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Compressed Air Encyclopedia

Automatic Drains for Compressed Air Filters
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Filters are one of the most important components in a healthy compressed air system.

While a dirty system can usually function adequately, it does so at the expense of downstream components.

Filters are one of the most important components in a healthy compressed air system.

While a dirty system can usually function adequately, it does so at the expense of downstream components.

Liquid water can damage the inside of pipes and other pneumatic components. Also, many pneumatic valves and cylinders contain small orifices that can easily get plugged with contamination.

Part of the design of a filter is the ‘quiet zone’ in the lower portion of the filter bowl. This region is where the liquid and particulate removed from the air supply collect.

It is very important that these contaminants be drained from the filter bowl before they are allowed to reach a height where they could be re-entrained into the air.

There are two types of drains available for filters: manual drains and automatic drains.

Many filters are supplied with a manual drain because it is the least expensive option.

The manual drain is usually a petcock or some sort of spring-loaded design that must be manually operated by maintenance personnel.

This style of drain works fine as long as the filter is drained regularly. If regular manual draining is not possible, then an automatic drain should be used.

An automatic drain, while more expensive than a manual drain, allows the contaminants collected in the filter bowl to drain as needed. The automatic drain uses a float system. As the liquid level within the filter bowl rises, the float rises with it. Once the liquid reaches a certain level, the float opens the drain valve and allows the liquid to discharge.

The discharge can be allowed to simply drain onto the floor, or it can be piped to a collection container.

Maintaining compressed air filters by checking pressure drop using a pressure differential indicator, and keeping all filter bowls drained will help to prolong the life of all downstream components while allowing them to work more efficiently.

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