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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Default Air Compressor in the Cold

    So I am going to be adding a single stage, stationary air compressor to service both the woodshop and "toy" shop, something along the lines of 5 HP 18 CFM @ 135 PSI.

    I am in the process of trying to figure out the best place to put it and am actually toying around with the idea of putting it above the shops in the attic. That will give me more space to put other junk in the shops as well as put it in a spot where the noise will not be as much of an issue.

    The attic is an unheated space, which means it will be at the same temp of our outside all winter and hot in the summer, actually hotter than the ambient temp outside as that forest green metal roof really heats up and heats the air in the attic. Not to really hot temps, but perhaps 130-150 on a really hot and sunny day. I am wondering if anyone can see any issues this would create. I know that the tanks accumulate water as the air decompresses in the tank. That can freeze, but since it will only be a small amount in the bottom that will get drained when conditions permit, I do not see a problem with that. Any other negative issues I might encounter?

    Anyone have issues with units from Sandborn? Looking at a model at the "save big money" store in Marquette. Could also spend about 20% more for an Ingersoll Rand unit from Northern Tool.

    Thanks in advance!

    -John

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    south east wi
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    175

    Default

    John I'm no expert on this but you understand condensation, cold air is hard on warm air tools, will effect performance and longevity of life of the tool.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Eastern UP
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    Default

    I would not do it! Being an engineer familiar with how they test stuff---I would bet that the motor and compressor are not tested to perform above maybe 110 degrees. probably work just fine for awhile but I would think that both the electric motor and the compressor would have significantly shorter life cycles!

    If you do---think about a synthetic oil or a heavier weight oil for the summer.

    Think you might be better building a small enclosure attached to your building.

  4. #4

    Default

    Can you detach the compressor and put the bulky tank in the attic and the compressor in the shop with a bit of extension piping?

  5. #5
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    Dec 2009
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    McHenry, Il / Gogebic West Shore
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    Default

    I like the above idea. You may want to post a message on Garage Journal. There are a lot of guys with practical experience doing this.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2009
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    il
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by uperjim View Post
    I would not do it! Being an engineer familiar with how they test stuff---I would bet that the motor and compressor are not tested to perform above maybe 110 degrees. probably work just fine for awhile but I would think that both the electric motor and the compressor would have significantly shorter life cycles!

    If you do---think about a synthetic oil or a heavier weight oil for the summer.

    Think you might be better building a small enclosure attached to your building.
    X2!!
    I would be more concerned with the heat than the cold. Hot attic temps will definitely shorten the life of the electric motor and the pump also needs a large volume of air to dissipate the heat, as it is air cooled. You might get away with it if you were to build an enclosure within the attic, and a fresh air intake and thermostatically controlled exhaust fan to pull fresh outside air across the cooling fins. Also, don't forget the condensation will build up in the crankcase with drastic changes in temp, which will contaminate the oil.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2009
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    Marne,Mi
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    216

    Default

    The lay down oil-less direct drive air compressors will run hotter when they are compressing the air ,that means that air will condense more in cold weather and create more water.The nicer stand up compressors like a Ingersoll Rand would run cooler.What I have done was build a small 3 sided shed on the back of the garage and insulate it and put the compressor in there.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2009
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    Minnesota
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    Default

    I can't imagine that the hot/cold would do that compressor any good.

    I don't mind the compressor, but the Sanborn I have which is about 5 yrs old is very loud and drives me nuts every time I turn it on.
    It vibrates enough that you can feel concrete vibrate when you are by it.

    I think I would build the small room on the outside that maybe is semi-heated in the winter to house it in.

    Or spend the dough for a quiet one and get a horizontal and mount it up at the ceiling.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2009
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    il
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    Default

    One other option you may want to consider before pulling the trigger on a new "big box" compressor, is trying to find an old industrial compressor out of a body shop or auto shop that has or is going out of business. I have an old Wayne 60 gallon compressor that was built in 1959. I can not believe how quiet and smooth it runs. I did have to convert it from 3 phase to single phase, but I was able to find a single phase motor on e-bay brand new for $175 dollars shipped. I got the compressor for free, so I made out pretty darn good and couldn't be happier with the performance. They just don't make them like they used to, as with most other things!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Greenland, Mi
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    Default

    I often yank my cold compressor out of my tool trailer during the winter and she is hard starting. I'd think it through and locate the unit in a more climate friendly location. Especially at this point before you learn the hard way, at least there is a very good chance you will have issues as stated above and why not avoid that if you can.

  11. #11
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    Dec 2009
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    Neenah, Wisconsin. About 30 minutes south of Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
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    If noise isn't an issue I would recommend building a platform near the ceiling for installation. At least you don't lose floor space and you can use recoil air hose reels if you choose.

    One thing we can all agree on is that space in the shop or garage is at a premium. If you can mount it up and away, it's one less thing in your work space.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    South East Iowa
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    30

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    I have two air compressors mounted just like you are talking (one at work and in shop at home). They will condense alot of water when the themps are in the 40s and 50s colder or warmer it seems to be not as bad, but the compressors start very hard when its cold, both of mine now have snythetic 20w oil in them. I am sure everyone is correct that it is hard on them but both of mine have been there for over 10 years, just make sure if you put them there to put a good water trap / oiler downstream of you will get along fine.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2009
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    Phelps, WI
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    Mine stays in unheated garage all winter & does get below freezing & no problems. I do drain tank during thaws other than that just use like normal. It did get hot this summer in 95 degree heat in afternoon sun while blowing out chainsaw but just to the touch no damage.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2009
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    gaylord mi.-third rock from the sun..
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    363

    Default

    motor really struggles to get it turning when its cold

  15. #15
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    Nov 2010
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    Random Lake
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    Default

    I have a sanborn compressor in my cold storage portion of the shop. It gets about 90 to 100 very easy in summer and below zero in winter, its a metal building attached to the heated part, no noise in the main shop, temp change is every day from the metal heating. Been in there for 7 years, gets use every day, 180psi. I have a had no problems with my air tools, 1, 3/4, 1/2 impacts ect. Change oil every year, clean air filter twice a year.
    Use 5-30 oil for compressors, drian water twice a year also.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    New Lenox, IL
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    Default

    One thing to remember is that every 20 degree rise in temperature, you double the amount of moisture in the air and every 20 degree drop in temperature you cut the moisture in half. Since a "Normal" Reciprocating compressor produces air that is 100 degrees over ambient you are adding a lot of moisture into the tank no matter what the temperature is, although once it goes into a cold tank you will start reducing moisture automotically. They do sell an electronic auto drain that you can set to drain whenever you like, and for as long as you like. I personally would NOT put a compressor in a room that is going to change that much in temperature. Air Compressors do not like a couple of things, dust, humidity, chemicals, and heat. If the compressor was going to be running all the time, then the Cold would not be an issue, but the heat will still kill the compressor. I sell compressors for a living (Quincy to be exact) and with an application like yours, it is in your best interest to either build a small room outside of the garage and insulate it and cut a hole in the wall for heat to get in there as well, or just designate an area furthest away from where you are working and place it in the corner. I am not sure about the compressor that you are looking at, but the new ones that I sell are Significantly quiter than they used to be. I sell a bunch of singel stage units that are floor mounted and then you can put the storage tank in the attic, or even the 2 stage units are much quiter and last a lot longer. If you have time, look up National Pump and Compressor, our main Compressor branch is located in Melrose Park, IL and I am out of our Joliet Brnach, we have a lot in stock and they are also offered in Northern Tool and couple of other places. But please do not put it in your attic, it will be like putting it outside in the sun and cold with a tarp over it keeping it from getting wet.

    The main thing to consider is how much are you going to be using it, I have a small 15 gallon compressor that is in an unheated garage that i use maybe 1 time a month, not going to hurt it in cold or heat with that little amount of use. If you are planning on building your addition and making furniture and you plan on using it on a daily basis for the next 2 years, then you should really consider putting it somewhere that is going to be ambient in summer and heated in winter or you may just be throwing money down the drain. It will probably work for your jobs, but then you will start see Oil Leaking from gaskets and seals expanding and contracting in the heat, plus the heat from the compressor itself. I could go on for days about this but that should be enough.

  17. #17

    Default

    Do not do it I did it and burnt up 2 new compressors in 3 years. The heat will kill it. Then I put it in a small storage shed and piped in lines to the shop. That was 9 years ago and have no problems at all. I do use it every day.

  18. #18
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    Jun 2001
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    Default

    Thanks everyone!

    Sounds like it stays in the conditioned part of the shops. Question just becomes where and with 700xcsp's mention of dust being a really bad thing, probably will go with the toy side and not the woodworking side. I think I might have a spot in mind that will be fairly out of the way.

    Glad to get such good advice!

    -John

  19. #19
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    Dec 2009
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    McHenry, Il / Gogebic West Shore
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    Default

    Here are some other opinions to make you feel good about your decision.
    http://garagejournal.com/forum/showt...mpressor+attic

    If you haven't already take a look at this system. Nice clean way to add air drops throughout the shop and not too spendy.
    http://www.rapidairproducts.com/maxline.asp
    http://www.amazon.com/RapidAir-Maste...ords=rapid+air

  20. #20
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    Jun 2001
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    The Keweenaw Peninsula
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    Default

    Thanks for the links Scott.

    Sounds like most of the guys at Garage Journal have mixed feelings on putting in the attic.

    I already have a bunch of the rapid air components to hook up to the compressor when I get it in the shop. Nice easy way to plumb out a building or buildings.

    -John

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Outstanding in my field.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gary_in_neenah View Post
    If noise isn't an issue I would recommend building a platform near the ceiling for installation. At least you don't lose floor space and you can use recoil air hose reels if you choose.

    One thing we can all agree on is that space in the shop or garage is at a premium. If you can mount it up and away, it's one less thing in your work space.
    This is a great idea and what I'd do with mine. A metal fab shop I worked for did this as well for their industrial unit they had. PM's were sort of a bear, but it was up and out of the way. Interesting way for small shop owners though would be getting the unit up to said spot. Hmmm... got an end loader?

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Cottage Grove,MN
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    I do field service work for Ingersoll Rand, putting the compressor in the attic is not the best place for it due to temp extremes. IR does sell outdoor mod packages that have crankcase heaters and heat trace for the tank condensates, also in my experience when these are put in places like attics,stuffed in corners they usually dont get looked at or ignored until hey I dont have any air? Its important to make sure condensate gets out of tank as they will rust from inside out, ever seen the after effects and damage a ruptured air tank has caused! If you do consider a IR comp stick with a two stage 2340 or 2475 5 hp pkg, the SS3 or SS5 pumps would recommend staying away from. Recips are noisey as they usually spin at 3475RPM, if you could find an older 242 pump they used to spin at 1740 and are very qiuet running.

  23. #23
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    Planning my next escape
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    We buy,sell and service hvac pneumatic control systems. 700xcsp company is where we go when we have a problem or need replacement equipment. If you want to do it once, go back and read his post again.

  24. #24
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    Dec 2009
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    North Twin Cities
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    Default

    Oil free job site compressor with ceramic pistons will be fine in the attic. It will not last quite as long but how long do you need it to last? I hate having the thing running in the workshop. Mine has been in the attic for years and it is still running. I did put it on a switch to turn it off when it is not being used.

  25. #25

    Default

    I put mine in the unheated attic of my garage in 1999. I put synthetic oil in it and have never had a problem....not even with condensation. When I ran the air lines around my garage I put water traps/drains in each line so I could drain any condensation that might occur. Do it..... you won't miss the noise.

  26. #26
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    Dec 2009
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    Misery Bay, MI
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    Nobody tell the craftsman in my attic its not supposed to be running after 6 years. I think you need to look at the ammount of usage, mine is very little, all my tools are battery or corded corded but the few time its seems fine. Id rather not listen to it run or trip over it, and if that means its only good for half the life of normal, thats fine, there's cost to everything.

  27. #27
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    Dec 2009
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    Default

    i have a 1998 7hp 80 gal craftsman in attic for 14 years used every day works great

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