Air Compressor -- When to Retire

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Forum topic by lothian posted 06-04-2020 01:18 PM 827 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 3381 days

06-04-2020 01:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: theater parcel creosote lembas bread calculator

I own a 17yo Craftsman air compressor (model: 919167240). It operates perfectly.

Owners of this compressor are supposed to drain accumulated water from the tank after each use to prevent internal rust. Rust potentially weakens the tank walls and that creates the very real risk of explosive decompression.

Admittedly, I drain the tank only intermittently, and only when the schloshing of water within the tank reminds me that this minor maintenance item is overdue. I realize this is a bad policy in light of the previous paragraph. I also have never used an air dryer with the thing. I am a bad owner.

So now I’m pondering the following…
Given the age of this compressor, given the less-than-idea maintenance by yours truly, and given the consequences should those two facts conspire, is it prudent to replace the thing?

I’ve since bought an air dryer (after 17yrs without). I’m curious if an air compressor specific rust inhibitor commercial product exists explicitly for this issue.


15 replies so far

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


836 posts in 898 days

#1 posted 06-04-2020 01:27 PM

I drained mine twice a year when I used a small one like yours. Use it until it stops or is no longer large enough for the task you throw at it.

The rust may erode to the point where there is a leak and that will be the time you decide to replace it.

View ibewjon's profile


2481 posts in 3912 days

#2 posted 06-04-2020 01:34 PM

First, the drier only dries the output air, unless there is something new for between the compressor and tank that I have not seen. Second, I have seen the results of a non drained tank exploding, and it is not pretty. With that history, if you are worried, scrap it. Don’t sell it to an unknowing person. The one I saw didn’t leak, it blew open. There were no cell phone cameras when I saw it, so no pictures.

View MrUnix's profile


8638 posts in 3318 days

#3 posted 06-04-2020 01:38 PM

I’ve got a very similar model to yours and probably about the same age as well. It’s been a real workhorse for me, and up until last year, I would leave it on 24/7 out in the garage. That was until I had a washer in the regulator start leaking, so now I just turn it on when needed. Other than that, I’ve never had a problem with it… but it is a DeVilbiss after all (919 manufacturer prefix). And in all the years I’ve had it, I think I’ve probably drained the tank maybe a dozen times at most… I really, really try to remember to do it at least once a year, but that hasn’t always happened. I’ve seen no indication of excessive rusting or problem areas, and expect it to keep going strong for another 20 years or more ;)

Now if I could just find that air filter that used to be on there! Think it went missing about 10 years ago.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4549 posts in 2613 days

#4 posted 06-04-2020 03:15 PM

ASME certified air receiver tanks have expiration dates. it will be stamped in metal and usually says discard after XX/XXXX month and year. Air receiver tanks can be re-certified via visual and ultrasonic metal thickness inspection. The cost for inspection usually exceeds the replacement cost for small tanks, and is why there is not much discussion on the topic.

If the air receiver tank is used in commercial facility with OSHA covered employees, then tank expiration date and/or re-certification testing should be part of your site inspection. Expired tanks will result in a negative finding that needs correction.

In many localities, air receiver tank inspection is conducted by local fire marshal or fire prevention authority having jurisdiction in your local. The capability exists in support of hazardous materials tank inspections for commercial business. Any business with large quantities of hazardous materials on site are typically site inspected once every 1-2 years depending on local zoning codification.

For homeowner owning a compressor with an expired air receiver tank you only have a couple choices:

- If friends with local fire authority, invite them to a BBQ and ask them to bring the ultrasonic inspection tool to check your tank. :)

- Transport tank to a certified inspection station. Most compressed gas wholesalers (propane, welding, etc) offer tank re-certification services. Call before you visit as many have minimum tank sizes for testing, and require removal of any tank mounted compressor.

- Buy a new tank.

This little known information is one reason that it is easy to find old air compressors listed on used sites.
And you should always: Caveat emptor

Note: not all localities treat non-commercial air receiver tanks the same way and the above may only partially apply to you.


PS – Compressed gas tank regulations are PIA. Propane and welding gas tanks have expiration dates also, and supposed to be checked every time they are refilled by certified hazardous material distributor.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8536 posts in 1832 days

#5 posted 06-04-2020 03:29 PM

i had one blow up already i had started it in the shed went into house for something going back out t oshed i seen a cloud of dust fly out the door when I got the shed I seen the damage I had it nailed to 2×4 wall studs it just ripped up the wall not a pretty sight no pictures just glad no one got hurt use your best judgement I say :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3292 days

#6 posted 06-04-2020 03:30 PM

If you are not comfortable with it repalce it. Rust generally shows as a small pinhole leak.

If you are not comfortable repalce it. Or follow Cpt Klutz’s advice.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View ibewjon's profile


2481 posts in 3912 days

#7 posted 06-04-2020 08:25 PM

You could build a reinforced concrete blast wall around it, or just get a new one and be safe.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5354 posts in 5080 days

#8 posted 06-04-2020 08:46 PM

My oiled type Craftsman compressor was bought new in 1978. I change the oil and drain the tank regularly. It has done all I’ve ever thrown at it. Guess the darned thing will outlive me.
I did have the bearings changed on the motor (Leeson) 2 years ago.
Having said that, the tank will blow up tomorrow………….

-- [email protected]

View Ocelot's profile


3133 posts in 3757 days

#9 posted 06-04-2020 10:05 PM

I have a 2HP Craftsman compressor that my Dad bought in the 70’s. I basicly never drain it, though it gets little use – almost exclusively for air nailers and staplers. I stopped using it last year and bought one of those “ultra-quiet” aluminum ones, which produces enough “oomph’ for the nailers, but not for the air cut-off tool I use once every few years.

I think my Craftsman has a leak or something. Thanks for reminding me to do something about it.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View MrUnix's profile


8638 posts in 3318 days

#10 posted 06-04-2020 10:49 PM

I think my Craftsman has a leak or something. Thanks for reminding me to do something about it.
- Ocelot

Most of the older Craftsman compressors were made by DeVilbiss and were a great deal price wise, due to Sears bulk buying power. The same DeVilbiss branded model as mine cost almost $100 more at the local hardware store at the time. Eventually, mine developed a leak inside the regulator – basically a nylon washer cracked. I made a new washer out of an old plastic coffee can top which works, but still slowly leaks – like maybe 10psi a day or so. For what I do, I can live with that! I wish they sold individual replacement parts for the regulator, but they don’t – so you have to buy the whole thing – all for some stupid 5 cent washer.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View hcbph_1's profile


98 posts in 433 days

#11 posted 06-05-2020 06:36 PM

Here’s something to think on if you have the space. I finally got my ‘good’ compressor a few years back. I had not had any issues with the smaller compressor I had before this one, but I wasn’t as religious about draining it as I should have. Long story short, I removed the drain valve and put in a 90 degree elbow then a length of pipe ending in a ball valve that was under the compressor but still accessible. The thinking is the ball valve is easy to operate so you’ll drain it more often. In addition any moisture in the tank will collect in the pipe rather than the tank so that reduces the chance of a rust hole developing in the tank due to failing to drain the tank. Face it, pipe is a whole lot cheaper than a new tank.

View AMZ's profile


310 posts in 508 days

#12 posted 06-05-2020 07:12 PM

17 years? Time to replace! If you run the compressor where the ambient temperature is cool, with the compressor’s heat, you will have condensation in the tank. Learn to drain after each use.

View ajosephg's profile


1897 posts in 4680 days

#13 posted 06-06-2020 06:24 PM

Recently retired a compressor that I inherited from my dad, who bought it around 1950. It never had any PM or regular draining. The tank finally developed a pin hole leak due to rust so I disposed of it. So—- IMO chances of a tank exploding without warning are slim to none.

-- Joe

View ibewjon's profile


2481 posts in 3912 days

#14 posted 06-06-2020 06:53 PM

You are very lucky one spot rusted through before it blew up. It can and does happen. After this long, why chance it?

View pottz's profile (online now)


17570 posts in 2103 days

#15 posted 06-07-2020 12:09 AM

if it’s working fine keep using it,as far as drainig the tank im like a lot of guys some times to never.personally i dont worry about the tank rusting out,i mean you can drain it everyday but there is always going to be moisture in it,draining doesn’t dry it out.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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