On Youtube, you’ll find several experimental or accidental explosions of air compressors. These videos often have hundreds of thousands of views, as people are curious about how something so seemingly innocuous can cause such devastation.

In my 30-year career as a safety professional, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that can be caused by an exploding air compressor. I’ve also seen many smaller explosions and fires that were prevented from becoming disasters only because of the quick actions of those nearby.

This compressor was positioned right there and it blew a section of the garage door off. It also damaged the car and the garage door opener. There was enough rust in the tank that had accumulated over the years that it created an explosion when the compressed air was released.

It blew all the windows in the garage and it shook the ground. The house next door had some windows broken out from the explosion. It’s amazing that no one was killed or seriously injured in this event.

My neighbors called me as I was the nearest and they knew I had some experience with air compressors. When I arrived, the garage was full of smoke and the windows were all blown out. The car door was hanging off and the garage door opener was on the ground.

Deaths caused by air compressor explosion:

Deaths caused by air compressor explosions are unfortunately all too common. In the United States, OSHA reports that there are approximately 30 deaths per year caused by air compressor explosions.

The vast majority of these deaths are due to asphyxiation, as the blast from the explosion forces oxygen out of the lungs and replaces it with deadly fumes. The other common cause of death is blunt force trauma, as the explosion can throw people with great force or crush them with debris.

In some cases, both factors contribute to the death of the victim.

There are a few ways that an air compressor can explode. The most common is due to a build-up of rust inside the tank. over time, rust will accumulate and eventually the tank will rupture.

This is why it’s important to drain the tank regularly and inspect it for corrosion. Another common cause of explosion is using the wrong type of oil in the compressor. Some oils are not compatible with air compressors and can cause a chemical reaction that leads to an explosion.

Finally, air compressors can also explode if they are overfilled. This is why it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and not try to squeeze an extra gallon or two into the tank.

Air compressor explosion fire:

While explosion is the most dramatic and deadly type of failure that can occur, air compressors can also catch on fire. This is typically due to a build-up of oil or grease on the motor or other parts of the compressor.

If the build-up is bad enough, it can create a fire that will spread quickly through the machine. In some cases, the fire will be contained to the compressor itself, but if there is any combustible material nearby, it can quickly spread and become a much larger fire.

As with explosions, the best way to prevent a fire is to regularly inspect the machine and clean it as needed. This will help to remove any build-up of oil or grease that could potentially catch on fire.

It’s also important to make sure that the area around the air compressor is clear of any combustible materials. This will help to prevent the fire from spreading if it does occur.

In the event of a fire, it’s important to act quickly and shut off the power to the compressor. If possible, use a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. If the fire is too large or you are not able to safely get to the extinguisher, you will need to call the fire department.

Do not try to fight the fire with water, as this can actually make it worse. The best thing to do is to shut off the power and wait for help to arrive.

Causes:

Although compressor air tanks exploding is rare, it does happen. Most often, the tank corrodes from water condensation and then explodes. usually, this happens when people don’t follow the operational or maintenance guidelines in their owner’s manual.

Water condensation always forms inside air compressor tanks. To help prevent the bottom of your tank from corroding, manufacturers require that you drain it on a daily basis after use. They also suggest closing the drain valves before storage to keep moisture out and corrosion at bay.

While most air compressor explosions are caused by a failure of the compressor unit itself, there are other potential causes that need to be considered in any comprehensive safety program. These include:

– Faulty or damaged electrical components

– Improperly installed or maintained pressure relief valves

– Use of incompatible oils or lubricants

– Overfilling of the air tank

By following proper safety procedures and regularly inspecting your air compressor, you can help to prevent these accidents from happening. If an accident does occur, it’s important to shut off the power and call for help immediately.

Air compressor explosion risk:

The risk of an air compressor explosion is relatively low, but the consequences can be deadly. Most explosions are caused by a build-up of rust inside the tank, using the wrong type of oil, or overfilling the tank.

If you just purchased a new tank, consider it good for at least 7 years if it is stored in a cool and dry place with minimal humidity. If you do have an older tank, don’t despair.

You can still use it as long as you take proper care of it. Regularly inspect the tank for rust and corrosion. If you see any, immediately remove the rust and repaint the tank.

You should also regularly drain the tank and inspect the oil. If you use the wrong type of oil, it can cause a chemical reaction that could lead to an explosion.

Finally, make sure you don’t overfill the tank. This can put too much pressure on the walls of the tank and cause it to rupture.

Air compressor accidents:

There have been several accidents involving air compressors over the years. In most cases, these accidents have been caused by a build-up of rust inside the tank, using the wrong type of oil, or overfilling the tank.

In one case, an explosion occurred while workers were attempting to clean out a tank that had not been used in several years. The workers were not wearing proper safety gear and one was killed instantly. Another worker was seriously injured.

In another case, a tank exploded while workers were using a power washer to clean it. The pressure from the power washer caused the tank to rupture, sending shrapnel flying through the air. One person was killed.

Another case involved a tank that exploded while workers were using an air compressor to inflate a tire. The pressure from the air compressor caused the tank to rupture, sending metal shards flying through the air. A person was seriously injured.

11 Air Compressor Safety Risks:

Tissue injury:

If you’re standing too close to an air compressor when it’s turned on, the sudden release of compressed air can cause serious tissue damage. The high-pressure air can cause your skin to rupture or your eyeballs to burst.

To avoid this, always stand at least 3 feet away from an air compressor when it’s turned on. If you’re using an air tool, hold it at least 3 feet away from your body.

Eye injury:

If you’re not wearing eye protection, the sudden release of compressed air can cause serious eye injuries. The high-pressure air can cause your eyeballs to burst or damage your retina.

To avoid this, always wear eye protection when using an air compressor. If you’re not wearing eyeglasses or safety goggles, hold the air tool at least 3 feet away from your face.

Noise exposure:

Exposure to loud noise can cause hearing loss. Air compressors generate a lot of noise, so it’s important to wear ear protection when using one. Earplugs or earmuffs are both effective at reducing noise exposure.

To avoid this, always wear ear protection when using an air compressor. If you’re not wearing earplugs or earmuffs, hold the air tool at least 3 feet away from your ears.

Fumes and vapors:

Some air compressors use oil to lubricate the moving parts. When the compressor is running, these oil fumes can be released into the air. Inhaling these fumes can cause serious health problems, such as liver damage, kidney damage, and cancer.

To avoid this, always use an air compressor in a well-ventilated area. If possible, use an oil-free air compressor. If you must use an oil-lubricated compressor, make sure to change the oil regularly and use a dust mask to avoid inhaling the fumes.

Fire:

If an air compressor is not properly maintained, it can overheat and catch fire. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and operation. Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

Explosion:

If an air compressor is not properly maintained, the tank can rust and weaken over time. If the tank ruptures, the release of compressed air can cause an explosion. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and operation. Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

Death:

Although rare, accidents involving air compressors can be fatal. In one case, a worker was cleaning out a tank with a power washer when the pressure from the washer caused the tank to rupture. The worker was standing too close to the tank and was killed instantly by the shrapnel.

In another case, a worker was using an air compressor to inflate a tire when the pressure from the compressor caused the tank to rupture. The worker was standing too close to the tank and was killed instantly by the shrapnel.

To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and operation. Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

Tripping:

If an air compressor is not properly secured, it can tip over and cause serious injuries. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper placement and operation. Inspect the air compressor regularly to make sure it is stable and not likely to tip over.

correct usage:

Using an air compressor for tasks it was not designed for can be dangerous. For example, using an air compressor to power a power washer can result in the tank rupturing and causing an explosion. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.

Electrical hazards:

Air compressors use electricity to run. If the electrical cords are not properly maintained, they can become frayed or damaged. This can lead to an electrical shock or fire. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance and operation. Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

Incorrect air pressure:

Using an air compressor with too much pressure can cause the tank to rupture and explode. To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage. Do not exceed the recommended air pressure for the task you are using the compressor for.

Operating an air compressor can be dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage and maintenance. Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

Follow these safety tips to help avoid accidents and injuries:

– Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using the air compressor.

– Do not exceed the recommended air pressure for the task you are using the compressor for.

– Inspect the air compressor regularly for signs of wear or damage. If you see anything that looks out of place, shut off the compressor and have it repaired before using it again.

– Do not use an air compressor for tasks it was not designed for.

– Always keep the electrical cords properly maintained and free from damage.

– If you are using an air compressor in a wet area, make sure that the area is well-ventilated to avoid an electrical shock.

– Never leave an air compressor running unattended. Shut off the power and release the pressure before leaving the area.