Remotely Located Air Compressors

Cabinetmakers and finishers discuss how to locate their compressors in an outbuilding or basement. February 9, 2006

Has anyone located their air compressor in a different building and run a line underground to their shop? I would like to put my 80 gallon compressor out in my shed and run a line underground into my basement garage shop (approximately 75'). Given the lot elevation, the line could have slope to it and a drain where it enters the shop. I'm either going to run roll copper or pex for the line underground. I know there was a thread recently on pex use and someone nixed the idea. My plumber said it will work fine and he wasn't surprised someone would say no to the idea, given the liability. Even though the weather here in Seattle is mild, I'm a little concerned about the compressor being in an unconditioned space. I will insulate the shed to help with sound, but beyond that wasn't planning any heat. We rarely get below freezing weather. Anything I should be cautious of or worried about?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
I'm in Kansas. Had one in an out building for 5 years, piped in about 30 feet. Haven't had any problems with weather conditions. The shed is not insulated either. I don't think you'll have problems as long as it stays dry.

From contributor G:
I know of a place on Vancouver Island with the compressors just sitting outside the shop. No shed, just a chainlink fence and a corrugated roof.

From contributor D:
I have my 80 gallon sitting outside the back of the shop. No shed, no roof. Although I am thinking of putting a roof over it (this Arizona sun is probably deteriorating my drive belts).

From contributor B:
It ought to work great. The earth contact should temper the air year round. Summer condensation is a chronic problem for many shops, but I'll bet you have most of yours condensed by the time it hits the shop. Maybe you should have tried to sell this idea first!

From contributor R:
Contributor B makes a point that has me wondering. If having the air line buried causes the moisture to condensate in the underground portion of the pipe, how do you bleed all that moisture off before it fills the pipe and begins to cause other problems?

From contributor L:
I have the reverse situation. I have my compressor in the basement of the house. The air is piped into a 5 gallon bucket filled with water (to help condense moisture out), then into a separator. Then it goes through the shop, through the wall underground to my spray shop 100 feet away. All in Pex piping. I put a toilet paper dryer on the end in the shop but never see any evidence of water there, plus I will use one of those small plastic dryers that attach to the spray gun.

From contributor B:
There are many filters and separators for removing condensed vapor (water and sometimes oil). Your local air products supply will have plenty to choose from, or try Grainger. The hard part is done when you've gotten it back to liquid. It's important that there be a slope just like plumbing that leads to the drain.

From contributor T:
I'm in Carnation (25 miles east of Seattle). My compressor is in a small shed attached to my shop. It worked well with no condensation to speak of… but then I sprayed a water-based finish in winter. Not good, because the air was too cold. So I punched a couple of holes in the wall, insulated the compressor shed and voila! No problems. But now I have plenty of condensation. In winter, your underground pipes will not cause condensation because they're warmer than the air you're pumping. In summer, you will get condensation. Just put in a low-point drain in the basement.

From the original questioner:
Thanks to everyone who responded! Sounds like it should work fine. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I will get it all done.