Nothing Happens On My Air Compressor

I plug it in, I turn it on, and nothing happens on my air compressor. Oh no, that’s no fun.

There are some simple air compressor troubleshooting steps you can take right now to try and figure our why nothing happens on your air compressor.

Got a trouble light? You know, the one with the cord. Take the trouble light and plug it into the same socket where you had the compressor plugged in. Does the trouble light come on? If so, there is power to the plug. That’s good.

If the trouble light doesn’t come on, don’t just assume that the plug has no power, but plug the light into a different socket to make sure that you just don’t have a burnt out bulb.

If the light works in one socket and not in the plug where you had your air compressor plugged in, then find your electrical panel and see if you have a blown fuse or popped breaker. Odds are good that you do.

OK, I Have Power At The Plug

If you have power at the plug, then power should be getting to the compressor. Examine the compressor cord for any obvious damage. While it is not likely that the electrical cord inside has broken, stranger things have happened.

Air Compressor Help - compressor power cord at plug

If the compressor power cord looks OK, then does your compressor power cord feed power to an ON/OFF switch, or does the power cord go right to a pressure switch on the air compressor?

Is The ON/OFF Switch Working?

If the power cord is going to an ON/OFF switch, it’s time to examine it. Pull the power cord and remove the cover where the switch is located. As you can tell from the image, sometimes these switches, which are not very expensive in the first place, can undergo quite a bit of vibration and get covered in dust and dirt.

Air Compressor Help - Compressor ON/OFF switch

Examine all the wire connections you can see to make sure they are secure. If they are, it’s time to check to see if the switch is actually working. You will need a multi-meter and a comfort level working around live wires at this point. If you are not comfortable doing this, don’t do it!

With the switch wires exposed and the switch turned on, plug in the compressor and probe the supply and motor sides of the switch to ensure that power is actually getting across the switch. If it isn’t, a faulty switch is likely why nothing happens on the compressor and it’s time for a new switch.

Things are a bit more complicated when the compressor ON/OFF switch is part of the pressure switch, as this next image shows.

Air Compressor Help - ON/OFF switch on compressor pressure switchYou will want to take the cover off the switch. On one side (or on the top or bottom depending on the switch) the feed from the plug will be attached, and on the other the feed to the motor circuit will be attached. Eyeball the contents as best you can, to make sure that the wires are connected.

Then plug in the compressor, flip the ON / OFF switch to ON or RUN, and use the multi-meter to be sure – since the tank is empty and the pressure switch should have tripped to passing power – that power is actually getting to the motor side of the switch.  If not, then it’s quite likely that the pressure switch is pooched.

Power Is Flowing Through the Pressure Switch

Once you have determined that power is flowing through the pressure switch to the motor circuit, then you want to see where the power supply connects to the motor.

That connection to the motor could be through a motor-start-capacitor. Make sure that the wire actually connects to the capacitor, as we have had quite a number of complaints that the terminals corrode or vibrate off, and if that’s happened, when you turn on your air compressor, nothing will happen.

If the wires are well connected to the capacitor, and nothing is happening still when you power up the compressor, you will want to check whether the start capacitor is working.

See the page on this site about how to do that.

Hopefully your following these steps to diagnose when ” Nothing Happens On My Air Compressor ” will have isolated the problem.

If not, add a comment here telling us details about the condition of your compressor, the make and model, and we’ll try to offer specific help. If you see a question you can provide advice on, feel free to add a comment too. Please, only questions and comments about ” nothing happens on my air compressor ” can be posted on this page, thanks.

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5 years ago

I have a 220v brushless 5hp motor, 60 gallon, Industrial Air upright compressor. The head unit is belt driven. The compressor is about 8 years old, has been in the same place since new, and until now worked perfectly. With power off and the cord disconnected, the motor and compressor head unit turn freely. I have verified that power is getting through the pressure switch and I replaced the start capacitor. Any suggestions?