How To Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Regulator

How To Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Regulator

An air compressor has turned into an integral part of our daily work life, especially if your work involves using air tools. Air compressors are quite versatile, whether it’s a menial task of your house or an industrial level job, they accomplish them effortlessly.

As there are plenty of varieties in air compressors depending on their features, so it’s up to you to decide which one to buy based upon your needs.

Speaking of features there’s one which is quite important and needs some time and knowledge to get around it, the pressure regulator.

In this article, we shall talk about this in detail.

Like what exactly is a pressure regulator, why it is important, how to figure out the pressure reading and lastly how to adjust the pressure of the compressor.   

What Is A Pressure Regulator? And Is It Available In All Compressors? 

As the self-explanatory name suggests, it’s a regulator that regulates the airflow at the outlet, thus making it the most important component of the air compressor.

Basically, this regulator is a monitor that displays the exact pressure available.

This is particularly important because your air tool has a specific PSI number and that number needs to calibrate with that of a compressor, failure to do so would hamper the working of the tool.

Almost all every compressor has a pressure regulator, with few exceptions. This in no way diminishes their working capacity, quite possibly they might have been designed to work without one.

Why Is It Necessary To Have The Right Pressure?

Why? Because of safety.

Often times we end up pushing our compressor to its limit, in case that compressor is weakly maintained or if it is an older model, then chances are it might go kaboom.

This is precisely why you need to set the correct pressure before you start working.

How to Adjust an Air Compressor Pressure Regulator?

Air Compressor Regulator Adjustment

Before you begin the adjustments, you need to make sure whether you need to calibrate those settings or not.

If you decide to change the settings, then first read the manual to get a better idea of the make and model of your compressor.

In some models, you may find a fixed differential value below the regulator switch.

More information on this will be on a note found nearby the housing of the valve, also you can seek details about this differential value in the manufacturer’s guide.

As for the set screws, one with the fixed differential value will have a single screw, while those with flexible values will have two set screws. (One each for the cut in and cut out pressure).

Steps involved in adjusting air compressor pressure:

Step 1: First things first, unplug the air compressor from the power socket.

Step 2: Then set the cut-in pressure point, followed by a cut-out pressure point. The screw for the cut in pressure is usually found near the motor.

Step 3: Proceed to plug your air compressor in the power socket.

Step 4: Now if you want to monitor a new cut in pressure then drain the tank completely, either through the drain valve or by using any air equipment.

If observing the new cut in pressure is not on your to-do list, then just wait for a few moments for the tank to get filled up.

Step 5: When the compressor tank is filled, connect the hose of the compressor with the desired air tool.

And finally, it’s time to adjust the pressure regulator.

Step 6: The position of the regulator knob depends on the model you are using, it’s mostly on the right side.

Preferably, the difference that you should maintain between the cut-out pressure point and the cut in pressure point is 20-40 psi. In which the cut-out pressure should be higher than the cut in.

Step 7: While adjusting the pressure if you want to increase it then turn the set screw inward (in the right/clockwise direction).

 If you want to decrease the pressure then turn the screw outward (in the left/anti-clockwise direction).

Note: At least maintain a minimum pressure range of 25 psi between cut-in and cut-out.

How To Make Sense Of A Pressure Regulator?

Honestly speaking it’s very simple to read a pressure regulator.

You just have to keep an eye on the needle of the regulator, it changes its position depending upon the pressure of the compressor tank.

All that remains now is for you to carefully match the PSI value of the regulator with your air equipment, if you don’t match it correctly then your equipment won’t work properly.

Can A Safety Valve Keep The Air Pressure In Check?

Sometimes the pressure buildup in the compressor tank far exceeds the maximum level, to avoid such undesirable and potentially dangerous situations a safety relief valve is placed in the unit.

As stated above this valve gets into action when the air pressure reaches a dangerous level.

A little spring that is present in the system gets overwhelmed by the pressure, this jolt the spring into action thereby releasing the excess air and bringing the level down to safety.

The pressure at which the safety valve gets involved is around 140-150 psi. No need to worry as most of your work takes place below this pressure range.

Do not (and I can’t stress this enough) meddle with the safety valve unless you need to replace it with a proper one.

Maintenance For A Pressure Regulator.

If it has been a while since you had your compressor then it is quite likely that you might have noticed some issues with it.

Unless you have kept your compressor well maintained, in that case, you won’t have to deal with such nuisances.

Similarly, you need to look after the pressure regulator as well.

As you know there is continuous downstream pressure running through the valve, and prolonged use might result in the formation of crack.

Such crack evidently starts leaking the air, this no doubt will hurt your tools.

So have it fixed by replacing the worn-out part.

Risks And Benefits Involved In Pressure Adjustment.

Almost all every air compressor these days gives you the liberty to calibrate pressure depending upon your need, and the best part about it is that you can increase your efficiency by it.

Let’s say you are involved in a job and the pressure requirement for that particular job is less than usual, so here you have the option to cut the pressure down.

Usually, a situation like this arises when the pressure output of your compressor is much more than what you required to fulfill the task.

Dialing down the pressure has a positive outcome as it reduces the maintenance cost and other costs involved.

On the other hand, increasing the air pressure is quite risky.

Let’s suppose you are involved in a gig that expects you to invest more of your time working on hardwoods, or let’s just say it’s a work that requires more torque than usual.  

It is possible to extract more air pressure from the compressor at hand, by turning up the pressure valve.

Nevertheless, it involves risks, and to ensure safety you should never cross the safety limit of your air compressor.

Increasing the output level by employing such methods not only affects your budget with extra costs, but it can also become fatal as there’s a high probability that your compressor might explode.

Sure the tanks are designed to endure high pressure, but an aging tank might be inept to do that.


Each air compressor has a plethora of features, and almost all of them are equipped with a pressure regulator. After all, this regulator is what directs the flow of air through the outlet.

You just have to make sure that you adjust the regulator correctly in accordance with the psi of your air tool, as the latter’s performance depends on it.

Keep in mind that the compressor you are buying should be ideal for the job you are in, and be sure to check the recommended psi assigned by the manufacturer.

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