An air compressor regulator works on maintaining the air pressure flowing through your unit. You can find them on tools that depend on air compressors to run and on tanks that release gas such as helium or oxygen tanks.
Properly adjusting the regulator helps you finish your tasks most efficiently as well as extends the lifespan of both the air compressor and the air tools you’re using.
How a Regulator Works
Regulators have a large screw called the set screw which controls the air flowing through your tank.
By using the pressure of springs linked to the main shafts of the set screw, you can set the pressure of air.
These springs are pushed down into the shaft where the set screw sits. To keep the valve open, the springs press down very hard.
Then, a small tube at the opening of the valve moves pressure into the chamber.
As the pressure changes within the regulator, a diaphragm moves with it. And the regulator works by maintaining the air pressure at a consistent level.
If the pressure is too low, only hot air is allowed through the compressor.
On the other hand, high pressure may damage the internal tooling of your unit.
That’s why you have to pay attention to the air flowing through the hose and regularly adjust the settings to fit the requirements.
How to Adjust a Regulator
You can find the regulator as a part of the unit on portable compressors. On larger industrial compressors, however, it may come as a separate entity. Usually, these have a water trap, air dryer, and uses some of the air compressor oil to lubricate your tools as you use them.
Both systems are adjusted in pretty much the same way, so don’t worry about which model you have.
Begin by turning on your compressor and letting it fill completely.
Watch the pressure gauge of the tank itself to know how much air compressor pressure you have in reserve. The number should be higher than the recommended PSI for the tool that you’re going to operate using your compressor.
When you reach a suitable pressure, connect your air hose and tool. Make sure to monitor the pressure gauge on the regulator itself. If it’s above or below the required PSI setting, that’s where you have to adjust it.
Almost all regulators are equipped with a circular knob to adjust the pressure. Usually, these knobs have a locking feature that works by pulling out to unlock or pushing in to lock the switch.
To raise the pressure flowing to the air hose, unlock the knob and turn it clockwise. Contrarily, turn it counterclockwise if you want to lower the pressure.
Finally, make sure you lock it again when you’re done by pushing the knob.
To optimize the functionality of your air tools and extend their longevity, make sure you follow the air tool’s manufacturer’s PSI recommendations.
Matching the PSI to the Correct Tool
PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) indicates the raw power of the compressor and is an essential indicator of how your tool will perform.
So for example, if you’re using a 90 PSI staple gun but only supplying 70 PSI, the tool won’t work as efficiently.
But that doesn’t mean you should provide too much pressure as it would damage the components of the tool.
Sometimes, lower pressures are needed as this means there’s less resistance against airflow. This, in turn, increases the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute).
Some tools, such as paint sprayers, require higher CFMs to work properly.
Do All Compressors have a Pressure Regulator?
While most of them do, some compressors don’t have a pressure regulator.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. Most of the time, they’re designed in a way that doesn’t require them to have a regulator. This is because sometimes they’re designed to run specific tools.
Difference between Pressure Regulator and Pressure Switch
The air compressor pressure switch works on protecting the components of the compressor. It detects the pressure of the air being stored in the tank and automatically shuts the compressor pump off when it reaches a maximum preset pressure. This is an effective way to prevent the pressure from going too high (cut-out pressure).
Moreover, switches also signal the compressor to start working again when the pressure drops too low (cut-in pressure).
Pressure regulators are different in that they control how much pressure is flowing from the tank to the tool through the hose. It stifles the pressure when it gets higher than needed in order to protect the tool.
Maintaining the Pressure Regulator
Regular maintenance is very important if you want to keep your compressor running as efficiently.
Air compressors are prone to crack because of the constant downstream pressure going through them. This results in leaks that reduce the effectiveness of your tool.
Not only that, but they may also dry out if they’re left unused for a long duration. That’s why you should use your unit at least once every few days, even if you don’t need to.