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Air Compressor Not Working With Extension Cord? (Here’s Why)

Air compressors are useful tools that are used in a variety of applications, such as inflating tires, operating power tools, and painting. They work by compressing and storing air in a tank, which can then be released through a hose to power various tools and equipment.

However, one common problem that users may encounter when using an air compressor is that it does not work when connected to an extension cord. This can be frustrating and may prevent the air compressor from being used for the intended task.

In this article, I will dive into the possible causes of an air compressor not working with an extension cord, and provide tips for troubleshooting and using an air compressor with an extension cord safely and efficiently. By understanding the root causes of this problem and following the troubleshooting steps and tips outlined in this article, you can ensure that your air compressor is working properly and can be used to its full potential.

Possible Causes Of The Problem

There are several possible causes of an air compressor not working when connected to an extension cord. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Length of the extension cord

The length of the extension cord can play a role in whether or not the air compressor will work properly. If the extension cord is too long, it can result in a voltage drop, which can cause the air compressor to not work properly or even shut off.

A general rule of thumb is to use an extension cord that is no longer than 50 feet for a 15-amp circuit, and no longer than 100 feet for a 20-amp circuit.

Gauge of the extension cord

The gauge of the extension cord refers to its thickness and is indicated by a number. A lower number means a thicker cord, which can handle more current and is better suited for power tools.

For an air compressor, it is recommended to use an extension cord with a gauge of 12 or lower.

Power rating of the extension cord

The power rating of the extension cord refers to the amount of current it can safely handle. It is important to use an extension cord that is rated for the power requirements of the air compressor.

If the extension cord is not rated for the power of the air compressor, it can result in the air compressor not working properly or even damaging the extension cord or air compressor.

Condition of the extension cord

The condition of the extension cord can also affect whether or not the air compressor will work properly. If the extension cord is frayed, damaged, or has exposed wires, it can result in the air compressor not functioning correctly. It is important to regularly inspect the extension cord for any visible damage and replace it if necessary.

By understanding these possible causes of an air compressor not working with an extension cord, you can better troubleshoot the problem and take the necessary steps to fix it.

How To Troubleshoot The Problem

If you are experiencing problems with your air compressor not working with an extension cord, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue:

  1. Check the length and gauge of the extension cord: As mentioned in the previous section, the length and gauge of the extension cord can affect the performance of the air compressor. First, check the length of the extension cord and make sure it is not too long for the intended use. Then, check the gauge of the extension cord and ensure that it is thick enough to handle the power requirements of the air compressor. If the extension cord is not the correct length or gauge, try using a different extension cord that meets the recommended specifications.
  2. Check the power rating of the extension cord: It is also important to make sure that the extension cord is rated for the power of the air compressor. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the power rating of the extension cord and compare it to the rating of the extension cord you are using. If the extension cord is not rated for the power of the air compressor, try using a different extension cord with a higher power rating.
  3. Inspect the extension cord for any visible damage: If the extension cord appears to be frayed, damaged, or has exposed wires, it may be causing the air compressor to not work properly. Carefully inspect the extension cord and replace it if necessary.
  4. Try a different extension cord: If you have ruled out the other possible causes and the air compressor is still not working with the extension cord, try using a different extension cord. This will help you determine if the problem is with the extension cord or the air compressor itself.

By following these troubleshooting steps, you can identify the cause of the problem and take the necessary steps to fix it. If the problem persists or you are unable to troubleshoot the issue, it may be a good idea to consult the manufacturer or a professional for further assistance.

Tips For Using An Air Compressor With An Extension Cord

To ensure the safe and efficient use of an air compressor with an extension cord, here are some tips to follow:

  • Use a heavy-duty extension cord specifically designed for power tools: It is important to use an extension cord that is capable of handling the power requirements of the air compressor. Look for an extension cord that is specifically designed for use with power tools, as these are generally thicker and more durable than standard extension cords.

  • Avoid using an extension cord that is too long for the job: As mentioned earlier, the length of the extension cord can affect the performance of the air compressor. To avoid voltage drop and ensure optimal performance, use an extension cord that is the appropriate length for the job. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the recommended length of the extension cord.

  • Use a circuit with a higher amperage rating if available: If the circuit you are using to power the air compressor has a lower amperage rating, it may not be able to handle the power requirements of the air compressor. If possible, use a circuit with a higher amperage rating to ensure the air compressor is working properly.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your air compressor is working properly and can be used to its full potential when connected to an extension cord. It is also a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for using an extension cord with the air compressor, as well as all safety guidelines and precautions.

Pros & Cons Of Using An Extension Cord

Before you decide on using an extension cord with your air compressor you should consider some of the pros and cons. Of course, seeing them is a bit easier in a table format so I created one to make it a bit easier.

Pros Of Using An Extension CordCons Of Using An Extension Cord
Allows you to use the air compressor in areas that are not near an outletVoltage drop can occur if the extension cord is too long, which can affect the performance of the air compressor
Can be used to extend the reach of the air compressor, allowing it to be used in a wider range of locationsExtension cords can be prone to damage, which can result in the air compressor not working properly
Can be used to power the air compressor in outdoor areas, such as a workshop or construction siteUsing an extension cord that is not rated for the power requirements of the air compressor can result in damage to the extension cord or the air compressor
Allows for greater flexibility in where the air compressor can be usedExtension cords can be heavy and cumbersome to carry around, which can be inconvenient when using the air compressor in different locations

Final Thoughts

Using an extension cord with an air compressor can be a convenient way to power the air compressor in areas that are not near an outlet or to extend its reach to a wider range of locations. However, it is important to consider the potential pros and cons of using an extension cord, as well as to follow proper safety guidelines and precautions.

To ensure the safe and efficient use of an air compressor with an extension cord, it is important to use a heavy-duty extension cord specifically designed for power tools, avoid using an extension cord that is too long for the job, and use a circuit with a higher amperage rating if available.

If you encounter problems with your air compressor not working with an extension cord, you can troubleshoot the issue by checking the length and gauge of the extension cord, checking the power rating, inspecting the extension cord for any visible damage, and trying a different extension cord.

By understanding the possible causes of an air compressor not working with an extension cord and following the troubleshooting steps and tips outlined in this article, you can help ensure that your air compressor is working properly and can be used to its full potential.