The Best Ways to Maintain Your Aircraft Exhaust System

Keeping your aircraft exhaust system in peak condition can be challenging, especially if you log a lot of flight time. To avoid potential problems, you need to inspect and maintain the system regularly.

Unfortunately, many pilots neglect their exhaust systems until something goes wrong. That’s why so many aircraft mechanics have stories about the crazy things they’ve seen from neglected exhaust systems—everything from rats nesting in heat exchangers to snakes making homes in tailpipes.

It’s that bad! But don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be that bad for you as well. With routine inspections and maintenance, your exhaust system won’t give you any trouble. In this blog post, we will look at some of the best ways to maintain your aircraft exhaust system and how regular inspection can help reduce the risk of failure during flight.

Change the Oil Regularly

Aircraft engines are designed to operate with synthetic oil, which is more stable and less likely to break down than petroleum-based oils. But synthetic oils also have a much longer life than petroleum oils, so you’ll have to change the oil in your aircraft every 500 hours or 6 months, whichever comes first.

In addition to extending the life of your aircraft engine, changing the oil regularly also helps maintain your exhaust system. Oil is responsible for keeping all the parts inside your engine lubricated, which keeps them from getting stuck, overheating, or wearing out too quickly.

If you don’t change the oil regularly, the parts of your engine, including the exhaust system, will begin to wear more quickly and could lead to failure.

Inspect the Exhaust System Carefully

Regularly inspecting your aircraft exhaust system can help you identify issues before they become major problems. During your inspection, you should check the entire system, including the engine muffler, exhaust piping, and termination.

Exhaust systems are exposed to extreme temperatures, so they are likely to experience thermal expansion and contraction. You should regularly inspect the exhaust system for any signs of thermal damage, particularly at bends and joints.

You should also check for corrosion, which can occur in wet or marine environments. If you spot any potential issues, you should address them as soon as possible to avoid serious problems down the road.

Clean the Combustion Chamber and Muffler

Like any other component on an aircraft, the exhaust system can become clogged over time, which can negatively affect engine performance and create excessive noise. If your aircraft is equipped with a spark ignition system, you can mitigate this issue by cleaning the combustion chamber and muffler regularly.

If you are operating a spark ignition aircraft, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your muffler. To clean your muffler, you should remove it from the aircraft and spray it with a cleaning solution to remove dirt and carbon buildup.

If you have a fixed-wing aircraft, you can spin the muffler in a cleaning solution using a device called a whirl-jet. Clean your combustion chamber regularly as well. To do so, remove the spark plugs and spray cleaning solution into the openings.

Rotate the Propeller and Rotor Shaft

If you regularly fly in marine environments, you should also rotate your propeller and rotor shaft. Propellers are prone to galvanic corrosion, which is an electrochemical reaction between two different metals.

Galvanic corrosion can cause corrosion inside the aircraft exhaust system and lead to system failure. Rotating your propeller and rotor shaft can help alleviate corrosion issues. To do this, you’ll need to connect a special device called a propeller shaft coupler.

While rotating the propeller and rotor shaft won’t completely eliminate corrosion, it will extend the life of your exhaust system. Plus, it’s a simple way to keep your system healthy.

Change the Exhaust Breathing Filter

Lastly, make sure you change the exhaust breathing filter on a regular basis. The exhaust breathing filter helps regulate the flow of air from the engine air intake to the exhaust system, which is necessary to prevent excessive back pressure.

But over time, these filters can become clogged. While cleaning the filter will help for a while, it’s not a long-term solution. You should replace the filter every 100 hours or once a year, whichever comes first. If you don’t replace your exhaust breathing filter regularly, your engine can experience backpressure, which can reduce fuel efficiency. It can also lead to overheating and increase the risk of engine failure.


The aircraft exhaust system is a critical system that requires regular attention. The best ways to maintain your exhaust system include changing the oil regularly, inspecting the system for signs of damage, cleaning the combustion chamber and muffler, rotating the propeller and rotor shaft, and changing the exhaust breathing filter.

With these simple steps, you can help avoid potential problems and keep your aircraft running smoothly for longer. Always count on the pros to ensure your aircraft is at the top of its game.