Can An Air Compressor Explode?

What Is An Air Compressor?

An air compressor is a device used to increase the pressure of air. This is done by pumping more air into a confined area than what is allowed to escape. Air compressors can be used in many different applications, including home appliances, construction, and vehicle maintenance.

For a full guide on this, please see our article What is an air compressor?.

How Does An Air Compressor Work?

There are many different types of air compressors, but all of them work in the same basic way. The compressor first sucks in air from outside using a filter. This clean and cold air is then heated up by the engine, allowing it to expand. This increased pressure then forces more air into the compressor, which continues to cycle until the desired pressure is reached.

What Are The Dangers Of Using An Air Compressor?

Air compressors are very safe devices when used correctly, but like any machinery there can be risks involved if not used properly. There are several factors that can affect the safety of an air compressor. First, the compressor itself must be properly maintained and operated in a safe manner. Second, the surrounding environment must be considered. If there are any hazards in the vicinity (such as flammable materials), they must be avoided. Finally, users should always wear safety equipment when operating an air compressor (such as gloves and eye protection). If any of these factors are not followed, an accident could occur which could lead to serious injury or even death.

How To Use An Air Compressor Safely

Before using an air compressor, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Many air compressors have safety features, such as automatic shut-off and over-temperature shutdown. Follow all safety instructions to avoid an accident.

To use an air compressor safely, first make sure the air pressure is set correctly. The pressure should be at least 80 psi (600 kPa). Next, adjust the nozzle so that the air flow is directed towards the work area. Be sure not to overfill the tank or use too high of a pressure; this could cause an explosion. Finally, always wear eye protection and a dust mask when using an air compressor.

Can An Air Compressor Explode?

There are a variety of reasons why an air compressor could catch fire and explode, and many of these have been well documented by METROPOLITAN ENGINEERING, CONSULTING & FORENSICS (MECF). The most common explanation is because compressed air may include extremely high amounts of pressure and temperature, making it dangerous to breathe. If the air compressor is malfunctioning or if the tank containing the compressed air explodes, the pressure and heat created by the compressed air might result in an explosion.

If an air compressor is not operated and maintained properly, it has the potential to cause an explosion. Air compressors utilise pressured air to perform its functions, and if the pressure inside the compressor is not maintained, the air might potentially explode out. If it bursts in a confined location, such as a house, it might result in catastrophic injury or death. In order to avoid an air compressor exploding and causing injury, it is critical to keep it in perfect working order.

What Should You Do If Your Air Compressor Explodes?

If an air compressor explodes, there are many dangerous risks that come with it. The first and most important risk is the potential for serious injury or even death. If the explosion happens in a confined space, like a home or small shop, people can be seriously injured by flying debris. In addition, if the compressor is left running when not needed, this can cause overheating and eventually an explosion.

Another major risk of an air compressor explosion is the possibility of fire. If the compressed air gets ignited, this can quickly spread to other parts of the building and cause serious damage or even loss of life.

It is important to keep an air compressor safe by following all the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety precautions. If something seems wrong, don’t take the risk – call a professional to check it out.

Conclusion: An air compressor can be a dangerous tool if not used properly. Make sure you understand how it works and what the dangers are before using it.

What Can Cause An Air Compressor To Explode?

Remember that every factor that would produce tank explosions, such as heat, fuel, and oxygen, is already present. However, there may be other factors that lead to blasts, which we have mentioned below:

Compressed air tank corrosion

When the outside of your acquires rust, it may indicate interior part deterioration in the tank from water condensate or on gaskets and valves, which can lead to an air compressor explosion. You should be careful to fix any potential exterior damage before resuming use of your air compressor.

Puncture of the tank

Compressors (especially large commercial air compressor types) are commonly utilised in work zones, building sites, and other situations where sharp-force trauma to the tank’s pressurised sections is all too possible.

If the air compressor is pierced even slightly when operating at top capacity (or close to it), the outcome will be an immediate compromisation of the structural integrity of the compressor, resulting in an explosive release of all pressurised air through the puncture spot, perhaps ripping apart the tank completely and spewing deadly metal shards into the air.


Overheating a compressor can also result in an explosion, albeit mechanical failure is more likely. Every compressor has an operating temperature range that should be followed, and exceeding that range might result in an explosion.

The cooling system on bigger, industrial compressors is critical and must be serviced on a regular basis to avoid the compressor from overheating and bursting.

Inadequate cooling

The tiny compressors you use in your workshop are unlikely to cause cooling issues. Large commercial machinery, on the other hand, rely on cooling systems to keep compressors running safely. A compressor might overheat and explode if it is not properly cooled.

Faulty pressure switch

If your pressure switch goes and your compressor continues to operate, the compressor will overheat and stop working properly. Just like with a water heater, make sure to check the switch on a regular basis and to switch the machine off if there are any issues with the machine or the safety valve.

Manufacturing defects

Manufacturing problems are quite rare when compared to the other possible dangers connected with air compressors, which are numerous. If you observe that a valve or part from the compressor does not fit properly, you should halt the installation and notify the manufacturer immediately.

The components of the compressor are designed to resist tremendous pressure, according to the engineers. There is a wear and tear threshold for each individual component of the machine. If a component is too thin or poorly machined, the compressor will be unable to operate at optimal performance and may even fail completely.

A clog in the airflow produced by a faulty element may cause the compressor to overheat and maybe explode.

The video below is an example of an explosion due to a potential defect in a compressor, which was manufactured with the seam of the tank running at the bottom, which the owner believed was a weakness in the design. Thanks to 3 Generation Racing for the video.

Inadequate lubrication

If your compressor is not properly oiled, it will not perform optimally. Lubrication keeps moving parts from rubbing together.

Excessive friction raises the temperature of the component and drives oil deposits into the valves. The increased heat might cause a component to fail, resulting in a rupture or explosion. Dried oil in the valves has the potential to heat up and ignite.

This situation will only occur if the compressor operates for a lengthy amount of time without adequate lubrication, but it’s a risk that you can easily avoid by keeping an eye on the machine’s oil level.

You may avoid lubrication issues by checking the oil on a regular basis and replacing it when it turns black and less viscous.

Foreign particles

Any oil or water that gets into the air compressor’s tank has the potential to trigger a deadly explosion. Oil is combustible and is one of the flammable substances that might create an explosion when placed under tremendous pressure. When water enters the air compressor tank, it has the potential to trigger a deadly explosion.

Improper upkeep

Regular maintenance is one of the finest strategies to avoid any harm that may occur. To keep your machine safe and working for a long time, clean and oil the filters on a regular basis, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. an air compressor explosion

Unfiltered air

If you use the air compressor for power tools or anything else that requires filtered air, make sure you keep the system in good working order.

Without filtered air, there is a chance of an explosion and build-up, which will lead the system to fail.

How To Avoid An Air Compressor Explosion

Preventing an air compressor explosion is all about following proper guidelines and generally taking care of the equipment. Let’s start with corrosion, which is the most common cause of compressor explosions.

Make it a habit to drain your compressor on a regular basis. If you use the compressor on a daily basis, this should be done on a daily basis. At the very least, empty the compressor once a week. This will keep too much water from accumulating in the tank and creating corrosion.

  • Do not exceed the compressor’s recommended temperature range.
  • Do not exceed the compressor’s maximum pressure recommendation.
  • If any components appear to be faulty or do not fit properly, do not use the compressor and contact the manufacturer.
  • Take steps to avoid unintentional puncture by other devices.
  • Maintain appropriate lubrication by checking the oil level on a regular basis and adding oil as needed.

How To Inspect Air Compressor Tank

If you’ve owned your compressor for a long time, it’s a good idea to inspect the tank for corrosion.

I recommend hitting an empty tank with a rubber mallet or small pick hammer – but only when the compressor is completely discharged of air, and is turned off! Only then, can you test the top, bottom, and sides to see if they are easy to dent. Any give in the tank’s surface could be an indication that it is rusting.

Because sturdy tanks are not corroded, they will not be damaged by your mallet. Because rust may be restricted to a single location on the interior of the tank, you should strike it all over.

Another sign would be if your tank began to leak red or rust-colored water.

If you notice any of the signs of corrosion, you should replace the unit as soon as possible in order to avoid air compressor tank rupture. At the very least, turn it off and make sure the tank is pressure-neutral.

After use, always empty the compressor tank

It is critical to dump the compressor tank after each usage. It will keep corrosion at bay and extend the life of the. Check to see if the drain valve is working properly.

Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer

When installing and using your air compressor, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. If your machine isn’t rated to handle pressures above 120 psi, don’t try to push the compressor’s pressure above that level.

If the pressure within the machine becomes too great, the tank may break. A ruptured tank can take off like a rocket, causing massive damage and injuries.

Examine all components for damage

Examine your valves, hoses, connections, and tank for any obvious damage. Replace any cracked or plugged hoses or valves.

Corrosion prevention suggestions

Corrosion is simply another word for rust, which is easy to avoid if you take care of your air compressor. Here are a few of my tips for preventing rust from forming in places you don’t want it.

As already mentioned, empty your tank every time you use it. Seriously. I understand that this may be a pain, but failing to do so allows a lot of moisture to accumulate inside the tank, which quickly leads to rust development. You will need to drain the air compressor on a daily basis if you use it frequently.

Keep your drain valves open. Do not reseal the tank after you have removed all of the water. Allowing it to remain open allows the inside to air out. Even the tiniest drop of water can cause rust to grow, but keeping it open can help you guarantee that all water has fled. When utilising this technique, please ensure that the tank is placed in a location where more water cannot enter.

Use oil inside the tank. Rust can be prevented by using a specialised oil. You do not have to use it every day to reap the benefits. Just a little bit here and there makes a big difference.

If you’ve kept your air compressor outside, follow our advice to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases.

Are domestic air compressors less dangerous?

Working with air compressors at home can be more dangerous than larger commercial units. Regular inspections and maintenance are not performed on air compressors in use at home, and they are often stored in the same area that you are working in, like a garage or a shed. This makes residential accidents more frequent and hazardous.

Can an air brush compressor explode?

Yes, just as with any other air compressor, an air brush compressor can explode. If not properly maintained and operated, an air brush compressor can become unstable and even explode.  Therefore, it is important to always remember to use caution when operating an air compressor. If something seems off or seems like it might not be safe, don’t try it out – just let someone else handle it.



Jeff Stelling

Jeff Stelling is an air compressor obsessive who has been working with compressors for over 25 years, since he was an apprentice engineer in the mid 90’s. He designed to offer technical guidance and buying advice for compressors.

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