Adjusting an Air Compressor Regulator

An air compressor gauge

An air compressor regulator controls the air pressure that is flowing through an air compressor. Regulators are found in tools that use air compressors as well as in tanks that release gas, like oxygen or helium.

Air Compressors

Air compressors are used in a wide variety of different types of applications. Artists use them for air brushes and they are also used in the auto industry by mechanics for tools like air drivers. Air compressors are also used in the construction field for tools like air-powered nail hammers, sand blasters, and air painters.

Air compressors are made in small portable sizes intended for home use as well as large permanent types, up to the size of large water heaters.

How a Regulator Works

red air compressor with wrench laying on top

A large screw, called the set screw, controls the flow of air through the tank. This sets the pressure of the air by using the pressure of springs that are linked to the main shafts of the set screw. The springs are pushed down into the shaft where the set screw sits. The springs press down very hard, resulting in the valve staying open. A small tube located at the opening of the valve moves pressure into the chamber.

A diaphragm moves as pressure changes within the regulator. As the diaphragm flexes and moves with air pressure, the regulator works by keeping the air pressure at a steady level. If the pressure is too low, only hot air is pushed through the compressor. If the pressure is set too high, it may damage the interior tooling of the compressor.

To prevent damage, it is important to pay attention to the flow of air through the compressor hose and make regular adjustments as you work with the tool.

Adjusting the Regulator

  1. Connect the air compressor to the power and turn it on.
  2. Allow the compressor to fill completely. The air capacity of the compressor depends on the size of the unit and commonly runs between 100 and 200 psi (per square inch).
  3. Connect your tool to the air hose, and connect the hose to the air compressor.
  4. Turn the regulator adjustment knob to the right to increase air pressure and to the left to decrease air pressure.