Air Compressor Question

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    Matthew RossMatthew Ross

      Harbor Freight sells an attachment that hooks up to an air compressor that creates a vacuum. It does the same job as a vacuum pump. In order for the tool to work, the air compressor has to run continuously. I ran the compressor for about 10 minutes over the weekend, and by the end it started to smell slightly (sort of a burning rubber/plastic smell). This weekend I plan on using the tool for 30 minutes so I can evacuate the moisture from my A/C system. I’m worried that it will stress the compressor.

      Is it normal for air compressors to smell slightly if they are working hard? Am I in danger of ruining my air compressor?

    Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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    • #580234
      college mancollege man

        It depends on the compressor. Most compressors are made to run
        continuous.If the compressor is light duty it could over heat.
        The smell could be normal or is running to hard as I mentioned
        the light duty. For ac work I recommend picking up a 6 cfm vacuum pump.

        Matthew RossMatthew Ross

          I have a 26 gallon two stage compressor that delivers 7 cfm. Is that enough?


            Hello Matthew,
            Are you saying you purchased both the compressor AND vacuum unit?
            If you just got both, there is a standard ‘break-in’ procedure
            for both oiless and oiled compressors (which type is yours?).

            I’m looking for a small compressor to do the ‘Eric hillbilly leak down test’ in my Corolla. I’ve found that shopping for a compressor isn’t as easy as it seems!

            Apparently, the manuals for ‘cheap’ compressors do not mention a break in procedure, or the need to keep the tank drain open while breaking in the unit.

            A commenter at Amazon claiming to have ‘many years of shop experience’. noted that many problems people have with compressors is not draining the tank after each use ( or more on humid days), as water is ‘squeezed’ out the air when pressurized.

            Here’s the link to the ‘break-in’ procedure left posted as a comment for a Porter Campbell 6 gallon unit.


            Let us know if your manual came with any break-in procedure or Model #…

            From what I understand, both oiled and oiless units need to be broken in. ( perhaps someone who knows what their talking about could correct me? )

            Matthew RossMatthew Ross

              My compressor is about a year old. It uses oil. I’ve never changed the oil, so that could be an issue. It’s a really powerful, American made air compressor. Also, I do drain it after each use.

              Thanks for all the info.

              Lorrin BarthLorrin Barth

                Close to thirty years ago I bought a Sears compressor with a tiny (15 gallon?) tank but big compressor. I used that thing to paint my house so it pretty much ran continuously during whatever time that took. It was a great machine. When the tank rusted out I found a thirty gallon unit with the same compressor at a farm store. But now the compressor is made in China.


                  It is possible, assuming the compressor sits in the open of the garage, that it was burning off dirt which had accumulated on the different parts which don’t usually get that hot under your use.

                  That being said anything electrical that smells like burning is usually an indication of something electrical burning out.

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