Can An Air Compressor Explode? 9 Causes You Should Know

If you are wondering, can an air compressor explode? The sure answer is yes, they can. Fractures, defects, or corrosion are generally responsible for these explosions. They are also at an explosion risk when you overuse, don’t service, or maintain them regularly.

Extreme corrosion is the primary cause of air compressor explosions. If corrosion disturbs the tank’s interior, the built-in pressure inside the air compressor explodes it.

Well, an explosion of an air compressor does indeed occur, but the chances of their explosion are low. However, you can avoid explosions by playing a little carefully. Here is everything you need to know to prevent your air compressor from exploding.

Why Do Air Compressors Explode?

There are several reasons why air compressors explode, but the most obvious is the fact that people don’t follow the operator’s manual. The manual contains all the instructions about operating the device.

Let’s look at some other causes of air compressor explosions.

1. Corrosion

Rust or corrosion is the primary cause of the explosion. The water inside your tank is the by-product of compressed air. This water should be drained from the tank after every use to keep the tank in good shape. However, people avoid doing it regularly.

As a result, this water accumulates in the tank. This causes corrosion inside the air compressor tank. Ultimately, the walls of the tank become weaker and collapse even at low pressure of air as 85 PSI.

2. Exceeding the Labelled Pressure Rating

Every certified air compressor mentions a pressure rating. Exceeding the recommended pressure weakens the tank and makes small holes in it. These small holes become a pressure release point. Consequently, this causes an explosion.

3. Overheating Compressor

Air compressors are ignitable when we expose them to high heat. However, normal heat coming from the sun can not cause an explosion.

High pressure in the surroundings also results in failure of valves, metal damage, or over-pressurization of air present inside the tank. All of this insists your air compression explodes.

4. Manufacturer’s Defects

Manufacturing defects are also a root of air compressor explosions. This occurs when tools are not manufactured according to the set standards. That’s why we always suggest you buy from reputable brands like Dewalt or Bostitch, who make top-notch air compressors under the surveillance of professionals.

5. Accidental Rupture

Air compressors are frequently used inside home garages or construction sites. There is a good chance of an accidental puncture or rupture in these places. And a damaged air compressor can lead to an explosion.

6. Lack of Lubrication

Lubrication of moving parts reduces friction. However, if there is a lack of lubrication in the compressor’s moving parts, it damages the quality and operation of the air compressor. As a result temperature of the tank increases. If this increase in temperature is not fixed timely using fans, it triggers an explosion.

7. Cooling Problems

Cooling an air compressor is necessary to minimize the risk of explosion. It reduces when heat transferring surfaces are shielded by carbon deposits. In some cases, the coolant medium itself has a high temperature due to old machinery. Another reason could be a noncontinuous supply of coolant.

All these factors combine to create high temperatures, which ultimately cause an explosion.

8. Oil Spillage

Oil is essential for lubricating parts of the air compressor for operating parts smoothly. However, leakage of oil is a issue in these devices. The leaking oil can catch fire, tracing back to an air compressor. This fans an explosion.

Hazards related to air compressor explosion include; electrical dangers, fumes, flying particles, high pressures, and high noise levels.

How to Maintain Your Air Compressor?

Air compressors are incredibly useful, but they can also be potentially dangerous. Some safety measures must be taken while operating air compressors. Effective various attachments can decrease air compressor explosion risk. On the other hand, proper air compressor maintenance can reduce the air compressor explosion risk by up to 90 percent.

Maintenance of the air compressor is essential to ensure that it is safe to use and works smoothly. It also increases the efficiency of the air compressor and fulfills your need. Here, we will provide you with quick methods for properly maintaining the air compressor.

Oil Change

You need to change the oil when the oil level goes below the red dot on the oil level sight glass. Change your compressor oil after every three months to maintain its efficiency and to prevent an explosion. There are certain steps to change the oil:

  • Warm up oil by running the unit for a while
  • Unplug the unit
  • Place a pan under the pump end
  • Remove the drain plug and allow the oil to come out
  • Replace the drain plug
  • Again fill the oil tank with oil

Always use ‘SAE 30 grade’ air compressor oil to increase the unit’s life.

Safety Valve

A safety valve is a small component on the control unit to release the air from the tank automatically when pressure exceeds a maximum limit. This marvelous function of the safety valve prevents the tank from bursting due to high pressure. To ensure it’s functioning efficiently, check it regularly. It must be capable of releasing air from a tank at any given time. Replace it if it does not do this.

Air Filter

Mostly, air compressors have an air filter on the intake opening. The main function of this filter is to strain the air from dirt. Check this air filter by removing the housing cover. If it is dirty, replace it with the new one for smooth functioning and to avoid air compressor tank explosion.

Drain the Tank

The moisture that builds up inside the rank with the pressure leads to rust. Building up of rust inside the tank increase air compressor explosion risk. So, make sure you drain the tank after using the unit by unplugging the drain valve.


Always keep your air compressor clean at all times. You should clean dirt and debris from the flywheel, tank, and motor and pump cooling fins. However, do this after unplugging the unit.

Precautionary Measures

To prevent the air compressor from explosions, it is essential to take some precautionary measures. Here they are:

  • Check the oil in the air compressor
  • Replace the air filter after every year
  • Operate the air compressor in a well-ventilated place with adequate airflow
  • Only buy a compressor that has a certification tag on it
  • Do not use a compressor more than 20 years old
  • Drain the tank of your air compressor regularly
  • Close the drain valves if you plan to store the compressor for a longer period

What can I Do with My Old Air Compressor?

There are several ways to use your old air compressor. For example:

  • You can sell your old air compressor to an online trader if you have purchased a new one for your garage.
  • If your old compressor is out of use, you should create large holes in it. This will prevent others from using old air compressors and ultimately accidents.
  • You can sell the scraps of metal, steel, cast, and copper obtained from an old or exploded air compressor.

Can You Weld the Small Holes on the Air Compressor Tank?

Yes, you can weld small holes in your air compressor tank. However, keep in mind:

  • the thickness of the air compressor tank
  • the condition of the tank
  • the right welding technique


Here we wind up today’s edit on: Can an air compressor explode?

Let us again summarize and tell you that, yes, air compressors explode. However, the chances are rare and you can prevent it using preventive measures.

Air compressors explode for several reasons. It includes corrosion, exceeding the labeled pressure rating, overheating, high built-in pressure, oil spillage, lack of lubrication, manufacturer defects, irregular tank drainage, and accidental rupture.

The consequences of these explosions include blasts, fire, structural damage, and sharp metal shards flying in every direction.

It is necessary to take a few precautionary measures for air compressors, such as regular maintenance, professional installation, and regular checks of oil and filters to prevent an explosion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an air compressor dangerous for life?

When we use compressed air properly, it is safe. However, using it carelessly can make it dangerous and sometimes deadly.

What could be the common outcomes of air compressors’ explosions?

Some common outcomes of an explosion include blasts, fumes, electrical damage, noise, and sharp metal shards flying everywhere.

Can an exploded air compressor be rebuilt?

No, it will be risky to rebuild an exploded air compressor.

How can I fix the corrosion of the air compressor tank?

Drainage of the tank is the most beneficial way of preventing your compressor from corrosion. In most air compressors, drainage valves are present. Simply opening that valve after every use of a compressor can prevent it from corrosion and rust.