Air Compressor Short Cycling

by Eric Lunsford
November 21, 2016

If your air compressor comes on for a short burst then turns itself off… then starts cycling again your compressor is short cycling… We’ve just been through this problem with a couple of clients and I feel it’s important to share this with you.

Short Cycling is *almost* always a symptom of a deeper problem in your compressed air system. It is important that your technician finds the root cause – you need to know why and fix it. While your air compressor short cycles, you are paying a 20%-50% premium for compressed air. It becomes imperative for a well-run plant to find that cause and fix it.

On top of the premium you are paying for compressed air, if you haven’t already had them, there are big repair bills on their way if your compressor continues to short cycle, followed by a bigger bill for a new air compressor. The only way to prevent this is to find that root cause of the short cycling and get it fixed.

So I thought I’d share with you 3 of the most common causes of air compressor short cycling.

Lack of an operation time delay:  At Pye-Barker, we reckon that that is arguably the most common cause of a short cycle. A proper time delay can keep the system from running due to discharged air still circulating in the system immediately after its operation. It can allow the pressure controller to reset itself naturally while not calling for cooling as opposed to firing another cycle based on high pressure triggers due to compromised condensers.

Pressure or temperature control differential is too small: When the pressure controller’s low pressure differential is set too tight, it can cause the compressor to short cycle. When your temperature and pressure differential is too small you’ll take longer to achieve set point and use more energy use in the process.

A Dirty condenser: A dirty condenser limits your system’s ability to reject heat for regulating temperatures and pressures needed for cooling which can lead to compressor tripping on high head pressure.

Having monitoring systems in place, especially electronic monitoring with data sent to a control room, makes it much easier to spot if any of your compressors are short cycling and act. With a manual maintenance system a short cycling air compressor isn’t necessarily as obvious.

If you spot your air compressor short cycling – get your maintenance crew on to find the underlying cause of the problem post-haste. Or give us a call at 404-363-6000. We would be happy to have one of our technicians come out and help you with your challenge.

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Savannah Office Address:
1105 Louisville Rd
Savannah, GA 31415
TEL: (912) 238-0303
FAX: (912) 238-5214
Forest Park (Atlanta) Address:
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Forest Park, GA 30297
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FAX: (404) 361-8579
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