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Questions from Customers – How often should my compressor run?

OL+ Oil Less Fire Protection Air Compressor


On May 10, 2011 we received an email from R. John Phillips of Kootenay Sprinkler Installations Inc. in British Columbia, Canada. John had recently completed work installing one of our OL Series oilless riser mounted compressors in an office building.  A call from the general contractor prompted John to ask us:

“Under normal operating conditions and assuming no leaks in the system, how often should a OL610V100AC cycle when installed on a attic system. Is once a week considered to often?”

Ray DeCecco, our customer service manager and resident dry pipe system air compressor expert responded:

“John, it is nearly impossible for a system to have no leaks. You should be commended for having a system so tight that the air compressor only cycles on about once a week. ”

“NFPA 13 under Dry Pipe and Double Interlock Preaction Systems Air Test, section states that 1.5 psi pressure loss per 24 hour period is acceptable. We recommend that a compressor cycle no more than 4 times per hour to ensure maximum compressor life, so you are in very good shape with your system.”

Thank you John for asking the question and for letting us post it here. Hopefully it will shed some light on the issue of compressor cycling for others in a similar situation.

If you have questions regarding our fire protection air compressors, their installation, best practices or troubleshooting please feel free to call (800-345-8207) or email us with them. We are always happy to help!

6 thoughts on “Questions from Customers – How often should my compressor run?

  1. NFPA 25 requires pressure loss in excess of 10 psi per week to be repaired;
    Most pressure switches have a 10-15 psi differential on/off setting so I would disagree and say there is a major leak if the compressor is cycling 4 times an hour.

    If the differential is 10 psi then once a week is acceptable; any cycling in excess of once per week (with a 10 psi differential) would be non compliant with NFPA 25

  2. The lower a lubricant’s pour point, the better protection it provides in low-temperature service.
    There is also another body, the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC), jointly set-up by US and Japanese motor manufacturers,
    which also recommends motor oil grades which comply with the
    API standard. Most of the Major Brands of “Synthetic Oil” are really “Synthetic Blends”.

  3. The pressurized air in a sprinkler system is critical to a system functioning properly. An air compressor will turn on at different time intervals. It’s not uncommon for an air compressor to turn on daily. However, the more often your compressor is running, the less likely your system is operating optimally. If your compressor is running multiple times per hour to keep sufficient air in the system, you should consider your options to improve system performance.

  4. The lower a lubricant’s pour point, the better protection it provides in low-temperature service.

  5. The frequency with which a fire protection air compressor runs depends entirely on the leak rate of the sprinkler system piping.

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