Kobalt 20 gallon air compressor problems

Kobalt 20 gallon air compressor problems

Air compressors are great for home use. They bring convenience in many ways and can help you save money, too. But there are so many types that it is hard to choose the right one for you. Additionally, even the really good ones have their fair share of problems.

If you’re here, your Kobalt 20 gallon air compressor may be having problems. Or maybe it is running, but it seems weaker than usual. Perhaps it’s making some kind of strange noise that makes you nervous. What should you look for when your air compressor starts acting up?

How Kobalt air compressors work

To troubleshoot Kobalt air compressors, you need to understand how they work. Kobalt air compressors are made for Lowes and are powered by electric motors. They also come in portable and fixed styles. The range of motors that power them is anywhere from 1.5 HP to 5HP.

These motors power all types of Kobalt air compressors, from the small 3 gallon mobile models that use 1.5HP motors to the fixed 80-gallon models that use a 5HP motor.

Kobalt 20 gallon air compressor problems

The Kobalt 20-gallon air compressor is a mid-size portable electric air compressor. Despite being one of the most popular models in the market, it has been observed to have a few shortcomings.

1. Air compressor won’t operate

This is one of the most commonly reported problems, not just for the Kobalt 20-gallon air compressor but for most other models. When this problem occurs, it’s mostly caused by oversight. Fortunately, it’s mostly easy to diagnose and fix. The problem can often be remedied as follows:

l No power: If the compressor doesn’t receive sufficient electrical power, it won’t operate. Therefore, you should check the power button and activate the reset switch if necessary. You should also check the breakers.

l Lack of oil: It’s not uncommon for users to forget to change the fluids in machines like air compressors. Unfortunately, the consequences are often serious. If your Kobalt 20 gallon air compressor fails to work, it could simply be from an empty tank.

l Power switch issues: If the compressor fails to switch on, it could simply be from a lack of contact between the power switch and inner circuitry. You can remedy this by adjusting the pressure to the switch.

If your air pressure has been working flawlessly and then suddenly stops working, it can be very frustrating. However, the problem is often caused by a little oversight mistake like not refilling oil, an unturned switch, or an unplugged cord. Be sure to check those first before calling a technician.

2. Air compressor keeps leaking air

This is another commonly reported problem across air compressor models. If you shut off the air compressor on a full charge, but the gauge still drops, you definitely have an air leak. The compressor might even restart to counter the situation. In such a case, you need to locate the leak.

l Apply soap to the connectors: Unplug the compressor and cover the connectors with liquid soap, including the pressure switch and couplers. If bubbles form at any point, that’s the leak’s location. Tighten up the coupler where the leak occurs if possible.

l Inspect the tank check valve: Air leaks are sometimes caused by check valves that fail to close properly. If the gauge keeps dropping when the tank is off, access the tank valve and confirm its condition. It might need to be cleaned or replaced.

If the leaks when the hose is connected, disconnect the hose. If the pressure gauge stops dropping, the hose is your leakage point.

3. Excessive noise from the air compressor

If the air compressor makes too much noise, there might be an underlying problem.

l Loose parts: One of the main causes of excessive noise in air compressors is loose internal parts. Check for looseness in the flywheel, cooler, pulleys, clamps, and belt. If any of them is loose, tighten them as required.

l Problematic crankcase: Another common cause of the noise is a faulty or oil-deficient crankcase. Check if the crankcase needs new oil or to be replaced altogether.

l Troubled pistons: Noise is also common when a piston hits the valve plate. Take out the cylinder head, check the piston for dirt, replace the gasket and reattach the head.

l Improper mounting: A further case of annoying noise is when the air compressor is mounted loosely. Check the bolts on the air compressor and refasten them. You should also check if the vibration pads need to be replaced or installed.

Although loud noise from the air compressor might not indicate a need for immediate repairs, it always represents an underlying problem that might grow with time.

4. Air compressor only hums

If an air compressor only hums, it’s in danger of overheating and subsequent motor damage. To find the source of this problem, inspect the following.

l Power supply:  Your power supply needs to be clean and take the shortest route possible. Using an extension or power bar can cause major issues, so try plugging the cord into a wall socket with little or no interfering devices and see if the problem ceases.

l Intake filter: Remove the intake filter and start the compressor without it. If the air compressor starts without the intake filter, replace it and see if that solves the problem.

l Unloader valve: One of the main valve problems is air becoming trapped above the pistons. The extra load can sometimes stall the motor.

5. Oil doesn’t last long enough

An air compressor needs oil to run properly, and the Kobalt 20 gallon model is no different. However, one of the following factors might cause the air compressor’s oil to keep running out.

l Oil leaks: Leaking oil is not hard to diagnose because it can be seen. You can fix it by tightening the bolts of the relevant machine parts or replacing the oil gasket.

l Intake obstructions: A sign of neglect is when a blockage forms at the intake. If this happens, the filter requires urgent cleaning and sometimes replacement.

l Worn piston rings: When piston rings look worn out, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible.

Final thoughts

The Kobalt 20-gallon air compressor is a great tool for vehicles and DIY homeowners. If you are looking for an affordable addition to your current garage, this is the perfect companion. However, there are a few areas that can be improved, and we outlined these above.


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