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Free Air Pumps – Pros and Cons


Typically blasters and painters are fed air by means of the air compressor which serves other site equipment. As this air is the result of powered machinery – it can contain contaminants such as oil vapor, dust, or carbon monoxide. This air then passes through a filter which cleans it before it reaches the respiratory helmets of the operators.

In contrast, a free air pump draws air from a clean surrounding environment with only a pump and therefore doesn’t require filters.

So far, Free Air sounds great as it delivers the following PROS:
• You don’t need a compressor
• You save money on filters
• They are available in both electric and gas models

But let’s look at the CONS – which is why BlastOne doesn’t recommend these pumps.

• An air compressor is a fairly standard, common piece of equipment on commercial blasting and painting sites…so buying the pump is an additional, unnecessary piece of costly equipment.
• The pumps can usually be placed up to 300 feet from the operator, but does that ensure the intake air is free of jobsite contaminants?
• Although manufactures assert you don’t need to place a carbon monoxide alarm on the pump, we assert you should ALWAYS have a CO monitor protecting an operator when relying upon furnished respiratory air. The stakes are too high to just blindly trust any machinery prone to failure. Consider someone becoming dizzy or passing out while standing on scaffolding or within a toxic-fumes environment. Carbon monoxide poisoning can do that.

Please understand, we aren’t claiming Free Air Pumps are more dangerous than compressor fed air — we’re saying BOTH can be dangerous and so extra safety precautions should always be implemented.

Which leads us to our final conclusion…

We only recommend using a Free Air Pump (over compressor-fed air) when a compressor isn’t on the jobsite – AND – only if the environmental air is definitely free of contaminants. This professional recommendation simply comes down to financial costs. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?… and in our decades long experience — with compressors being common equipment on industrial jobsites — the cost advantage goes toward compressor fed air.

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