The reed valve in an air compressor is a thin steel flap connected to the valve plate. It allows the refrigerant to flow to the cylinder and from it as the piston moves up and down the cylinder wall.
When the piston slopes down into the cylinder, it causes the suction valve to open up. This in turn generates suction pressure. It is placed on the side of the valve reed plates where the cylinder is positioned and this is where it opens up.
Whenever the piston travels upward, the discharge valve on the other side of the valve plate opens up as well. This is because as vapor is compressed, pressure increases too.
In most cases, the problem most compressors face is from worn or damaged discharge reed valves. This is a result of a drop in discharge pressure.
The reed valve regulates the flow of gases in one direction and is made of thin flexible metal, carbon fiber strips, or fiber glass. They are fastened on one end that opens and closes as pressure changes across opposite sides of the valve.
The structure of the reed valve is shaped like a wedge. The bottom of the valve is the intake side area and is totally open. However, the side faces of the valve are bigger are a passage point on the crankcase side.
Why is it important to clean the reed valve of an air compressor?
The reed valve of air compression is located under the head of the compressor. It controls the smooth and effective circulation of air between the cylinder and the tank. If the reed valve starts to malfunction or accumulates debris or corrosion in it, the air compressor will be unable to build up pressure effectively.
It is one of the most crucial parts of the air compressor. But more often than not, it is highly neglected.
Constant use of the air compressor with defective reed valves can result in further damage to the pistons, bearings, and other essential parts of the air compressor.
Proper maintenance of the reed valve helps enable the air compressor to operate at excellent performance and greater efficiency while averting high-cost repairs. Maintaining the integrity of a reed valve helps preserve its functionality and extend its lifespan. It will also ensure it is always performing optimally whenever you need to use it.
Favorably, it requires only a few tools and a couple of minutes of simple and quick process to clean the reed valve of the air compressor. Although the cleaning process is not rocket science, it requires adequate guidance towards cleaning, reinstalling, and general maintenance to achieve the right results.
How to clean reed valve on an air compressor
To get started, here are some tools you need to clean the reed valve of an air compressor:
- Linesman’s Plier
- Starting fluid
- Power air sprayer
Take off the reed valve
To start with, ensure you disconnect the compressor from any breakers by simply turning off the power supply. Also, drain the compressor’s air tank and ensure you unplug all the hoses connected to the air compressor.
If your compressor runs on a battery, remove it first before you start cleaning the valve.
Take out the inlet port and the air filter which looks like a round-shaped tool. After this, proceed to remove the reed valve plate straight from the compressor.
You do not need a machine remover to do this. You can do this by hand.
Clean up the reed valve
Now to the cleaning stage. It is advisable to use the right tool when cleaning and also to follow the instructions to avoid mistakes.
You will need a liquid cleaner such as the Gumout fluid or any other good one out there. The work of the fluid is to wipe off rust and corrosion from the reed valve with ease.
To get started, disassemble the valve and clean all the parts using the cleaning fluid and a small brush or rolling clothes to help you reach the tiny holes inside the valve.
Ensure that you clean the head and plate of the reed valve.
Inspect and reinstall the valve
It is important that you inspect the valve for cracks, grease, rust, or oil left on the body. If there are holes in the valves, then you would need to replace them entirely.
Also, look out for the nuts, bolts, and screws. Ensure they are also well inserted and tightened.
Once the cleaning and inspecting are done, reassemble the parts of the valve and attach them back to the air compressor.
Broken Air Compressor Reed Valve Plate
With a broken, cracked, or damaged air compressor reed valve plate, the compressor will be unable to build pressure efficiently as it should. No matter how long the compressor runs, it will still not be able to build pressure past a particular pressure point or it might not even be able to build pressure at all. Whether the former or the latter would take place will depend on how badly damaged the reed valve plate is.
Air compressor reed valve plate material
In making a reed valve plate, you would need a paint scraper. The paint scraper used to cut the new valve plate should be of good quality.
The scraper blade is produced to maintain strength and flexibility for a long time. This is why it is made from metal to also enable it to resist heat.
Another way to do this is to buy high carbon spring steel shim stock. Ensure that you purchase one that is as thick as the initial valve plate. You can find a number of sources online through a simple Google search.
Irrespective of your choice of reed valve material, go for raw materials that are strong and can remain flexible for thousands of cycles.
Ensure that it is also heat resistant. If this is not done, the pump of the compressor will be torn down again and you would have to build a new valve plate within a short period of time.
What happens when a reed valve in a compressor gets damaged?
When the compressor reed valve gets bad, the compressor will no longer be able to build pressure adequately. This is because the air will begin to escape from the inlet point instead of out of the compressor cylinder through the discharge point.
The consequence of this escaping of air is that the pressure will not be able to climb past a particular point regardless of how long the compressor runs. In some other cases, the pressure might not even build at all.
Will you experience low compression due to a faulty reed valve?
For a 2 cycle engine, the reed valve does not have an effect on the compression going on in the cylinder. But the pumping activity taking place in the crankcase will be affected.
The fuel charge or air charge will not get in properly and it will also be compressed when it gets to the crankcase. This will happen when the reed valve is faulty. This affects the proper rummage of the compressor’s cylinder when the inlet port is opened up by the piston.
What determines if the engine will function in any case is the level to which the sealing of the reed valve is affected. Generally, the design of the engine might also determine if the faulty reed valve will result in low compression.
How to change an air compressor’s reed valve
- Switch off your air compressor. Unplug the compressor and take off the lid over the compressor and motor. Also, remove the cylinder head.
- Then unscrew the bolts, nuts, and screws, keeping the head on the topmost part of the compressor cylinder steady. Move on to detach the head.
- Next check out the reed valve. Under the head, you will find the valve plate or pressure plate. Check the reeds to ensure there are no damages such as warping, breaking, or cracks.
- Take note of the setup so you can reassemble the other reed. More importantly, note the way the pressure plate or valve plate is set and those o-rings that cover all around it.
- Now proceed to remove the old reed and install a new reed valve plate.