How Do I Winterize My Air Compressor: A Comprehensive Guide

How Do I Winterize My Air Compressor

Air compressors are very crucial parts of the integrated functioning of your home and business. Unfortunately, they become vulnerable during winter. Air compressors are one of the first things to take a hit when the cold winter season starts. Thus, one common question is, “how do I winterize my air compressor?”

This guide will tell you all you need to winterize your air compressor and get optimal use during the colder months. You can prevent corrosion, broken pipes, and blocked or cracked drainage on any type of air compressor with the following steps and information.

What is Winterizing About?

Winterizing is a common term, one that you may have heard your plumber use a couple of times without fully comprehending the idea. Here, we will explain what it means to winterize your air compressor.

The recommended temperature range for an air compressor is between 50°-80° Fahrenheit. However, this can be a hard temperature to maintain in winter weather, affecting your air compressor, especially if it’s not kept indoors. Winterizing is, therefore, the entire process of getting your air compressor ready to function optimally during winter.

Why Do I Need to Winterize My Air Compressor?

Some ask, “how should I winterize my air compressor” without understanding why they need to. For the most part, the air compressor contains water vapor. The air can’t hold this vapor when it goes below the dew point. The vapor is then converted to liquid which is termed condensate.

This condensate will naturally freeze during cold seasons. Condensation buildup can cause your compressor to malfunction due to blocked drainage or cracks caused by expansion. The cold weather can make moisture control ineffective. Air moisture will lead to corrosion or rusting, causing damage to your air compressor.

Consequently, without winterizing your compressed air system, you will be dealing with:

  • Ice formation in the receiver tanks
  • Thickened oil in the compressor, thereby preventing proper lubrication of your equipment
  • Damaged refrigeration components in your dryers
  • Frozen electric components and drain valves

All these can cause long-term damage to your air compressor. We have listed how to winterize your air compressor below to prevent this.

How Do I Winterize My Air Compressor?

Here are the key steps to keep your compressed air system winterized and avoid costly repairs.

Inspect for Ice Build-Up

You must regularly check your machine for ice build-up before powering it on. The receiver tank stores air for peak use and removes the condensate from the equipment when the air cools. So, you should immediately remove any ice or moisture that has formed. If you notice water in the tank, use a dehumidifier or a dryer to get the water out without touching the components.

Excess water build-up could be a sign that something has gone wrong. One effective way to remove condensation is to place the drain on the receiver tank at the lowest angle possible.

Inspect the Air Compressor

It’s very important that you thoroughly check your compressor for any signs of freezing. If you run your air compressor per usual, or even more during winter, this can help you prevent being left stranded with no warning.

How Do I Winterize My Air Compressor



The lubricant in your system should normally run at a warm temperature, thereby oiling the machine parts for optimal function. But during winter, the oil temperature reduces and becomes solid, leading to clogging. As a result, the compressor has to double down to get the pump to rotate, thereby overloading the motor.

A sure sign of this is your oil turning milky or looking brown. You may also switch to a lightweight winter-grade oil during winter. You should also check the oil level frequently and fill it accordingly. Your compressor may demand more oil during winter since it takes more effort for the pump to work.


Although you should generally check for leaks often, it’s even more important during winter since the system is susceptible to many other faults. Leaks may be harder to detect, so you can call an expert to run the inspection with an ultrasonic leak detector.


You should ensure your filters are replaced as often as possible. Compressors have filters with a maximum expiry estimate of about 8000 hours. However, filters can get clogged or become worn, so you should look at your oil filter every 2000 hours to get a great performance. Clogged filters prevent maximum efficiency. However, you can also speak with your servicer to know if your compressor even needs a filter in the first place.

Access Your Pipes

A leaking pipe is always a hassle, but it’s even worse when an air compressor is involved. Constantly access your pipes for water lines to see if they have cracks or warps. It would be best to do this before winter starts and constantly throughout the season.

Monitor Your Drain Valves

If you don’t have automatic drain valves, make sure you throw out the condensate from your compressor every day before the condensate freezes. A backed-up drain can cause frozen condensate. This may plug your compressor’s airlines or cause them to become frozen.

Outdoor drains are very vulnerable in the winter months. However, you can use heat trace tape on exposed drain lines. Heat tape wraps up your pipes and considerably controls the temperature, preventing them from freezing.

Install an Internal Heater

One Important way to winterize your air compressor is to install an ambient heater. You can also invest in a heating cabinet. By keeping your air compressor in a heating cabinet, you can keep the temperature right for your equipment and keep it low maintenance.

For industrial compressors kept in a compressing room, you only need to get a proper heat recovery system. This will keep your machine running properly, and it will also help you offset electricity bills from running the compressors.

Adjust the Louvers

During winter, cold air can easily get into your air compressor, impeding its operations. By adjusting your louvres, you can reduce the flow of cold air into the room. This can help to keep moisture out of the oil circuit.

In addition, you can adjust the louvers so that they will direct air from the heat from the compressor directed toward the room. This gives you the bonus of effortlessly heating the room without additional cost to your electricity bill. The louvers can be auto-adjusted if wired to a thermostat.

Access Your Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is an optimal built-in solution that helps your air compressor stay warm even if the weather gets cold. However, weather stripping can become worn with time, exposing the compressor to cold temperatures.

You need to check your weather stripping for any damage before the weather goes cold. You should check twice a year, before summer to prevent your compressor from extreme heat levels and before winter to prevent exposure to cold weather conditions.

Turn off Your Compressor

Not many people wondering, “how do I winterize my air compressor?” consider this easy solution. An air compressor can only get frozen parts when running since the condensate only forms after use. This is why you need to see if you can avoid using your compressor during the winter months. If you can’t, there’s no point in keeping it on. All you have to do is drain the water from the lines.

What are the Benefits of Winterizing My Air Compressor?

A winterized air compressor translates to peak efficiency for your compressor. Following the tips above will lead to:

  • Extended lifespan for your compressor
  • Reduced heating bills
  • Reduced CO2 emissions
  • Reduced repair costs
  • Better air pressure
  • Prevents moisture damage

How Can I Restart a Frozen Air Compressor System?

Perhaps you wonder about how to winterize your air compressor because it has already broken down, or you even implemented some tips but your air compressor couldn’t withstand the weather. You don’t need to worry about this. Here are a few ways to get your machine running again.

First, you need to inspect your drain valves. Then shut your windows and other sources of external cold air around the air compressor. Then open up the panels or doors of your compressor, if enclosed. Using any heat source in the room, get the ambient temperature to 45°- 50° Fahrenheit. Next, you need to find a heat source and place it under the sump tank until the oil reaches about 70° Fahrenheit.

Once the compressor starts running again, check your air compressor hose for leaks. If fine, remember to set the alarm on the control panel to its default temperature.

Final Thoughts

If you wonder, “how do I winterize my air compressor?”, you need to understand that it’s simple enough. There are three basic parts of the winterization process – running timely assessments, winterizing and protecting necessary parts, and installing heating systems.

If these three things are covered, your air compressor will maintain good air pressure even in winter. In addition, you can check with your air compressor installer to see if they have a maintenance warranty.

However, if you keep experiencing challenges with your air compressor, it’s always best to call in air compressor servicing experts for a thorough inspection. This way, you will know if you need a system upgrade or if it’s just a matter of setting up a heater.

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