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New compressor, planning air lines now

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 46binder, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. 46binder
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 245

    from Kenosha,Wi

    I finally bought a new compressor, an Ingersoll Rand 230V two stage T30 60 gallon, best I could afford, I'm excited. Planning on air lines, trying searches and found some cool pics of copper air manifolds, found a how to on TP tools. Question I have is I only need about 18 feet of pipe, thinking of using copper, isn't there a minimum you should have? The longer the line the cooler the air and more moisture gets out? Copper is expensive :eek: and would be happy to get away with only 18', but is it enough? Second, how well do those manifolds work getting the moisture out? I figure if I build one, the copper and fittings would run about $120, still need a filter anyway.
  2. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,874

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Don't use copper!---Use Galvanized steel pipe!---At each drop station, put a tee with a drain valve for quick blow down (brass quick opening type).
    And, from the tank, a good water filter between tank & airline.
    Be sure to drain tank of air & water on bottom of tank weekly or monthly depending on duration of use.
  3. CA. 280
    Joined: Jan 8, 2010
    Posts: 209

    CA. 280

    Go to and look at the forums. Lots of expert advice about setting up.
  4. Engine man
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,476

    Engine man
    from Wisconsin

    Bigger is better because it allows more air volume to flow at slower speeds so moisture can drop out. The main line should start high near the compressor ans slope down as it runs away from it. T off the drop lines at the top of the main line to avoid picking up the moisture at the bottom of the line. Run the drops down with a drain valve at the bottom.
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  5. donzzilla
    Joined: Oct 15, 2006
    Posts: 142


    Nix the black pipe. Over time it will rust and start contaminating the air coming out of it, especially bad if you are painting. Copper or the plastic stuff Eastwood is better than the steel. Use big copper, 3/4 or 1" bigger means more storage.

    Start low at the compressor and run lines up hill. Put a drain leg in at the low point and the high end. The moisture will have trouble traveling up hill to get out and into your tools. When idle it will settle back down in the drain. If you make the lines run down towards the outlet the moisture will come out through your tools.

    JMHO, Zilla!
  6. VoodooTwin
    Joined: Jul 13, 2011
    Posts: 3,455

    from Noo Yawk

    There are pros and cons to every type of pipe available. PVC piping is a giant no-no, so cross that off the list. Brazed type K copper piping is good, galvanized steel pipe is good, black steel pipe is good, those specialty piping kits are good too. I used galvanized steel pipe with threaded and sealed joints. Been in use for 7 years and so far so good. No issues to report. Pitch the piping properly, use top take-offs for the drops, dirt and water legs, and you should be fine.
  7. coolbreeze1340
    Joined: Aug 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,342

    from Indiana

    PEX tubing works great. I have also seen some nice jobs using CPVC piping but I do not know why Voodoo Twin says it is a giant NO-NO. What's teh scoup?
  8. Dane
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 1,353

    from Soquel, CA

    You need to use pipe that will allow the heat to escape. The compressed air is hot and the water is in a vapor state. Your water filter cannot remove the water if it's in a vapor state. That's why you need a type of pipe that transferrs heat. Plastic as in pex will not remove heat, metal as in copper or black pipe will. 25 feet is the minimum, 50 feet is better to cool the air before the water filter and trap. Zig zag the pipe to get to 50 feet if you want a good dry air supply for painting.
  9. VoodooTwin
    Joined: Jul 13, 2011
    Posts: 3,455

    from Noo Yawk

    PVC pipe is brittle, it gets more brittle with age. One accidental bump with a hammer and it goes boom, with plastic shards shooting in every direction. Not good, not worth the risk imo.
  10. My air lines are all PVC, I use 3/4 for the trunk and 1/2 for the drops. I have a T in each drop that has a threaded end and 2 glue in ends - the threaded end faces outward and I thread in the quick connect, one glued end goes up and the other down into a 6" water trap. I did our old shop the same way.

    The compressor is in another building and I have a 3/4" trunk underground into the garage and then it goes back into the house the same way - been there ~10 years and not a crack or leak. Easy to work on, easy to add to and a cheap solution.

    As far as accidental bumps, I accidentally caught one of the drops with my tool chest while moving it and ripped the anchors out of the wall and the pipe just moved about a foot to the side with no damage.

    Here are the T's I used - don't use glue in's for threads you don't want them popping out and shooting a fitting across the room. I also use threaded ends at the bottom of each water trap to attach a valve to.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  11. I tend to agree, copper, metal is the best hands down for all the reasons mentioned, safety first, heat transfer and so on, however I used pvc, a little over 20 years ago. About 200 plus feet of it. About 50 foot is buried underground, and most of it, is above the finished ceiling or in the walls behind the sheet rock, about 20 exposed feet in the basement.I have replaced 2 exposed threaded fittings (slip or glue on, side pipe thread other side of the fitting ) in 20 years, one leaked just recently at the plastic seam,the other was due to my own stupidity.
  12. You forgot "when exposed to UV rays" and that you can mitigate that just by painting it.
  13. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 5,526

    from Oregon

    Every large commercial system I've seen installed, or in use was done in black pipe. I've never heard of one rusting out, or rusting inside enough to cause an issue. Some of my customer's systems have been intact for over 30 years with black pipe.
    Volume is important, but with such a short run, and probably never more than two people using air tools at the same time in home garage, I doubt you'll want or need over 3/4" pipe.
    Drops at various locations for moisture to settle and allow blowdown are great, but if you've only got 18' of pipe you wont need more than one near your end outlet.
  14. I used Sched 40 PVC in my shop 25 years ago. I was too dumb to know better, I guess. Never a problem, not going to change it out. I added some drops last year. All of the pipe seemed pliable and just as it was when I bought it. I have left pieces out in the dirt and they do turn brown and degrade
  15. Pops1532
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 544

    from Illinois

    The problem with PVC and CPVC is it can break. Not a problem if there is liquid under pressure escaping from broken PVC. The liquid just sprays out.
    When using PVC for compressed air and a line breaks is when it gets dangerous. When compressed air escapes a broken PVC line it expands (decompresses).......think compressed air propelled plastic shrapnel.
  16. A properly designed and installed black pipe system would provide you the both the best performance and value for your buck. There is no need for the added expense of either copper or galvanized and all the plastic pipe systems don't condense water very well.
  17. Blackmaria60
    Joined: Apr 30, 2008
    Posts: 532


    I'm so confused! :D
  18. You won't find copper in a commercial set up, black pipe. Usually 2" with top mounted 1/2 or 3/4 take offs.
    Those are a 180* bend with a 12" radius.
    Generally runs straight up at the compressor and is pitched away from the compressor with a drain at the end of the 2" run. Separaters or pulses at the takeoff.

    Ok that being said, this is not a commercial setting.
    You don't need 2", and you don't need black pipe. You can use it if you want, yes it will eventually rot but you'll be not worried about it by then ad it should last the better part of a century. Sometimes its easier and sometimes its not to run black pipe. Threading it isn't the easiest thing to do for some folks, for others it not much harder than brushing their teeth. Copper is just as good and may be easier. Definitely lighter than black pipe and cools better. Plastic will transfer the air but thyere's not much of cooling effect.

    What you do want is incorporate the all of the features and theories in your garage. large Metal main line, long enough to cool the air, T straight up off the compressor with drain down, pitched away from the compressor with drain on the other end, smaller top take offs with a 180 bend. If you only have a short distance, copper will cool more per foot than black pipe. That could be your deciding factor in this case.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  19. atomickustom
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 3,274


    Are we sure about this?

    I am not trying to start an argument, I am seriously asking if this has ever happened or if it is an urban legend. Because it seems to me that any air pipe that cracks will...leak air. Why would it explode?
    We're talking about home compressors going to maybe 140 lbs of pressure, not thousands of pounds.

    Anyone here who can lend insight into why PVC pipe would explode if it got old and either broke or cracked, rather than just leak?
  20. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,098


    Every shop I worked in over the 20 years that I worked in shops along with the high school shop that I taught in for 13 years had black pipe for the airlines. I never had trouble with rust in the air lines in any of those shops and a couple of them were very old shops.

    Not draining the compressor's air tank on a very regular basis is the biggest cause of water in the air lines. I fought a former employer on that one for the three years I worked for him. He had money to replace the air valves and cylinders in the dairy barn all the time but he wouldn't allow for the time to drain the compressor tanks on a daily basis as he said it took too much time.

    I'd have to think that most guys who want copper tubing for air lines do so because they think it looks pretty not because of the way it functions in the end.
    Pvc is cheap and easy but may not pass code in some installations. And some guys seem to have a hell of a time putting pvc together so it will hold 60 lbs of water pressure let alone 120 lbs of air pressure. True, it's the sunlight that causes it to break down and if it is out of the sunlight it usually isn't much of a problem.

    No matter what you use set up the compressor so that you can drain it easily so you will drain it on a regular basis. Then set up the air lines with the drops and drain valves so that they can be drained on a regular basis.
  21. Pops1532
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 544

    from Illinois

    It just doesn't explode. It would need to get bumped or otherwise compromised. Not every PVC failure will send plastic shards flying, but the EXPANDING air will send any loose fragments flying.
    Yes, it has happened. Someone posted that it happened to him on a tractor forum I used to frequent. It's been several years so I don't remember all the details but he did talk about his injuries. A sharp piece of plastic being propelled by 140PSI air can indeed cause major injuries or worse.
  22. 46binder
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 245

    from Kenosha,Wi

    Thanks for the input so far. Will have to check out, already hit autobody101, lots of paint questions there, and found the copper manifold pics at the garage journal. I don't plan on plastic, too many people on too many sites all say its bad, and quite a few had it blow. Loks like I have to plan a route that has at least 25-50 feet, and 3/4" copper pipe. Won't be cheap, and when I bought the compressor didn't plan on extra $, still have to buy IR's 'startup' kit, only their oil or warrenty voids.

    Heres the link to the garage journal with the copper manifolds, they look nice but are they worth it?
  23. PVC is not designed for compressed gas says so right in any manufacturers literature on their product.

    The problem is if it becomes brittle and it gets bumped it shatters which metal and plastic designed for compressed gas do not. They split so air just leaks out PVC is like glass it turns into shards. Not good when there is compressed air inside it.

    I always love the comments I have used it for years with no problems so it must be safe. It just takes once for it to not be safe anymore and you would feel like an ass if it blew when a loved one or friend was beside it and took the brunt of damage.
  24. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,865


    On assembly lines in factories I've seen a lot of copper for 180 psi air in sizes one inch or smaller..Pex pipe rated for the pressure plus a safety factor is ok too. And it's more flexible than PVC pipe.PVC gets quite brittle when is very cold.Threaded black iron is always good.
  25. Are you painting? A good inline dryer and properly angled pipe with drains and regular draining of your tank is more than enough for most home users.

  26. I have worked in the pharma / medical device industries for over 25 years the current site, air is piped in 100% copper 2 inch main running some 600 feet, the last site 50 something acres was piped with a combination of black and copper, our nitrogen line from our tank farm was also 100% copper.
  27. 46binder
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 245

    from Kenosha,Wi

    Yes, I do hope to paint in the shop. Did have some OK results with old compressor, used the hose in a bucket with ice trick, with a cheap filter/water trap and orange ball on the end of the gun. Don't want to deal with that anymore, and do it right the first time.
  28. Badass
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 90


    I used 3/4" galvanized pipe with drain legs at every drop and upward T connections off the main lines, 175 psi blow off valve at the tank, regulator to maintain 90 psi maximum and a 5 micron whole system filter that will handle 30 cfm and 150+ psi. I ran 120 feet in my barn with 10 outlets. I put 4 outlets in the ceiling for hose reels, the rest are all on the wall at 4 foot height. Dryer, 0.01 micron filter and oil separator where I paint. That is the best way to do it! Good luck!
  29. That is speciaized application and probably had purification system too.
    Copper is good to use no questions there.
  30. MEDDLER1
    Joined: Jun 1, 2006
    Posts: 1,593


    I am an airline installer for a living. I have been doing it for 11 yrs, And let me tell you guys while there are tons of threads going on this subject the simple fact is PVC and PEX are not safe to use with air for any type of system. While they are pressure rated for the air pressure itself they are not safe because of heat transfer, UV breakdown and the oil carryover into the systems will eat the glue that holds your fittings together. I dont care what kind of filtration you buy at some point you will have a failure and oil will get by. The oil that stays inside the lines becomes acidic over time allowing the joints to fail if vibration and temp havent already done so.
    Copper is the absolute best way to go and is in fact THE INDUSTRY STANDARD in all commercial based systems. Yes copper is expensive but its serviceability is much better than the galvinized or black iron pipe by far for a few reasons, the iron pipe does break down inside as well as the galvanized pipe. Remember the joint where the galv. pipe meet are not protected by a galvanized coating. You will get particles downstream into your tooling and spray guns. Adding on to your system can be a chore too. Copper type L is what I recommend, it is what is mostly used in commercial line work because of its strength. Any fittings you will need to add on or modify your system are easily obtained from a hardware store but I recommend windustrial or cal steam type wholesaler as the prices are better than the big hardware stores. Feel free to pm me if you have any questions I will help you out in any way I can. I am the head installer for my company AIR PERFECTION in DIXON CA. we are owned by QUINCY compressor.

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