Hot Tip #16 – Air Leaks

While visiting laundries one issue frequently arises, how to handle compressed air leaks.

Most leaks that I find are very difficult to correct. The easy ones are generally corrected by facility maintenance long before I arrive. The easy ones are those that you find in the air delivery plumbing. Examples include:  leaking quick disconnects, a pinhole in plastic airlines, leaks at pipe threads, etc.

Difficult leaks to correct are those internal to the air components such as: Air motors on chemical mixing tanks, air cylinders leaking through the piston or shaft packing, control valves blowing out the exhaust ports, etc. Many laundries have in excess of 50% of their total compressed air lost through leaks!

I was recently in a plant where a six-inch diameter, eight-foot stroke; air cylinder soil lift had a major leak. This horizontal cylinder was 18 feet above the floor, placed between the roof rafters. Maintenance stated that it would require four hours to disassemble and repair the cylinder. I was informed that the plant was running 20 hours per day, 7 days a week. There was “no way” to repair this major leak!  So it remained to leak for years! This was a difficult leak to correct!

 Amazingly, once it was determined that the soil lift leak was the cause of many of their ironer folder problems, a way was found to get it fixed within three days. It was later calculated that the leak had been consuming $120.00 per week worth of electricity.

Hot Tip of the week; install a solenoid valve on each piece of equipment that uses compressed air; folders, ironers, dryers, etc. This should be a three-way valve so that when de-energized it bleeds the machine of all stored pressure. Now your leaks will only occur while that specific machine is running.