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How Long Do Air Compressor Tanks Last?

While there is no predetermined life span for an air compressor, there are several factors that can influence how long your air compressor will last, including the size and type of the tank.  Air compressors that are used frequently or for commercial purposes may not last as long unless they are properly maintained. The environment that you operate your air compressor in may also impact its lifespan.

Most air compressor tanks will last for between 10 to 15 years, but several factors can influence the lifespan of your air compressor. However, rotary air compressors can last up to 20 to 30 years, even with full-time usage.

No, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your father’s old air compressor from 1957 is still suitable for getting the job done. Over time, rust and corrosion may damage the tank, and even make it prone to explosions. However, most air compressors last for an average of 10 to 15 years – provided they are regularly maintained. 

Now, rotary air compressors are the longest-lasting. They have the capacity to withstand up to 20 to 30 years of full-time operation, thanks to their positive displacement design. This simply means that the tank will be left with a pressurized PSI rate equal to the amount of air that initially entered the tank. This unique feature is what makes rotary air compressors the most durable model available.

So, what is the lifespan of an air compressor? There really aren’t exact guidelines aside from the expiration date posted on the side of your air compressor. As long as the air seal continues to be intact and you haven’t detected signs of rust or corrosion, it’s usually safe to continue using it. 

Of course, an air compressor that sits in a home garage and is only used occasionally will naturally last much longer than one that’s used daily in an industrial workplace.  Also, thoroughly draining the water out of the air compressor’s tank after every use will increase the lifespan of the tank.

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Do Air Compressor Tanks Expire?

The short answer to this question is yes. Air compressor tanks won’t last forever, as they can become damaged over time by rust and corrosion, which renders them unsafe for operation. Air compressors typically come with a sticker on the side that states the expiration date, unless they are equipped with a built-in drain. 

You may have noticed the sticker on your air compressor warning you to not use them after a certain date has passed. While this date isn’t written in stone in the same way as the sell-by date on a milk carton, it still gives a general idea as to how long your air compressor is expected to last.

When Should An Air Compressor Tank Be Replaced? 

Although the expiration date will give you a clearer picture as to when your air compressor tank needs to be replaced, the exact lifespan of an air compressor is influenced by several factors and not contingent upon an actual expiration date.

If you are unsure about whether your air compressor is still in safe, working condition, you can either take it to a professional body shop to have the pressure vessel tested, or stay on the safe side and purchase a replacement. 

That said, there are a few tips that can help you check the efficiency of your air compressor tank:

  • If you notice stains in the water when it drains from the tank, there’s a good chance that your tank is corroded. However, if the water is clear, then your tank is still in good condition on the inside.
  • If you notice different tones when tapping on the top and bottom portions of the tank, that is usually a sign that the bottom part of your tank has begun to rust

Air compressors release large amounts of air into their tanks, which converts into vapors once the air comes in contact with water and humidity. This often leads to corrosion in the tank. If your air compressor hasn’t expired yet, but you are concerned about the durability of the tank, it is fairly easy to replace the tank, especially if you are using a portable model. 

However, draining the water out of the tank and loosening the valve after each use will reduce the corrosion in the tank, which will increase its durability and longevity. 

How Can You Prevent Air Compressor Explosions?

If you are seriously considering using that old air compressor from 1957, you may want to think again. Aside from the fact that the air compressor is likely far past its expiration date, rusty compressors can explode. Yes, explode. 

While explosions are often caused by defects in manufacturing, the rust that accumulates in the bottom of your tank from condensation may also cause the air compressor to explode. This is why it’s so important to frequently drain your tank and close the drain valves afterwards. If you haven’t used your air compressor in a while, you should thoroughly inspect the tank for signs of rust prior to use. 

How Should You Store Your Air Compressor When Not In Use?

You can increase the lifespan of your air compressor by draining the air in the tank till it reaches a level of 25 to 30 PSI, as the stagnant air will eventually turn to vapor while the air compressor sits in storage unused. However, you can prevent additional moisture from entering the tank by leaving a little bit of air in it. 

Additionally, you should always remember to drain the excess water from the tank after each use and leave the drain valve facing downward to prevent moisture from accumulating while your compressor is being stored. This will help prevent corrosion and rust, which would damage your tank, decrease the lifespan, and may even contribute to an explosion. 

Conclusion

So, how long do air compressors last? It really is hard to say, but there are several rules of thumb that can give you a fairly good idea as to the lifespan of your air compressor. While you should pay attention to the expiration date listed, there are also basic methods of care that can keep your air compressor in good working condition, so that it can continue to get the job done.