A service managers guide to the most commonly asked questions about oils

by Arthur King
April 18, 2016

Getting  The Longest Possible Life Out Of Your Air Compressor


Air Compressor Service

Speaking from YEARS of compressor service experience

A good air compressor should only be noticed when it isn’t working. The rest of the time it hums away doing its job so that all of your factory’s vital functions can continue on, as expected.

Downtime is frustrating not only because something you expect to work isn’t but also for many businesses we service, an air compressor being down means no product is going out the door.

The downtime is costing you in maintenance and profit as well as upsetting the guys on the floor.

Here are the questions we get asked over and over again about air compressor oil maintenance. Following this advice will save you a fortune in both downtime and repair bills.

Can I top off the existing compressor oil with another oil?

When you mix two different oils is you create a third oil. The resulting third oil’s chemical properties may vary significantly depending on the mixing ratio, 50/50, 90/10, 10/90, etc. The suitability of this new oil for your compressor is anyone’s guess.

Additionally, these different mixtures have never been tested in operating conditions for extended periods of time so the expected oil life is not predictable – so this just results in a need for more monitoring that could be avoided by using the right oil in the first place.

You place your compressor at even more risk if you mix your oils. Don’t do it.

What do you mean mixing your oils?

Mixing oils with different chemistries or mixing a PAO base oil with a Petroleum base oil can cause varnishing.

Varnishing can cause your compressor to run hot often leading to costly repairs and expensive downtime.

Mixing oils can cause solubility problems between base fluids. They could emulsify and/or lose viscosity. If soluble, the oil will behave as well as the worst lubricant, mineral lubricants shorten the life of synthetics. Which creates another unnecessary expense – faster oil change.

Will I invalidate the compressor warranty by using aftermarket oils?

It is recommended that you use the compressor manufacturer’s oil thru the warranty period. If there is a problem and you make a claim against the warranty, the oil will be tested. Contaminating one oil with another is typically grounds to invalidate a warranty.

How long will the compressor oil last?

This depends on several factors, including application, cleanliness of air and type of oil used. Use the following table to estimate how often you need to change your compressor oil

Discharge Aeon 4000 Aeon 6000FG  Aeon 9000SP Aeon 9000TH
Up to 180F   4000 Hours 4000 Hours 8000 Hours 8000 Hours
180F to 190F 3000 Hours 3000 Hours 6000 Hours 8000 Hours
190F to 200F 2000 Hours 2000 Hours 4000 Hours 8000 Hours
200F to 210F 1000 Hours 1000 Hours 2000 Hours 6000 Hours


Why do I have to change the oil anyway?

The short answer is oil oxidizes. Oxidization is the chemical reaction between oxygen in the air and the oil being forced together by mixing at high temperatures. Oxidation is the number one reason why the fluid must be changed out.

Oxidation of any PAO based fluid (Many compressor lubricants are PAO based) can lead generation to varnish formation in the fluid is allowed to run through the compressor without the presence of antioxidants. Oxidation by-products can accumulate in the fluid, become insoluble and collect on the surfaces of the compressor as varnish.

If the varnishing is bad enough if you turn the compressor off long enough for the oil to cool down – say for the weekend, the varnished oil will become a thick dense mass causing the compressor to lock up and not restart once the oil cools down to room temperature. Once the varnished oil has cooled down it turns into a thick mass and it cannot be cleaned out. Any piping containing varnish as well as the air end will need to be replaced.

As long as the varnished oil stays hot and in a liquid from the unit can be cleaned out using the Comp Clean product.

Obviously this can all be avoided with regular oil changes – so don’t let them slip through the cracks.

Oil Testing and Oil Analysis Reports

Pye-Barker Supply has free oil testing with a detailed analysis reports thru Gardner Denver Oil Services Laboratories, to get an analysis for your compressor just call 404-363-6000 or ask your technician the next time he is on site for a service.

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Savannah Office Address:
1105 Louisville Rd
Savannah, GA 31415
TEL: (912) 238-0303
FAX: (912) 238-5214
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121 Royal Dr.
Forest Park, GA 30297
TEL: (404) 647-0986
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Sylvania GA 30467
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Orlando, FL 32824
FAX: (321) 282-6424
Main Switchboard:

(404) 647-0986

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