With an estimated £100m a year lost through air leaks in the UK alone, it’s a mystery why any industry wouldn’t want to thoroughly check their machines for air leakages on a regular basis. You may think that a tiny bit of air escaping won’t make a difference to your business, but you could be losing as much as £600 a year from just one 3mm hole.

It is estimated that 20%-40% of generated air in a manufacturing facility is wasted through air leaks and even a small air system that has not been adequately maintained can be costing a business between £2-£7 a day.

Many businesses may be surprised at how much they could save by fixing their air leaks. A recent case study showed an astronomical saving of £37,000 per annum for one business alone-an eye-watering amount!

With this in mind, it’s most likely that you want to check your systems for any air leaks and prevent this from happening as much as possible. Whether you have a silent air compressor, a nitrogen generator or oil-free air compressor, they all need regular and thorough checks.

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Why Should You Address Air Leaks?

It’s not just saving money on your energy bills, there are other essential reasons for addressing air leaks.

Wasted air also means wasted energy, meaning your industry could be responsible for higher levels of carbon emissions that could be avoided with the right checks in place. We all need to be doing everything we can to help our planet and locating and fixing air leaks regularly is a great start.

The safety of everyone on site should always be a top priority and air leaks can lead to problems with operating systems-unreliable pressure can cause tools to not work properly. Those using malfunctioning equipment could be put at risk.

How To Locate Air Leaks

1.   Listen

Listen to your machines, run the air compressor without tools or equipment. This is best done outside of working hours where possible, where no background noise can interfere. Listen for a hissing or rasping sound. Don’t forget to check joints, flanges and valves.

2.   Look

You can see leaks with this simple method- mix water and washing up liquid or soap in a bowl and work this into a lather. Use a sponge, cloth or paintbrush to apply this to all pipework, not forgetting those joints, flanges and valves.

Any air leaks will be made apparent by the mixture bubbling-easy!

3.   Detect

Ultrasonic leak detectors can be purchased or hired and are definitely the easiest and most effective way to find air leaks. In-house staff can use these, or a specialist can be brought onto the premises.

One of the best reasons to use this method is that these detectors can be used during busy working hours and can reach every part of your equipment, leaving no stone unturned and without interruption to production.

Addressing Air Leaks

Prevention

Prevention is always the best course of action, regularly check machines for wear and tear and train operating staff in leak detection methods.

Replace Components

Worn components may still function but could be contributing to air leakage. Replace any items that are worn down as soon as possible.

Pipes, Hoses and Tubes

These elements that have shown a leak shouldn’t be repaired, instead, they need to be fully replaced.

Check The Rubber

O-rings, valve deals and other rubber components can wear down over time and lead to leaks. They aren’t always visible so take the time to check these and replace them as soon as they show signs of wear.

Tighten Connections

It’s an easy fix, a loose connection could be leaking air. Check connections regularly and tighten them when needed.