes should be directly proportional amount of airflow in the system to minimize pressure drop. Therefore, the higher the CFM, the larger the size of the pipe you need.
Why is my air compressor losing pressure?
Loss of pressure in an air compressor is mainly due to obstructed airflow. Air compressors are made up of many parts and passages, which can be easily clogged. Leaks are also a probable cause for decreased pressure. Therefore, consider checking for any leaks, preferably using an ultrasonic acoustic detector for accuracy.
An air compressor is like a basic need in the garage, regardless of whether you use your garage for commercial or domestic purposes. Most garage owners tend to focus on purchasing the ideal air compressor, which is in order. However, running a functional plumbing system is essential in maximizing the capability of your air compressor. Fortunately, there are various layouts to choose from regardless of your garage’s size.
In addition, an ideal plumbing setup should comprise suitable piping materials. Weak piping material such as PVC could be overwhelmed by the pressure, leading to detrimental effects. Therefore, consider strong and affordable piping materials such as black iron pipe for utmost efficacy. With a highly capacitated air compressor and an effective plumbing system into the bargain, you’re unstoppable.
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