Are Air Compressors Dangerous?

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If you’re willing to spend you hard-earned money on an expensive air compressor (regardless if it’s a single or twin tank model), you probably wondered about how safe it was to use.

And that is a fair question, believe me.

The thing is that it’s a bit difficult to find an in-depth guide that can easily tell you what are the dangers related to using an air compressor and, more importantly, how to prevent these risks.

This is why I decided to make this quick article where I’ll tell you whether an air compressor is dangerous or not.

Let’s begin.

Are Air Compressors Dangerous?

Regardless if you get a vertical, hotdog or even a pancake air compressor, there are always risks related to running these tools.

Here are the most common dangers that you’re exposed to when using air compressors:

  1. Electrical hazard
  2. Hearing Damage
  3. Flying Debris
  4. High Pressure
  5. Fire Hazard

1. Electrical hazard

Picture this: your trusty air compressor, chugging away, suddenly sparks fly and before you know it, a short-circuit ignites a raging inferno.

Sadly, all corded air compressors come with the risk of a potential electrical hazard.

The key to avoiding electrical hazards lies in the maintenance of your air compressor as neglect can wreak havoc on its electrical system, increasing the risk of a malfunction.

So, take heed, my friend, and keep your air compressor running smoothly with regular cleaning and oiling. Trust me, it’s worth it to avoid these dangerous electrical hazards.

2. Hearing Damage

Once you damage your hearing, it’s gone for good. And, let me tell you, those air compressors aren’t helping.

Because they’re made with combustion engines, they can make all sorts of noise depending on how strong and old the motor is. And trust me, these things can get real loud, like over 120 decibels loud.

That’s the kind of noise that can make you go deaf.

And it’s not just the noise, these compressors can also send out vibrations that can hurt your inner ear and cause hearing loss.

3. Flying Debris

Believe it or not, air compressors can put your body at risk as they frequently throw particles present in the air with much force, all over the place. These dirt particles, can not only make your body hurt but also seriously injure you.

It’s all because of the way the compressor works. When the motor is running, it sucks in a bunch of air and then, after compressing it, it releases the extra air with a lot of force, and that’s when all those particles start flying around.

But don’t worry, there’s a way to protect yourself. Just wear some safety gear like work glasses, and they will cover the most sensitive parts of your body that could get injured by flying debris. This is the best way to stay safe and avoid getting hurt.

4. High Pressure

Ah, the raw power of high air pressure! You quickly come to love it, until you find yourself on the receiving end of an air compressor’s full force.

Imagine that very same air pressure your air compressor creates penetrating deep into your very flesh. It sounds like a scene from a sci-fi movie, but in reality, it’s a dangerous and painful experience.

The consequences can range from mere scratches and bruises to serious injuries such as broken bones.

Which is why I’d tell you to take this warning and approach your air compressor with caution.

Dress appropriately in protective clothing and gear, and avoid becoming a cautionary tale of high air pressure gone wrong.

5. Fire Hazard

And finally, the elephant in the room – fire hazards.

Oh yeah, those air compressors can get real hot, especially when they’re running at full throttle.

And if you’re using a gas air compressor, things can get even more dangerous because these air compressors store flammable gas which could explode if it catches fire.

Scary stuff, right?

But here’s the good news, you can avoid this fire hazard very easily.

Just keep a close eye on the temperature of your air compressor and regularly maintain it to make sure everything is in good working order. Like checking for dirt in the air intakes, making sure the oil level is good, etc.

Trust me, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to fire hazards.

Air Compressor Safety Precautions

Here are some precautions to take when trying to make sure that you’ll not deal with any of the previous hazards I just talked about:

  1. Do a prep check
  2. Enhance air circulation
  3. Check pressure ratings
  4. Use safety valve
  5. Guard all moving parts
  6. Reduce humidity
  7. Clean air intake
  8. Frequently drain/maintain the air compressor
  9. Don’t let air hose be bent
  10. Use proper safety gear

1. Do a prep check

If you have the time to work on your next project, you have the time to take a few minutes and do a prep check to make sure everything will run perfectly when using your air compressor.

These are the steps you need to follow:

  • Check oil levels
  • Check fuel levels (if powered by fuel)
  • Make sure air filters are clean
  • Secure connections with pneumatic tools
  • Check proper connection with power outlet (if electrical)

2. Enhance air circulation

When an air compressor is operating it’s also releasing pollutants into the air, especially if it’s a gas air compressor.

Sadly, these pollutants (e.g. carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen) are not something you want to breathe in as they could be very harmful for your body and lungs.

Here’s the good news though: you can avoid all this by running your air compressor in an open space.

By running your air compressor in an open space, these pollutants I just told you about will be able to disperse into the air without affecting the air quality around you or anyone near the air compressor.

3. Check pressure ratings

Air compressors are amazing machines that will make your pneumatic tools, like framing nailers or air impact wrenches, run like a dream.

But, as with most machines, there are certain precautions you need to take to make sure that the air compressor doesn’t get damaged or worse, explode.

One of those precautions is preventing the air compressor from outputting too much air pressure.

Not only will this stop the air compressor from damaging the pneumatic tool, but it will also keep the motor from running at unsustainable levels, which could lead to serious problems.

So, don’t let the power of the air compressor go above of what it’s supposed to go and keep an eye on the pressure levels. Trust me, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to explosions.

4. Use safety valve

If you want to ensure your air compressor doesn’t exceed safe pressure levels and keep everyone safe in case of an emergency, then the safety valve is a must-have.

Think of it as a guardian angel for your air compressor.

The safety valve helps regulate the air pressure to the required level, preventing the air compressor from running at high speeds which can be both dangerous and shorten the lifespan of your pneumatic tools.

So, don’t take any chances and make sure you’re using the safety valve.

It’s the key to keeping your air compressor running smoothly and safely, for you and your colleagues.

5. Guard all moving parts

When an air compressor is in operation, there are several components in motion, like the rotor for instance which can be dangerous to touch because it rotates at high speeds and can cause serious injury if it makes contact with your skin

That’s why I always say that it’s best to keep your distance from these moving parts as they can be hazardous if touched.

Also, it’s important to secure the air compressor’s moving parts with guards. This will prevent accidental contact and keep everyone out of harm’s way.

Not only does this enhance safety, but it also extends the life of your air compressor by protecting its internal components from external influences.

6. Reduce humidity

Excessive moisture in the air can be a real pain for air compressors, causing rust and corrosion that can reduce its lifespan and even make it malfunction.

And trust me, a malfunctioning air compressor is not something you want to deal with.

But, there’s good news, you can reduce this risk by keeping the humidity levels low in the environment where the air compressor is located.

You can get a dehumidifier or even open a window or two to let in some fresh air. Simple yet effective.

7. Clean air intake

The air compressor works by taking air from its surrounding environment and compressing it (in one or two stages).

If this air happens to be dirty or with some debris because the air intake is dirty you run the risk of damaging the internal components.

This not only affects the lifespan of the air compressor but also presents some dangerous potential hazards as it will definitely make it malfunction.

So, frequently cleaning the air intake should be a nice idea as it will guarantee that the air the air compressor takes from its surroundings is free of dirt and debris.

8. Frequently drain/maintain the air compressor

If you want to prevent you air compressor from malfunctioning, you should make sure that its tank is drained and the oil/fuel reserves are full.

Draining the tank is key to prevent corrosion and future malfunctions that could lead to serious hazards.

On the other hand, making sure the oil/fuel reserves are full is equally important. It’s the lifeblood of the air compressor, and without it, the air compressor would not function. It keeps the internal parts lubricated and cools down the engine, avoiding any damage caused by heat and friction.

Both of these tasks are essential to make sure that the air compressor is running efficiently which will, in turn, reduce harmful emissions and the risks of dealing with electrical and fire hazards.

9. Don’t let air hose be bent

When it comes to using an air compressor, one thing you definitely want to avoid is a bent air hose.

It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it can cause a serious malfunction.

When the air hose is bent, it affects the air flow which can lead to overheating, and that’s when things can get dangerous. Overheating can lead to electrical or fire hazards, and nobody wants their air compressor to explode.

Keep an eye on it and straighten it out if you notice it’s not looking right.

It’s a small step that can make a big difference in ensuring that the internal components of the air compressor are working properly.

10. Use proper safety gear

Last but not least, I’d tell you to use proper safety gear when using an air compressor.

The correct safety gear will protect your and those surrounding you which could substantially reduce the chances of dealing with serious accidents/injuries.

So, wearing safety gear like work glasses, work pants, or hard hats should be your best bet to make sure nothing happens to you.

Are Air Compressors Dangerous? My Take

Air compressors are amazing tools that can simplify your work and increase your efficiency, but it’s crucial to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and the longevity of the air compressor itself.

Here are some insider tips to keep in mind for a worry-free air compressor experience:

  1. Regular maintenance is a game-changer! Keep an eye on the air compressor’s tank and oil/fuel levels, and maintain low humidity levels for optimal performance, which is key to preventing dangerous malfunctions
  2. Start each session with a prep check! Make sure the air hose is in good condition and not bent, and check the safety valve to ensure it’s working properly
  3. Safety gear is non-negotiable! Invest in work glasses, pants, a hard hat, earplugs or earmuffs, a respirator mask, and work gloves to protect yourself from flying debris, loud noise, and harmful emissions

By following these simple tips, you can harness the power of your air compressor and enjoy peace of mind while you work.

Best Air Compressor w/ Safety Features

DEWALT DXCM271.COM 27 Gal. 200 PSI Portable Air Compressor


  • Pressure rating: 5.1 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Maintenance: Oil free motor
  • Noise: Less than 80 dBA
DEWALT DXCM271.COM 27 Gal. 200 PSI Portable Air Compressor

Dewalt is a household name when it comes to top-of-the-line air compressors, and the DXCM271 model is no exception.

With a powerful low-voltage motor that pumps out an impressive 5.1 SCFM at 90 PSI, this air compressor can handle all of your pneumatic tool air pressure needs with ease.

And thanks to its convenient wheels and sturdy handle, moving it around is a breeze.

Although the air filter placement is a bit awkward, the oil-free piston more than makes up for it as it requires no maintenance.

Plus, at just 80 dBA of noise made when operating, it won’t damage your hearing like some other air compressors might if you’re working with them all day.


  • Powerful low-voltage motor outputs 5.1 SCFM at 90 PSI to run all your pneumatic tools with shorter recovery times (200 max PSI)
  • Makes less than 80 dBA of noise to reduce the chance of hearing damage
  • Robust handle and wheels simplify transportation
  • Easy to read air pressure gauges for maximum convenience
  • Oil free maintenance


  • Air filter could be more accessible

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions regarding air compressors and the hazards they present when operating them.

Is it safe to breathe air from a compressor?

I believe it’s not safe to breathe air from an air compressor, especially if it’s gas-powered as they often release harmful emissions, like carbon monoxide, into the air.

That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your air compressor is placed in a well-ventilated area, as you’ll make sure these emissions are dispersed into the air instead of your lungs.

I mean, health and the health of those around you should always come first. So, let’s try to be proactive and keep the air we breathe safe and healthy.

Can an air compressor cause a fire?

Yes, an air compressor can cause a fire.

That’s right, the internal components of an air compressor, especially its motor, heat up during operation.

So, if the air compressor isn’t well-maintained or there’s a mechanical issue, things could go haywire and lead to a fire hazard through an unexpected malfunction, especially if it’s gas-powered.

Scary stuff, right?

It just goes to show how important it is to keep our air compressors in tip-top shape by putting oil on them.

Is it safe to use an air compressor indoors?

Well, it’s a tricky question.

If it’s an electric air compressor, you should be fine as with no fuel storage, you can run it safely indoors without worrying about harmful emissions.

But, if you have a gas air compressor, it’s a different story as they have combustion engines that release harmful gases which should never be breathed in. This is why I’d say it’s best to keep these types of air compressors outside in a well-ventilated area.

Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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