An air compressor is a power tool that takes in air from the environment and then provides compressed air by pressurizing it and use this air pressure for various purposes. Air compressors are widely used by different types of people, from DIY enthusiasts to professional mechanics, construction workers, carpenters, and various applications. You may use the air compressor for auto painting, use the air compressor to dry car or use the air compressor to inflate tires and for many other purposes.

There are different types and sizes of air compressing devices, and once you have the perfect air compressor needed for your task, the next step for you is to set up the air compressor. But how to set up an air compressor? Is it very complex? Can I do it on my own? This is what we will answer in this.

The air compressor’s setup needs to be proper for it to perform efficiently and effectively. If the machine is not set up correctly, it could make noise, overheat, and even explode and prove fatal. This is one of the most important tasks. So, You should follow our step-by-step guide to set up and use your compressor machine.

Let’s begin.

Required tools and equipment

  • Safety equipment (such as safety goggles, safety boots, helmets, etc.)
  • Air hose
  • Connect kit
  • PTFE tape or Teflon tape
  • Adjustable wrench

How to set up an air compressor

Step 1: Take Safety Precautions

1. Use safety glasses

There is a possibility that bits and pieces of scrap, or maybe even a droplet of lubricant or compressor oil, may come flying and damage your eyes. So, to save your eyes from this kind of accident, wearing safety goggles is necessary.

safety goggles

2. Wear safety gloves

These will save you if in case the machine starts overheating or even if there is any spark or small explosion.

safety gloves for hand

4. Wear safety boots

You should wear a solid and good pair of shoes to protect you since you will use larger tools and move some heavy air compressor equipment and materials.

safety shoes

5. Use a safety hat

It will prevent any possible head injury from flying debris.

safety hat to prevent any possible head injury

6. Wear an earplug or ear muffler

Air compressing machines are known to be loud power tools, so ear protection is essential to prevent any harm from the loud noise of air compressing.

earplug or ear muffler

Follow this to ensure your complete safety during work.

Step 2: Avoid using a power extension lead

These compressing machines can handle a certain amount of length. It was designed to do so. So, if the power extension cord is longer than the device can manage, then there will be voltage dropouts, overheating, and worst-case scenario, your compressor components may burn out. So, try to avoid using an extension cord is recommended if you don’t have to.

Nevertheless, if you need to use an extension, using an air hose reel extension would be a better idea. It will even provide extra space and the advantage of maneuvering your air tool around your workstation.

When you are buying the air hose extension, you have to consider the internal diameter along with the length and material to suit the compressing pressure.

Step 3: Check the oil level (If the machine is not oil-free)

You should check the compressor oil level. It should be at the red line. You can check the oil level through the sight glass. If it isn’t at the required level, just remove the oil plug and fill the tank until it reaches the desired level.

  • You should use high-quality air compressor oil. Trying to save money too much may turn out to be even more costly.
  • Replace old oil, don’t mix them with new oil.
  • If you are not sure about what type of compressing device you have or what type of oil is suitable for you, go through your air compressor manual.

You should also regularly lubricate the parts of your air tool to maintain its efficiency and improve life expectancy.

Step 4: Use an air filter

Using an air filter will keep your machine and the compressed air supply clean. It will also protect the air compressor accessories and components, reducing the compressor downtime to a minimum. The air intake filter will prevent the dust and debris from getting inside. It is vital when you are doing a task like spray painting. If you don’t use a filter, just some dirt may waste all your work and effort along with damaging your machine.

However, you need regularly clean the filter and replace the dirty air filter after a certain period of time. Or else, the clogged-up filter will create problems in your work and even damage the machine.

air filter to prevent dust

Step 5: Properly attach the oil plug

If you are filling the oil tank, or removing the old oil to replace it with the new oil, when you are done, always make sure to attach the plug properly.

Step 6: Use a power source with appropriate voltage (for electric air compressor)

Different types of machines will need different voltage and power consumption to operate. So, you must check the manual to figure out the proper outlet to connect and provide the device with the appropriate voltage and power to operate.

Step 7: Test the safety valve

There is a safety valve near the hose line that you need to check. Pull the safety valve. After pulling the valve, if you hear the sound of air hissing, then you’re good to go. Now, push the valve back in place properly.

How to use an air compressor

Now that you have set up your air compressor and did all the necessary checking, it’s time for you to turn the machine on and use it for your work.

Step 1: Switch on the Compressor

After assembling all the parts and following the steps mentioned above, now it’s time to turn the beast on. Plug the machine to a proper electrical outlet if you are using an electric compressor (as mentioned in step 6) and for other types of compressors, check and make sure there is sufficient fuel to run the machine. Press the power button to switch on the device. Let it get warm gradually before starting to fill the air tank for compression.

Ensure the power cord is not a hurdle and kept in a safe position to avoid any unexpected accidents.

Step 2: Fill the air compressor tank

Once the air compressor is sufficiently warm, it will start to fill the air tank automatically. The size of the tank depends on the type of device, and the time needed to fill the tank depends on the size of the tank. If you are a professional who will be using the machine for longer periods of time, you should go for a larger tank. But if you are a home user and will need a device for moderate tasks, then a smaller tank will be more than enough for you.

After the tank is filled, the machine will automatically turn itself off. You’ll see that the needle of the tank pressure gauge has stopped moving forward, and the motor has stopped. Now, you are ready to get to work.

The air compressor motor will automatically turn back on when the tank needs to be refilled.

Step 3: Plug in the air hose

Connect the air hose to the compressor. This will work as a connector between the compressor and the air tool and make sure that there isn’t any air leak. You can wrap (best if done at least 4-5 times) the hose at the connection points using Teflon tape. This way, the hose will get attached more securely, diminishing any chance of air leak. You can keep the tape attached (even if you are done for now) until the need arises to remove them. This will provide a secure passage for air for a prolonged period of time.

air hose for diminishing any chance of air leak

Step 4: Connect the air tool

Now you need to connect the air tool that the compressor needs to power. The connecting parts of the tool and hose need to match. To be more straightforward, if your air tool has a male connector, then your air hose should have a female pug and vice versa.

Slide the plug of the tool in the hose and twist to lock them in place. You’ll feel the push back of the air as some of the air will be released when you try to lock the two parts.


Add a few drops of oil into the coupler if you are not using an in-line oiler.

Step 5: Adjust the regulator

Adjust the air pressure setting according to your tool and your task by rotating the pressure regulator knob. The pressure gauge will show you the measurement. Make necessary adjustments using the pressure regulator knob until you’re at the correct pressure level for your operation.

the regulator for measurement

Step 6: Switch off the compressor

Press the power button or unplug it (depending on the machine) to switch the machine off. The compressor gets very hot while using, so give it some time to cool off before if you plan to store it somewhere.

Step 7: Drain the air tank

After that, you have to drain the air out of the tank by opening the bleed valve or drain valve underneath the air tank.

This task will make the compressor ready to use next time. Moreover, it will also drain the moisture along with air and prevent the moisture from damaging the tank or hampering the compressor’s work.

Step 8: You’re almost there

Since you’re done with the air compressor, for now, you need to keep the machine in a safe place. For storing this machine, you should choose a well-insulated moisture-free place with moderate temperature. This will prevent the moisture from interfering with the pressure regulator readings.

Keep in mind

  • Make sure not to keep your air compressor near any inflammable material (like oil). Since the compressor tends to get overheated, keeping this near oil may cause fire and explosion.
  • You should know your compressor’s duty cycle rating. A duty cycle rating is the work rate the compressor’s motor can handle without taking any damage. You can figure out how much time the machine can run without taking any break or how much break it needs after running for a certain period.
  • The thermal cut-off switch – which is like an emergency safety device for overheating) will immediately turn off your machine if it gets overheated.
  • The air tank has a lifespan. Draining the air after using it may improve the lifespan, but you’ll have to replace it after a certain time.

Final Words

So, this is how you work with an air compressor. If you follow our instructions accurately, then you should not face any problems when setting up or using the compressor. We recommend you to go through the manufacturer’s guide because it will provide you with critical information about your specific model, which will make the working experience more smooth and safe.

Good luck.

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Hi, and welcome to Toolented. My name is Michael D. Sanders. I am a Mechanical Engineer by degree, who is a blogger by passion, and this combination of knowledge and passion is what brought Toolented to life. On my blog website, you will find necessary information about your needed automotive tools, reviews of your potential choices, and comparisons between different types of tools. To learn more click here.

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