How to Increase CFM on Air Compressor


If you own an air compressor, you must have seen that it has a CFM rating, and the tools powered by it have its CFM rating. The air compressor is one of the most common tools found among homeowners and professional contractors. You can use your air compressor for different purposes; it can be used to pump air into tires or paint walls. It uses compressed air to power pneumatic or air-powered tools. Just as various tools have their PSI, they also have their CFM rating. Some projects and tools require you to increase the CFM, like when spray painting or using an impact wrench. In this article, we’ll be discussing the different ways you can increase the CFM of your air compressor to suit your project and tool.

Also, see

How to Use An Air Compressor?

Air Compressor Maintenance Guide

Air Compressor Piping Diagrams and Tips

Air Compressor Safety Tips

What Is CFM In Air Compressor

CFM means Cubic Foot per Minute. It measures the speed of the air sucked into the air compressor. It is also a measure of the rate at which air flows out of the air compressor. CFM is an imperial unit, and it can be measured by the size of the air compressor’s tank and cylinders and the operating speed of the pump. If an air compressor has a 5 CFM rating, it means 5 cubic feet of air would come out of the air compressor in one minute. If you see this 5 CFM rating on a pneumatic tool, it means it requires 5 cubic feet of air in one minute to operate properly. This proves that the CFM is an essential feature in your air compressor that affects its efficiency. The air compressor would not function without it. Without it, there would be no air moving in or out of the air compressor, making it unable to work or power your tool. If your air compressor has a higher CFM, more air will be supplied to your tool, and you would be able to complete large projects in a short time. Different pneumatic tools require different CFM ratings; this is why it is important to understand how to increase the CFM on your air compressor.

How to Increase CFM on an Air Compressor

Air compressors are designed to have their CFM rating for a specific pressure. There are two methods you can use to increase it

First Method: Decrease the pressure of the air compressor

For an air compressor to operate, it sucks air into the tank and builds up the pressure in the tank until it reaches a certain level. This built-up pressure then pushes the air out of the tank into the tool through a hose. The rate at which that air goes out is referred to as CFM. The power level of different air compressors varies. To maintain the power level, the pressure to be reduced to increase the CFM. To reduce the pressure, you need to adjust the pressure regulator by turning its knob anticlockwise. When you reduce the pressure regulator, the pressure in the tank takes time to build up, and this low pressure produces a higher CFM. If your air compressor has a pressure rating of 5 CFM at 90 PSI, this means it produces 5 cubic feet meter of air in one minute at a pressure of 90 PSI. If you reduce the pressure, the airflow rate will be more than 5 CFM. This method is safe for you and your air compressor.

You can see How to Adjust Air Compressor Pressure Regulator? to learn how to reduce the pressure.

Second Method: Connect an extra air compressor

There is a limit to the CFM rating you can reach when using the first method; this method allows you to reach a very high CFM rating beyond your air compressors limit. This method involves connecting another air compressor to your air compressor.

To connect both, first, connect their tanks to two different hoses. Get a third hose and connect it to the other two hoses. The third hose should have three holes, two for input and one for output. Connect the output hole of the third hose to the tool.

Since two is better than one, having two air compressors would definitely produce a higher CFM. This method is only preferable for heavy-duty projects, where it is easy to get another air compressor. The major disadvantage of using this method is that it would take a longer time to get both tanks filled, and this may cause one or both compressors to overheat or damage the tool connected to the air compressor.

Is it Possible to Decrease CFM?

It is very possible to decrease the CFM of your air compressor. You can reduce your air compressor if you don’t want too much air to get into the air compressor. When decreasing it, be careful not lower it too much so the tank can be filled with air quickly, and enough air would get into your tool. If your air compressor CFM is too low, the air compressor would keep stopping, and so would the tool. You’ll have to wait for the tank to get refilled before you can continue working, and theirs is nothing more frustrating.

Why Increase the CFM On Your Air Compressor?

An air compressor is an essential tool used for different purposes. Not only does it power pneumatic tools, but it can also pump tires and push air into dry areas. If you use your air compressor for professional construction or even DIY projects, you may need to increase the CFM. There are certain jobs that require more air to flow through the air compressor, and for this, you need a high CFM. Most air compressors are built to reach a pressure of 90 PSI, but their CFM rating differs. When you want to purchase an air compressor, research the CFM required for your tool and project.


The air compressor is very versatile, and it can work with many different tools. If you have a small air compressor, you may need to increase the CFM for certain projects and tools. If you need to increase the CFM, use any of the two methods that you prefer. Lastly, make sure your CFM is increased to match the CFM rating of the tool.