If you’re a regular DIYer looking to level up your operation, there are a number of upgrades to consider for your workspace. Running air compressor lines in a garage will definitely make a difference in efficiency and allow you to increase the scope of potential projects. However, installing a pneumatic system is an involved process, so you need to make sure you’re doing it safely.
Air to the Home
Air-driven power tools take a lot of effort out of manual labor and increase work speed exponentially. The system can also be used with a multitude of compatible tools, making it a versatile solution. Impact wrenches make tire installation and removal a breeze, while air hammers can help dislodge stuck parts without breaking a sweat, and nail guns bring projects together quickly and single-handedly. When developing a plan for your workspace, first think about why you need pneumatic power. Consider all the air tools you use and how often you use them. This information will help guide your system design and component choices.
The centerpiece of any pneumatic system is the air compressor, so make sure you’re purchasing one that fits your needs and will last a long time. The main thing you want to look at is the CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch) that the compressor provides. Also, consider these questions: How important is noise control? Do you want built-in protections? What’s the energy usage? What capacity tank do you need? Are you looking for an oil-free pump? How much maintenance will it require? Carefully think through all operational aspects before picking the right compressor for you.
Installing the correct lines, couplings and fittings properly is about more than just efficiency; it’s about safety. These systems are under a lot of pressure and using the wrong materials (such as PVC lines) or mistakes in plumbing could have serious consequences. Look for strong materials like black iron schedule 40 pipe. Other options include copper pipe, extruded aluminum pipe, or even schedule 10 stainless steel pipe. It’s easy enough to purchase the materials yourself, but it’s highly advisable to seek a professional’s help to ensure that everything goes together as it should and is properly tested before being put to use.
One major consideration is inevitable water accumulation. Over time, moisture will damage system components, reduce efficiency and damage attached tools and whatever you’re using the tools on. Any pneumatic system must, at minimum, have a way to drain water and mitigate these potential problems down the road. It affects the layout and plumbing angles, as well as what fittings and other system safeguards to put in place.
If you’re installing a pneumatic system yourself, make sure to carefully read all the literature that comes with each component, get a solid background knowledge on installation and be ready to perform maintenance as needed on the system and your attached tools. If you’re ready for the undertaking, having compressed air at your fingertips will make most of your DIY jobs much easier.
Check out all the air line products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on running air compressor lines in a garage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.