Air Compressor Water Separators

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Compressing air creates a water problem. All air contains water vapor. Compressing that air forces that water vapor out and the water must collect somewhere in your compressor. The logical point for the water to collect is the air tank.

Air compressor manufacturers put a drain valve on the bottom of the air tank for a reason. Your regular shop maintenance routine should include draining the water from your air tank on a regular basis. Even if you are diligent, there is still a problem.

Water Separators are designed to remove contaminants from the compressed as it leaves the air compressor and before it gets to your tools. In this detailed buyer’s guide, we will look into the best water separators based on the application.

Below, we included the most common water separators. However, if you have industrial air compressors, you will need a certified tech to choose and install your water separator. Fill out the form below for a free quote.




What is an Air Compressor Water Separator?

Water Separators are designed to remove contaminants from the compressed as it leaves the air compressor and before it gets to your tools. These contaminants can include:

  • Liquid water
  • Water vapor
  • Solid particles
  • Oil
  • Oil vapor

How do Water Separators Work?

There are two different methods by which compressed water separators remove contaminants from the compressed air in your system. Both are effective at removing the contaminants from your compressed air supply.  

Centrifugal Separators

Centrifugal separators are designed to induce a rotary or spinning motion to the compressed air as it passes through the separator. This action causes the contaminants to speed up.

As the particles, oil, and water speed up, they more to the outer edge and collect on the inside of the separator housing where they drain to the bottom and can be drained.

Draining the centrifugal air separator can be done either manually of with the installation of an automatic drain system.  

Coalescing Separators

Coalescing separators utilize a filter element to trap contaminants in your compressed air supply as it moves through the filter.

The compressed air is forced through a filter medium from the inside of the filter to the outside, where the compressed air exits the separator. You must replace these filter elements on a regular basis.

Keeping Your Air Dry and Clean – Our Picks for the Best Compressed Air Water Separators

Different situations and installations call for different types and sizes of water separators.

We have searched and considered many different makes, models, and types of water separators for each use, and these are our picks as the best for each application.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Other Issues Solved By Water Separators

As you are working, the pressure in your air tank varies up and down, and it streams air down the connection hose to your tools.

As the pressure varies in the tank, the air picks up water vapor that ends up in your valuable tools.

Water in the cylinders of air tools makes for bad results over time, even if you are careful to oil those tools with each use.

You need to think about protecting those tools by removing the water from the compressed air before it can reach your tools and do more harm. The answer is to install a water separator on your compressed air system.

This will ensure that you are delivering clean, dry air to your tools.

Do I need a water separator?

If you use compressed air, even if only to inflate your tires, you should have a water separator installed on your compressed air system.

Most people don’t realize how destructive water can be to tools and even to tires. Water can rust or deteriorate tools and tires, shortening their life.

Where does the water in my compressor tank come from?

As the air pump compresses the air, it heats up. In the air tank, as you use the compressed air, it cools and any water vapor that was in the compressed, heated air condenses on the inside of your air tank and collects at the bottom.

The water will eventually corrode the tank and can potentially be carried down the air hose to your tools.  

Keeping Things Dry

In the end, it is all about protecting your investment in the tools and other uses of your compressed air. Keeping water, oil, and other contaminants from migrating down the system and into your tools are the goal.

No matter whether you are a casual hobby compressed air user, or you run a shop that uses high volumes of compressed air, it is in your best interest to install a water separator on your compressed air system.

We hope that this article has answered some questions and given you the information that you need to decide on whether to install a compressed air water separator.

If you do decide that your system needs to have a water separator installed, the information here can help you find the best water separator for your needs.