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  • Kobalt air compressor problem

    I purchased a 5.5 gallon Kobalt air compressor from Lowe's. I used it for about 5 months to power a nail gun. It worked great, and I was very happy with it. Then recently it developed a problem. The pressure regulator stopped working and the compressor would raise the pressure into the red zone and shut off. I would then have to release all of the air, wait 10 minutes and then start it up again. Needless to say, this became a real inconvenience. I returned it to Lowe's and they refunded my money no questions asked. I liked the compressor; so I bought another one. This one had the same problem from the beginning. So I returned it and tried once more. But the third one is doing the same thing. Has anyone else experienced the same problem? It is difficult to think that 3 out of 3 compressors I have purchased have the exact same problem, unless there is something I am doing to cause it. But the first one worked fine for about 5 months. Any help would be appreciated.

    Bill

  • #2
    Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

    Hi Bill and welcome to the forum. Is it that the line pressure regulator has failed so you get full tank pressure output, or do you mean the pressure switch which starts and stops the motor is at fault?

    If it's the line pressure regulator, more than likely there were some defective ones or a little dirt got into them. Their insides must be kept very clean. Sometimes if left to sit a long time they will stick full open or full closed.

    Do they still ever run trains over the Nicholson Viaduct? If yes, that's sometime special to see and even better if you happen to be on the train where you can look out over the area.

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    • #3
      Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

      I get full pressure tank output. No matter what I set it at (say 90-100 psi), the pressure goes to 140 and shuts the machine off. I find it hard to believe that I happen to have bought 3 machines with defective regulators in a row! If the problem is dirt, how does one clean the regulator?

      Yes, the trains still run over the viaduct. The Thanksgiving train is a local attraction. The parking lot of the local Pump and Pantry gets pretty crowded as people wait for the train to come over the viaduct with a lighted Christmas tree on it. I just moved to Nicholson 3 years ago and love it here!!

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      • #4
        Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

        It's good to know they still use the viaduct now and then. I'm down in MD but have friends not too far from your area.

        Question: Do you know the model number of your air compressor? I'm going to research your model to see if others have this issue. Good luck with it.

        As for the pressure regulator issue they should have an inline air filter just before the regulator. I doubt your model has one and that can be a problem. As for defects it could be a design problem with the regulator or a quality issue. If you like the air compressor otherwise, you might look at replacement regulators of a slightly different type/brand.

        If you know where Chinchilla (near to Clarks Summit) is, there's a good air compressor dealer-repair company there. Smith Air Center

        I don't have their contact info but am sure they are in the Scranton area directory. I'm thinking they should have a good quality mini size regulator you could upgrade to if necessary.

        To clean the regulator you have to carefully take it apart once you back the adjusting screw fully out. The problem is to not damage the diaphragm. Good USA brands have repair kits you can get. I have a bad feeling the Kobalt one may be made in China and also not made for servicing. I would need to go have a look. If I get a chance I'll try to look at one and let you know more once I see it in person.

        I'm glad and thankful the pressure switch seems to be working. If it fails you have a runaway and best pray the safety relief valve opens up.
        Last edited by Woussko; 06-08-2009, 09:16 PM.

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        • #5
          Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

          Hmm, isn't this working like it is supposed to??? A typical compressor will turn on a charge the tank to 125-140 psi. You can set the pressure at the discharge to 90 and the pressure to the tool would be 90. Once the pressure in the tank reaches 100, it will kick back on to charge to 140 again and turn off.

          That's by design, the setpoints of off and on are not adjustable, but you can adjust the pressure to the tool.

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          • #6
            Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

            tccoggs

            There are two pressure gauges. The one gauge (the left one) is the one I use to set the desired pressure and the other gauge measures the actual pressure in the tank. As I use a tool (such as a nail gun) the pressure in the tank (and on the second gauge) decreases switching on the compressor to return the air pressure to the level I set. This is how the first compressor operated for about 5 months before I started having problems with it. The problem is that the compressor goes into the red zone and shuts down completely. The only way to get it to work again is to completely drain the tank, wait 10 minutes and then start it up again. These are the troubleshooting instructions in the manual for what to do when the compressor fails to regulate itself.

            Bill

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            • #7
              Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

              Originally posted by Bill Abruzzi View Post
              The problem is that the compressor goes into the red zone and shuts down completely. The only way to get it to work again is to completely drain the tank, wait 10 minutes and then start it up again. These are the troubleshooting instructions in the manual for what to do when the compressor fails to regulate itself.
              I wish I could see this for myself.

              I had in mind all the time it was the air pressure regulator but now think it's actually the pressure switch failing to shut off power to the motor at the correct pressure. The keyword of "red zone" got me thinking. To me this seems like a safety issue and Lowes needs to give you a refund or full store credit. So far I can't find your model but in time I may. If you look at the tank pressure gauge about how many PSI would you say it reaches before the shutdown? Have you ever had the safety relief valve pop open?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

                Probably just me, as I'm having one of those off days, but I'm not getting a clear understanding of what the compressor is doing:

                Yes, as you describe it, there are two gauges... gauge "1" is reading the pressure in the tank, which the pressure switch is regulating and guage "2" reflects the line pressure that you adjust (using the knob on the pressure regulator) to meet the pressure requirements of your tool. (Not sure about your unit, but on both of my Craftsman compressors, gauge "1" is on the left and gauge "2" is on the right.)

                When the motor kicks on, it should raise the pressure to the maximum set pressure regulated by the non-adjustable pressure switch. I don't know your particular specs, but on my little Craftsman 2-gal (nailer type) that would be 125 psi and on my larger 33-gallon that would be 150 psi. That is what I would see on gauge "1" and it would always reach that maximum reading, and go no further. The maximum pressure on yours should be prominently displayed on a decal or something, as that's what one of the selling features are.

                So, with that in mind... the compressor and gauge "1", should always come up to that pressure and then shut off. You mention that it goes into the redline and then shuts off. Depending on the actual reading, that may well be okay, as my little nailer compressor reaches its maximum 125 psi and the marking is within the lower end of the "red line".

                However, if your compressor is similar (125 psi), and the pressure is going into the "red line" and passing that "maximum" and is not shutting off until 130 or higher, I think that's highly unusual and an indication to me that somehow the pressure switch maximum set pressure has wandered or failed. Usuallly when a pressure switch fails, the compressor will continue to run until the pressure reaches a point that blows the safety valve!

                Even then, the compressor will continue to run until you physically pull the plug or trip the switch. In such pressure switch failures, it is the Safety Valve that provides the emergency pressure release, as there's nothing to trigger a motor shutoff.

                In such cases, the pressure switch needs to be repaired or replaced immediately! One should note that at that point, the safety valve is the only thing between you and a major tank failure as the defective pressure switch may allow the compressor to drive the pressure well beyond the MAWP (Maximum Allowable Working Pressure) of the tank, resulting in a probable tank failure... which can be explosive!

                For that reason, Safety valves should be tested regularly and if necessary, replaced only with a similarly rated valve. Like an electric fuse, replacement with a valve of higher rating is extremely dangerous!

                Now, paying attention to gauge "2", that's the pressure reading of the line pressure which your tool requires. It is adjusted by the pressure regulator. If gauge "2" reflects the same reading as gauge "1", then you've got the setting maxed out. Try turning the knob counter-clockwise, as many turns as necesary to bring the pressure down to the desired point. You should hear air being released as the knob is turned CCW. If nothing is happening, then the regulator itself is probably broken and will need to be replaced.

                One last point, when first starting the compressor with an empty tank, the pressure indicated in gauge "1" rises, so too should the indication on gauge "2", at least until it reaches the setting of the pressure regulator. At that point, guage "2" will hold it's reading, while gauge "1" will continue to rise until it meets the unit's maximum set pressure ("cut-out" setting of the pressure switch). At that point the compressor will shut off. As the tool is used, the tank pressure will drop, until it reaches its low pressure setting (cut-in setting of the pressure switch), at which point the compressor will start-up and attempt to raise the pressure in the tank back to it's maximum setting. With a nailer, that's not usually a problem, but if you're using a tool with a more continuos flow requirement, the compressor may well run much longer. Regardless, the pressure should never rise above the compressor's maximum rating.

                My apologies, if I've over simplified or hit points you consider unessasary. I just wanted to cover everything that came to mind.

                I hope this helps,

                CWS
                Last edited by CWSmith; 06-09-2009, 06:29 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

                  I appreciate all the responses to my problem and apologize for not responding to comments sooner. I have been on the road and away from my computer for over a week.


                  CWS

                  Your description of how the compressor functions is very clear. Pressure gauge "2" increases to 130, which is just inside the red zone when it shuts off. The problem is that when it shuts off, it does so completely. It does not refill as I use the tool (nail gun). What does happen is that I will hear it sputter a few time, as though it is trying to recharge, bt it never is able to turn itself on completely. After doing this 2 or 3 times, it shuts down completely, and I have to go through the routine of emptying the tank, waiting 10 minutes and starting all over again.

                  My son has suggested that the problem may result from my having the compressor plugged into an extension cord rather than directly into an outlet. I am using the compressor to work on a section of my barn where there is no outlet. I am using a 100 foot, 12-gauge power tool extension cord. He thinks that I may be experiencing too much of a power loss through the cord to allow the compressor to refill itself when the tank psi. is at 90-100, causing it to shut down. Since the power needed to fill the compressor when the tank is empty, he argues, I do not experience any problems initially filling the tank. Does this seem reasonable? I believe the compressor is plugged into a 15 amp circuit. I am away from home for a while and plan to test his explanation when I return by operating the compressor when it is plugged directly into an outlet.


                  Bill

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                  • #10
                    Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

                    Bill,

                    I'm happy to see that you have returned, as we were wondering what you may have discovered.

                    What your son suggested is probably the first thing I would check... try the compressor plugged directly into an outlet with no cord. The electrical resistance a cord of that length could be the problem

                    If that is not the problem, then my suspician is that there is still pressure in the cylinder and the motor simply cannot turnover the compressor when it is under load. Two things will cause that, first the check valve has failed and is allowing pressure to bleed out of the tank and back into the cylinder; or, the pressure release valve that is part of, or immediately attached to, the pressure switch has failed to bleed off the pressure when the pressure switch shuts down the compressor.

                    The "check valve" usually is mounted directly into the tank and there is a feed tube or flexible pressure line that runs to it from the cylinder's exhaust port. The check valve is basically a "one-way" valve which allows pressurized air from the compressor cylinder, to pass through it and into the tank. It's "one-way" action, keeps the pressure from bleeding back into the compressor from the tank. If it fails to operate correctly, because it is stuck, dirty, or whatever, then the pressure flows back out of the tank, into the compressor cylinder.

                    Likewise, failure of the pressure release valve will also cause this same problem, except in a different way. The "pressure release valve" is supposed to release the pressure in the cylinder when the pressure switch cuts off power to the motor. At that instance, the "pressure release valve" triggers and releases the pressure in the feed line between the compressor cylinder exhaust and the tank "check valve". On some compressors, the "pressure release valve" may be separate and located somewhere in the line between the compressor cylinder outlet and the tank check valve; but on smaller, cheaper compressors, the "pressure release valve" is located right on the pressure switch, usually at the bottom. Basically, the pressure release valve acts as an "unloader", releasing the internal pressure in the cylinder and line that feeds into the tank.

                    On my little compressor, there is a line that runs to a "T" checkvalve on the tank... a second line runs off the side of the "T" to the "release valve" immediatly under and attached to the pressure switch. In my case, the T-shaped Check Valve fits directly into the tank, preventing air from backing out of the tank into the line from the compressor cylinder. This particular valve design "T's" off with a separate line at the incoming neck of that check valve (actually before the valve's internal actuator). This smaller line runs over to the the pressure switch's pressure release valve.) When the pressure switch triggers the motor to stop, it also actuates the pressure release valve to open, thus unloading the internal line pressure between the cylinder exhaust port and the tank check valve.

                    Now, the problem is that when the tank reaches "pressure", the pressure switch senses the "set pressure" and then switches off power to the motor. If everything is working properly, when that shutdown occurs, you can usually here a quick and fairly loud, "Pssssst".

                    Well, that's "Psssst" is the Pressure switch's "pressure release valve" actuating and thus releasing (unloading) all the pressure from the cylinder head and the line that runs from the cylinder exhaust port to the cylinder check valve.

                    If the Pressure Switch's "pressure release valve" does NOT operate properly, then there is still pressure in the cylinder and the line to the check valve. So when the pressure drops to the point where the pressure switch triggers the motor to turn on, the motor immediately faces a huge load as it meets trying to push the piston against a fully pressurized head. Simply put, it can't overcome such force and it trips. The pressure switch may signal a couple of times, but will stop because of the overload condition.

                    When you completely drain the pressure from the tank, the higher pressure in the cylinder and line will bleed through the tank check valve, and thus once again be free to operate.

                    So, if it's NOT the electrical resistance caused by your long extension cord (not supplying enough power to the motor), then it is the fact that the "pressure relief valve" has failed to relieve the pressure in the cylinder and the line from the cylinder to the tank check valve.

                    (I've got to figure out this picture posting thing, otherwise I would post a picture of what I mean... sorry!)

                    I hope this helps,

                    CWS
                    Last edited by CWSmith; 06-20-2009, 06:53 PM. Reason: Clarity

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                    • #11
                      Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

                      I went through a similar problem with a checkers auto supply compressor I purchase, went through three of them only to find out, yes they were made in china and they had set the pressure switch incorrectly at the factory, once we figured that out, it was a simple matter to adjust the pressure switch and have had no problems since and that was 3 years ago.

                      Dp

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                      • #12
                        Re: Kobalt air compressor problem

                        Okay, let's see if I've figured out how to post a picture correctly, from my own library: Here are two photos of my small Craftsman compressor. While it will differ from your compressor, the components and piping configuration should be similar.





                        I hope this helps,

                        CWS
                        Last edited by CWSmith; 06-21-2009, 12:42 AM.

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