Leaks contribute to 20-30 % of the compressor output and arresting the same can save upto 10% of the same. The trick is to reduce even this percentage down to as low as possible when a leakage identification and repair program is conducted so that by the time the next program is scheduled, the leakages have crept UPTO the tolerable 10% limit.
Leaks cause compressor cycles to incessantly increase resulting in premature service of parts and expensive replacements. Leakage rectification on regular intervals results in longer compressor load / unload intervals resulting in increased compressor life and reduction in untimely breakdowns.
Pneumatic tools like screwdrivers and torque wrenches operate erratically and give unreliable performance due to leakages in the system as they cause pressure drops.
There are two types of leaks commonly which are categorized into standard and non standard leaks. Standard leaks are leaks which are expected in the daily operations of a plant. Typical examples being blow offs, cooling, creating suction, drying etc.
Non standard leaks are unexpected leaks which occur randomly and an be of any size depending upon the equipment and the amount of air passing through it. Non standard leaks comprise the major component in any plant as they build up over time and do give any prior intimation of location, size and nature of leak.
Couplings, hoses, tubes and fittings - tubes and push- to-lock fittings are common Areas.
Disconnects - O-rings required to complete the seal may be missing.
Filters, regulators and lubricators (FRLs) - cheap quality and improperly installed FRLs Leak randomly.
Open condensate traps - improperly operating solenoids on auto drain valves and leaking seals due to slight dirt stuck on the seat of the seal are often problem areas.
Pipe joints - missed welds are a common problem. A major component of a non standard leak. Mostly goes undetected as it is high up in the air and one cannot even hear the hissing due to noise in the plant.
Control and shut-off valves - worn out seals and dirt Im the the stem can cause leaks.
Point-of-use devices - old or poorly maintained tools develop leaks which are ignored as the operator is mostly interested to complete the job and has a tight shift to complete.
Flanges - missed welds are a common problem. Again impossible to identify unless a soap water test is carried out on the piping.
Cylinder rod packing - worn seals due to excessive wear on the lip of the seal causes bubble leakages when the cylinder operates. There are instances when cylinders leak in operation and are quiet when stationery.
Thread sealants - incorrect and/or improperly applied thread sealants cause leaks. One should use the highest-quality materials and apply them as per the standard procedure for which hands on training is a mandate.