If your Porter cable air compressor does not seem to be working properly or it seems like it is struggling with its duties, then there could be an issue with its performance levels. The main reason why this happens is that there is something wrong with the internal components within the machine itself. 

The most common reason your Porter Cable air compressor requires troubleshooting is due to air with high humidity. Other issues involve pressure not building in the air tank or the compressor not turning ON/OFF. Solutions include changing the air filter, replacing the pressure switch, and moving your machine to a less humid location.

In this article, we are going to be talking about some common problems Porter Cable air compressors experience and how to fix them yourself.

Why Is My Porter Cable Air Compressor Not Working?

There’s nothing more frustrating than when your Porter Cable air compressor simply isn’t working properly. Fear not- time to identify the problem and move along to those house projects you’ve been dying to complete!

Four common issues with your Porter Cable air compressor include:

  • Pressure Won’t Build in the Tank
  • Air Compressor Won’t Turn On
  • Air Compressor Won’t Turn Off
  • Air Has a High Percentage of Humidity

These fairly typical air compressor problems often relate to one another, so we’ll discuss more on how they’re linked. Once you’ve identified the problem, then we can get a plan of action rolling.

Reason #1: Pressure Won’t Build in the Tank

Sometimes your Porter Cable air compressor just can’t manage to build the necessary pressure to power pneumatic tools. There are a few possible reasons why.

Common problems that create a lack of air pressure are:

  • Leaky air compressor hose
  • Clogged air intake filter
  • Leaky air compressor tank
  • Broken pressure relief valve 

Because of the different causes, this is a four-part fix.

1.Check For Leaky Air Compressor Hose

You may be able to patch the air hose using electrical tape, a plastic bag, a utility knife, and a hose repair kit; however, this can get tricky.

Due to the hardiness of the hose, patching doesn’t provide a long-term solution. Your best bet is to replace the leaky air compressor hose altogether for around $30.

2.The Clogged Air Intake Filter

A clogged air intake filter can easily be addressed by switching it out for a new one. You should aim to change out the filter every 1900 hours or so of use to be on the safe side.

3.The Leaky Air Compressor Tank

If you suspect a leaky tank, the solution depends on the situation.

A simple way to test this is to put soapy water in a spray bottle and to spray the outside of your air tank. Look for any bubbles that would indicate air is escaping.

For a punctured tank, you must replace it completely. Otherwise, you can try to identify where the leak is coming from and troubleshoot that area specifically.

4.The Broken Pressure Relief Valve

The previous solution ties into our last problem- the pressure relief valve is broken.

Pressure relief valves are designed to be released upon exceeding the air compressor’s maximum set pressure. A broken pressure relief valve can be triggered prematurely due to a broken spring or improper sealing.

You can easily purchase a new pressure relief valve. Be sure that the threads are properly primed with sealant tape.

If you’re still unable to build pressure after all of these steps, you can try resetting your Porter Cable air compressor back to its factory settings. That could be your perfect answer!

Reason #2: Compressor Won’t start (Won’t Turn On)

The compressor will not start when the power cord is plugged in but the air tank pressure gauge does not show any pressure. Do not assume that your compressor is broken. There are other possible reasons for this to happen and you should do a few things first before dismissing it as a broken case.

How To Fix Compressor Won’t start

  1. Make sure your circuit breaker is off or disconnected from the power source.
  2. Check to see if there is a loose wire or loose connection that is causing your circuit breaker to trip on overload. This could be due to a bad electrical connection or even a bad switch that needs replacing!
  3. Check your oil level in the crankcase and top up with oil if needed (this usually occurs after prolonged use). Make sure you use the right oil!
  4. Check if you have enough air pressure coming into the tank to operate at full capacity (about 80 psi). If not then check your filter and clean it out if necessary. You may also need to replace your filter if it has been damaged or clogged up with dirt/dust particles!
  5. If none of these tips work then you may have an internal problem with either your motor or compressor head which will require professional repair services.

Additional Reasons could be

  • Fulfilling its duty cycle
  • A tripped outlet

Fulfilling Its Duty Cycle

Remember that each air compressor has a certain ‘duty cycle.’ This is expressed as a percentage and is usually 25%, 30%, 50%, 75%, or 100%.

The higher the duty cycle percentage, the longer the compressor is able to run in relation to its rest time. The average duty cycle of a Porter Cable air compressor is 50%- meaning that the same amount of rest time is required for the time it’s used.

You may just be trying to use your compressor too quickly after each session. Check the duty cycle, and when in doubt, wait before attempting to turn it back on.

A Tripped Outlet

This one seems a little obvious but can happen to the best of them.

Plugging too many machines into the same power source or even a thunderstorm can cause the most unsuspecting outlet trips. Test other appliances in that plug-in to ensure that your compressor isn’t to blame.

Move other tools to a different outlet to secure enough power for your Porter Cable air compressor to function. Lastly, reset the circuit breaker switch to get your machine back up and running.

Reason #3: Air Compressor Won’t Turn Off

You could also have the opposite problem- your Porter Cable air compressor won’t turn on.

The biggest source of this issue is a faulty air compressor pressure switch. The pressure switch functions as the lever/button to turn off the air compressor when it’s reached its maximum pressure level. Essentially, it’s the first line of defense against the over-pressurization of the tank. 

The Solution

Luckily, if your air compressor pressure switch isn’t working, you have the safety relief valve to pick up the slack.

In the worst-case-scenario, you’ll need to replace the pressure switch. To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: Unplug your air compressor and drain the air.

Step 2: Cut the hose clamp.

Step 3: Remove the pressure switch hose.

Step 4: Take apart the motor and pump assembly.

Step 5: Remove the motor cover.

Step 6: Disconnect the yellow pressure switch wire, and pull the motor and pump from its case.

Step 7: Remove the pressure switch.

Step 8: Take the hose off the old pressure switch.

Step 9: Re-attach everything to the new pressure switch.

Plug your Porter Cable air compressor back in and allow for the pressure to build. Then you’re ready to go!

Reason #4: Air Has a High Percentage of Humidity

Last but definitely not least, the most common problem associated with Porter Cable air compressors is a high percentage of air humidity.

Typically, the water separator filter is able to take care of 50% of humidity, but if you notice that your air compressor is spewing fluids, you may need to move your machine.

This can easily be identified by observing mist spraying out of your air hose instead of plain air. When your air compressor sucks in air, it compresses it to about ten times its normal atmospheric pressure. Air in that form is usually unable to hold water.

The Solution

The easiest way to fix this is to move your Porter Cable air compressor to a less-humid location.

A good rule of thumb is if the air is above 50% humidity, you can’t expect your air compressor to do its job properly. This may cause a build-up of water in your air receiver tank (something that can be drained if necessary).

The air receiver tank should be drained in between uses anyways, but if you notice an excessive amount of water- that’s your sign to move your compressor!

Take care of this ASAP; excessive amounts of moisture can disrupt the pressure-reading mechanisms and the system entirely.

Reason #5: Won’t build pressure past 40psi

The reason for this loss of pressure is that there is not enough power coming from your motor to continue compressing air after 40 PSI. There might be some kind of issue with your motor or something else inside your compressor causing this issue. This is a very common problem with most of the porter cable air compressors. We wrote a more detailed post about this issue.

First solution: The first thing is to make sure that the tank is not overfilled.

If it is, then the pressure switch will turn off the compressor to prevent damage. You can also try turning off the machine and unplugging it for about 30 seconds before turning it back on again. This should reset the pressure switch so it will allow for more pressure in your tank.

Second solution: Check all your connections and make sure that they are tight.

If everything is okay, then make sure that the machine has enough oil in it. You can check the oil level by looking at the dipstick located on the side of your machine. If there is no oil present in it at all, then fill it up with oil until full and try again. 

If your compressor still won’t build pressure past the 40psi mark, then you may have a bad regulator or relief valve installed on your machine. To fix this problem, take off these two parts from inside your compressor and replace them with new ones.

Reason #6 ReWater in compressed air

The problem with water in compressed air is that it can ruin your equipment and cause serious damage to your health. So, if you are using this tool for work purposes, then you mustn’t let water get into the system. Here are some reasons why it happens and what you should do about it.

This can happen because there may be some moisture in your tank or because there was condensation on the lines during transport or storage. To prevent this from happening again, make sure that there are no leaks and that all valves are closed tightly when not in use. 

How To Fix this problem

Remove the tank from the humid area where you have stored it in. Store it in a dry area and drain the air tank several times after using it.

Reason # 7: The compressor is overheating

If your air compressor is overheating, it can cause your air compressor to fail prematurely. If this happens, it will be time-consuming to replace the motor and other parts of your compressor.

How to fix this problem:

Clean out and inspect your air compressor regularly. Look for damaged or loose parts and make sure that everything fits tightly together. If you find any problems with your compressor, get it repaired right away before they become serious issues.

Check the area around your air compressor regularly for signs of overheating like warped blades or other damages caused by heat build-up.

Make sure that there is adequate ventilation around your air compressor so that it does not overheat when it’s running at full capacity or working hard for long periods. You should also make sure that there is good airflow around the area where you keep your compressor so that heat does not build up inside of its housing or casing.

How Do I Reset My Porter Cable Air Compressor?

The beauty of a Porter Cable air compressor is that there’s no fancy reset technique- just a button.

If all else fails when troubleshooting your compressor, try hitting ‘Reset.’ It’s a small black button located on the back of the motor casing. While the machine is on, hold down the button for 3 seconds. Wait for the magic to happen.

The system should take around a minute or so to reboot completely. If that doesn’t work, a local handyman shop may be able to perform maintenance on internal parts.

In Summary

The most common problem is caused by excessive humidity. When the air outside becomes too moist, condensation can form inside of your machine and cause all sorts of problems. Move your air compressor to a less humid area to combat this.

For issues with the pressure switch, replace if needed and change the air intake filter every 1900 hours of use.

If all else fails, perform a reset using the ‘Reset’ button on the back of the motor housing!