Air compressors are mechanical systems that are useful to have around the house, as well as in your vehicle when traveling. An air compressor uses pneumatic power to transfer energy into the desired object, such as a blow-up toy, tire, or air mattress. 

Due to the variety of sizes, they come in and their popularity, air compressors certainly aren’t cheap. You want to make sure before making this investment just how long an air compressor can last, and rightfully so. 

Overall, a rotary screw air compressor that has properly sealed components can last nearly 30 years. Rotary screen air compressors tend to last longer than reciprocating air compressors due to their secure seals that can prevent excessive wear. Not to mention, oil-lubricated air compressors experience less friction because of their internal design. 

ManufacturerExpected LifespanWarranty
Craftsman10 Years1 Year
Bostitch5 Years7 Years
DEWALT3 Years3 Years
Viair5 Years1 Year

Oil-Free Air Compressor Life Expectancy

Generally speaking, rotary screw air compressors can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years. Yet, reciprocating air compressors have a slightly shorter lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Rotary screw air compressors are known to last longer than reciprocating air compressors.

This is because rotary screw air compressors create a seal for internal rotors with a compressor oil seal, which prevents regular wear and tear. In comparison, reciprocating air compressors aren’t as secure and experience wear and tear over time. 

Why does an oil-free air compressor have a different life expectancy than an oil-lubricated air compressor you might ask? An oil-free air compressor operates without an oil-filled pump, which means it either doesn’t have mechanical friction within its chambers or it uses another lubricating agent other than oil. Since oil-lubricated air compressors are expected to last longer, they are often priced higher, too. 

However, Oil-free air compressors don’t usually last as long and aren’t ideal for heavy-duty use. You’ll find better longevity in an oil-lubricated air compressor, but it will come at a higher cost. So, you’ll have to weigh these two advantages against each other. 

Smaller and more portable, oil-free air compressors will get the job done. Yet, you shouldn’t expect them to last as long. If you opt for an oil-free air compressor from a reputable brand, like Craftsman, you can rest assured you’ll get the longevity you need at a price that is affordable for this type of compressor. 

If it’s durability or commercial use you’re after though, an oil-lubricated air compressor with a long lifespan is the best choice. Oil-lubricated air compressors keep your model working well for long periods of time without constant breakdown. They also don’t run as hot as oil-free air compressors, because they have adequate lubrication to prevent this caveat.

Do Air Compressors Wear Out?

Just like any other mechanical system, air compressors do wear out over time. Of course, the more often you use them, the quicker they will wear out. The conditions in which you store them can also make a difference in the wear and tear of their exterior, as well. Also, the amount of downtime you give your air compressor between uses is also a determining factor in how quickly it will wear out. 

To keep your air compressor from wearing out prematurely, make sure you buy the appropriate size for your intended use. Keep it inside and out of the elements as much as possible, and give your air compressor time to cool down between uses. 

Don’t leave your air compressor plugged in all the time, either. Also, you sure make sure to keep your air compressor in a well-ventilated area that is free of obstructions, as this is the number one cause of air compressor burnout. 

When Should You Replace Your Air Compressor?

The most obvious sign of air compressor wear is the presence of rust, dents, and/or broken components. The diminished performance abilities of an air compressor may also be signaled by loud vibrations when it is in use or unnatural shaking when airing something up with your compressor. 

The point in time at which you feel like an air compressor replacement is necessary wholly depends on the user, their condition preferences, and the usability of the current air compressor. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can tell your air compressor is reaching the end of its lifespan. 

You can also tell that your air compressor needs to be replaced if you don’t have sufficient air in the item you were intending to air up at the end of the compressor’s use. This means the compressor either isn’t generating power or it isn’t transferring air pressure properly.

There are a few additional signs that your air compressor may need to be replaced that are less obvious if you aren’t a professional. These include rusted or worn seals, bearings, or rings. A worn-down air compressor may also feel extremely hot when it’s in use or it simply may not work altogether. Air leaks are also difficult to detect at times, but maybe a sign that it’s time to replace your air compressor. 

Obviously, if your air compressor isn’t working it is time for a replacement. However, if you can deal with reduced air pressure or unpleasant noises during operating, if you don’t use it much, or if you just need to use it until it stops, then there is no need to replace your air compressor until it poses a problem. 

How Long Do Craftsman Air Compressors Last?

For home use, Craftsman air compressors are a top option. Not only are they affordable and reliable, but they are backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty and a 90-day satisfaction guarantee promise. Craftsman air compressors, however, do not fall under the same lifetime warranty that other Craftsman tools do. 

Depending on the type and size of Craftsman air compressor you purchase, its life expectancy can be seven years or it can be 10 to 15 years. One thing to note is that Craftsman is a reputable brand that has been producing tools for a long time, so they produced some of the best air compressors on the market. 

It’s also important to consider that the lifespan of Craftsman air compressors will also depend on their use and maintenance. Craftsman-branded air compressors are pretty sustainable and easy to take care of, but frequent and harsh use will negate these characteristics. 

Air Compressor Maintenance for Longevity

If you want to do everything you can to enhance the lifespan of your air compressor and make it last as long as possible, here are a few tips you can follow:

Storage: Store your air compressor in a ventilated and cool place. Don’t leave it out in the sun or leave it exposed to the outside elements. If it has to be stored outside, keep a cover on it when it’s not in use.

Inspect and Maintain: Be on the lookout for any obvious signs of wear and tear, so you can correct them before they intensify. Tighten any nuts, bolts, or screws, as they may wiggle loose with regular vibration. 

Regular Cleaning: This doesn’t have to be a complete cleaning, but a quick wipe-down regularly will help extend the life of your air compressor. Blowing off any dust instead of allowing it to build up and keeping the vents free of debris will prevent overheating, too.</li>

Replace Oil: If you did opt for an oil lubricated compressor, the machine should be re-oiled after every 4,000 hours of operation. This is a key component for keeping an oil-lubricated air compressor running properly and preventing burnout.

One Last Word

Air compressors have a general life expectancy that ranges from 5 to 30 years, depending on the size, model, and type. The type of air compressor you select should depend on what you will need it to do, how often it will be used, and how long you need it to last.  

Ultimately, how long your air compressor will last depends on the combination of all of these aforementioned features. No one can give you an exact timeframe for the lifespan of an air compressor, but we can give you our best guess based on what we know about air compressors in general.

If you’d like more information about the expected lifespan of a specific air compressor, it is best to get in touch with the manufacturer and read user reviews. Not only will you know what to expect, but you can also get tips for maintenance from current owners and users, too. 

Overall, the best indicators of how long an air compressor can last include use, care, brand, size, type, and maintenance. When all of these factors are performed and maintained properly, you can expect the longest period of use from your selected air compressor.