Are you wondering if you can use an air compressor indoors? You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll talk about some of the situations when you can and cannot use an air compressor inside.
Should you use an air compressor indoors? There are a few good reasons to avoid this. If you have a gas-powered compressor, then you could risk exposing yourself or others to CO or harmful fumes. Also, the sound of an air compressor is often too loud for regular indoor use. If you have an electric air compressor, it’s a little different story.
Below, we’ll talk about the potential downsides to using an air compressor in the house. Then we’ll talk about several ways that you can safely use an air compressor indoors.
Let’s figure this one out!
Why Would You Want to Use an Air Compressor in the House?
First, let’s address why some people want to use an air compressor in the house. While there are many projects that can be performed outside, sometimes there’s simply no way to avoid interior projects – this is usually the case when someone is working on a structural component of the house.
Here are several reasons people want to use the air compressor indoors:
- You have a pneumatic nail gun: You might be using a nail gun to build a shelf or a new interior wall in your basement. In these cases, it can be tricky to find a way to use the air compressor.
- You’re trying to fill something in the garage: Maybe you’re using the air compressor to fill a tire on a bike or a car. In this case, you might need to use the air compressor indoors – most likely in the garage.
- You’re trying to clean something: Some people use the power of an air compressor to remove dirt from crevices or sawdust from a project they’re working on. In this case, it’s often necessary to use the compressor indoors.
Now that we’ve talked about why people want to use the air compressor inside, let’s talk about some of the dangers.
Dangers of Using an Air Compressor Indoors
While it’s a natural desire to use the air compressor indoors, there are some fairly significant dangers you should keep in mind. This isn’t to say that you can never use an air compressor inside; it’s only to mention that there are drawbacks.
What to look out for:
- Loud noises Carbon monoxide
See more information below.
Dealing with Loud Air Compressors Inside the House
The first thing you should keep in mind, whether you’re using a gas-powered or an electric air compressor, is the danger of the noise. Both air compressors will be loud, and this can cause several problems.
First, it can cause hearing problems. You don’t want to begin experiencing constant ear ringing, as is common with people who are continually exposed to extra loud noise.
Second, you don’t want to provide a huge disruption to the household. If you’re a professional performing a job for someone, they might not be too pleased with an air compressor blasting all day. Sometimes, this can’t be avoided, but it’s still something to consider.
Third, the loud noises will hinder your ability to communicate on a job. If you’re on a large project, then there could be multiple air compressors going at the same time. In this instance, it can be very difficult to communicate clearly with co-workers.
For all these reasons, it’s best to limit the amount of time the air compressor is used indoors or consider other options.
Be Careful with Carbon Monoxide inside
You should always avoid using a gas-powered air compressor indoors. Why? Carbon monoxide – or CO. CO is a byproduct of combustion, and it can come from many sources – gas stoves, cars, and small equipment like gas-powered air compressors.
Here’s the thing about CO – it’s odorless and invisible. That means the only way you’ll detect that it’s present in the air is if you have a working CO alarm, or you begin to show symptoms of CO poisoning.
For this reason, you should never run a gas-powered air compressor in your home. If, for some reason, you absolutely had to use an air compressor in an enclosed space, ensure there is plenty of ventilation, and know that masks and respirators won’t protect you from CO. The better option is to avoid this altogether – in the later sections, I’ll talk about how you can do this.
Now let’s talk about other harmful fumes related to using an air compressor inside.
Avoiding other Harmful Fumes and Particles
Another thing to be aware of is harmful fumes from oil (used in a gas air compressor), or from vapors from the paint you’re spraying or other dust in the air. You don’t want to accidentally inhale pollutants.
Keep in mind that even an electric air compressor could create some fumes, as many electric air compressors will require some kind of oil to run properly.
Now let’s talk about how to use an air compressor indoors if you have to.
How to Use an Air Compressor Indoors if Needed
If you must use a pneumatic tool indoors, there are a few ways you can do this much more safely. In the next sections, we’ll lay out a few ideas to get the use of an air compressor without all the hazards.
Here are several ways to use an air compressor indoors:
- Use an electric compressor
- Wear personal protection and ventilation
- Get a longer air compressor hose
- Use battery powered or CO2 powered air tools
Below, we’ll unpack each of these points in further depth.
Note: ensure that you’ve read the owner’s manual for the tool you’re using and that you’re aware of the risks/maintenance.
Use an Electric Air Compressor if You’ll be Inside
If you’re indoors, it will be safer to use an electric air compressor – usually. Electric air compressors don’t emit CO as gas air compressors will; however, there are still a few things to keep in mind.
First, you’ll still have to deal with the noise. Second, there could still be particulate fumes from oil that floats in the air. Let’s talk about this.
Wear Personal Protection (Ear and Respiratory) with Air Compressors
If you decide to use an electric air compressor indoors, you’ll still need to take steps to remain safe.
First, you should invest in some high-quality ear protection. Many people find that over-the-earmuffs give the best protection; however, you’ll have to shop around and find something that works for you.
Second, have a respiratory on hand. This should be rated to filter out very fine particles. Ensure that you maintain ventilation and use a respirator if you’re using the air compressor in an enclosed space.
Now let’s talk about another way to stay safe.
Get a Longer Hose for Your Air Compressor
Many people advise that you invest in an extra-long hose for your air compressor. If you buy a 100-foot hose, then it’s much easier to have your air compressor running outside while still being able to work indoors.
In this scenario, you don’t need to worry about noises or fumes – you’ll just have to manage the extended hose to the best of your ability.
Let’s talk about one final option for using an air compressor indoors (this next example is technically cheating).
Use a Battery Powered or CO2 Powered Air Tool
If you want to use an air compressor and pneumatic tools indoors but don’t want all the risks, here’s an idea: remove the air compressor entirely.
Modern technology has allowed for the creation of small air powered tools that don’t need the air compressor tank. Some of the most popular tools are battery powered nail guns. These tools work just like a regular nail gun, only they don’t require an air compressor.
You can also find tools that use a CO2 cartridge and a smaller battery. These are usually lighter than battery powered versions (but you do have to worry about changing CO2 cartridges).
Alright, now it’s time for a few final thoughts.
Final Thoughts: Should You Use an Air Compressor Inside?
Is it really a good idea to use an air compressor indoors? Probably not if you can help it. Gas powered air compressors should never be used in an enclosed space, as there is the risk of CO poisoning or the buildup of dangerous fumes. Also, the loud noises from the compressor can damage your hearing.
If you need to use an air compressor indoors, your best option is to use an electric compressor and attach an extra-long hose. This way, you can still use the air powered tools, but you don’t need to deal with the hazard of the air compressor.
Either way, you should always read the manufacturer’s guidelines – these booklets aren’t super interesting, but they do contain useful information about how to stay safe while using an air compressor. If you no longer have a manual, contact the manufacturer – they will likely give you one if you ask.