Yes, compressors can blow up!

compressors can blow up
(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)


“My xxxx air compressor blew up in the garage. Took out block wall & ceiling out above (12′). Why or how did this happen? 3hp 30gal.”


Here is my response:

I can’t be sure since I’m not seeing the remains, nor did I see the compressor before the accident, but it sounds to me like your compressor pressure switch may have failed.

If the pressure switch doesn’t shut off the compressor at the high pressure set point, then the compressor will keep running and building pressure in the tank. If that happens your pressure relief valve is supposed to open to vent overpressure before exactly what you say happened, happens.

So, pressure switch failure, and then a PRV failure, or did you even have one installed?

Both failing at the same time is a very unlikely occurrence and I’m sure sorry that you were the subject of the unhappy results. Good luck with the next one.

And periodically carefully pull out on the ring of the PRV until air exhausts through it,  and then push the valve stem back into place until it seats to cut off the air flow. This  to make sure that it operates freely and can do so should an overpressure  occur.

Have you checked your PRV lately?

Hello, I am Bill, the Compressed-Air-Man. I have years of experience in industrial and residential compressed air applications, air compressors and general pneumatics. I created this site to help professionals, students, and DIYers understand and properly implement and maintain compress3ed air systems.


  1. […] While it is unlikely, there have been cases whee air compressor tanks have exploded. This is normally due to manufacturing defects that cause corrosion of the tank from water condensate, improper usage or improper functioning of the device. It is important to always follow the proper safety guidelines when dealing with compressors. For more information, see our article on air compressor tanks exploding. […]


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