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Thread: Help with running compressed air

  1. #1

    Help with running compressed air

    Hey guys - need your advice

    I have a 30x40 building that is split into two parts. The front part is 30x20 and is where we store mower, 4 wheelers, etc. My 60 gallon air compressor sits here. I have it connected to a pressure regulator and a hose reel that is used to air up tires, use air wrenches, etc.

    Now, I want to run air pipe to the back room which is my woodworking shop. My initial thought was just to run black pipe back there too. I left a capped off tee in the front room just for this purpose.

    The problem is that I keep reading about black iron rusting and damaging my tools. Some suggest copper. I also think I need to incorporate a water and air filter in my system but I don't know if they need to be just off the main compressor or at each drop. I did plan to install a second regulator at the woodworking drop. The woodworking drop would only be to run nailers at this point but who knows in the future.

    I have never soldered copper before but I consider my self a pretty advanced DIY-er so I'm not scared a bit at learning to work with the copper if that is the consensus.

    Thanks for your input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Hayes, Virginia
    Posts
    13,508
    Copper gets my vote for shop air systems. I installed a copper air system over 20 years ago and although it is a bit pricey the benefits are long term.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Outten View Post
    Copper gets my vote for shop air systems. I installed a copper air system over 20 years ago and although it is a bit pricey the benefits are long term.
    Thanks. I had heard that too. I'm pretty sure I can learn to solder copper and make good connections even though I have never done it before. Sounds like a good skill to learn

    I'm also very interested in learning the best arrangement of air filters and water traps for the shop.

  4. #4
    Copper is good but not cheap. Another alternative is the Rapid Air system.

    This is what I used, but I will caution I recently learned the 1/2 Rapid Air set up is only warranteed for 5 years. Truthfully I think its nothing more than PEX.

    So if I had to do over, I would go with the 3/4" Max Air system.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    Copper is good but not cheap. Another alternative is the Rapid Air system.

    This is what I used, but I will caution I recently learned the 1/2 Rapid Air set up is only warranteed for 5 years. Truthfully I think its nothing more than PEX.

    So if I had to do over, I would go with the 3/4" Max Air system.

    I love the idea of a pex like product. Can you give me a link to the max air product page? I checked copper here at my local lowes. a 10' stick of m class copper was like $16 for 3/4". Was about the same cost as black iron.

  6. #6
    I just started doing my shop with the Rapid air.

    I’m not happy with myself as i I know it’s a short term solution. But for me the kit was $99 and got me outa a pickle. I’ll replace it with copper down the road.

    I have worked in shops with black pipe and copper and never had or seen issues either way.

    I’m a overkill guy but I’ll go “Devilbliss DAD500” air dryer filter system right after my compressor leading into a series of up and down copper “L” coils. I’ll then put a filter regulator with a water trap at all drops pitching all copper slightly back down hill to the compressor.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Walsh View Post
    I just started doing my shop with the Rapid air.

    Iím not happy with myself as i I know itís a short term solution. But for me the kit was $99 and got me outa a pickle. Iíll replace it with copper down the road.

    I have worked in shops with black pipe and copper and never had or seen issues either way.

    Iím a overkill guy but Iíll go ďDevilbliss DAD500Ē air dryer filter system right after my compressor leading into a series of up and down copper ďLĒ coils. Iíll then put a filter regulator with a water trap at all drops pitching all copper slightly back down hill to the compressor.
    So a water trap at each drop is just to keep water out of your tools?

    Also, what concerns are there about the inside of your compressor rusting and rust flakes getting into the tools? Is that caught by a filter?

  8. #8
    I'm no expert at this by any means, but I've always found this drawing to be helpful: http://www.sharpe1.com/sharpe/sharpe...+Piping+Layout

    I think best practice is to have the water trap and filter at the point of use. Air traveling in the pipes can pick up water and impurities along the way so putting it at point of use minimizes crud going to your tools, which is especially important if you are going to be spray finishing.

    You'll also note the drawing shows pipes slanted away from the compressor, with water drains at the end of each leg. The rationale for this is to minimize the amount of water in the compressor and the sections of pipe the air travels through. The air will be hot when it comes out of the compressor, and hot air can pick up water easily if there is water in the compressor tank or the pipes near the compressor. By sloping the pipes away from the compressor, you minimize the amount of water in the area where it is most easily picked up by the hot air. You do need to drain the water out of the drops and the final drain leg regularly.

    Another point to notice is the drops come off the top of the main line, go up a bit, and then turn down. Again, this minimizes the amount of water and debris that can move into the drops.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    3,971
    PVC is not allowed per OHSA. I think pex or copper. Best to run copper for 10 feet or so before the filter/dryer. Hot steam will pass through a water filter. Slope lines down to drain ports.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    5,729
    I used RapidAir 1/2 for my small shop. I was very happy with ease of installation and functionality. They have a good website that helps choose pipe size and such.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F Franklin View Post
    I'm no expert at this by any means, but I've always found this drawing to be helpful: http://www.sharpe1.com/sharpe/sharpe...+Piping+Layout

    I think best practice is to have the water trap and filter at the point of use. Air traveling in the pipes can pick up water and impurities along the way so putting it at point of use minimizes crud going to your tools, which is especially important if you are going to be spray finishing.

    You'll also note the drawing shows pipes slanted away from the compressor, with water drains at the end of each leg. The rationale for this is to minimize the amount of water in the compressor and the sections of pipe the air travels through. The air will be hot when it comes out of the compressor, and hot air can pick up water easily if there is water in the compressor tank or the pipes near the compressor. By sloping the pipes away from the compressor, you minimize the amount of water in the area where it is most easily picked up by the hot air. You do need to drain the water out of the drops and the final drain leg regularly.

    Another point to notice is the drops come off the top of the main line, go up a bit, and then turn down. Again, this minimizes the amount of water and debris that can move into the drops.
    Thanks for the link. It's helpful. This is a small personal 1 man woodworking shop so I'm def not going to be draining valves daily

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Elizabethtown, PA
    Posts
    39
    I would suggest 3/4" copper with a drain leg on your drips. This is as simple as installing a tee with a short section of tube and a valve below to drain condensation from that leg. I wouldn't get really concerned about sloping the tubing. You can "sweat" (soldier) copper or there are compression fittings as well, though much more expensive. A propane torch, some flux, a flux brush, emery cloth or a 4 in 1 tube cleaner for cleaning the tube prior to fluxing, 50/50 soldier and a tube cutter and your ready to go. Buy a few extra couplings as they're pretty cheap and do your prep (cleaning and fluxing), then heat the fitting from the bottom. You'll see the flux melt and start to bubble, not long after try applying the soldier from the top. you will start to learn how long you'll need to apply heat before it will melt. When the soldier melts, it will draw into the joint, keep letting in go until it starts to come out the bottom (slight drip). Turn off the torch and wipe drip with a wet rag (be careful as this will produce steam which can burn you). Re-wet the rag and cool the joint. Then move on to another. Copper isn't cheap, but much better than the plastic DIY stuff and will last forever.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Peshtigo,WI
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    869
    Quote Originally Posted by Reggie Burnett View Post
    So a water trap at each drop is just to keep water out of your tools?

    Also, what concerns are there about the inside of your compressor rusting and rust flakes getting into the tools? Is that caught by a filter?
    Yes and Yes. You can purchase combination coalescing/particulate filters that will remove the water/oil and dirt from the air. You can also add a lubricator to the line if your tools need to be oiled. Just remember not to hook up an air gun after your lubricator or the air you use to clean with will also be lubricating what you spray it on.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Yeaglin View Post
    I would suggest 3/4" copper with a drain leg on your drips. This is as simple as installing a tee with a short section of tube and a valve below to drain condensation from that leg. I wouldn't get really concerned about sloping the tubing. You can "sweat" (soldier) copper or there are compression fittings as well, though much more expensive. A propane torch, some flux, a flux brush, emery cloth or a 4 in 1 tube cleaner for cleaning the tube prior to fluxing, 50/50 soldier and a tube cutter and your ready to go. Buy a few extra couplings as they're pretty cheap and do your prep (cleaning and fluxing), then heat the fitting from the bottom. You'll see the flux melt and start to bubble, not long after try applying the soldier from the top. you will start to learn how long you'll need to apply heat before it will melt. When the soldier melts, it will draw into the joint, keep letting in go until it starts to come out the bottom (slight drip). Turn off the torch and wipe drip with a wet rag (be careful as this will produce steam which can burn you). Re-wet the rag and cool the joint. Then move on to another. Copper isn't cheap, but much better than the plastic DIY stuff and will last forever.
    Thanks. I really do want to learn to work with copper like that. I wanted to do it in pex or copper simply because I can cut the pipe to the length I need. I don't have a pipe threader for black iron.

  15. #15
    I probably have 1000' of black iron piped air lines. Starts as 3" and steps it's way down to 3/4 way out at the end.

    Drains on the drops and a few other spots, never installed my dryer, drain lines and tank once a month, maybe a gallon of water in all those lines tops.

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