One of the most common questions I have received over the years regarding equipment is how to make it last longer. It seems everyone is looking for a magical formula to solve their maintenance issues and allow their equipment to run for years on end. While a nice wish, it is also a “pipe dream” because equipment, much like your car, simply requires regular maintenance. There are five basic areas to pay attention to in order to maximize the “up-time” of the equipment and extend its life. Training your staff to spend five minutes with the equipment when they are finished using it will extend the life of your equipment. Indeed, the old maxim holds true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Power Source: Cleaning equipment is powered either by a battery or a cord. If your machine uses a cord, be certain to wipe down the cord as you are winding it up to keep it clean. Always unplug the cord, lay it on the ground, and wrap the cord from the machine by pulling it towards the machine. Heat builds up in a cord as electricity flows through and causes the metal to twist. If you unplug the cord from the wall and then wrap while walking back towards the machine, you will lock the twist into the cord and your cord will “pig-tail.” Also, be certain no wires are exposed on the cord and that the ground prong (the third prong, in the middle of the plug) is intact. If your cord is missing the ground prong, has exposed wires, or even has electrical tape on it to cover the wires, these could be safety issues for your operators, and they are OSHA violations. If the machine is battery-powered, you need to be sure to check the water levels in each cell of the battery before charging the machine. The water level should cover the plates in the battery and be an eighth of an inch below the top of the battery. If your battery is low, fill it with distilled water, because if you charge it with any area of the plates exposed, the exposed part of the plate will never hold a charge again. To avoid this altogether, invest in sealed AGM batteries, which offer comparable run-times to traditional lead-acid batteries but do not require maintenance, since they use a sealed system. These batteries do cost more up-front, but not when you factor in the second set of batteries that most facilities end up purchasing because they did not maintain their original set.
Recovery Tank: There is perhaps not a funkier smell than a scrubber or extractor that has been sitting for a week with water in the recovery tank. Always dump and rinse the solution out before putting the machine away. When you are finished rinsing and cleaning the recovery tank, leave the lid off so that the tank can air dry.
Solution Tank: Before putting the machine away, the solution tank should be emptied, as well. The prevalent thought, “I will leave the solution in the tank so that I don’t have to fill the tank before I start tomorrow,” is not a good practice for two reasons. First, most chemicals, once they are mixed, do not have efficacy past about 12 hours. That means most chemicals are not going to be effective the next day. Second, and perhaps most importantly, chemicals tend to get sticky and gummy if they are allowed to sit, and this can clog filters, pumps, and solution lines on your equipment. Empty the solution tank when you are finished using the equipment, and only mix what you need to finish the job.
Vacuum Shoe/Squeegee: Making sure that your vacuum shoe or squeegee is cleaned and rinsed out when you are finished using the equipment is very important because if it is not done, you will have issues with the recovery system of the machine. This most commonly manifests in streaks that are left on either hard floors or carpet. If these are cleaned out right away while the debris is still wet, they can be cleaned thoroughly, and these issues can be avoided.
Brushes or Pads: Your brushes should be cleaned and rinsed, as well. Just like with the vacuum shoes or squeegees, removing debris that has accumulated on the brushes or pads will be easiest right after use. So there you have it—the five steps that will help you extend the life of your equipment. Five minutes invested before putting the equipment away can save hundreds of dollars in repairs down the road and help to extend the life of your equipment. Remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”