For The Perfect Finish

Marty Schlosser

Today’s well-engineered and manufactured turbines and air compressors are so reliable and capable of operating with a minimum of attention that we tend to forget about them. Until they break down, causing work interruptions and costly repairs. So here are tips and tricks to help you keep such problems to a minimum.


Properly maintaining your turbine requires little more than ensuring it can draw in clean air and efficiently send it along its way. That translates to two things: placement and filters.


Ensure your turbine is placed well away from any overspray and dust when operating. This will help keep its filters clean and draw in fresh air. And when you’re finished using it, store it out of the way where it won’t be subjected to freezing temperatures and dust.


Every turbine model is unique in the number and shape of its filters, so refer to your manual to learn all about yours. And if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and order a spare set. Get into checking the filters at the end of the day. Vacuum the outside of the filter housing before pulling filters out to check on them. Then vacuum off the filters themselves – never use compressed air to blow them off as it tends to drive the dust and contaminants into the filter membrane.

If vacuuming doesn’t get them clean, a quick wash in warm soapy water followed by a thorough rinse in clean water will do the trick. Vacuum, wipe off the inside of your filter housing with a water-dampened cloth, then dry it thoroughly before inserting your spare filter or the one you’ve cleaned and left to dry thoroughly.

Air Delivery

Hoses require very little attention. Ensure the hose is positioned to keep it from kinking and only hand-tightened to your turbine. If you have one, check that the flex hose connections are tight. If the flex hose develops cracks at the spray gun end due to flexing (that’s its job!), repair it yourself. With a box knife, carefully cut off the split section, and screw the fitting back into the now slightly shorter flex hose. Check hoses every week or so for leaks and, if necessary, replace washers and hand tighten the connections.

That’s all there is to Turbine System Maintenance. Together, these efforts will allow your system to efficiently deliver the necessary volume and pressure of clean air to your spray gun.

Air Compressors

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that air compressors require more maintenance than turbines.

  1. Read your operating instructions manual. Understand the initial start-up procedures, preventive maintenance instructions, and troubleshooting guidance it provides.
  2. Conduct initial start-up procedures to break in your new pump.
  3. Schedule and undertake preventive maintenance checks.

Daily Checks

Before starting up your compressor each day:

  • Check the pump oil level.
  • Drain condensation from the air receiver.
  • Turn on your air compressor and check for any unusual noise or vibration.
  • At the close of the day, drain your air tank. If you have installed an auto-drain system, this will not be necessary.

Weekly Checks

At the end of each week:

  • Clean the air filter by removing the air filter cap and vacuuming (do not blow with compressed air!) the inside. Clean or replace filters as necessary.
  • Check the pump oil level and top up if necessary.
  • If one is installed, confirm that the air tank auto-drain system is operating correctly.
  • Check for air leaks and correct them as necessary.
  • Check the condition of your air line filters and clean them if necessary. Drain any condensate that may have collected in the water separator. If you have a desiccant system, check to see if the desiccant requires drying and do so if necessary.
  • If your system has a refrigerated air dryer, check to ensure it is operating correctly.

Quarterly Checks

At the end of each quarter (or every 300 hours of operation, if that usually comes first):

  • Change the pump oil and filter element.
  • Check the condition and alignment of the belt, flywheel, and motor pulley. Adjust belt tension if necessary and replace worn belts.
  • Ensure the pump cooling fan is neither cracked nor damaged.
  • Check the crankcase breather and clean as necessary.
  • Check the pressure switch unloader is operating correctly.
  • Clean and blow off pump fins and motor.
  • Inspect the air system for leaks by applying soapy water to all joints. Tighten joints if leakages are observed.
  • Check that all electrical connections are tight and wiring insulation is not cracked or showing wear signs.

Closing Remarks

If you’re regularly performing routine preventive maintenance checks, pat yourself on the back. If not, then you’ve got plenty of company. And that’s a shame because a quality turbine or air compressor system is a significant investment that will degrade over time if checks aren’t being followed. And in the worst-case scenario, the air compressor tank could explode with disastrous results. ‘Nuff said?

Marty Schlosser has been designing, making, and finishing furniture for nearly 50 years. Before retiring, Marty served as the president of the Ottawa Woodworkers Association, to which he received their prestigious Danny Proulx Memorial Award. He is also a founding member of Kingston Wood Artisans, the local woodworking club in Kingston, ON.

You might also like