How to Clean Reed Valves on an Air Compressor?

Reed valves are a critical part of the air compressor. It is essential to keep the reed valves clean if you want to use your air compressor for a long time. 

Reed valves contribute to the performance and longevity of the air compressor. If the valves are not cleaned properly, air compressors will malfunction, and various other problems will arise. By following some easy steps, you can clean the reed valves of your air compressor on your own. There is no need to hire a professional for this simple task. Let’s take a look at the details of how to clean reed valves on an air compressor below.

What is a reed valve on an air compressor?

What is a reed valve on an air compressor

Reed valves are check valves that allow the fluids to flow in a specific direction. The change of pressure in the air compressor either opens it or closes it for the fluids. Pressure gradient and mass flow work as variables for air compressor reed valves. In an air compressor reed valve plate, there are thin steel flaps attached to it. When the piston travels down into the cylinder, the suction pressure is created, and as a result, the suction valve opens. Here, reed valves make the refrigerant flow inward and outward, with the piston coming up and down. A well functioning reed valve ensures the best performance of an air compressor.

Basically, the air compressor reed valve location is inside the cylinder side of the valve plates. To be specific, you will find it if you look just under the head of the air compressor.  Usually, reed valves are 0.35 mm to 0.4 mm thick. At present, reed valves are made of flexible metal or composite materials such as fiber glass, carbon fiber high chromium stainless steel, polyamides, etc. 

How to clean reed valves on an air compressor?

Cleaning a reed valves using screwdriver on an air compressor

Necessary Materials:

  • Screwdriver 
  • Brush
  • Solvent or liquid cleaner
  • Pliers 

When you have found a dirty reed valve blocked by debris, it is high time you started cleaning each part of the valve. 

Step 1:  Power off the compressor 

Safety is always the first priority.  For that purpose, firstly, shut off the power of the air compressor.  Then you need to drain the tank. So, open the drain valve to do so. It will release the extra pressure of the tank. These are some preventive measures to make sure that you will not get hurt while cleaning the reed valves. 

Step 2: Open the reed valves 

You need to remove the valve cautiously. Use screwdrivers to remove visible screws and then take off the head. If you have the newer model of air compressor, most probably it has a removable valve. In this case, you do not need to use a screwdriver. By using fingers, you can loosen it. Now pull out the reed valves and take it apart.

Step 3: Clean carefully 

Do not forget to use a solvent for cleaning all the parts. With a meticulous hand, cover all the area. Scrub it minutely with a small brush. You may need to use a small tool here for cleansing the tiny openings. When you are done washing, wipe it with a clean fabric. 

Step 4: Change the valves if necessary 

Now it is time to check the valve carefully. You will have to replace the damaged valve in case there is any crack. Then comes the last step of placing the reed valves again in the original spot. 

Step 5: Reassemble

Finally, reassemble the parts of the reed valve and put it back on the air compressor. Now tighten it with a screwdriver. Then finish off by putting the head on it. In this way, you can clean a reed valve on the air compressor without any difficulty.

You may also read: How to Fill HPA Tank with an Air Compressor

Importance of cleaning the reed valve

The valve plays a vital role to build up air pressure inside the air compressor. In case of any malfunction of the valve, the air compressor will fail to show maximum efficiency. That is why it is crucial to clean the reed valve for the smooth flow of air between the cylinder and tank. Moreover, to ensure the highest functioning capability of the air compressor, you need to stick to a regular maintenance schedule. 

The symptoms of a bad compressor reed valve

Primarily, you need to identify that the lack of efficiency of the compressor is caused by the reed valve. 

  1. In that case, if you face problems with low condensing temperature and pressure, there is a higher chance that the reed valve is the culprit.
  2. Also, a lousy reed valve will lead to higher evaporator suction pressure.
  3. After that, a compressor with low refrigerant decreases the condenser heat loading and condensing pressure. You are going to find a defective reed valve in this scenario, also.

After considering all these symptoms, you can conclude that you have got a bad compressor reed valve and you need to clean it as soon as possible. 

How to test an air compressor reed valve?

You need to check up on the reed valves of the air compressor regularly. The most effective process of testing the air compressor reed valve involves using the multimeter. By using this tool, you can check if the two wires of the reed valves are connected to each other properly.

Follow the procedures below to test an air compressor reed valve:

  1. Firstly, remove the reed of the air compressor 
  2. Secondly, join the two leads of the multimeter with the positive and negative terminals of the reed valves consecutively.
  3. If you get a multimeter read of Infinity, then it means reed valves are functioning well. If the result is marked above Infinity, then the reed valves are defective. You will have to install new reed valves in this case.

How often should reed valves be cleaned?

To keep the reed valves in good working condition, these need to be cleaned every few months. More importantly, if you identify any symptoms of defective reed valves on the air compressor, you need to work on it immediately. On a regular basis, you need to check if the reed valves are in good condition.

Also, if you have kept the air compressor for a while, then clean the reed valves before using it. It will help with better performance. If you do not clean the reed valves, it will lead to the loss of pressure. This lowered pressure will strain the pump and wear it out faster.


Hopefully, the above-mentioned methods about how to clean reed valves on an air compressor will come in handy for you. It is needless to mention that the reed valves are one of the important but neglected parts of an air compressor. That’s why this piece of air compressor needs more attention to maximize the performance and preserve it for a long time.

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Samuel H. Murphy is DIY expert and Interior Designer. He is also a part time content writer of Capische. He lives in Warren city, Michigan. He test tools like drill, saw, sander, air compressor etc and helps readers to find out the best tools.

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