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Help me find the air leak


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There is a 50+ foot run of 1/2" black pipe from the compressor to the shop with a second inline 80 gallon tank at the shop. The line is above ground. The set up leaks down and the compressor kicks in at night which is inconsiderate of my neighbors.  I have "soaped" every part of the lines and compressor repeatedly and still can't find the leak. I've considered freon dye but have no idea what bad things that could cause. I fully realize that I could simply close the valve at the compressor but that would require my arthritic mind to remember to close said valve.  It ain't going to happen.  Any thoughts?

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How long does the compressor run at night?  If a single time, or widely separated, could just be stored air temperature dropping and losing just enough pressure to startup unit.  Have you checked for valve and fitting leaks at your indoor storage tank as well?

Might want to see if you can increase the deadband in your compressor controls so it can drop a reasonable percentage before kicking on.  Another remediation option would be to put a timeclock on the power to the compressor, though if you wanted to work off hours you might want to add a HOA switch for override as well.

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Try putting a bit of 'essential oil' like peppermint into the tank and 'follow your nose'

That said, it's good practice to shutdown and drain your tank regularly maybe you could do it overnight every night :)

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First, I'd shut the valves at the compressor at least one night and see if it still happens.  If not, then the leak is in the air line.  If it does then you know the leak is at the compressor, tank, or in the line up to the valve (assuming the valve doesn't leak). Make sure you check the drain line and fittings on the tank too. Once you determine which side of the valve is leaking at least you can eliminate a good portion of the system to check out more thoroughly.  If it's leaking enough to kick on multiple times during the night I'm really surprised that using soapy water didn't reveal any leaks.

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Listen to the air inlet to the compressor. The valves could be leaking letting the air out the way it came in. And please turn the compressor off at night. In our shop we had the main line out of the compressor blow out and luckily we were there to turn it off. We now shut the power off to it when we leave. Imagine that blowing out then the compressor runs all night. No good. 

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I have two shops on the farm both with compressors each one is wired with a shut off switch next to the light switches by the door.  I put a Red cover (like a furnace switch) on it as well to catch my eye.  Only time I leave one on at night is when we are out snow plowing as we are always breaking something and need quick fixes.  

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If it has not been changed in the last 12 months, I'd suggest changing the plastic pastille in the check valve. They tend to harden over time and crack, allowing leakage which comes out of the little unloader valve on the bottom of the pressure switch. It's hard to find if it's just a small leak because it's coming from somewhere that is designed to vent off air and it's not easy to soapy-water test it.

The Check valve is where the pipe (usually metal) from the pump connects to the tank. It's usually a 90-degree brass lump with a big nut or plug on the end, the metal pipe coming in and a 1/4" line going to the unloader valve on the bottom of the pressure switch.

 

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I have an RCCB by the fuse board which is by the pedestrian door. Last thing at night as I am leaving I push the test button. This does two jobs...checks the thing will trip in case of a short and disconnects all the single phase circuits from power in the shop.

For what it is worth, it has always been the quick release fittings that need a new O ring when I have leaks in the system.

Alan

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