How to choose the right air compressor

With the large variety of air compressors available to buy, there is one for almost any residential or commercial use that you need it for.  The smallest compressors made are used for airbrushing anything from nails to model vehicles or to aerate decorative fish tanks, to large industrial-sized compressors used to run multiple pneumatic tools and machinery at a construction site.

You may need a compressor for one use or multiple uses so these factors need to be taken into consideration as well.  You also need to make sure that you have the electrical capability for the compressor you want, as not all will run on normal residential outlet voltage.  You also want to consider any accessories you may want to use to make sure that the compressor is capable of running them.  Basically you can break down residential compressor size into three simple sizes of small, medium and large.  Depending on what you plan on using it for and the amount of use it will be getting can determine which air compressor is right for your needs.

Small air compressors are usually made for use with small airbrush guns and fish tanks.  These are usually very small volume, low pressure compressors for small household uses.  If you build model vehicles, they can be much easier to use and produce a better end result than using spray cans or brushes.  They are also used by nail artists to do airbrushing on nails in salons.  The most common small air compressor that most people are used to is the ones that are used to aerate decorative fish tanks.  These are the only purpose for them.  Small compressors for use in airbrushing applications can be purchased online or at most retail department stores and hobby or craft stores.  Small compressors for use in fish tanks are sometimes available at retail department stores and at pet stores.

Medium size air compressors are designed for a number of household uses.  Most are not powerful enough to run pneumatic tools, but they are useful for a number of other applications around the house.

Conventional air compressors are used in several different applications:

  • To supply high-pressure clean air to fill gas cylinders
  • To supply moderate-pressure clean air to a submerged surface supplied diver
  • To supply moderate-pressure clean air for driving some office and school building pneumatic HVAC control system valves
  • To supply a large amount of moderate-pressure air to power pneumatic tools
  • For filling tires
  • To produce large volumes of moderate pressure air for macroscopic industrial processes (such as oxidation for petroleum coking or cement plant bag house purge systems).

Consumer Grade Air Compressors

Consumer-grade air compressors are made for smaller air needs around the house. If you need to inflate sporting goods, toys and tires and not much more, this is the right grade for you. Consumer compressors can do more than just inflate things though. They can run air tools without large air needs, such as brad guns and staplers.

However, if you want to run big tools or multiple ones at the same time, you’ll need to get a more powerful compressor.

Contractor Grade Air Compressors

Contractor-grade air compressors are built to withstand the rigors of a job-site. Designed with building professionals in mind, these are portable, either hand-carry, on a wheeled cart or attached to a vehicle.

Contractor-grade compressors can be utilized for a myriad of purposes, but are primarily used to power nail-guns and roadside repair tools. If you’re constantly running multiple air tools and have very large air demands, look to commercial-grade compressors.

Commercial Air Compressors

If you need a steady supply of compressed air day-in, day-out, commercial-grade air compressors are perfect for you. These heavy-duty compressors feature the most advanced technology and the best performance.

Commercial air compressors are found in auto-body shops, manufacturing facilities and for extreme applications such as powering roller coasters and machinery on oil rigs.

The price tags on commercial-grade compressors reflect the high-quality and performance, necessitated by the most demanding compressed air needs.

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How fuel chips work

With the cost of gasoline and vehicle prices going up, everyone is looking for a way to get more mileage from the vehicle they already drive. For those with trucks or SUV’s there may not be an option to trade in the vehicle for something smaller and more economical. For others they may be paying on the car they already have, and with the used car market down, it can be more cost effective to keep in then try to trade it in on something more fuel-efficient.

Maintaining your vehicle is one of the best ways to be sure that is getting the mileage it should, but there are other options to help even more. Fuel chips are designed to help your engine process fuel more efficiently, saving you more money on gas. They are available for under $100 for most cars, but it will pay for itself in gas savings in a short amount of time.

What they do

Add-on computer modules have been used in vehicles with electronic fuel systems to enhance performance for quite a few years. The performance chips are designed to add horsepower and generally make a vehicle run better and faster. The fuel chip is essentially the same principle, but it helps your engine to use fuel more efficiently rather than increase horsepower. They are also called gas chips, gas or fuel mileage chips, or fuel or gas saver chips. They can be easily be found online, just make sure that you get the correct one for your particular vehicle. The best way to make sure you have all the correct information on your vehicle is to get the VIN (vehicle identification number) number, which is located either on the dash visible through the driver’s side of the windshield, or on the inside of the driver’s door frame on a sticker. You can go online and input the number into a VIN checker site and it will give you all the specific information on your vehicle.

The way the chip works is relatively easy. After it is installed (which we will discuss) it will automatically program your engines computer as to how much gas should be used. As you drive, it monitors fuel use and then will program the engine and fuel system. It will tell the fuel system when and how much fuel to send to the engine. Without the chip, there is a constant amount of fuel sent to the engine, which does not vary. This means any fuel that is not immediately used is turned into fumes then escapes the engine without being used. It will continually monitor your driving and fuel use and program your vehicles computer to send a certain amount of fuel in certain situations, and more or less in other situations. Although they are not designed to increase horsepower and performance, when the vehicle is running more fuel efficiently, it will run better. The whole process the gas chip performs results in less unneeded fuel use, therefore increasing your gas mileage. A gas chip can add from 2 to 10 mpg extra onto your fuel economy depending on the vehicle and the chip you choose. Some new vehicles are actually being manufactured with a gas chip, so you know that they will provide the best fuel economy possible without you having to add one. If you are in the market for a new car, be sure to ask your salesperson if they vehicle is equipped with any fuel saving devices such as a gas chip.

How to Install

You do not have to be a mechanic to install a gas chip.  With a few tools and the help of your owner’s manual, it takes no time at all to plug in a gas chip and start saving expensive fuel.  When working with anything electrical on your vehicle, you want to disconnect the battery. Use your owner’s manual to locate the ECU (Electronic Control Unit), which may be against the firewall (back wall) of the engine compartment or under the dashboard. This is where you will find the ECM (Electronic Control Module) to which you will connect the gas chip. As all vehicles vary in location and design of the ECU and ECM, be sure you have purchased the correct gas chip for your vehicle, and follow the instructions that are provided with the chip. Once the chip is installed correctly, do not forget to reconnect the battery. That is as easy as it is. Now all you need to do is drive as you normally would and watch your gas mileage improve. Remember that the gas chip needs to read the system for a period to make sure it is working as efficiently as it can.

Summary

There are many steps you can take to save on fuel, but for the price of a tune up you can have your car program itself to more fuel-efficient. The small amount of time it takes to install can save you 2 to 10 mpg, which adds up quickly in fuel savings.  Keep in mind this is not an alternative to regular maintenance of your vehicle, it is just a boost to help a good maintenance record save you even more money on fuel efficiency.

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How to avoid crankcase explosions

Poor maintenance of your vehicle can lead to a laundry list of problems. Although it used to be more common before the days of emissions requirements, a crankcase is still subject to problems if your vehicle is not taken care of properly. The combustion that occurs in an engine produces various types of gases and vapors. Some of these gases and vapors are very caustic and can cause corrosion. These gases and vapors can slip past the piston ring seal and end up in the crankcase. Once they are trapped in the crankcase they can lead to corrosion, rust and sludge formation.

Prior to the realization that emission systems were needed in 1966, these gases and vapors were released into the atmosphere through a tube. If these gases and vapors were allowed to build up in the crankcase, they would eventually lead to a crankcase explosion. This tube was replaced by the modern PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system that was designed to handle these substances in a more environmentally friendly and efficient way.

What is a PCV system?

The way that the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system works is simple. The gases and fumes emitted by combustion in the engine are essentially redirected back into the motor from the crankcase to be recycled in the fuel combustion process. A small hose is installed into the crankcase above the oil level while the other end is connected to the carburetor (if there is one) or the intake manifold. This solves the problem of hazardous emissions going into the environment, but the early system did have some problems.  Redirecting the gases and vapors back into the engine would upset the fuel and air ratio in the engine causing increased fuel consumption and poor drivability.  The PCV valve was created to control the amount of gas and vapors that entered the intake manifold from the crankcase. The valve works but opening slightly while the vehicle is running normally allowing only a certain amount of the gases and vapors into the intake manifold. When the vehicle is at an idle, the valve closes. It is controlled by the vacuum level in the engine. It prevents the problem of crankcase explosion by its ability to close in the absence of engine vacuum when your vehicle backfires. This keeps the flame produced by a backfire in the engine from reaching the crankcase.

What a PCV valve does

Regular maintenance of your engine is very important, and a part of this is inspection of the PCV valve and replacing it if needed. A faulty PCV valve can lead to a buildup of gases and vapors in the crankcase that can cause problems with the engine quickly. It can sludge up the oil causing poor lubrication, high emission levels and eventually leading to not only the potential for a crankcase explosion, but engine failure as well. It should be checked every time your oil is changed whether you take it to a mechanic or do it yourself. If you have never changed it, you should always replace it when you change or clean the air filter in your car whether the valve looks dirty or not. The small amount that a new PCV valve cost will make up for itself in the optimum fuel-efficiency you will get with one that is working properly.

Replacing a PVC valve

Replacing a PCV valve is not a difficult task to take on yourself. Usually locating it is more difficult than actually replacing it. The PCV valve is a small plastic plug that is located on the top half of the engine. It will have a rubber hose attached to one end of it. Depending on the vehicle, it may be between two hoses. If you are unable to find it or anything that resembles it, read your owner’s manual and find where it is. Some may not be easily visible and may be harder to get to than others may. Once you locate the PCV valve, remove the hose attached to it, whether it is between two hoses or one is coming off it. Simply pull the valve out and replace it with a new one. It is sometimes easier to insert the valve into the tube before the crankcase if that is the set up you are dealing with. If connected between two hoses, connect to one hose then connect the other making sure you have a tight fit.

Summary

Maintaining your engine is more important than most people realize. A simply inexpensive part such as a PCV valve can make the difference between having a fuel-efficient motor that will pass an emissions test, or a possible crankcase explosion or seized motor. Like everything with your vehicle, you need to be proactive and not wait until something starts to malfunction. Maintaining your vehicle, no matter what part of it that it may be, will save you money and make your car last as long as you need it to.

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