Friday, August 21, 2015

Air Compressor: Drain Valve Upgrade

I purchased an older Husky air compressor, but I haven't really had a chance to use it. One of the things that I really did not like about it, though, was the drain valve at the bottom.

This is what the old drain valve looked like, as I was removing it from the air compressor.

Due to the nature of air compressors, huge amounts of air move through the system when it is in use. Any moisture in the air is also pushed through the air compressor, which forms as water in the bottom of the tank. This has the potential to cause rust, weaken the tank ,and decrease the capacity of the air compressor. Nearly all air compressors can drain water out of the tank with a small valve at the base.

Here's what the entire air compressor looks like.

My drain valve is hard to reach (you have to flip the compressor over), it's hard to tighten, it's hard to loosen, and it shoots water all over the floor. I just wanted to remove the drain valve and replace it with a better option.

And here it is! I didn't actually screw everything together here, and there is no pipe compound on it, but this is what the assembly will look like in the end. This has a ball valve, which can be turned on to drain the tank, shooting the water out of the tube and into a bucket. The tank can even be emptied when the air compressor is upright. I think it will work perfectly.

Here is what you need:

- Pipe joint compound (pipe dope)
- 1/4" x 1/4" 90 degree elbow (male-female)
- 1/4" ball valve, 300 PSI or greater (female-female)
- 1/4" x 6" pipe nipple (male-male) (NOTE: Depending on how far you want your valve to stick out, change how long this part is.)
- 1/4" x 1/2" ID tubing hose barb
- 7/32" to 5/8" hose clamp
- 1/2" ID x 5/8" OD vinyl tubing, 6 feet long, flat-cut ends

Let's begin!

First, slide the tubing onto the hose barb. It helps to heat the end of it up slightly (you can use a lighter or a hot-air gun) before you push it onto the barb. Then slide the hose clamp on the tubing and tighten it, securing the tubing to the barb.

Here's what pipe thread compound, or pipe dope, looks like. It's a material that you need to secure plumbing joints together. Teflon (PTFE) tape is a common alternative to pipe dope, but I like pipe dope more (it's easier to apply and works better).

Make sure to use ventilation and safety glasses.

Simply apply a bunch of pipe dope all around the male threads...

And screw the barb into the ball valve. The threads will probably not go all of the way in, but use wrenches to screw the parts together so that they are tight. You can wipe off any excess pipe compound with a paper towel.

Now spread pipe compound on the male threads of the 90 degree elbow.

You can use a a wrench to screw it into the bottom of the tank.

 Next step- put pipe compound on one end of the brass nipple.

Thread the nipple into the elbow at the bottom of the tank. You can't use a wrench on it (it's round), but try to screw it in loosely for now. We'll tighten it in just a second.

Apply pipe dope to the other end of the brass nipple.

And now spin the valve onto the end. You can tighten it by using a wrench on the valve, and it will spin the nipple or the valve enough so that each end of the nipple will be tight.

That's it! My setup has about a quarter of an inch of clearance off the ground, but it's no problem- I'm using the compressor on the flat garage floor.

A repair job done well, I think! Got any questions or comments? Put them in the comments section below. I'll see you again next week!