"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Bad Air

The blue compressed air system shown on the right is the Kobalt system I purchased at Lowes in January of this year. There is another posting in this blog when I made the purchase. It was the replacement for a very old compressor that was blowing oil. That compressor is show in the previous post.

I had some bad luck with this new machine. A few months ago the pressure switch failed and it wouldn’t let the compressor restart at the low pressure point. I disassembled the switch which was made from pot metal. The diaphragm plate had warped and was leaking air. Some work with a file flattened the plate and let the gasket seal the chamber again.

This picture is the Killer. These are parts of the reed style discharge valves from inside the compressor itself. The heavy metal at the left is the back-up plate and the object to the right is the reed valves. Only the middle two valves on my machine had ports behind them. The outside two were dummies. You can see the heat patterns are different between the inside and outside valves. Yep, that is a broken valve. The compressor stops pumping when that happens.

Readers here know I like to take things apart, especially my tools. I suspected this broken valve was the problem as I have worked with air conditioning compressors all my life and know the symptoms. I had to see for myself. I also discovered the cylinder wall is plastic and the piston is a flat plate with a rubber O-ring for a piston seal. No problem there. It seemed to work well enough. The intake valves are a different style reed valve.

I called the Lowes 800 number for warranty/repair information. I had a printed three year warranty in my hand. After I gave the service rep all the information he told me this story. The maker of this compressor went bankrupt. There are no repair parts, There is no one who will repair them because of no parts and no way to get paid by the maker who is bankrupt. The whole unit is now a throw away. The only thing I can do is take it back to the store where I bought it and see what the manager will do.

Hmmm… I put it all back together and did a print out of the picture above. I hauled it all back to the store. I talked very nicely with the store manager, told him the story I received from the service department and showed him the picture of the broken valve. In fact I told him to keep it (the picture).

He gave me full store credit ($300 + tax) without question since Kobalt is a store brand. He said he had never seen such complete documentation of a problem including a picture. Other employees were coming around amazed with my documentation and explanation. Most had no idea how an air compressor functions… It was actually fun for me, I enjoy teaching.

Heads up. This same unit is still being sold in the store. After 10 months use and two major failures, this thing is a real P.O.S. Don’t buy this compressor. The only good part is the tank!

Here is what I picked as a replacement. It is a DeWalt oil-less as can be seen. The tank is only 15 gallon (the Kobalt was labeled 27 but the tank was stamped 30). Look close at the picture you can see the pressure is rated for 200 PSI, it is rated 5.4 SCFM @ 90 pounds and is 1.8 HP. The Kobalt was 150 PSI, 4.0 SCFM @ 90 pounds and 1.5 HP. I paid $60 more for this machine.

This looks like a much better built system. It is also much quieter and has a filter on the air intake which helps not only filter the air but filters the noise too. (The Kobalt has no intake filter.)

Time will tell if this air system has the right stuff. Let me tell you my Lowes store did the right thing. (Frisco, Texas) It was a no hassle exchange and for a bit more I think I got a far better machine. Oh and before I forget, The Kobalt included a bunch of air tools with the original package. No requirement to return the air tools so I still have them. That’s customer service for my trouble. Thank you Lowes.

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