Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Dry Air

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

March 27, 2009


At CarWash College™ we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about maintaining the compressed air that is delivered to your equipment. It's no secret that the process of compressing air creates large amounts of water. Often, what is not thought about is how that water can affect the proper operation(s) of your equipment. It never fails that when the temperatures begin to change rapidly (as they do at this time of year); the calls related to equipment failure increase. An item that frequently fails due to moisture in the lines is the FlowJet chemical pump. The exhaust muffler on these tend to "freeze up" so let's look at some simple things you can do to eliminate excess moisture and premature equipment failure.

  1. Properly plumbed air lines will help reduce moisture. The lines should run "down hill" from the air compressor to an in-line filter. Install another line at the bottom of the filter referred to as a "drop leg". This line runs straight down and you should attach an automatic drain to its end. The air line from the filter to the equipment needs to be plumbed to run back "up hill" to the air distribution manifold(s). Each manifold needs an FRL (filter, regulator, lubricator) attached to it to assist in further water removal and is a lubrication source for all air driven equipment. Adding an automatic drain to the bottom of your air compressor will also help to reduce moisture.

  2. Another option is using an air dryer. Air dryers will remove approximately 95% of the moisture in the air lines. If your air compressor does not have an after cooler on the unit, a high inlet temperature air dryer may be required and can be purchased for a nominal amount.

  3. If you have not yet found a reliable way to get dry air to your equipment, or if a system fails, here are some additional options to try:

    1. Make sure the air driven solenoids and pumps are getting lubrication. Lubrication can help shed the water and prevents parts from sticking.

    2. Make sure the exhaust ports on air driven equipment is not "frozen". Usually, exhaust ports are fitted with a silencing device. If the silencing device encounters low temperature moisture, it will "freeze up" because the air has no way to escape. When the silencer freezes, it can make the unit appear to be bad. Removing the silencer and allowing the unit to "thaw" will return the unit to an operational status (in most cases).

By using some, or all, of these simple steps you can reduce premature equipment failure and the potential downtime. The equipment savings can easily be in the hundreds of dollars per year, and avoiding downtime, is priceless.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.