Air compressor pump systems play a crucial role in a variety of applications, including refrigeration, air conditioning, and pneumatic tools. These systems rely on valves to regulate the flow of gas or fluid and maintain pressure levels. Two of the most common types of valves used in air compressor pump systems are reed valves and disc valves.
The Two Most Common Types of Pump Valves
- Reed Valves: Reed valves are thin metal strips that are attached to a valve plate. They are either arranged in a radial pattern around the valve plate, held in place by a series of screws or bolts, laid directly on the valve plate into a recess, or “free floating” valves which are sandwiched in between two valve plates. Reed valves are often used in small compressors and low-pressure applications. They are simple and inexpensive to manufacture, making them a popular choice for many applications. One of the key advantages of reed valves is their ability to seal tightly against the valve plate, preventing gas or fluid from leaking back into the compressor cylinder. This feature is particularly important in applications where gas or fluid leakage can be harmful or cause damage to the compressor pump system. However, reed valves are susceptible to wear and tear over time, which can result in reduced efficiency and performance.
- Disc Valves: Disc valves, on the other hand, consist of a circular valve plate with a series of ports or holes. The valve plate is typically made of metal or other durable materials, and the ports are covered by thin, flexible discs. The discs are held in place by a series of springs or other mechanical devices. When pressure builds up in the compressor cylinder, the discs are forced open, allowing gas or fluid to flow through the ports. Disc valves are often used in high-pressure applications, where tight sealing and reliable performance are critical. They are less susceptible to wear and tear than reed valves and can provide more consistent performance over a longer period of time. However, disc valves are generally more expensive and complex to manufacture than reed valves. Examples of manufacturers who use disc valves in their pumps are Jenny and Kellogg-American.
One of the most common issues with air compressors is a loss of pressure, which can be caused by a variety of factors. If you've ruled out other potential causes, such as leaks or a malfunctioning pressure switch, it may be time to perform a valve job on your air compressor. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of valve is crucial for selecting the right valve for a particular compressor pump system.
What is a Valve Job?
A valve job is a maintenance procedure that involves replacing the valves and gaskets in the air compressor pump. Over time, the valves can become worn, corroded, or damaged, which can result in a loss of pressure. By replacing the valves and gaskets, you can restore your compressor's performance and prevent further damage to the pump.
How to Perform a Valve Job
Performing a valve job on your air compressor is a fairly straightforward process, but it does require some mechanical knowledge and the right tools. Here are the basic steps involved:
- Turn off the power to your air compressor and unplug it from the outlet.
- Remove the pump from the air compressor and disassemble it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Remove the valves and gaskets from the pump. Take note of their positions and orientations so that you can install the new ones correctly. Take photos to refer to later once you start reassembling the pump.
- Clean the pump and valve seats thoroughly with a wire brush or abrasive pad and solvent to remove any debris or buildup.
- Install the new valves and gaskets, making sure they are oriented correctly. For “free floating” reed valves, especially, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or grease to hold them in place on the valve plate.
- Reassemble the pump and reinstall it in the air compressor.
- Test the compressor to make sure it is functioning properly.
Tips for a Successful Valve Job
Performing a valve job can be a bit challenging for those who are not familiar with the mechanics of an air compressor. Here are some tips to help ensure a successful valve job:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Every air compressor is different, and you need to make sure you are following the right procedures for your specific model.
- Use high-quality replacement valves and gaskets. Cheap or low-quality parts can fail quickly and cause more problems down the road. It is always recommended to install OEM parts.
- Take your time and be patient. Rushing the job can lead to mistakes or improperly installed parts.
- Test the compressor after the valve job is complete. Make sure it is functioning properly before putting it back into service.
If your air compressor is experiencing a loss of pressure, a valve job may be necessary to restore its performance. By replacing the valves and gaskets in the pump, you can prevent further damage to the compressor and extend its lifespan. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and use high-quality replacement parts for the best results. With a little patience and care, you can get your air compressor running like new again.