Air compressors are handy tools with applications across fields like automotive, furnishing, and home improvement. However, even though it is very useful as a machine with a wide range of applications, we can’t ignore the fact that it creates unbearable noise levels.
This is an essential and considerable issue because it can cause hearing damage and can result in permanent hearing loss, needless to say, along with the noise pollution it causes. So, it is essential to make use of an effective solution that will save us from the harmful and annoying compressor noise issue. But can you quiet an air compressor? Well, the answer is yes.
The easiest solution may be to buy the quieter air compressor models, but that may not be the effective solution for everyone, such as those who already own a compressor and don’t want to or can’t afford to spend more money on a new one, and needs to bring down the noise of the existing one to a tolerable level.
Air compressor noise level
Air compressor sound has an average level of about 60 decibels, and it can even rise to 70-90 decibels and even more. Decibel (dB) is a unit that is used to measure sound or noise. You can measure this using a decibel meter, or nowadays even using a smartphone.
The increment of decibel doesn’t happen numerically since this a logarithmic unit. Don’t worry about the jargon; let me simplify it for you. To simply put the difference in sound on the decibel scale, the level increment of 3 means that the sound intensity is actually now double of what was before.
Humans can hear up to 120-130 decibels. But below 70 decibels is considered a safe dB level. Long-term exposure to a higher dB level can damage our hearing and even cause permanent hearing loss.
The best way to understand the compressor noise level may be to compare it with other recognizable equivalent sounds. The infographic chart below may help you compare and understand the noise level of your air compressor.
What Causes the noise while air compressing
To derive a solution for anything, first, we need to figure out where the problem lies. There are some deciding factors that are the reasons for noise production and contribute to the noise level.
Materials and build quality
The range of materials used to make the air compressors impact the level of noise it makes. If you go for cheaper air compressors in which thin metal or cheap building materials are used and have the inferior build quality, you should not be surprised if there is a louder noise. The thin metal vibrates more, and the flimsy build quality and design complement that. So, the cheapest option may not always be a smart one.
Budget is a very common issue for a lot of us. You may not have the affordability to buy a high-end model of the product built using a premium range of materials, you may go for a budget-friendly option, but the cheaper option you choose must not be such one that it becomes a nuisance and, even worse becomes a waste of money.
Technically (or scientifically), sound is the vibration of air. Though that’s not what we are talking about here. If the compressor is not assembled correctly, it can be a serious contributor to noise making. The parts of the device then will not be attached firmly. So, they will be vibrating sporadically, and the friction and the banging of the parts against each other will become a constant source noise, not to mention the lesser efficiency and the damage to the device itself.
Moreover, sometimes even if the assembling is accurate, the individual parts like clamps, pulley wheels, or nut-bolts may be faulty and need replacement.
The air compressor’s air intaking procedure can be considered similar to a vacuum cleaner. This procedure involves pulley and air intake filters, which take in the atmospheric air and filter and compresses it. The activity of components of the air intaking procedure is a major source of noise.
Air exhaustion is another critical source of loud noise. If the air compressor doesn’t have a proper air exhaustion system, it will produce unbearable noise.
Other than these, the noise levels of an air compressor can also be dependent on factors, such as the type of compressor, the size of the compressor (air compressor size is another critical factor. Bigger compressors with higher capacity may make larger noise), and the place where it’s kept (may make more noise on hard and uneven surfaces), negligence towards air compressor maintenance, lack of adequate ventilation, etc.
Top 8 tips for air compressor noise reduction
So, how to silent an air compressor? To reduce noise and save yourself from the loud air compressor sound, there are two approaches that we can take.
One way is to take simple external measures to be safe from the noise like the measures mentioned below.
Using protective equipment
Not just air compressors, while using any kinds of noisy devices (such as lawnmower, vacuum cleaner, etc.), you should wear protective equipment like earplugs or noise cancellers. Constant and long-term abuse can accelerate the damage of your eardrum.
Using a soundproof enclosure
Using a soundproof enclosure built with sound dampening material can bring about a dramatic difference in sound level, making it an effective option if you are looking to quiet your air compressor. You can buy or even make one if you need to.
This is one of the best ways to quiet an air compressor. However, you should keep two things in mind while making a soundproof box for your compressor.
- Be sure to have a way for the inlet valve to operate since the air compressing machine intake atmospheric air to operate.
- Be sure to keep a way open for ventilation and cooling airflow, or else the machine will overheat.
If it’s not possible for you to make or manage a sound-dampening box, you can at least cover the machine with a soundproof blanket. These are heavy and dense blankets, which are quite extensively used in home recording and band rehearsal studios because when wrapped across walls within a specific area, the blanket fibers absorb and block the sound from getting out. So, covering the device with this will also help in reducing the noise.
Keeping your distance
You can keep your distance from the source of the sound or move the device to a location distant from your workspace but still close enough to manage operations. Having obstacles for sound between you and the device (like shutting down the door) can also help keep the sound under your tolerance level. This may be too simple an idea, but it is also the easiest.
Another approach for making your air compressor quieter is the internal approach of machine maintenance and modification. These approaches, at times, may seem complex and challenging. Still, they are more effective in achieving a silent air compressor and, in some cases, also better for your machine life expectancy and efficiency.
Regular maintenance of the machine
Like any other mechanical equipment, the air compressing machine also has various moving parts that move and rub against each other, and the friction of the rough parts due to the lack of proper lubrication can be a reason for the noise. This friction will damage, corrode and weaken these moving parts, and eventually, it will even damage the machine reducing the efficiency and life expectancy.
So, proper and regular lubrication of the machine parts like the bearings is essential. This will reduce the noise and furthermore increase the efficiency of the machine. Lubricating machine parts are not that much complex, and there is a wide range of great products to choose from.
Cleaning air filter
On an air compressing machine, the task of the air filter is to clean the inhaled air by blocking the dirt particles and contaminants and preventing them from getting into the cylinder. But the filter starts to get dirty in the process. And because of this filter being clogged up with dirt, the air itself starts to get blocked, and the system has to strain itself to operate; the motor has to run harder to push the air inside, hence the loud noise. The air filter becomes the very thing it was supposed to prevent (!).
So, it is imperative to clean the filter, even replace it if that seems necessary. The ideal period for clearing or replacing the inlet filters is every 12 months or less, depending on conditions and intensity of use.
Modification of the machine
Installing an air compressor silencer or muffler
A substantial amount of noise while running the air compression is produced by the air intake process. The air is inhaled from the environment, and it rushes inside, passing through the flapper valve that rattles and vibrates on every pulse. An intake muffler is a device consisting of the air filter and silencer connected with the intake by air hoses (One end of the first two-sided hose will connect the intake valve and one end of the muffler. The second hose will be connected to the other end of the muffler.). The muffler makes the incoming air go through a sound dampening material that reduces the sound while maintaining a minimum airflow restriction. It only reduces the air intake noise, not the motor.
You have to know the pipe thread size on the intake head to match the corresponding silencer size. Bell reducer or short pipe nipple can be used to install a larger filter. However, it’s worth noting that installing an air compressor intake filter with a smaller size is not recommended because it will restrict the airflow. Moreover, plumbing the air intake to a remote filter box or through a wall will further reduce noise.
Installing rubber grommet
Rubber is a very common and popular vibration and sound absorbent used for various applications in various machines. Since we’ve already discussed vibration and its relation with sound and noise, so, it is evident to us that minimizing the vibration will contribute to the reduction of noise. After attaching a rubber grommet, it works as an anti-vibration pad and a dampener for the motor.
To install the rubber grommets, you must carefully place the grommets between the air compressor’s mount and the floor (The surface where it is set). These grommets will then make sure that the compressor and the surface do not touch. So, the next time you operate the machine, the rubber will absorb the vibration and reduce noise in the process. They come in a variety of sizes and are available at any tool store and also online.
You must keep in mind that you have to place the grommets properly following accurate measurement and make sure that the entire setup is flat. You can take help from a technician; you can even do it yourself if you have the technical skill or learn it online.
Air compressors are helpful equipment with varieties of applications. Yes, They are pretty noisy, but that doesn’t mean you can neither stop using them nor you need to. The best solution is to buy a quieter air compressor. But if that’s not possible, follow the practically proven tips and guidelines we provided, and you’ll see a significant improvement in your air compressing machine’s noise issue. Some of these you’ll be able to do on your own, but we mentioned some approaches that need some technical experience. We recommend seeking professional help if you do not have that or learn it properly before working on it.
Thank you for reading, have a nice day.
May you achieve your freedom from your very own personal noise pollution! Good luck!
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