Where to Install Water Separator on Air Compressor?

(Last Updated On: August 28, 2022)

Air tool owners look for a device that can filter out the moisture from their air compressor. The water buildup in the air compressor causes them lots of trouble. Various air tools, like – paint guns, grinders, and many more require the air and water separator.

The filter has an inlet and outlet to pass the air, a drip tank to collect the water, and a drain valve to drip out the water once it is full. However, not all filters include this feature, but most of them have this convenience attached at the bottom.

What Does A Water Separator Do?

A water separator is a mechanism that removes moisture from an air compressor. The machine prevents any vapor, liquid, or solid particles from getting into the compressor and maintains a clean air supply. This thing is also called a filter dryer. The filter extracts about 40% to 60% of moisture from the air.

With centrifugal force, it draws vapor from the air vent. So, the main purpose of this gadget is to filter out the water vapor from the compressor and deliver clean and dry air.

Do You Need to Install One? 

You must have seen streams of water coming out of the pressure hose when you pulled the trigger on your air hose. It’s because of the moisture build-up in the compressed air.

The process of air compression generates heat. When the air is compressed, any remaining moisture in the air turns into vapor. By the time the compressed air passes the long hose, the vapor cools down and turns back into the water.

When a water separator is installed into the air compressor, the water will be collected there. But if it’s not installed yet, the compressor will spray out water particles with air which is not what you intend to get. Therefore, it’s better to install a water separator to keep your tools safe from moisture.

What Happens When You Don’t Install a Water Separator?

So, what can happen if you don’t install a water separator in an air compressor?

Here are the reasons for which you should install a water filter in your air compressing device.

  • The air compressor will spray out water molecules unless you’ve installed a separator.
  • The dust particles typically found in the air remain in the air unless you use a filter. The little molecules can not be seen with bare eyes. But they might ruin your project.
  • The water and dirt can not only ruin the project, but it can also cause the compressor to get jammed.
  • The moisture can get into your air tools and damage the machines internally.
  • It reduces the effectiveness of the air compressor.

Where to Install Water Separator on Air Compressor?

So, where do you install an inline filter to prevent contaminants and water from getting into the compressor? The pressure gauge has an attachment to the hose pipe. You need to install the water separator between the hose pipe connector and the pressure tank.

How to Install Filter in an Air Compressor?

It’s an easy process. The hosepipe is connected to the air compressor tank. You have to replace it with the water and air separator. The water separating filter has two connectors on its right and left sides. Connect one side of the filter with the coupler of the pressure gauge.

And then the T-head of the hose pipe on the other side of the filter using a coupler. You need to secure them in place with thread sealant and Teflon tape for a strong bond and prevent any air leakage. And so that they don’t come off during a pressure flow.

But before you install the filter, you must unplug the air compressor and switch off all the power connections. You’ll have to mount the water separator with the pressure gauge of that compressor.

Another thing to mention is that to get the optimum result you have to place the water filter at least 30 to 50 feet away from the compressor nozzle.

This ensures two things –

1) It will give time for the compressed air to cool down until it reaches the water separator so that the filter can catch the moisture in the air.

2) It removes the maximum amount of moisture from the air.

However, besides the one canister water separator, you can also find two canister filters on the market. The two canister air filters are more effective than one canister.

They ensure the removal of about 90 percent of water vapor and other contaminants from the air. So, the air you get from the compressor is drier and moisture-free.

How to Maintain the Filter?

Like other tools and machinery, the water separator needs to be taken care of regularly. You need to occasionally drain out the water that has been collected through this process from the canister.

Most water filters have a clear canister to see how much water has gathered. The filters may have a drain valve or other system to easily drain out the excess moisture.

We recommend draining out the water as soon as it reaches two-thirds of the tube. Regular monitoring is required when you work too often with the air compressor.

Also, if you’re living in a humid area, you might want to dehumidify the air going into the compressor. If you don’t release the water on time, it will result in a watery stream of pressurized air when you pull the compressor trigger. This means the water will get back into the system and ruin all your efforts.

How far should filter be from air compressor?

The debate on how far the filter should be from the air compressor is a long and heated one. It can be both long distance and close enough as much as possible.

So, which side is right? Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer. It really depends on your specific situation and needs. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  1. What type of air compressor do you have? If you have a portable air compressor, then it might not be feasible to place the filter too close to it since you’ll need to move it around frequently. On the other hand, if you have a stationary air compressor, then placement won’t be an issue.
  2. What type of filter do you have? Some filters are designed to be placed closer to the air source while others can be further away without any issues.
  3. How clean do you need the air to be? The closer the filter is to the air compressor, the cleaner the output air will be. If you’re using your air compressor for sensitive equipment or applications, then it’s important to have as clean of output as possible. On the other hand, if you’re just using it for basic tasks like inflating tires, then a less-than-perfectly filtered output probably won’t make a significant difference.
  4. What are the space constraints in your work area? This one is pretty self-explanatory – if there isn’t enough room to place the filter close to your air compressor, then you’ll have no choice but to put it further away.
  5. What other factors are at play? There might be other unique factors in your particular situation that should be taken into account when deciding on filter placement. For example, if there is a lot of dust in your work environment, you might want to place the filter further away from the air source so that it doesn’t get clogged as quickly.


The water separator is a vital ingredient for your pneumatic tools. It not only supplies dry and moisture-free air but also increases the life expectancy of your air tools.

Additionally, it reduces contaminants that you generally get from the air. Therefore, the water separator increases the effectiveness of your air tools and brings accuracy to your work.

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Mitchel Shawn was a Co-worker and Engineer of a Gardening Tool manufacturing company since 2013 and a passionate researcher on Machinery goods. Picking the right tools for your work-station and making life easier is an untold helping journey by SHAWN. With this Reviewer Guides Blog, you'll definitely get help in revealing the accurate product spec which actually helps in real life works.