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Moisture in your compressed air system can ruin your air tools, plug up your media blasting gun, and mess up a paint job. I am in the process of painting a vintage snowmobile and if moisture gets to the paint gun it will not mix well with the paint and cause a lot of frustration and rework. This gave me the idea to wrote the article on a moisture separator. Below is a picture of the moisture separator I use for my shop air compressor. The metal piping, fittings, and valves were bought from a local hardware store. The moisture separator, coalescing air filter, and pressure regulator were purchased from TP tools.  


I got the idea for this setup from TP tools. The metal piping is used to drop out the moisture: when the hot, moisture laden air from the compressor hits the cold metal pipes, the vapor turns to water where it can be easily removed by the separator. The piping layout is designed to drop the moisture to a low point where it can be drained out. 

Here is the moisture separator that I use. It is a 1/2" water separator that I bought from TP tools (part # 3202) this separator has a threaded drain petcock on the bottom to drain off the moisture. 
Here is the coalescing air filter that I use. I got it from TP tools (part #3405) This filter removes both moisture and impurities. It does have a replaceable filter element that can be removed, dried out and reused. 

Here is a well used filter element from the coalescing air filter. 
I wanted to add this photo to show the ball valve I installed for my compressor tank. The compressor came with a petcock located at the bottom center of the tank. This was a pain to get to so I bought some pipe, fittings and a ball valve to get the valve to an easier location to operate. Draining the water from the compressor tank will help reduce internal corrosion that can eventually eat through and ruin the tank. This moisture separator has worked great for 10 years now. I noticed a big difference when I first installed it - my hands were not getting wet from the air tool exhaust any more. It is important to remember that this system is not maintenance free - you need to open the drains and check the filter elements on a regular basis. My shop is not climate controlled so I find that I need to do more maintenance in the summer time since there is more humidity in the air the large temperature swings. Once I had all the components together it took about an hour to install and setup this system. If you are having moisture problem in your compressed air system this simple setup may be a cost effective solution.

I have use this system for over 3 years now. The coalescing air filter body did need to be replaced due to the body corroding to the point it was leaking air when pressurized.

NOTE: I revised this article 19JUN2017. I put the pressure regulator upstream of the coalescing filter. The coalescing filter is rated for 125psig. Thanks Mickey.
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