How to Clean Air Compressor Tank

Recently updated on April 14th, 2022

My neighbor has a small garage and is a total mess with a bunch of stuff in there. He bought an air compressor for his home garage a while back. He found that the compressor tank had rust slurry in it and needed to clean it out.

He was searching online for the answer, “How to Clean Air Compressor Tank?”

If you face problems like milky oil in the oil reservoir, excessive oil consumption and receiver pressure build up quickly on the compressor. All these problems are because of a filthy air compressor tank.

Here I will give you a complete step-by-step guide in cleaning your air compressor tank properly.

Without further ado, let’s dive in….. 

Causes of the dirty air compressor tank

The causes are water entering oil reservoirs due to compressors operating in high humidity environments, restricted air intake, Oil leaks, Excessive water in the receiver. The result is it functions suboptimally or, worse, breaks on you altogether. 

You want to know all recommended methods to flush a small air compressor tank for getting longevity and optimal performance in this situation. Most of the time, the causes of these problems are dirty air compressor tanks.

Why is cleaning an Air Compressor Tank necessary 

No matter how durable and generally long-lasting your air compressors are. If you don’t do some regular maintenance on them, they won’t serve you well.

Maybe your air compressor is used several times a day or very frequently. In all those cases, you’ll need to perform several fundamental maintenance procedures. 

The most important maintenance procedure for an air compressor is to clean out the compressor tank. We’ve provided a step-by-step process on how to clean out your air compressor tank. 

So, keep reading….

How to Clean Air Compressor Tank ?

Step – 1 Finding the leaks and take care of them

First of all, check for oil and fluid leaks that may be present in the air compressor tank. Then, you should check the oil by searching for leaks. So, your first and foremost work in finding any leaks and then taking care of them.

Step – 2 Place the air compressor tool in the proper position 

You have to place the air compressor tool in the proper position for cleaning. 

Step – 3 Open the drain valve and clean it out

You will find a ring located on the tank drain. Try to grab it. After completing it, open the drain valve slowly. Continue this process until the drain valve fully opens.

Step – 4 Devoid the compressor tank of the water, sludge, oil, or rust

It’s time to clean the air compressor tank. Empty the tank of all its contents, and make sure that you clean out the tank by the drain valve. You may find sludge, oil, and rust besides water condensation.

Step – 5 Keep the drain valve open for help drying it out

After completing the drain, you have to keep the tank’s drain valve open for a few hours. It will help to dry up all liquid materials.

Step – 6 Finally Check inside the tank no harmful debris is left

Check several times and ensure no harmful debris is left in the tank.

You need to give a good time to clean the air compressor tank. The more you use your air compressor, the more air it consumes from the local environment filled with water vapor. 

So, it depends on your use and time. The tank can compress at a time due to the deficiency of the amount of air.

As you’ve correctly completed the cleaning of the air compressor tank, so close up your tank. Ensure that you completely close the drain because loose sealing will be problematic for you in the future.

How often to drain air compressor tank?

Have you been draining the compressor daily or not?

Whenever you operate your air compressor, the atmospheric air fills the compressor tank.

The Compressor tank contains a few amounts of water vapor, and it takes place in the tank. This vapor is enough to damage the internal structure of the compressor.

A moisture-resistant coating covers the tank’s interior to prevent corrosion. Humidity is the leading cause of condensation of water vapor on the inside of air compressors.

The rate of condensation varied from place to place. Generally, Condensed air accumulates at the bottom of the tank.

The result is:-

  • Water will be increase inside 
  • Air compressor can expel water droplets
  • This water can easily pick up dust and other residues
  • Rust will form on the protective coating  inside the tank 

These reasons affect the entire tank. That’s why experts suggest getting in the practice of cleaning air compressor tanks daily.

What to do with old air compressor?

How old is the cleaning air compressor tank? 

Is it too old or less?

If the compressor is old then, what should you do with it?

If your old air compressor is still functional, then keep it as a backup compressor. Air compressors for backup are underrated. In case your new compressor sneezes or is due for service, then; the backup compressor is there to keep the work running.  

If you have an older compressor tank and didn’t clean it for an extended period, then you should buy a new one. You can check the old one by hydro-test.

How to maintain air compressor?

You can easily maintain your air compressor –

By scrubbing device:

You can apply a scrubbing device with some chain for a sizable opening-type compressor tank to help free up loose rust. It will help you to clean the tank by turning it over and slosh it around. You should remove the compressor from the tank before using this.

By clean water:

Try to clean it by adding clean water to the tank. When you are adding water and then blowing it out, you can leave the tank upright. 

Before building pressure on the compressor and opening the drain valve to dump the water, slosh it back and forth a bit.

You will be diluting the “rust slurry” after adding water. As it shrinks, it thickens out of the air, and the rust in the tank can be something like half a piece of water and the same amount of rust so that you can get more rust out. Rust will form in most of the climate because there is always water in the air. 

Unless there is an air dryer between the compressor and the tank, it is enough to condense out in the tank. 

Cleaning air compressor tank (Another method)

Another way that people used to do that they clean with phosphoric acid. Although it won’t damage the tank, you have to maintain some caution when using it. You can buy it in a 5-pint bottle from any nearby chemical supply house.

Almost a pint of acid can remove the rust from a water-filled tank. 

Health and food industries like soft drink companies widely use Phosphoric acid. To minimize rusting, clean your tank daily. But if you don’t use the compressor, rust will return by the time.

Final Words

An air compressor can serve you for many years by maintaining some precautions and procedures (method of use). That’s why you have to provide a couple of hours of quality use and operation. 

Hopefully, you understand how to clean an air compressor tank and this guide will help you to clean without any damage to the tank.


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