Is your air compressor not working? Whether the problem is electrical, the motor, the regulators, or the valves, determine why your air compressor is not working with this simple air compressor troubleshooting chart.

Air Compressor Troubleshooting Guide – How To Fix An Air Compressor

It’s actually not difficult to repair air compressors. They have few moving parts and are very reliable. Parts are readily available for most compressors, and with some basic air compressor motor troubleshooting, you should be able to nail down what’s wrong on your own.

Is your air compressor not functioning as expected? Don’t worry, here are the air compressor problems and solutions to get it back up and running in no time.

From troubleshooting, finding spare parts to testing a compressor – we’ve got you covered!

Troubleshooting Your Compressor

Problems, Causes, and Potential Solutions

Compressor Won’t Start Troubleshooting.

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Compressor won’t startBasic starting troubleshooting—start hereCompressor will not start
 Cold weatherCompressor will not start cold
 Compressor won’t restart after filling the tankCompressor will not re-start
 If there is air in the tank, the unloader valve may be badCompressor struggling to restart
  Compressor won’t start with air in tank
 Problem with the capacitorCompressor cuts off on refill
  Compressor will not start unless tank empty
 Centrifugal starter failingCompressor with HP motor will not start
 Bad CompressorBrand new compressor won’t run

Compressor Running Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Compressor running issuesBasic bogging down troubleshooting guide —start hereAir compressor bogs down
 Compressor starts then stopsCompressor starts and stops
 Thermal cutoff/rest button trippingCompressor reset keeps tripping
  Compressor shuts down before reaching pressure
  Compressor blows motor breaker
 Motor failingMotor turns slow and trips the breaker
 Wrong sized motorBogs down while running
 Compressor hums but does not build up pressureCompressor hums and stops
  Blows breaker after a few revolutions
 Faulty reset buttonCompressor runs only when reset button is held
  Compressor runs but never reaches stopping pressure

Compressor Won’t Stop Running

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Compressor won’t stop runningStopping issues overview — start hereCompressor slows and stops
  Compressor will not cut off
 Air leaks or bad sealsCompressor will not shut off
 Bad Pressure Relief Valve (PRV)Compressor won’t shut off like it should
 Converting motor from 220V to 120VChange compressor wall plug from 220 V

Electrical Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Electrical issuesElectrical wiring troubleshooting — start hereElectric troubleshooting air compressors
 Converting motor from 220V to 120VChange compressor wall plug from 220 V

Fuse or Breakers Popping Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Fuses or breakers poppingHome circuit breaker trippingCommon fix for tripping breaker
  Compressor blows breaker or fuse
  Air compressor blowing circuit
  Compressor blows breaker or fuse while running
 Motor overheating—thermal resetCompressor motor keeps popping the reset
  Compressor blows motor breaker
 Motor failingMotor turns slow and trips the breaker
 Breaker pops when motor restartsCompressor runs five seconds then trips breaker
 Bad wiringHeard a spark and compressor won’t start

Low Air Flow and Related Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Low air flow and related issuesIncorrect compressor for tools selectedUnderstanding CFM Measurements
 Increase air output by using two compressors togetherCombining two air compressors together
 Insufficient air pressureWays to increase SCFM of a compressor
 No air coming out at all? Start with this troubleshooting guideNo air out of hose
 Air lines freezing in cold weatherCompressor air lines freeze up
 Pressure dropping in tool supply linePressure drop in air lines
  Average air tool SCFM

Capacitor Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Capacitor issuesPossible bad capacitor, test with multimeterTesting compressor capacitors
 Poor electrical connections or excessive vibrationCapacitor keeps blowing
 Mechanical wear or failure of compressorPiston head heats up and capacitor blows
 Incorrect wiringStart capacitor keeps blowing
 Incorrect capacitor on motorWhat Capacitor Does My Compressor Need

Liquid Fuel Air Compressors Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Liquid fueled air compressors (Gas – Diesel-Propane)Engine stallsEngine shuts down when tank full instead of idling
 Carburetor ProblemsEngine dies when throttling back up

Lubricators Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
LubricatorsAdjusting drips per minute on an air line lubricatorDrips per minute for an air line lubricator
 Installing an air line lubricatorSetting up and operating an air line lubricator

Air Compressor Motor Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Air compressor motor troubleshootingMotor overviewCompressor motor problems
 Motor makes a humming noiseHumming air compressor
  Motor hums and compressor won’t start
 Calculating correct capacitor sizeWhat capacitor does my compressor motor need
 Motor surgesCompressor motor surging
 Motor sparks and smokesCompressor motor sparking and smoking
 Reset button Trips ContinuouslyCompressor runs only when reset button is held
 Bad Thermal ResetHow to buy a replacement thermal cut out
 Incorrect motor voltageChanging compressor motor voltages

Oil Related Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Oil related issuesOil issue troubleshooting — start hereOil related issues
  Compressor has an oil issue
 Changing the compressor oilHow to change the compressor oil
 Air in oil or too much oilAir comes out of the oil fill cap
  Why does oil come out of the oil fill tube
  Too much oil damaged my air compressor
  Burnt oil smell coming from compressor

Parts Related Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Parts related issuesReed ValvesMake your own compressor reed valves
  Reed valve material
 ManifoldMake your own compressor manifold
 GasketsMake your own compressor gaskets
 How to Test CapacitorsTesting capacitors
 Cooling FansBroken compressor cooling fan
 GaugesAbout air gauges

Pressure Related Compressor Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Pressure related compressor issuesNo pressure build upCompressor will not build pressure
  Compressor — why  not build pressure
 Regulator leaks airWhy a compressor regulator leaks
 Air comes out of intakeAir comes out of the compressor intake filter or port
 Reed valve failureReed valve failure
 Pressure switch problemsRuns and pumps but builds little or no pressure
  Compressor pressure problem
 Compressor won’t hold pressureCompressor loses pressure quickly
  My compressor will not build pressure
  Can’t get compressor to fill over 47 PSI
  How long should a compressor hold air
  Compressor won’t pump at 80-90 PSI

Pressure Switch Related Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Pressure switch relatedReplacing your pressure switchHow to buy a new compressor pressure switch
  Buying a compressor pressure switch
  Has pressure switch issues
  Broken compressor pressure switch
  Find pressure switch E247030 
 Repairing a pressure switchPut my pressure switch back together
  Putting a pressure switch back together
  Fenwai pressure switch rebuild
  Replace spring in pressure switch
 Pressure switch air leakAir leaking at the unloader valve on the pressure switch
  Condor pressure switch leaking
  Condor pressure switch manual
  Lefoo LF10-4H pressure switch unloader
 Pressure switch disconnect problemsLine comes off the pressure switch
  Pressure switch contacts keep burning out
  Compressor cut off not working
  Broken compressor switch manifold
  Plastic hose blows out of pressure switch

PRV (pressure relief valves) Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
PRV (pressure relief valves)All about pressure relief valves — start hereAbout the PRV
  When PRV valve opens
 PRV repairFix a PRV
  PRV keeps cracking open

Unloader Valve Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Unloader valve issues Unloader valve issues
  Air compressor not unloading
  Air leaking at the unloader valve on the pressure switch
  Adjusting the compressor unloader valve
  Do I need an unloader valve on my switch
  Unloader not functioning or not present

Pumps Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
PumpsAll about pumps — start hereAir compressor pumps page
 Repair proceduresB5900 pump repair steps
  Should intake valve be blowing air out
 Pump pulley rotationPump pulley rotation – is it important

Regulators Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
RegulatorsAll about regulators — start hereAbout regulators
  Fixing an air regulator
  Regulator questions
 Regulator hissing or leaking airRegulator hissing – leaking air
  Regulator knob replacement on Sanborn

Tank Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Tank issuesHow to drain a compressor tankHow to drain the compressor tank
 Calculating tank sizeGallons to cubic feet (air tank size)
 Cleaning tankCleaning inside of a compressor tank
 How to add an air tankAdd an air tank
  Can I put two tanks on one compressor
  Add an additional air tank to the system
  Tank recycling
  Use propane tank for air compressor
 Water in the compressor tankCompressor water in the tank
  Condensate is a problem
  Increasing tank pressure
  Tank pressure margins
 Tank check valve issuesTank check valve
  How to buy a replacement compressor tank check valve
  Compressor tank exploded

Air Tool Issues Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Air tool issuesAir flow issues with toolsAverage air tool SCFM
  Compressor can’t keep up with air tool
  Compressor won’t run air tool
  How long will this air tool run
 Nail gunsWon’t shoot nails
  When using my nail gun the compressor won’t shut off
  Compressor to run 4 roofing nail guns
  Air supply for flooring nail gun
 Blow gunsBlow gun not working
 Spray gunsSpray gun and compressor size
  Pressure drop in HVLP paint sprayer
  Can this compressor run my HVLP spry gun
 Die grindersIs a higher CFM die grinder better than a low CFM one
  Pressure required for die grinder
 Air sandersWhat air sanders can I use
 Impact wrenchesImpact wrench air consumption
  Need impact wrench for lug nuts
  Impact wrench has loss of pressure during use

Miscellaneous Compressor Troubleshooting

ProblemCausePossible Solution
Miscellaneous compressor troubleshootingCFM calculationsCFM – cubic feet per minute
 CFM-SCFM issuesCFM – SCFM compressor flow issues
 Compressor maintenanceBasic compressor maintenance guide
 Flywheel direction of rotationDirection of compressor flywheel
 Hot compressor linesWhy does my compressor line get hot
 Basic Troubleshooting Guide 2Troubleshooting compressors three (smoking, too hot)
 Laying compressor flatLay a vertical 5.5 HP compressor flat
 Oil out of breather holePump blowing oil out the breather hole
 Water in the linesDewpoint and water in the lines
  Dealing with compressor generated water
  Compressor air lines freeze up
 Basic Troubleshooting Guide 1Troubleshooting compressors one
 Underground pipe problemsUnderground air line
 Repair issues to watch out forSome compressor repair issues
 Spark then starting problemHeard a spark and now compressor won’t start
 Setting up dual compressorsDual air compressor set up
 PVC pipe problemsPVC pipe swelling and bursting

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