Tips for Transporting a Vertical Air Compressor: Can You Lay Upright Air Compressor on the Side?

Tips for Transporting a Vertical Air Compressor: Can You Lay Upright Air Compressor on the Side?

Each freight shipment comes with unique challenges, and transporting a vertical air compressor is no exception. With its tall and heavy structure, moving an upright air compressor requires specialized shipping techniques, careful planning, and extra attention to detail.

To ensure the compressor arrives at its destination in excellent condition, it’s crucial to leverage the shipping experience, meticulously plan the transportation, and handle it with care. Let's explore the essential considerations and expert tips for successfully shipping a vertical air compressor.

Can You Lay an Upright Air Compressor on Its Side?

Can You Lay an Upright Air Compressor on Its Side?

People often ask, “Can I lay my air compressor on its side?” Although this question is understandable, unfortunately, there’s no direct answer. Whether you can lay an upright compressor on its side is a function of whether it’s new or used, as we explain below.

Can You Lay a Brand New Air Compressor on Its Side?

If you’re transporting an upright air compressor that’s never been used, you’ll be able to lay it on its side without any trouble.

A brand-new vertical compressor usually has no oil in it; neither does it have any condensed moisture. This means there’s no risk of fluids seeping out to problematic areas when you lay the upright compressor on its side.

However, there’s a way to move a vertical air compressor, especially when laying it on its side. Make sure the compressor is placed securely with no room to slide or bounce about during transportation.

Can You Lay the Used Air Compressor on Its Side?

With frequent use, vertical air compressors begin to build up condensed water and dirt on the inside. All of this will move to the bottom of the compressor tank, forming dirty gunk or sludge.

Laying a used upright air compressor on its side can be risky. The sludge will be free to move around the tank in that position, causing potential damage to critical areas of your compressor, especially the tank check valve.

The sludge can slow down the valve's motion or prevent it from moving altogether. The moving fluid can also trigger a series of other complications. Generally speaking, transporting a used air compressor on its side isn’t something you want to try.

Can You Lay an Oil-Lubricated Air Compressor on Its Side?

Air compressors are configured to be either oil-lubricated or oil-free. Oil-lubricated compressors require users to manually add oil to the sump after purchasing.

However, this feature comes with a caveat – you shouldn’t lay the oil-lubricated compressor on its side after adding oil to the sump. Doing this lets oil from the sump, which will usually have mixed with some dirt, flow into undesired areas. And as you may already know, getting dirty oil in certain areas can knock engines down.

Can You Lay an Oilless Air Compressor on Its Side?

An oilless air compressor, unlike the oil-lubricated type, is manufactured to require no oil lubrication. Therefore, it is quite safe to transport an upright air compressor on its side.

We advise you to avoid laying a used oil-free air compressor on its side, as there might be a higher possibility of moisture accumulation inside. Better still, it would help if you didn’t lay a used oilless vertical compressor on its side, as there’s a high probability of moisture already accumulating in the compressor.

Additional Tips for Upright Air Compressor Transportation

upright compressor

These additional tips will help you transport your upright compressor safely:

#1. Use a Ramp for Loading the Compressor

When it comes to transporting an upright air compressor, using a ramp for loading is a valuable tip. To facilitate easier and safer lifting of the air compressor, consider utilizing a hand truck or a furniture dolly. This allows you to smoothly navigate any steps or inclines and reduces the risk of strain or accidents. Alternatively, if the compressor is on a pallet, make sure the ramp is wide enough to accommodate both the pallet and the air compressor for a seamless loading process.

#2. Secure Your Upright Air Compressor

It’s important to keep air compressors properly secured irrespective of how you are transporting them. Vertical compressors that are transported upright typically tend to be top-heavy. Any slight tipping would make them go all the way down, causing damage to the compressor with the risk of damage to the vehicle as well.

You should bolt upright air compressors to a pallet, as this promises extra stability. Thankfully, some compressors come bolted to pallets.

Once you get the compressor into the truck and position it as required, strap it down with at least four heavy-duty ratchet straps. The straps should connect to all four corners of the truck bed and should be tightly attached.

#3. Consider Disassembling the Air Compressor

#3. Consider Disassembling the Air Compressor

A valuable tip for transporting an upright air compressor is to consider disassembling it. This might mean draining the old oil in the pump and the air tank. Disassembling the compressor not only reduces its overall weight, making it easier to handle but also minimizes the risk of oil leakage or damage during transport. Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines when disassembling the compressor and ensure proper reassembly at the destination.

#4. Evaluate Transportation Options

When transporting an upright air compressor, evaluate the available transportation options including a truck, trailer, or other means. Consider the size and weight of the compressor, ensuring it can be securely accommodated in an upright position. Assess the route and potential obstacles to select the most suitable transport method. Choosing the right transportation option guarantees the safe and efficient transit of your new or used compressor.

#5. Assess the Route and Potential Obstacles

Assessing the route and potential obstacles is vital when transporting an upright air compressor. Whether it's a vertical air compressor or any other type, understanding the route and identifying potential challenges ensures safe transportation. Take note of low clearances, narrow passages, uneven terrain, or any other obstructions that may impede the smooth transit of the compressor. By conducting a thorough assessment, you can plan the transportation logistics accordingly.

#6. Conduct Post-Transportation Checks

When transporting upright air compressors, be sure to conduct post-transportation checks to ensure their optimal functioning. This is especially important for commercial van air compressors and other vertical models. Inspect the compressor for any signs of damage, such as leaks, loose connections, or unusual noises. Test the compressor tank under normal operating conditions to make sure it’s performing as it should be.

#7. Consider Hiring a Professional Shipping Company

Consider Hiring a Professional Shipping Company

We know that this can be overwhelming! If you think this is too much to deal with yourself, you should consider hiring a professional shipping company. This may be your safest option after all. Hiring a good may be an investment, but it’s often worth it for its convenience as well as the safety of the vertical compressor.

Hot shot trucking services may be the best fit for transporting your compressor. Your cargo gets delivered in no time, and there’s a special consideration for its delicate nature.

Meanwhile, working with a professional shipping company saves you the stress and expense of renting a trailer and buying ramps or ratchet straps.


Safely and efficiently transporting a vertical air compressor requires careful planning, adherence to manufacturer guidelines, and the right techniques. While laying an upright air compressor on its side may sometimes be ideal, it’s important to evaluate the specific circumstances and minimize any potential risks. To ensure a smooth transport experience, consider partnering with reputable freight shipping services like Cowtown Express. Get a quote and leverage their expertise to handle the transportation of your vertical air compressor with the utmost care.

Streamline Your Compressor Transit!

Rely on us for safe upright compressor shipping solutions.

get a quote

No items found.