Central Pneumatic Air Compressor Not Building Pressure?

Having an expensive piece of equipment fault is always a cause for alarm and comes with fears of losing money to repair or replace it. However, knowing how to check for issues that could cause equipment to run improperly can save you both time and money.

Rather than being quick to hire a technician or immediately replace the faulty equipment being aware of common causes can be a huge relief to any handyman.

Checking a few small components on an air compressor could help fix a lack of built pressure while reducing stress and wasting time. For those uncomfortable breaking parts down, calling a technician may be the best route. 

What Does It Mean When A Central Pneumatic Air Compressor Won’t Build Pressure?

When an air compressor is working properly it will build pressure that is then directed through tubing to be used. Typically, a malfunctioning air compressor will run continuously without storing any pressure.

This can range from storing no pressure to reaching a certain threshold before losing retention. While not every case is the same this is typically a simple solution requiring minimal knowledge and skills to fix. 

Central Pneumatic Air Compressor
Photo from Power Tools Ninja

What Are the General Causes Behind A Lack of Built Pressure?

  • One frequent cause most owners run into is the drain tank valve being left open. This will release all the pressure in a faster rate than it can be built-up. Simply closing this valve will prevent the pressure from being released and fixing any issues with the equipment.
  • Intake valves are the part that draws air into the pump and if faulty can instead push air out. A simple way to check is by placing your hand over the intake valve to see if you feel air pushing out.
  • However, if neither solution works, the next step to take is reviewing the pump gaskets. These gaskets serve the purpose of containing the pressure in the lower portion of the pump until the pressure valve is used to release it into the tank itself. When pump gaskets fail the pressure will be pushed sideways in the pump and will not release into the tank.
  • This is where having some background and knowledge will come into play. 

Can This Be Fixed at Home or Should A Technician Be Consulted?

  • Reaching this point will have readers branching in different paths based upon their knowledge and skills, amount of time available, and the importance of the equipment.
  • Being able to disassemble sections of the air compressor to search for malfunctioning parts is the next best step when feeling comfortable in one’s own skill level and knowledge.
  • Being able to check the pump gaskets, piston rings, and head pump valve for problems can present quick solutions and save time.
  • If unsure on any individual area of air compressors, you can consult YouTube for videos on how to take things apart and what to look for as far as trouble areas. Always remember to check the credibility of videos you watch and try to stick to professional technicians. Review multiple sources and ensure the information given matches throughout the sources.
  • If at any point in time you feel uncomfortable in performing work on your air compressor be sure to contact a technician to fix it.

What Can You Fix at Home Before Calling A Technician?

  • After checking if your drain tank valve is open or closed the next step is checking your pump gaskets. This requires disassembling the pump and replacing it with a matching rebuilt model.
  • Piston rings function to keep air from transferring through the tube and when worn and improperly working they allow for this air to pass through. When disassembling the cylinder make sure there is no visible damage to the cylinder walls or rod and inspect the rings for damage. After replacing the piston rings, you should notice pressure returning to building up.
  • When air is passing from the pump into the tank it will pass through the tank check valve. This valve when working correctly will allow air to pass through when running and seal the air inside during inactivity. If this valve is not working properly it can allow air to escape the tank or block air from entering. 

Check The User Manual 

This may seem like simple, common-sense advice. However, must people ignore it. Always consult your user manual upon purchasing any new equipment and remember the importance of proper care and use.

Following these steps will typically lead to a longer life cycle and fewer complications in operating. User manuals give valuable knowledge to the layman and can lead to expanding your knowledge if troubleshooting is required on your air compressor.

Call A Certified Technician 

If you have persistent issues after checking through this list of trouble areas your best option at this point is to consult a professional.

While most issues causing air compressors to not build pressure are fixable at home and by yourself, some issues are more complex and require someone experienced with the equipment to fix them.

Each case will be different, and the amount of troubleshooting being done will vary by the owner’s comfort level. Most should be able to find online forums or videos online for insight on the different problems concerning air compressors. 

If all else has failed or you feel overwhelmed with the task of working on your machine always remember to seek professional help from a technician. This route may be more expensive in the long run but guarantees a solid solution to the problem.


No matter what solution you choose just remember there are always multiple sources you can use to help in solving your air compressors pressure build up issue. 

Was this article helpful in solving your air compressor problems? Do you have any additional advice or resources for others? Feel free to share them below in the comment section. 

      Residential & Commercial Air Compressors