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The memory of a lackluster vacuum can stick in a customer’s mind for quite some time, and lead them to frequenting another wash. Thankfully, there are many ways to keep the suction on your vacuums strong, and pulling customers into your carwash.
PC&D spoke with an expert in standalones and an expert in central vacuum systems to get you some helpful tips on vacuum maintenance.
The two biggest mistakes that carwash owners make when it comes to proper vacuum maintenance, said David VanGorder, the president of Doyle Vacuum Systems LLC, is that “they don’t take the time to clean their vacuums, inside and out on a regular basis,” and a failure to properly inspect the condition of the vacuum motors.
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Too often, VanGorder said, owners will wait until a motor fails before they address fixing it. There are multiple problems with doing this he said, including the increased costs in paying for a whole new vacuum system instead of initially addressing a problem that could have been fixed. Also, an improperly working vacuum could have been hurting your wash’s reputation: “You never know how long the performance of the vacuum has been compromised, and how many customers experienced a poor service,” he said. The solution to the problem of increased cost and poor vacuum performance is to have a maintenance routine that keeps everything in top shape.
The vacuum maintenance manual can help provide you with proper instruction for your vacuum equipment. If you fail to adequately read it, VanGorder said your electrical connections may not be made correctly. The manual is also going to be an important information source “as to the advised maintenance schedule for the machine,” said VanGorder.
If you "take the time to do these simple things, your vacuums should perform well,” said VanGorder.
“Maintenance can make or break a central vacuum system,” said Cindy M. Beaulieu, manager -- vacuum systems & sales, The Spencer Turbine Company. On a daily basis, she said, the vacuum unit should be shutdown, the filter bags should be shaken and the dirt can emptied. If the unit becomes too full, she warned, dirt clogs the unit, and vacuum levels drop. “It only takes a few minutes [to complete] this task and it makes all the difference in the world.”
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The next thing to check is if the tubing lines are plugged, noted Beaulieu. The lines become clogged “from collecting liquids/water with debris from car interiors;” this can be particularly prevalent in areas with snow and ice, she added. Vacuum units with a pre-separator at the pick-up point will trap the liquids inside of them to prevent liquids from ever entering the tubing system.
Just like with standalone vacuums, Beaulieu trumpets the importance of owners being familiar with the maintenance manual. The manual will give the proper maintenance schedule, and Beaulieu instructed that a sign-off sheet should be followed to ensure maintenance is being done in a timely fashion. By the time a machine begins to lose its effectiveness, she warned, it may be too late to fix it due to things like the bag being torn and materials damaging the fans.
Another tip she offered is to keep a spare set of filter bags in case of wear and tear. “This would prevent any debris and dirt from entering into the vacuum produce and prevent downtime,” she continued.
Beaulieu shared preventative maintenance steps for centralized vacuums.
Vacuums are a key component to a successful wash, and displeasure with a vacuum unit can be something that turns a loyal customer away; the good news is that there are ways to keep your vacuum running well. “Operators need to remember that the vacuum is a key component of the carwash industry," said VanGorder, “and that with a little extra effort regarding maintenance, they can greatly improve the functionality and reliability of their equipment, which will help them improve their bottom-line.”