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Five Home Uses For An Air Compressor

An air compressor isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of essential tools, but it can be a time and labor-saving device for lots of household and shop projects. Here are five uses for an air compressor in the shop or garage.

1. Maintaining tire pressure in your vehicles. With today's high gas prices, one way to save fuel is to maintain the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. You should check your tire pressure at least once a month if not more frequently. If you have a compressor, it is easy to add air to your tires as necessary.

2. Tire rotation. You should rotate the tires on your vehicle every 5000 miles or so. If you have an air compressor and air wrench, this task is a snap. And you'll feel just like a NASCAR pit crew when you hear that air wrench whir.

3. Spray painting. With a paint gun or air brush, an air compressor helps you paint everything from lawn furniture to arts and crafts.

4. Sandblasting. This process is handy for removing rust, corrosion, and scale from metal lawn furniture or other items. Be sure to observe safety precautions when sandblasting, including eye protection and a dust mask.

5. Cleaning. With an air gun, cleaning things such as reusable filters (furnace filters, automotive air filters, etc.) is a breeze. A blast of high-pressure air is also an alternative to sweeping out the garage.

When choosing an air compressor for home use, determine the most demanding usage you are likely to encounter. Then choose a compressor that has a comfortable performance margin over and above that usage. The properties to consider are PSI (pounds per square inch rating), CFM (cubic feet per minute of air volume), and HP (horsepower) rating. An inexpensive electric mini air compressor will probably suffice if you only need it for tire pressures and airbrush painting. If you will be using an air wrench, sandblaster, or paint sprayer, a higher-capacity unit is indicated. If you will be using the compressor away from a power source, consider a gas-powered unit.

An air compressor is only as useful as the tools it operates, so you want to make sure you purchase high quality air tools that will perform the tasks you need. It is also a very good idea to fit your air tools and supply hose with quick-disconnect fittings to make it easy to switch from one air tool to another.