My Porter Cable Pancake Air Compressor has been a workhorse, flawlessly performing in cabinet trim work and even helping me build a deck frame. Sadly, it started to leak air but rather than visiting a service center/shop ($100 min charge), I decided to see if I can repair it myself.
I purchased my Porter Cable Pancake Air Compressor as a bundle set for $249. The set included 3 different nailing guns and I have been very happy with its performance.
Although my pancake air compressor is made by Porter Cable (model c2002, type 3*), the information presented here will most likely apply to other brands as well since most of compressors are made by a handful of manufacturers located in Mexico and China.
* Type 3 – Type 3 indicates a version number for a particular model. That means Model c2002, type 3 may have different components than Model c2002, type 4, etc.
The compressor’s inability to hold the pressure (PSI) started after I used it heavily to build my deck (read here). Because of tight spaces, I used a compressor-driven palm nailer (worked great) for a period of 2 days out in the sun and the compressor worked really hard.
Faint hissing sounds started soon after with air slowly leaking out. Initially, I thought maybe the drain valve was not closed completely, but within weeks, this hissing sound got louder and louder and my motor was having trouble keeping up with the air leak.
Although there are multiple possible failure points, I decided to check was the drain valve first because this drain valve uses a single compression O-ring to seal the air in. Based on my experience with various plumbing parts, I guesses that this O-ring failed due to heat when I built my deck. Besides, the drain valve is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix!
By the way, c-clip ring shown in the picture prevents the screw from being removed from the drain valve assembly.
To fix the air leak caused by a faulty drain valve, there are three choices:
- Option 1 – replace the O-ring (UPDATE: One reader suggested “…a packet of two O-rings…in Canada…O-rings they sell are 1/4 ID, 3/8 OD…They are known as o10 in the O ring industry specifications…; I wasn’t able to find the equivalent one in US, but found this)
- Option 2 – replace it with an identical part (Porter Cable C2002/C2005 Air Compressor OEM Replacement Drain Valve # A17038)
- Option 3 – replace it with a new ball valve type from another brand (Why? Read more about my Brand Decoding post). You can either buy BOSTITCH Ball valve Compressor Ball Type Drain Valve or buy DeWalt/Porter Cable Compressor OEM Replacement Ball Valve # N072023. Either one will fit fine, though the DeWalt/Porter Cable unit will give you slightly higher ground clearance.
Option 1 would be the easiest way to go, except the O-ring is next to impossible to find. Option 2 would also be acceptable, but I as I said before, I am not a fan of compression style valves due to the O-ring design.
WHICH BALL-VALVE TYPE DRAIN VALVES?
In the end, I decided to go with a ball valve type drain valve from Bostitch for reliability because I know ball valves are very durable and are not susceptible to heat damage like O-rings. It also allows me to quickly dump the air out (I personally chose the Bostitch unit over DeWalt/Porter Cable unit because it seems to be made of higher quality material).
REQUIRED TOOLS / PARTS
This project does not require any special tools, except that I would highly recommend using a deep socket to remove the drain valve to minimize any damage to the threaded female port.
I personally have and use Kobalt 11-Piece Metric 3/8″ Drive 12-Point Socket Set but only because I picked them up for $14 during Black Friday sale couple of years ago. If I had to purchase a new set, I would choose something like TEKTON 1230 3/8″ Drive Deep Socket Set that comes with 8 sockets (10-19mm).
The Bostitch drain valve comes in a rectangle shape so to tighten it, you will need a pair of adjustable pliers (don’t have one? Read my review here.)
If you decided to install a compression style drain valve, make sure to pick up some plumber’s silicone grease and apply it to the O-ring to prevent it from drying out (will have to do that periodically)
Both compression and ball valve replacement drain valves come with pre-applied thread sealant so you won’t have to apply any TEFLON thread tapes (click here to read more about different kinds of tapes).
You also want to have an old tooth brush on hand to clear any debris off before threading in a replacement drain valve.
Lastly (but very important), please do not forget to wear a pair of safety glasses at all times! I own a pair of DeWalt safety glasses because it is more durable than those with hard plastic hinges (like this one because they break very easily).
I placed an order through Amazon so once I get it, I will publish a follow up article. I wrote a follow up article (How to Repair a Leaky Pancake Air Compressor – Part 2).
Well, that’s it for this part of the project. I hope you found this article to be useful and I would love your comments. If you are interested in more DIY articles, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter. Just look for a signup form on the upper right hand side of your screen. Thanks!