How to Choose and Use an Air Compressor – This Old House

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This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows discusses what to look for when buying and operating an air compressor.

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  1. A load of information on Air Compressors. Thank you……

  2. Oil in the pumps not motors, right?

  3. thank you for all

  4. Well that tells anyone looking for a compressor everything they need to know………………………..NOT!!!

  5. Oil-less compressors are usually louder and do not have the life of an oiled compressor.  

  6. i would never buy a small compressor its a waste of money

  7. which compressor could you recommend me to make knock down in my house, around  3200 Sf.

  8. Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth

    awesome informative video with no BS.

  9. Thank you guys. So useful information.

  10. This video answers a lot of questions. The only question I have is what is a “big” cfm?

  11. Retired Tony Ramirez


  12. +Vince P Basically anything you’d use for real professional shop usage. I’d say starting around 15 CFM, which would correlate to around 1500 dollars or so for an ingersoll Rand model that you’d find in a typical local car repair garage or something similar. The squashed unit they show in the preview pic can do around 3.6 if I remember correctly and the rule of thumb for professional environments is around 5 cfm per technician to keep all your air tools running efficiently.

  13. +Chris Chapman yeah that was just MY opinion about small air compressors ,if you want to buy 2 compressors one for the shed and one for inside then go ahead…the mid range air compressors do everything from supplying lowcfm then up to enough to use a spaygun/impactgun and this is what my original comment is based on ,it is a waste of money buying a small compressor due to the fact you cant get the cfm needed to run the bigger tools but if you buy the mid range compressor you can run the smallest of tools all the way to spraygun. if you can use the 1 compressor for both types of jobs then dont waste your money on a small compressor ,if i need to run air into the house for any reason a air house does the job

  14. That is a lot of expense and labor to run a line to my work area, the small compressor is only $45 delivered when purchased on eBay, I use it to blow dust from the heat sinks of Laptops, to run a line to my work area from the Garage would be very complicated and intricate so the small compressor is very fitting and a excellent compromise, the reduction of the noise to have a separate line from my Larger compressor would be nice but I use is so little it is not much of a bother, I do not consider it a waste of money, I do agree that a mid range is a good choice and a air hose would be a good decision to run separately but it would be difficult and intricate to run one to my work area with all of the twist and turn needed to run one to that location.

  15. i never told you Chris to run a line i said if I have to get air inside i will just run the line your taking what i write as im trying to tell YOU its better for YOU to do what i say ,ive already told you if you want to buy a small compressor go for it……..MY opinion still stands on what i originally said about small compressors ,bang for buck is my standpoint.and being to utilize every ounce of its ability…we can do this all year if you want.

  16. +Trev DoubleU I am sorry you took it like I meant that you were telling me to do what you say, I did not take it that way, and my opinion still stands it is not a waste of money to buy a small compressor, you would spend more money running the line to this location on the second floor then you would by just buying a small compressor.

  17. +phuturephunk Correct me if I’m wrong, but CFM is how much air the pump can pump to bring it up to full pressure or while the pump is running while using the tool. But if the pump is not running and the tank is full the CFM of the pump does not matter for tool power? I understand it will take longer to reach full tank pressure with lower CFM.

  18. You hit the nail on the proverbial head.

  19. I had mine for 18 months and the piston bolt broke and now got to by another one cause Lowes only have a 1 year warranty.

  20. This is good info, thanks!

  21. Hello
    I want to buy AIR COMPRESSOR BUYING GUIDE for my use
    I search alot about this and found an article which you can
    read more about here:

  22. Also lower CFM’s on oiless variety.

  23. damian1228

  24. damian1228

  25. Chris Chapman

  26. ddd228/Dave in Seattle.

    I agree. The compression “ring” is made of leather.
    Buy an oil bath compressor and use a filter/separator in the out put line.

  27. I installed an automatic drain valve on my compressor that purges out some of the accumulated moisture in the tank every time it cycles off; saves the hassle of manually bleeding it out with every use. The higher end compressors should have that as part of the standard setup. The oiless compressors are always raucous and grating to listen to, compared to the pulley driven oil lubricated compressors; mine is almost pleasant to listen to compared to my direct drive oilless one. PSI and CFM is one thing, but try to hear it running if you can before you decide. Noise levels is never a spec they provide though, so you’d have to just witness it firsthand to see what difference it makes to you.

  28. Is it wise to use a 3 gallon oil less air compressor to fill 30 gallon auxiliary tank

  29. I’m not an expert but I believe it would work but would reduce the lifespan of the motor. It would stay on a lot longer than it’s rated for so it would build a lot of heat.

    I have a 6 gallon pancake and when I use that to clean up the shop and use all the air in the tank that it gets pretty warm.

  30. Nope. You will not get all the moisture, and moist air under pressure means faster rusting. You need to let the pressure out of the tank after use, or your tank will rust out from the inside.

  31. How often do you drain the tank out during the day while you’re using it? Do you wait until the end of the day or go and periodically let the air out from the bottom manually as you use it?
    This does it every time it cycles- if that much water accumulates every time the compressor charges up that it keeps building up, then check the humidity in the garage. Purging it on a regular basis as it gets created results in less water in the tank than allowing it to accumulate for the day, and less moisture going out the air line. Rust doesn’t have a schedule where it’ll wait until you’re done for the day, so why leave it in there for however many hours you’re using it?

  32. What a totally uninformative waste of time this video was!

  33. Nailed it as usual

  34. 57HarleyDavidson

    How was this totally uninformative??

  35. Whats the cfm rating on the small compressor next to the guy in a brown shirt. The one that has a small tank going for around 100 Dollars as narrators states. Model name and number would be useful.
    Kindly share this information.

  36. A Senco PC1010. 0.7cfm at 90psi . I have one. It’s only good for small trim jobs, but very good at it. It easily keeps up with a brad nailer, is VERY quiet, and quite light to carry.

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