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My Air Compressor Won’t Turn On: What to Do

Air Compressor Won't Turn On

With this guide, you can learn how to troubleshoot an air compressor motor that does not power up. Generally, people don’t understand what goes on inside an air compressor’s pneumatic system, so they need to know what is causing the fault instead of hopping to a conclusion.

It’s challenging to find the exact location of the fault without troubleshooting the air compressor first. The positions of the pressure switch can be affected if the cut-in pressure setting is wrong or the circuitry is damaged. Multiple factors could disturb the fluent operation of air compressors. Today’s article shares some of those factors with you and guides you on bypassing these faults.

The Air Compressor Motor Does Not Start - Is There Power?

Besides requiring access to a power source, each air compressor has its unique power requirements for smooth operation. While some air compressor models run induction motors or on fuel, others depend on electricity and starting capacitors; without understanding some technical jargon, running an electric air compressor is not recommended.

First, it’s good to check if the air compressor’s trip switch is intact and the compressor is plugged firmly into an electrical wall socket. Remember, the basic principle of an electric air compressor is connecting the device to a plug point for power. It might sound like a no-brainer, but surprisingly many people miss this when troubleshooting.

Please ensure that the power plug is not out of the wall socket. Avoid power strips or power bars because they’re not compatible with equipment connected to electrical outlets. An operator needs to be cautious when using a power cord as it can have various gauge ratings. Using an extension cord between 10 to 25 gauges is how you can avoid choking the current that runs to the air compressor.

Ask a technician at your local repair shop to recommend the optimal electrical peripherals for your air compressor.

Check the Pressure Switch If the Air Compressor Won't Turn On

When most air compressors stop working, the power switch is the thing that breaks, leaving you unable to power the compressor motor. At times it also affects both the inner circuit units and the automatic run sensor.

Air compressor troubleshooting is crucial to assist in finding minor faults which hinder the performance of the equipment. If the circuit breakers of an air compressor motor are in a trip-off position, it could cause it not to start. In some cases, power is not delivered to the pressure switch or reaches the reset button.

Users may check the electrical power flowing with some basic diagnostic instruments, such as a multi-meter; air compressors work with motors, pumps, pressure switches, and a few other components. In most instances, if the circuit box of the air compressor has a partial connection, it causes constant starts, which eventually results in the compressor not turning on at all.

Relays and Capacitor Faults

A lot of havoc can be wrecked on an air compressor by a faulty run capacitor. There is a correct way of troubleshooting this kind of problem, and with a start capacitor, it can be even more challenging.

If your air compressor’s resistor is broken, the best way to resolve these issues is by ordering a replacement part from your local technician or electrical store.

A start relay show signs much like a resistor when a fault begins to occur. Similar to capacitor replacements, a new relay can bring the air compressor back to life. If you are unfamiliar with the inner workings of an air compressor, it’s best to call some who knows how to deal with electrical circuits.

Can an Air Compressor Explode? Read this post to find out: 

Air Compressor Stopped Working - Did the Circuit Breaker Trip Off?

A central pneumatic air compressor that uses electricity often contains multiple circuit breakers. The circuit breaker helps protect the equipment’s main components when a power surge blows its fuses. These protective fuses secure the air compressor and any associated power panels linking to the motor circuit.

If there is a very high voltage, the power could trip off to protect the air compressor from too much energy flowing through it. Suppose the same compressor has faulty fuses; it needs to be replaced before starting the air compressor again.

However, we recommend testing the power point with a lamp to make sure that no problem with the socket exists. That way, users can narrow down some of the troubleshooting options and cross out any electrical issues from the source.

Usually, the compressor does not start when the in-line fuses are incorrectly placed or are faulty inside your air compressor. It is not unusual for the circuit breaker to trip during operation if a blown fuse is inside.

Check the cord connections of the compressors to ensure it’s not an electrical short circuit causing the fault on the pneumatic tool. Typically, these defects cause wires to be stray outside the electrical circuits and can cause blown fuses inside the air compressor. This sort of fault could trip the circuit breaker in a less dramatic scenario, protecting the pressure switch and electric motor.

However, there are some cases where operators may be lucky they didn’t blow any fuses when experiencing a trip off. All users need to confirm the above check and press the reset button to reboot the machine.

The thermal overload button on most air compressors is easy to find and simple to use, but that doesn’t mean electrical problems with a machine can get easier.

Sometimes, the pressure switch trips due to the circuit breaker malfunctioning, which then causes low pressure. How do we resolve that?

Air Compressor Not Turning on - Is the Pressure Switch Faulty?

If the air compressor motor does not want to start, you must check the pressure switch. Remove the power cable from the electrical socket, and bleed air through the unloader valve to reduce tank pressure. To perform this procedure, open the compressor unloader valve and release the air pressure.

Using a spray paint gun to drain the air pressure can ensure you have an empty tank ready for pressurized oxygen to enter. One of the reasons to have a drained tank utterly free of compressed air is that it is unsafe to start the air compressor like that.

Don’t forget to wear safety goggles when draining the compressor tank, as a faulty unloader valve can cause pressure drops or air leaks that could be hazardous. Press the reset switch once the drain valve is closed and plug in the air compressor to start receiving power.

Listen for any clicking sounds that might come from the pressure switch; even a low volume compressor’s switch makes this sort of sound. In most cases, a multi-meter device can help users confirm an electrical fault if the current is not following the pressure switch or the motor circuit.

Contacting an experienced technician to check out your air compressor’s pressure switch is an excellent idea if you don’t know what you are doing. The person can perform an adjustment on the button that could help get your air compressor back to running condition.

Portable Cable Air Compressors won't Turn On?

The unloader valve or pressure switch can fail when using a mini air compressor at home for garage or outdoor applications. Even if a small air compressor runs efficiently, the compressor switch or low tank pressure can still cause problems.

Since there is no head pressure in the tank, the unloader valve and the centrifugal switch could make a clicking noise, signifying a low psi. A broken wire can sometimes cause the same problem experienced on larger compressor air tanks. However, replacing the pressure switch helps resolve the humming sound and lets your compressor start once again.

Compressor Cuts - Is There Enough Oil?

Air compressors that are oil lubricated need a constant supply of grease to run effectively. When the compressor starts making a weird buzzing noise and the pump oil level is below the manufacturer’s specifications, it’s time to change the oil.

When the oil viscosity is off, the air compressors need to be drained, and fluid replaced immediately before ending up with a damaged or tripped breaker. In the worst-case scenario, the overload switch or reset switches could face an electrical problem due to overheating of the oil tank.

If the compressor’s pump components start making a knocking sound, you know that the machine might face some problems soon. Once the oil is successfully changed, the replaced plug fuse can be inserted correctly for optimal performance.


Air compressor problems need to be troubleshot, whether the vibration pads, unloader valve, breaker switch, or compressor pump is stopping the air conditioner from starting. With a multi-meter, most problems can be pinpointed, and people can start air compressor repairs on the same day.

If your air tank isn’t holding enough pressurized air, checking the unloading valve is the first thing you should do. Next, go for your start capacitor if there is no power running to the switches or circuit boards. Using a lamp to investigate power problems at electrical sockets is recommended before taking apart your air compressor.

Picture of Daniel Lewis

Daniel Lewis

Live in Chicago Illinois.
A contractor with10 years of experience.
Works with air compressors for various uses.

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