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Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Checking for Leaks in the Equipment Room

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

July 29, 2008
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At CarWash College™ we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about a topic that does not pertain to just one piece of equipment, but rather an entire room — the chemical room. There can often be an abundance of small leaks in the chemical room that can add up to large amounts of lost product, costing large amounts in lost inventory of chemical, as well as mounting water bills and electric bills.

Let's look at the back room of the car wash and how much piping and hose is involved. There will be water lines, air lines, and chemical lines — all are capable of developing leaks. To find leaks we need to spend some time investigating the back room. A good time to do this might be in the morning before the car wash opens for business. In the morning a check of the back room for water on the floor that might indicate a leak would be necessary. Look at each chemical pumping station checking for air, water, and chemical leaks. Follow the hoses and pipes up the wall looking for any water dripping down the walls or from the roof.

Regarding the compressed air lines, listen for any leaks in the lines; also, shut off the power to the compressor and watch the gauges. If they go down it indicates a leak in the system. To check for water leaks in the entire building, wait for the car wash to close and everyone has left so that you can record the numbers on the water meter. Recheck in the morning before opening, looking for any changes in the numbers.

For the chemicals you can mark the drums when the car wash closes and compare the level of chemical to the markings in the morning to see if there has been any loss of chemical overnight. A weekly audit could be done to check for leaks of any kind. When leaks are found fixing them immediately could lead to a significant cost savings.

So how much can leaks cost the car wash? A small water leak, like you see in a sink, can draw about 170 gallons of water a day or 5,000 gallons of water a month. With water an issue on everyone's mind that could be huge. A small leak on a compressed airline, just 1/16", can draw about 8 CFM. If the leak can be heard, it is at least this size. Chemical leaks can be the most costly. If a small water leak can produce 170 gallons of water a day, even a chemical with a dilution rate of 170:1 would waste a gallon of chemical. And chemicals cost a lot of money.

Checking for leaks can save the car wash lots of money. Let's look at this sample.

The small air leak can cost approximately $150.00 per CFM per year. The average cost of water in the US per gallon is 2 cents. The water leak over one year's time could consume 60,000 gallons of water at a cost of $1,200.00. The small chemical leak at 170:1 would cost approximately $2,100.00 a year. Taking into consideration that these calculations are for just one leak, the yearly savings could be $3,900.00.

Robert Andre is the Director of Classroom Training for CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at RAndre@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.