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At CarWash College™ we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about maintaining your chemicals. There are a number of variables to consider when trying to produce a clean, dry, shiny car at an acceptable cost. One of these variables is the maintenance of your chemical systems. Using too much chemical can be costly and using too little can cause wash quality to drop. Either way, improper chemical applications do not produce the desired result - a clean, dry, shiny car. Poor wash quality translates into customers going to your competitor. Ideally, chemical maintenance should be performed daily, weekly and monthly. Below is an example of weekly maintenance performed on one of the most popular styles of chemical pumping stations; the FlowJet.
Check the air pressure settings to the FlowJet pump and the air pressure settings leading to the application. Air pressure to the FlowJet pump regulates the volume of solution going out to the application. Applying too much solution will result in wasted chemical and wasted money. Air pressure to the FlowJet is usually set between 40 PSI and 50 PSI, but can be set as high as 70 PSI depending on the application. Chemical concentration and viscosity is why there is such a wide range of settings for the air pressure to the pump.
The air pressure to the application should be set to 20 PSI with most applications having either a ball or needle valve, for fine-tuning the air pressure at the application.
Check to make sure the proper hydrominder/eductor size is being used. There are a wide variety of hydrominders that can be used in the car wash; the two that are seen with the most frequency are the 511 and 515. Essentially, the two look identical with the only visible difference being the color of the eductor. An eductor is what the metering tip screws in to. On a 511 you will find a black eductor and on a 515 the eductor is brown. So why is that important? The 511 with no metering tip in place will draw at a 2:1 ration and the 515 a 1:1 ration. Eductors are interchangeable so if someone changes the eductor and replaces it with the wrong one they might double the chemical strength or cut it in half. Either way, the wrong metering tip produces less than desirable results.
Check the metering tips for proper color. A tip chart lists the most commonly used sizes, identifying the tips by color and the corresponding dilution ratio. Somehow, these tips have the ability to magically change color when too many people have access to the chemical room. An easy way to keep track of the different settings is to laminate note cards for each station with the required settings. Having the metering tips correct will ensure the cars are clean, and at an acceptable cost. Tips should be checked regularly and replaced at the first signs of wear. Keep an eye on the water pressure as well. Ideally, it should be set at 40 PSI. If the pressure is drastically higher or lower, it can also affect the dilution ratio.
Monthly chemical savings of several hundred dollars have been reported back to me from some of the operators that attended CarWash College who implemented these, among other tips, at their washes. Try them at your wash and you should see the savings too!
Robert Andre is the President of 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.