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Josh Hart, vice president of Airlift Doors, Inc., knows there is more to a carwash door than making sure it opens and closes. There are ways to make sure they’re running efficiently and not wasting time, money or energy. Hart recently spoke to Professional Carwashing & Detailing and let us in on some tips and tricks for getting the most out of a carwash door.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: What are the top 5 things an operator can do to make sure a door runs smoothly and efficiently?
Josh Hart: Top five things an operator can do to make sure a door runs smoothly and efficiently:
- Carwash doors and pneumatic openers are manufactured for high cyclaage. They can open and close after every car without heating up or burning up like electric openers can. Therefore, if you go extended periods of time without using your doors or openers, it is a good idea to cycle the door frequently even if it is just to open in the morning and close at night. This will help to keep the chemical from building up on the equipment as well as help to keep the inner seals lubricated.
- Proper lubrication of the hinges and rollers is also critical to make sure a door is running smoothly. The bearingless rollers have greatly improved the quality of the rollers and have helped to eliminate the problem of bearings seizing up in the rollers, but they should still be lubricated regularly to ensure smooth operation. Hinges should also be lubricated regularly at the center pivot point to cut down on the metal to metal friction. Upgrading to plastic hinges would eliminate any binding and eliminate the need to lubricate the hinges at all as another option.
- A door should always be properly balanced. A good way to test this is to disconnect the opener from the door and run the door up and down manually. If the door is easy to lift by hand and seems to balance midway open if let go, your door is balanced properly. If you lift the door and it is heavy to lift or drops to the floor as soon as you let it go, you may need to adjust your counterbalance option. If you have torsion springs, it may be as simple as greasing the springs to eliminate binding. If you have counterweights, you should check to make sure that the weights are all the way to the top near the shaftline when the door is in the closed position. If your door is not balanced properly, you should consult your door service provider and adjust them accordingly. An unbalanced door can put additional stress on your hardware or openers and cause other problems in the future.
- All pneumatic openers have internal seals and should also be lubricated. This can be done by adding an automatic oiler to your control system which will gradually release oil into the system every cycle or you can manually add oil every 6 months to 1 year by taking the airlines off to the opener and putting cylinder oil directly into the cylinder before replacing the airlines and cycling the system.
- Lastly, in colder climates, a proper seal around the door can eliminate a lot of cold and ice problems. Check your weatherseal around the sides and bottom of the door to make sure they have not been torn or removed. Not only will greatly reduce ice buildup on your equipment, but it will save you money on your heating bills by reducing the amount of cold air that is allowed into the bay.
PC&D: Is there anything operators need to pay special attention to during the winter months, in terms of doors?
Hart: The easy answer is yes. However, the type of door set up you have determines the type of problems cold, ice and snow can cause.
If you have a jackshaft opener, one that turns the shaft to open and close the door rather than attaching directly to the door, you may see problems with your cables coming off the drums. What typically happens is that ice can build up on the floor and in the track. If the door comes down and stops on that ice rather than going all the way to the floor the door stops, but the operator continues to turn the shaft to get the full travel limit and creates slack on the cables to the point they can unwind from the drum. There are some products that can reduce the chances of this problem. One is to install a plastic threshold on the floor to keep the ice from building up on the floor. The threshold will push the water away from the spot right below the door and keep ice from building below the door. In extreme conditions, the threshold can be fitted with heat tape to ensure that no ice can build up on the floor. Another option to reduce ice buildup is to replace your steel tracks with plastic tracks. The plastic does not conduct the cold temperatures like steel and will reduce the amount of ice buildup.
Another solution to ice problems and cable jumping problems is to install a MagnaGlide direct drive air opener. By attaching directly to the door rather than turning the shaft, if the door comes down on ice buildup without going the full travel, the door will stop, but the operator will also stop and the cables will stay tight on the drums. With this type of air opener, you are guaranteed not to jump door cables.
Severe cold can also cause problems with freezing water inside air cylinders. To eliminate this problem, operators should keep their compressors drained to eliminate the amount of water that is pushed through the airlines into the cylinders. Inline dryers are also available to help reduce the amount of water in the lines. Mounting the cylinders horizontally up at the ceiling will greatly reduce the freezing problems by keeping the cylinders away from the cold floor and up near the ceiling where it is generally quite a bit warmer.
Another fairly obvious solution would be to add an infra-red heater in the bay near the doors to keep the ice from forming on and around the door.