AirDryers Overview and Common Issues




Experienced industrial blasters realize just how important DRY AIR is for a high production and quality. Using an airdryer is well worth the investment and is very simple to set up and use.

However, like any machinery, there are upkeep maintenance issues that will determine if your dryer stays up and running – or will eventually fail you on the jobsite. This insight highlights the 4 most common issues that can cause you trouble with your ADS unit and how you can avoid them.

Traditionally, there are two different style of airdryers: an ACS and an ADS. To help you remember the difference between these systems, consider the “C” (in ACS) to stand for “Coil” – and the “D” (in ADS) to stand for “Deliquescent”. The coil and deliquescent are the effective means by which the unit extracts moisture from the input compressor air. This insight focuses on the ADS system, but all recommendation unrelated to the deliquescent are also relevant for ACS units.


The pneumatic fan motor is essential for cooling the incoming air as it passes through the radiator. The motor activates kevlar shims which need constant lubrication to keep from locking up. Fortunately the airdryer provides a visible oil meter, which allows operators to inspect and control how many drops are dispersed to the motor. When a motor locks up, it will need to be pulled down, loosened up, and re-lubricated. Running dry, lubricated air through them afterwards will help break up and sling out any of the debris that was locking the motor. The “fix” is not too difficult, but the lost productivity cost of having to unlock a motor should definitely motivate operators to monitor the oil and avoid such shut-downs.


The intercooler sits atop the fan motor. Operators will need to periodically apply a cleaning solvent to the intercooler and wash it off. In dusty environments (MOST jobsites) the coils of the intercooler will get clogged, which limits the ability of the fan to draw air over the radiator which, in turn, prevents the cooling of the air within the unit. Clogged coils inhibit the system from doing what it's supposed to. Therefore, make sure to clean them frequently.


Deliquescent is essentially salt tablets that help strip moisture from the incoming compressor air. The more air filtered through the deliquescent, the more the tablets dissolve. Maintaining adequate deliquescent ensures your blasting or painting air is as dry as possible. We recommend maintaining the deliquescent tablet level at the top weld seam for best results, as well as having an adequate supply on the jobsite. Productivity and humidity will be top determinants of how quickly these dissolve.


The result of a properly functioning airdryer is captured water within the unit. There are 3 points of drainage on the system, and we recommend leaving two valves (one at the inlet filter and the other at the outlet filter) slightly open to hiss out moisture during production. This procedure is not necessary for the system to operate properly – but is recommended as a safeguard against an operator forgetting to drain the moisture. The main drainage valve at the bottom of the pot should also be drained frequently depending on production and humidity levels. (Note: on a hot day, a 1600 cfm compressor puts out about 5 gallons of water an hour.)

MYTH BUSTED 1: Salt from deliquescent tablets is contained within the AirPrep and does not contaminate the blasting air. This is what makes deliquescent safe to use for abrasive blasting.

MYTH BUSTED 2: Water softener salt, although it may seem like a cheaper alternative, does not absorb as much moisture in the same time as the deliquescent tablet and produces a more concentrated salty water residue which, in turn, may reduce the life of the AirPrep through possible corrosion enhancement.

TRADE TIP: When you're experiencing large pressure drops across an air dryer, like 10psi or more, its likely the inlet filter is clogged, often with rubber from old bull hoses. To clean this out, hook the compressor to the “outlet” of the dryer and turn it on (facing the “inlet” away from everything) and you will shoot out bits of rubber, unblocking the filter.

We hope these insights help you better understand the maintenance needs of an airdryer system, and keep you productive far longer on your jobsite.

We want to know what questions, challenges, and problems you’re facing - either with blasting or painting - that we may be able to solve.

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You increase profits using dry air

Many Blasters who use AirPrep™ Moisture Removal Systems find that cool, dry compressed air actually blasts up to 15% faster. That’s like 1 hour extra blasting each 8 hour day, free!!