Air compressors' leaks: the most common and how to detect them

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An air Leak is one of the worst enemies your compressor and your entire compressor system possibly face during its life cycle. If you may think that leaks concern only a compressor, you are wrong. Hence, their effect can possibly be wider. Here below you can better understand at which point an air leak can appear and how to detect it. 

Leaks along your compressed air system can appear every time and at any moment. Underestimating the effect of this issue can cause you a loss in terms of costs and air production, which can reach 20-30% of the compressor’s output. 

As losses in compressed air affect your compressor and piping system, they can also have unpleasure consequences in your entire operating system. Some examples can be:

  • Fluctuating system pressure, which can cause inefficiency in your manufacturing machines and systems.
  • Excess compressor capacity, which can turn into higher and unnecessary costs.
  • Unnecessary cycling and running time, which means necessary maintenance.

Leaks can be caused in several compressed air systems’ components. The most common ones are:

  • Couplings, hoses, tubes and fittings
  • Filters regulators and lubricators
  • Pipe joints
  • Pressure regulators
  • Point of usage devices
  • Disconnections
  • Thread sealants
  • Valves
Scope - scheduled maintenance Ceccato


The quickest way to be sure that no leaks have appeared along our compressed air system is a timer test. This easy test can register the on-load time (T1) and the off-load time (T2), both in minutes, according to the following formula:

  • Total leakage percentage = [(T1*100)]/[(T1+T2)]

To consider your system efficient and without losses, the total leakage percentage must be lower than 10%. Be aware that the test must be run when the production is shut down.


There are several ways you can choose to detect leaks in your air compressor system. Our suggestion is to develop three methods to detect leaks:

  1. Listen carefully: if you hear hiss and whistles, you probably have found a leak.
  2. Observe scrupulously: your devices can have small holes that you can see with a naked eye or with a solution of soap and water. 
  3. Measure: a specific ultrasonic detector can verify systematically your entire compressed air system and quantify losses linked to air leaks;

Preventing your compressed air systems from leaks has positive effects not only on your compressor and systems, but also on your entire production and investments. You can find more information about how to detect the leak and how to prevent them in this article or put yourself in contact with our experts.