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How Cold is Too Cold For Storing Your Air Compressor?

How Cold is Too Cold For Storing Your Air Compressor?

Whether you need to store your air compression system for a few days or an entire season, it is imperative to store it properly to avoid unwanted damage. That means knowing what temperatures are safe for storage.

If you store an air compressor in the cold, it’ll likely sustain short and long-term damage. This happens because of the condensate produced by air compressors, which can freeze and cause various malfunctions. Remember, most air compressors are designed to work in temperatures above 40°F (4.44°C). 

Now, let’s look into how air compressors work and why you shouldn’t store them in the cold. I will also discuss some methods you can use to make it possible to store air 

compressors in lower temperatures and give you some maintenance tips for such occasions.

How Do Air Compressors Work?

As they’ve become smaller and bulkier in recent years, air compressors have become a vital tool for both factories and smaller shops, providing power to air tools.

Air compressors work by storing air into their container and pressurizing it. Later, that air can be released through an opening in the container and used as energy. Air compressors are commonly used to power impact wrenches, nailers, connecting rods, and similar tools.

How To Store an Air Compressor

It is essential to know how to properly store your air compressor to avoid any damage and have it run effectively and efficiently. Problems can arise if you store the air compressor outside but use it indoors. Here are some common tips for keeping your air compressing system working properly:

  • Prepare a clean and dry location to store it. It would be best always to find an indoor place to store the compression system, preferably one with a stable temperature and sound insulation.
  • Prepare the air compressor for storing by turning it off and turning the knob on the device to make the air pressure hit zero. If your air compressor runs on a battery, remove it and store it in a similarly dry and stable environment.
  • Regulate the storage space. Once you store your air compressor, ensure that the environment you keep it in remains clean and adequately ventilated. It is best to keep the area dry and away from direct sunlight.

Why It’s Not Recommended To Store Them in the Cold

Generally, air compressors shouldn’t be kept in temperatures below 40-45°F (4.44-7.22°C). Depending on how brutal winters are where you live, the room you have the air compressor stored in can reach temperatures below 40°F (4.44°C). 

Thus, it is important to know how to maintain the room properly to ensure that the compressor runs at its maximum efficiency. If left unchecked, the condensate produced by your air compressor can freeze and cause damage to various components such as control lines, valves, and more.

With that said, it’s not like the compressor will die during the winter, but it will require some extra attention and precautions to ensure that it’s heated just enough not to freeze and cause permanent damage to any of the parts.

How To Use an Air Compressor in Cold Weather

When winter comes, and temperatures drop, there are additional measures you need to take to ensure that your air compressor keeps running to its maximum capacity, especially if you live in areas where temperatures can drop below freezing.

There is no way you can avoid cold weather, but there are some things you can do to ensure that your air compressor doesn’t experience damage due to freezing conditions. Storing and maintaining an air compressor in these conditions requires more work than usual, but with just a few steps, you can minimize any risk.

Most manufacturers have special instructions for maintaining the compressor during winter, as not all air compressors are made the same. You can also contact them and ask if they can provide the instructions if they don’t come attached with the compressor.

Cold Weather Maintenance and Best Practices

Use a Heater

Leaving your air compressor unprotected in freezing conditions is never a good idea. Not only can the condensate freeze and cause bursts in the piping and hoses, among various other issues, but internal filters and other parts can sustain damage from frozen moisture.

You can ask the manufacturer if they have a cold-weather kit for their compressors. If they don’t, you can buy a heater and place it close to the compressor, but far enough away to avoid a potential hazard. It would be most effective to do this in a closed environment like a shed.

Warm the Compressor Up Before Using It

If you keep the compressor outside and bring it inside to use it, it would be helpful to have it inside for a few hours at a warmer temperature before turning it on. The reason for doing this is that there might be some frozen moisture left in the hoses, pipes, or filters. 

Once the compressor has stayed at room temperature for a while, drain it before using it. Draining is also significant because additional frost can form due to the sudden temperature change. It is best to drain the compressor daily to avoid moisture build-up.

Take Special Care of the Cords

The electrical cords that go to the compressor require special attention. Make sure you don’t leave them exposed on the ground where someone can run them over or where they can sustain any damage. It is best to bury them under the ground or hang them above the compressor.

Keep the Compressor and Hoses in the Same Temperature

While keeping the compressor inside in a warm environment and having the hoses outside may seem reasonable, this isn’t a good idea. The air traveling from the warmer to the colder temperature can easily cause a lot of condensation in the warm area.

When the condensate reaches the cold hoses, it will freeze and cause blockages. A compressed air dryer can be helpful in this situation.

Perform Regular Maintenance Throughout the Winter

Performing everyday maintenance can be draining, but it would be beneficial, especially if you’re running the compressor daily during the winter. Here are some basic guidelines and things to check when performing maintenance:

  • Drains. Damaged or backed-up drains can cause frozen condensate that can damage the compressor’s components. Also, drain condensate daily if your compressor doesn’t come with an automatic drainage system.
  • Lubricant. Perform regular checks of the state of the lubricant, as freezing weather can damage it and cause it to become less effective. Thickened lubricant also makes it harder on the pump to rotate, overloading the motor and leading to permanent wear.
  • Filters. Regularly check and change the filters.
  • Leaks. Leaks can cause your compressor to run less efficiently, so it is vital to address them in time.


It is best to keep air compressors at room temperature not lower than 40°F (4.44°C). Storing them at freezing temperatures can cause the formation of frozen condensate and frozen moisture, which can permanently damage parts of the compressor.

To keep the compressor safe during harsh conditions, you can use a heater, ensure the cords are kept secure and away from hazards, perform regular maintenance, and more.


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