Air Compressor Slow to Build Pressure [3 Solutions]

If your air compressor has been slow to build pressure, you might be wondering what you can do to resolve this issue. Air compressors are only truly effective if they are working properly, and being slow to build pressure can also mean that your air compressor is not providing sufficient pressure to take care of certain tasks.

Air compressors that are slow to build pressure can be experiencing this issue for a variety of reasons. Common problems include pump seal problems, pump gasket failure, and issues with the intake or pressure valve.

 There are some ways to troubleshoot this issue to help you to identify which item needs attention. Always remember that new air compressors are likely still under warranty and you should use your warranty for the work that is needed to resolve this problem.

If your air compressor is being slow to build pressure, you need to read on for more information.

How Should Your Air Compressor Build Pressure?

When your air compressor is working properly, it will pull in free air from the atmosphere through the intake valve. There is usually a filter on this valve that helps to keep debris and other matter out of the air compressor.

The pump inside the air compressor will begin to increase pressure and you will hear the air compressor turn on. At this point, depending on the size of your air compressor, it will take around five minutes for your air compressor to build pressure up.

When the air compressor clicks off, you will be ready to start using your air compressor. As you use the air compressor throughout the day, it will pull air in again when it needs more air to work with. If your air compressor is working properly, you will be able to use it even when it is recharging the air in the tank.

How to Diagnose Why Your Air Compressor is Slow to Build Pressure

If you are experiencing issues where your air compressor is taking far longer than it should charge and are not sure which part might be to blame for this issue, you should read this list of common issues that can lead to air compressors being slow to build pressure.

These are not all of the reasons that your air compressor might be failing to build pressure, but they are the most common reasons for this problem.

1. Pump Failure

When the pump itself is bad in your air compressor, you will often have issues related to the air compressor being very slow to build pressure. The pump is what pressurizes the air in the air compressor and you might be able to diagnose this as the issue if you look for specific signs.

When your pump is bad, it might make noises that it did not make before or it might cycle on and off frequently. If the pump is running constantly, this is also a sign that there is a problem with it.

Even if your pump seems to be pressurizing the air in the compressor adequately, you should have it looked at if it is running all the time or making noises that you do not think it should be making. Getting the pump fixed or replaced before it fails is important if you want to be able to use your air compressor with ease.

2. Intake Valve Issues

This part can fail but it can also be sealed poorly against the pump. The intake valve is how the air gets drawn into the air compressor, so it needs to be working if you want to have an air compressor that you can use when it is needed.

Intake valve issues might cause audible leaking that you can hear or you might hear your pump cycling frequently. This kind of problem can often lead to additional secondary issues like piston ring failure due to the incorrect function of the valve. This is a common issue for air compressors that are not working properly and you will be able to diagnose this issue fairly readily by listening for or feeling for leaks.

3. Gasket Issues

The gaskets in your air compressor are made to separate the high-pressure air and the low-pressure air inside the pump. If the gasket within the pump has failed, you might find that your air compressor loses pressure very quickly once you start using it.

It might charge up in the normal time frame but it will run out of pressurized air quickly. Your air compressor might also not be operable while it is trying to recharge.

This kind of issue is more common with older machines that have been used a lot or that are cycling on and off all day long. You should look for this issue if you know that your compressor has been used a lot and it is having trouble recharging air in between uses.

Gasket issues can be hard to repair on your own, so you might need to have a repair technician or a warranty tech come to assess whether or not this is the issue. Tearing apart your air compressor is not an easy process unless you have done it before and know what you are doing.

4. Pressure Switch Issues

The pressure switch in your air compressor is very important to its operation. This switch lets the compressor maintain pressure. It turns the compressor off when the pressure range is at the cut-off point. It also tells the compressor when to add more air and recharge.

If you are having issues with leakage at the switch, or it has failed, your air compressor might simply not charge up air or take air in. It might also randomly turn on and off while still experiencing low pressure for your needs.

The pressure switch is critical to the use of your air compressor and trying to ignore this kind of issue will only lead to damage of the air compressor over time as well as eventual failure.

5. Leaking Tank

This is not a common problem, but if you have any older air compressor, it could be the reason for your air compressor losing pressure. Tanks that leak might also be made of poor quality or the connections of valves might be the point that the tank has failed.

A leaking tank can render your air compressor hard to use or it could even make the air compressor dangerous to work with at some point. If you see cracks or damage to the tank or you think that this is the reason for your air compressor failing to charge, you should be wary about continuing to use the air compressor in this state.

This is the kind of issue that often leads to the replacement of the entire air compressor as it is rarely cost-effective to replace the tank. Air compressors with bad tanks are basically inoperable in most cases.

How to Fix an Air Compressor That is Not Building Pressure

As stated before, if your air compressor is still in warranty, the company who sold it to you can send someone out to repair it or you can seek a replacement. If you are going to need to look into fixing this issue yourself, you can use these tips and tricks to try and resolve these issues.

  • Check Valves are tight. Replace broken ones or faulty ones.
  • Check for loose joints and loose connections to the air compressor
  • Clean the filters
  • Test the pump for leaks and replace if it is leaking
  • Look for cracks on the tank or leaking air around the connections

These issues can be hard to fix in some cases, and there are failures that can end up being too expensive to justify when compared to replacing the air compressor itself. Always consider the cost of a new machine when compared with the cost of the repairs that you are thinking of doing.

If you have a very expensive and large air compressor, it might make sense to repair some large items, but smaller machines are rarely so expensive that completing large repairs makes sense.

Air Compressors That Do Not Build Pressure Might be Easy to Fix

If you are struggling with your air compressor being unable to build pressure, some of these fixes are very easy to implement and you might be able to take care of them in a few moments.

If you are considering a large part replacement like the tank, you might want to be sure that the cost to replace the part is justified. A new air compressor might sometimes be your best bet for replacing an air compressor that is not working properly.

Always be sure to clean the filters and switch the air compressor off when it is not in use. Keep your lines that are connected to the air compressor from getting tangled or being pulled on hard. Taking good care of this machine can ensure that it will last for years to come without any repairs being needed.

      Residential & Commercial Air Compressors