Air Compressors: Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to versatile tools, there is nothing that quite matches the diverse applications that an air compressor is capable of. However, these aren’t overly common tools in typically residential settings. Where you may find a drill, some kind of power saw and a sander in most UK tool sheds, an air compressor doesn’t always make an appearance but then, they come in so many different shapes and sizes.

But since these tools have so many uses, many people that are considering buying must know the right kind to buy to get the most out of the device. In addition, there are a lot of questions that need answering before you can start getting to grips with your new tool. In this guide, we will provide you with in-depth answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about air compressors.

What Are Air Compressors Used For?

An air compressor is a device that is used to store compressed air ready for when it is needed. They are usually powered either by petrol or electric and this converts into highly compressed air. Depending on the model you are using, you may be able to make use of low, medium or high pressured air. At the lowest end of the scale, you would expect an air compressor not to exceed 150psi. Middle of the road air compressors come with a pressure between 151psi and 1000psi and those that operate at high pressure exceed 1000psi.


The great thing about these devices is that they are capable of doing a multitude of jobs and so, while they may cost a little more than other types of tool, they are definitely worth the investment.


Covering a large area with paint can be a massively time consuming job but one of the best advantages of using a small air compressor is that they can be used for spray painting. In this instance, they will usually come in the form of an air brusher and these can be used both for commercial and domestic applications.


When you go to your local petrol station, you will almost always see an air compressor on the side lines for inflating your car tyres. While this is one of the most common uses in terms of inflating things, air compressors are much more versatile than merely inflating your tyres.


As well as this, they can be used for blowing up rubber toys and dinghies. However, in this instance, you would need to ensure that you are using a lower pressure as something with too high pressure would do more harm than good!

Sand Blasting

Getting a surface to appear smooth and even is no mean feat in some cases. Sandblasting is an intense process where abrasive material is blasting across a surface to take it from rough to smooth and remove things like grease or rust. An air compressor is often used in this manner thanks to its high pressure. That said, it is essential to correctly size the air compressor in order to achieve the most effective results.

Air Tools

A lot of tools are compatible for use with an air compressor. This is one of the most common uses for this type of equipment in a domestic situation as well as in commercial settings. One of the main advantages of using a pneumatic tool is that they are typically a lot safer to use than their electric counterparts as well as being significantly more lightweight and comfortable. Moreover, they don’t overhear anywhere near as quickly and so can be used for longer.


There are some situations where water should not be allowed to build up in the air but it can be difficult to remove it. However, an air compressor is often used to aid in this, although you must be mindful to choose the right tool for the job. You see, there are some applications that require a low-moisture air output and this means that choosing the right system is essential. There are several different methods that can be used to remove moisture from the tank resulting in dry air. An example of this is the after cooler.

Blowing Away Dust

Some of the smallest air compressors are also some of the most commonly used. You may have seen these small cans of compressed air that are ideal for removing dust between the keys on your keyboard and other delicate areas. These are typically refillable and require a larger air compressor to replace the air that has been used.

Nail Guns

Nail guns are one of the most dangerous tools out there. You only have to do a quick Google search to see the catastrophic injuries that these devices can cause. However, as we mentioned earlier, when using a pneumatic version of a tool, things become much safer as the nail gun doesn’t need continual power but rather just one blast of air to eject the nail and drive it into the surface. You’ll need a portable air compressor with a tank up to six gallons.

Are Air Compressors Dangerous?

Much like many other types of tools, an air compressor will only become dangerous when it is not being correctly used. It is also vital that users ensure they properly maintain their air compressors in order to avoid unwanted accidents.


There are typically two main areas that could be a potential problem when using an air compressor; the power course and the high pressured air. Whether you are using an electric or petrol powered air compressor, there is a risk of injury. In the case of a petrol model, excess fumes can be hazardous. For this reason, we would advise only using this type of tool outdoors or in a well ventilated area.


Moreover, badly maintained electrical systems or a faulty power source could be the cause of a nasty accident.


In terms of the high pressure air, this can cause significant injuries if it is aimed at or worse, into the human body. It might sound out there, but there are many reports from around the world where people have accidentally directed the compressed air inside the body through various orifices which can then result in ruptured organs or an air embolism.


The best way to ensure optimum safety when using an air compressor is to check that all components are designed to be used at the pressure you will be using as well as checking relief valves prior to use. Good air circulation is essential as well as ensuring that any moving parts are properly covered to avoid accidental contact.

Are Air Compressors Loud Or Noisy?

If you are using any kind of powered equipment, there is going to be a degree of noise. This is unavoidable thanks to the sound of the motor. However, you will generally find that a petrol air compressor is louder than its electric counterpart.


On average, the noise level of an air compressor is around 85db. According to experts, this is the level where ear defenders become required and this is especially important if you are going to be using your air compressor for long periods of time. It might feel like just another thing you have to invest in but over time, it will protect your hearing and this is invaluable.

Are Air Compressor Hoses Universal?

When you buy an air compressor, it will typically come with a hose and alternative fittings. This will allow you to connect the hose to most other standard models. These connectors also mean that there is the option to link hoses for times when you need a greater reach.

However, with this in mind, it is also important to point out that, while most air hoses are compatible with all air compressors, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the right type. Depending on the job you’re doing, it is worth looking at the different types of air hose. That said, in a domestic situation, this probably won’t be a consideration since it is usually more specific and professional jobs that may require a different kind of air hose.

Are Air Compressors Worth It?

Tackling DIY projects comes with a range of requirements and as such, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, your tool cupboard is likely bursting with a lot of equipment. It can, therefore, feel a little overwhelming when deciding whether to invest in an air compressor; are they really worth the money and will you get a lot of use out of it?


If you are looking for a versatile piece of equipment that will help you achieve a range of results then an air compressor is a good option. Since it has so many applications, it can be invaluable to people who have diverse DIY needs. Of course, it pays to assess those needs and choose accordingly.


That said, since your air compressor can be used with a huge range of air powered tools, it could be a significant advantage to you. It is known that pneumatic tools are not only less expensive than their electric counterparts but they are also much more durable. If you’re looking for something that will stand the test of time, buying an air compressor and compatible tools is a great investment and one that won’t need to be replaced for a long time.


Another thing to consider when mulling over the worth of an air compressor is the quality. Now, there are air compressors out there that can go into the thousands whereas others, you can pick up for a few hundred pounds. But as with anything, price usually denotes quality so it is worth investing a little more to avoid having to replace or repair down the line.

Can I Use An Air Compressor To Clean A PC?

When we talk about cleaning a PC with an air compressor, we are referring to cleaning the internal hardware but this might not be the best idea. You see, high pressured air could potentially cause damage to the delicate components inside the PC. Moreover, it is not unheard of for dust to become more jammed as the air forces it back rather than removing it. Instead, using a brush to remove dust will produce better results.


Can I use an air compressor to clean a laptop?


While using a full sized air compressor for computer cleaning isn’t the most sensible option, there are small cans of compressed air that are perfect for removing dust and dirt from between the keys and in other tight spaces.


If you are cleaning the internal hardware of your laptop or computer, these small cans of compressed air should be used correctly. You will need to blow the dust towards the outside of the laptop and avoid pointing the can so that the dust merely moves around inside. You should also be mindful not to blow continuous jets of air onto the fans as this can cause damage. 

Can I Use An Air Compressor To Wash The Car?

There are two ways that your air compressor might come in handy when cleaning the car. Primarily, these pieces of equipment are perfect for removing dirt that has built up on parts like the engine. Using water here is an absolute no-no but compressed air provides a much more gentle yet just as effective clean. You will find that this is the method used at many professional car washes.


Can I Use An Air Compressor As A Pressure Washer?


Another way that you can use your air compressor when cleaning the car is to connect it to convert it into a pressure washer of sorts. To do this, you will need a covered tank that is partially filled with water. You can then connect your air hose to it which will force water out and can be used to wash cars and other vehicles.

Can I Use An Air Compressor To Paint Walls?

Coupling your air compressor with a spray gun is a quick and efficient way to paint walls. Generally speaking, this has more than the advantage of convenience. When walls are sprayed, there is no chance of roller or brush marks ruining the aesthetic. However, you must be mindful of the fact that spraying will create more mess so be sure to use appropriate covers on anything that doesn’t need to be painted.

Can I Use An Air Compressor To Blow Up Balloons?

Air compressors are such versatile tools that they will come in handy outside of your DIY projects. If you’re hosting a party and have a lot of balloons to fill up then it is perfectly viable to use your air compressor.


Typically speaking, you would need to use a small, portable air compressor for this and you must also ensure that you have the correct nozzle to insert into the opening of the balloon. Moreover, it is vital that you check the air pressure as anything too high may simply cause the balloon to burst. This information will usually be found on the packet of the balloons and will vary depending on the material and size.

Can An Air Compressor Inflate Tyres?

One of the most common uses of an air compressor is to inflate car tyres. Most small domestic air compressors have a psi of around 100 which is ideal since the best psi for a car tyre is around 35 so you have more than enough leeway to get the job done. Again, you will need the correct nozzles and it is important to note the air pressure before you start. The entire process will likely take a few seconds.

Can Air Compressors Explode Or Blow Up?

The great thing about modern equipment is that safety is always at the forefront of the mind of the manufacturer and the user. It is possible for the tank on an air compressor to explode but this is very very unlikely. The most common reason for this to happen is improper maintenance especially when a tank is left to corrode.


Water will accumulate in the air tank and this needs to be drained away. When it is not, corrosion occurs and this can be detrimental to the health of the tank. As it becomes weaker, the compressed air will force it to explode. The best way to avoid this is to ensure proper care of your compressor tank.

Should I Leave My Air Compressor Shut Off?

Unless you are constantly using your air compressor, it is a good idea to shut it off. At the end of each day, shut it down to avoid small leaks which will happen over the course of time. But more importantly, leaving your air compressor on and with air inside will result in a build up of moisture which, as we have learned, will corrode the tank. When you have finished using it, we would recommend draining the pressure and shutting it off.

Where To Buy An Air Compressor

We have created a more in depth air compressor buyer’s guide, but we wanted to give you a quick recap on the best places to source your equipment. So, if you’re looking for an air compressor for sale, why not try these avenues?


  • If you want a brand new air compressor with all the mod cons then heading to one of the more reputable DIY stores like Toolstation, B&Q or Screwfix is the best option. Not only will they have an excellent choice but the staff are trained to answer any questions and help you find the right equipment for your needs.
  • There are also many online retailers that sell air compressors and while you may not have the advantage of on hand expert knowledge, this is one of the most convenient methods.
  • It is amazing what you can find when you look. Heading to a car boot sale could yield some excellent results because as they say; one man’s trash…
  • Checking out classified ads is a great way to find good quality equipment at a very affordable price. Whether you are looking in the local paper or on an online page like Facebook Marketplace, you may be able to find a real bargain. A word of caution, however, when buying used air compressors, always be sure to check the equipment thoroughly and ask to see it in action before parting with your cash.

Air Compressor Repair And Servicing

If you want your air compressor to serve you for many years, it is essential to take good care of it. If you are using a petrol tool, maintenance will be generally higher as you need to factor in things like oil changes, air filter changes, belt replacements and much more.

But in any case, you will benefit from taking your air compressor to a professional for annual servicing. Moreover, these experts will be able to make any necessary repairs and keep your machine in tip top condition.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my Air Compressor FAQ’s and I hope you found what you were looking for. If you would like to know more about Air Compressors, feel free to visit our guide on How Air Compressors Work.

How Do Air Compressors Work

Air Compressors: Frequently Asked Questions

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