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Chemical Specific Maintenance:

July 14, 2006
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There are a number of variables to consider when trying to produce a clean, dry, shiny car at an acceptable cost. One of these factors is the maintenance of your chemical systems. In addition to producing a quality product for your customer, tightly managing your chemical costs can lead to huge financial returns. I've known some operators to save as much as $45,000 a year by implementing a good chemical maintenance program.

Chemical maintenance should be performed daily, weekly and monthly. There are different steps in each one of those areas. In my experience the weekly pump station audit is an area most often neglected. There are three key areas to pay attention to when performing a pump station audit.

  1. Check air pressure settings to the flow jet pump and to the application. Air pressure to the air-driven pump regulates the volume of solution going out to the arch. Applying too much volume of solution will result in wasted chemical and wasted money. Air pressure to the flow jet is usually set between 30lbs and 60lbs depending on the application concentration and viscosity of the chemical. If the air to your presoak should be set to 40lbs and is mistakenly set to 80lbs, you are using twice as much solution. Can you imagine using twice as much tire dressing with an already high cost? If your cost should be twenty cents and you apply twice the air to your flowjets, your cost will double. Think about it: over 80,000 cars a year. Twenty cents at eighty thousand cars is $16,000. Consult your chemical distributor for proper settings for each application.

  2. Check to make sure the proper hydrominder/eductor size is being used. 511 hydrominders with black eductors will pull at a rate of 2:1 and 515 hydrominders with brown eductors will draw 1:1. Someone who doesn't know the difference may install the wrong size resulting in drawing twice as much chemical. If your chemical cost for that particular application is ten cents normally and the wrong hydrominder is used, you are looking at a .20 cost. If you wash 80,000 cars that year, you're spending $8,000 more dollars than you should. Your chemical distributor will be able to advise you on which to use for each application.

  3. Check the metering tips for proper color (dilution ratio). It's amazing how they will change color if they are not monitored regularly. Proper dilution ratios will ensure cleaning as well as efficient distribution of valuable chemicals. The same principles apply to metering tips as air pressure settings and hydrominders. You can use twice the amount of chemical you are supposed to by using the wrong tip. Now try and imagine using twice the recommended air pressure, a 515 hydrominder when the application calls for a 511 and a metering tip twice the size of the recommended size.

By utilizing the above practices, you will be better able to produce a clean, dry and shiny car, as well as obtain significant savings on your chemical costs on an ongoing basis.

Rob Madrid is the Director of Education for CarWash College™. Rob can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit, or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.