Choosing the right air compressor oil for winter

25/09/2017
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As the winter months set in, you’re likely to carry out some seasonal maintenance on your car, such as checking tyre treads, topping up on antifreeze, and possibly replacing the engine oil with one designed for lower temperatures.

But it’s important to take a similar approach when choosing the right air compressor oil for winter, as extremes of cold can also affect the viscosity of air compressor oil, just as they affect the engine oil in your car.

Very cold weather – especially if your air compressor is located in a room with direct ventilation to the outdoors, or is even located outside permanently – can cause lubricant oil to thicken and form a sludge, which is not necessarily as effective at lubricating the moving parts of your air compressor.

The solution is a regular oil change, and in winter manufacturers may recommend that you use a thinner oil, which will not thicken so much when temperatures drop.

Choosing the right air compressor oil for winter is important not only to make sure the compressor actually starts and turns over as expected on cold days; it can also have direct effects on the cost of running the compressor.

Powering an air compressor filled with thick, cold oil is akin to running through treacle – it takes much more energy to keep the moving parts in motion, and will reduce your compressor’s overall efficiency even though the oil may still be effective as a lubricant.

There are a few other oil-related issues to keep in mind as the colder days approach, too. Firstly, check your oil levels more often, as the change in temperature as your air compressor heats up and cools down each day can leave it in need of more frequent top-ups.

And finally, make sure your filters are clean and are not clogged, especially if you’ve been running your air compressor with thicker, sludgy oil on cold days.

By investing in clean replacement air compressor filters at the start of the season – ideally at the same time that you switch to a thinner lubricant oil – you can make sure that oil-lubricated air compressors run at maximum efficiency throughout the winter months, reducing running costs and the risks of any breakdowns.