How to Set Up & Use an Air Compressor Safely

Air compressors are great for a wide range of work tasks, such as: drilling, hammering, sanding, grinding, cutting, nailing, stapling, wrenching and more. They can be used by amateur D.I.Y enthusiasts, right through to trade experts and industrial users. We have a huge range of compressors and air tools available. Once you have found the perfect air compressor for your needs, the next step is knowing how to safely set it up and use it.

1. Safety

Remember safety wear, such as glasses and safety boots. Safety boots are especially important if you are moving heavy work/materials, and/or using air fed nailers and staplers for your work.

2. No Extension Leads

Do not use a power extension lead - use a hose reel extension instead. The reasoning for this is an air compressor will have voltage dropouts if its mains lead is longer than what is manufactured. Using air hose extensions is a much better idea, as it gives you the benefit of being able to manoeuvre your air tool around the work space. It's important to consider the right air hose for the job, read our air compressor hose buying guide here.

3. Check Oil Level

The compressor oil level can be viewed through the sight glass. The oil level should be about the same level as the 'red dot'. If it isn't the same level and requires topping up, remove the air bung (see step 5), and top up slowly. It's important to keep your air tools regularly lubricated too, to protect the tool and extend its working life. You can add our all in one filter, regulator and lubricator.

4. Attach air filter

An air filters job is to keep your air supply clean, which is especially important when carrying out tasks like paint spraying. It also safeguards the compressor components from environmental airborne debris, minimizing compressor downtime and/or repairs.

5. Insert oil bung

Insert the air bung into the top of the motor. The air bung acts as a vacuum for the oil part of your compressor, and allows the system to 'breathe' properly.

6. Power On

Pull the compressor power switch up. If you need to stop the compressor then simply push the switch down.

7. Fill the Tank

Once the compressor is on the tank will automatically fill to its maximum pressure of 8bar. The compressor will then switch itself off until you start using the air supply with you tool, and automatically switch back on again when the tank needs to be refilled.

8. Connect an Air Hose

Plug in an air hose. Our compressors all use standard Euro type quick release fittings.

9. Connect an Air Tool

Plug the air tool you want to use onto the air hose. If you are not using an in-line oiler then add a few drops of oil into the coupler, and add oil again after about 10-15 mins of using the tool.

10. Set Regulator

Turn the air regulator clockwise to the desired pressure. Consult each tools relevant manual to find the right operating pressure.

11. After Use

When you have finished with your air compressor, turn the air regulator anti clockwise to close the valve off.

12. Power Off

Push the compressor power switch off. Unplug the compressor from the power socket, always allow the unit to cool down before storing anywhere, as the motor does get quite hot during operation.

13. Drain the Tank

Drain the air and moisture using the bleed valve underneath the tank after each use. This stops any moisture getting into your work via any air tools that are connected.

14. Thermal Cut Off

The thermal cut-out reset switch can be located near the oil sight glass, should your compressor get too hot and cut out.

It's really important to look after yourself, others around you, and your air compressor equipment; so have a look at our SGS Engineering Air Compressor Safety Tips below.

For the longevity of your air compressor;

Repairs must only be carried out by a qualified engineer, If problems occur, contact us at SGS Engineering, on (+44) 01332 576 850.

Before starting any maintenance on your compressor, always be sure that the pressure is released from the air tank, and that the compressor is disconnected from any electrical supply.

Do not leave pressure in the tank overnight, or when transporting.

Do not operate in a wet or damp environment. Keep your compressor dry at all times. Having clean air will allow your compressor to work optimally. Do not use in dusty or dirty locations.

For your own safety whilst operating an air compressor;

Do not aim a jet of air at people or animals, as it’s extremely hazardous and do not put compressed air against the skin, you would be at serious risk of injecting yourself with compressed air and/or liquid product, which can be deadly.

Do not operate your compressor with the compressor motor guard removed; the compressor motor gets very hot during use.

Do not adjust, or tamper with the safety valves. The maximum pressure is factory set, and clearly marked on the compressor.

Metal parts will become quite hot during operation. Do not touch and/or perform any maintenance on these until the compressor has cooled down.

If spraying flammable materials e.g. cellulose paint, make sure that there is plenty of airflow in your working environment, and do not have any naked flames/source of ignition.

Before spraying any material, be sure to consult paint manufacturer’s product instructions and any labels for safety and usage.

Be mindful of changing hoses during operation, as the air escapes at a rapid rate.

Always ensure that children and animals are kept at an adequate distance from the compressor and any air tool equipment attached to it.

Always ensure that all individuals using the compressor have had the necessary training and have read and fully understand these operating instructions.

Make sure that any air tools used with your compressor, has a safe working pressure going above that of the compressor.

Be careful when transporting the compressor to prevent tipping it over, which could cause injury to yourself and/or damage to the compressor unit, and may also spill compressor oil.

These compressors produce noise levels in excess of 70dB(A). Always ensure the operator of the compressor and people working nearby use hearing protection.

Always use proper manual handling techniques, as compressors can be very heavy- remember to lift with your legs instead of your back.

Never use a compressor as an air supply e.g for diving or for pressuring decompression chambers, it is not suitable for that purpose.

Be extremely careful when using hazardous spraying products such as stucco, warnex, insecticides etc- as these produce extremely hazardous vapours. Use an industrial extractor where possible.

Be mindful of the air pressure gauges, if the air safety valve fails to work and the gauge goes into the red, switch off the power supply and retreat to a safe distance. Never make alterations to compressor safety features.

Always ensure your compressor is properly earthed. Power the compressor from a socket that has earth fault protection.

Keep your fingers away from any moving parts.

It is advised to get your compressor unit electrically tested annually, to ensure that it will pose no electrical risk during its operation.

Be careful with compressor oil, as it can stain yourself and/or flooring. When disposing any compressor oil, do so at a proper facility that can handle such hazardous waste.