Filter maintenance for Air Filter Regulator is essential. When in use, the filter element traps contaminants. It also filters any water from hot water steam and oil vapors generated by the compressor. These vapors cool and condense into water as they travel through the compressed air system. This is inevitable even when steps are taken to treat the air as it exits the compressor.
Over time, the filter eventually reaches its impurity retention capacity and becomes clogged. If the air filter is not changed in time, the filter creates a difference in pressure. Air can no longer circulate freely. Water is neither filtered nor eliminated. As a result, power is wasted and poor air quality leads to problems with pneumatic tools and equipment (rust), failure of lubricants (loss of efficiency) and, if the temperature drops, a risk of frozen pipes.
When the filter element is changed, air can freely circulate again, energy consumption returns to normal, and water is eliminated at the point of application—all of which safeguards air quality.
When should you change the filter element?
The saturation of each filter element depends on how air is treated when it leaves the compressor, as well as how often the compressed air system is used (continuously or occasionally). Plan to change your filter elements at least once a year, for example, during your shutdown period if you have one.
For more safety, many filters are fitted with a pressure drop indicator that signals when the filter element needs to be changed. You can also use an electric differential pressure sensor that emits a signal from a distance.
As a rule, standard filter elements must be changed when the pressure drop is around 7 PSI. High efficiency filter elements must be replaced when the pressure drop reaches 10 PSI.
It’s easy enough to see when a filter element needs to be replaced. The cartridge, which is usually white when first installed, becomes dark when clogged with impurities. Here’s an example of a new air filter versus an air filter that needs to be changed.
New vs. old filterA saturated air filter causes a pressure drop in the system, which increases energy costs and lessens the system’s efficiency.
Replacing the air filter
How you change the filter cartridge depends on the filter model and type. You can generally replace a filter element with a new one by cutting off the air intake, releasing residual air pressure, removing the filter bowl, then unscrewing the filter element. This can be done on a pressurized system by way of the venting safety valve used to isolate the FRL.
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