Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The suction function, Part 2

May 4, 2011

Last week, in Part 1, we discussed how to keep energy costs down and how to maintain vacuums. To read that article, click here.

This week, we discuss how to make sure your vacuums are in it for the long haul and we also talk about how to properly clean the entire vacuum system.

Tim Sater, the director of marketing and regional sales for D&S Car Wash Equipment Company, said there are a couple simple things an operator can do to ensure the longevity of their expensive vacuum investment:

  • Regularly replace bags so they do not get full of dirt or continue using them with rips and holes. A bag that is full or has holes in it can leak dust that will eventually cause the motor to burn up. This can be a costly repair, Sater explained.
  • Make sure the bags are securely attached to the inside frame. If a bag becomes loose, it will spew dust and debris in the canister and cause the motor to fail. It is just a matter of time.
  • Minimize water intake. According to Sater, “Moisture, as well as dust, is the enemy of all electrical motors. If enough water is introduced into the canister, the motor will eventually burn up. You just have to hope that whoever is using the vacuum does not suck up a lot of water.”

According to GinSan, a vacuum motor is rated for 500-700 hours of life. This life span decreases when filters are not kept clean. Changing the motor brushes on schedule will add another 75 percent to the life of the motor. Changing the brushes a second time will add another 50 percent to the life of the motor.

Shake it out and keep it clean

Jennifer Bender, the sales & marketing manager of J. E. Adams Industries Ltd., said one of the most important steps an operator can take to improve the life of the equipment is to shake out filter bags at least once a week and more often if necessary. You should also wash the filter bags as much as needed.

Steve Osborn, vice president of sales and marketing at Fragramatics Mfg. Co., Inc., said the same thing. “The best thing to do is to clean the filters every two to three weeks,” Osborn said. “We’re not talking just washing the bags, we’re talking going out there with a soft-headed brush, and cleaning the filtration units. The caked up dirt can ruin the vacuum. Reach up in there, scrub the inside of the bags. It makes the motors last longer because they’re not working as hard and it gives the customer high performance because it maintains the suction.”

Bender said operators should clean the outside of the vacuum with soap and water only or a stainless steel cleanser and to not use harsh chemicals or abrasives as they could scratch and rust the unit. “Stainless steel can last for decades if you clean it properly,” she said.

Keep the air flowing

Proper suction is key to getting the most out of a vacuum. That may be obvious, but what might not be obvious is how to get a vacuum to suction at an optimum rate.

Check the hoses, nozzle, doors, and motor gaskets for wear and tear and to replace anything that may have a hole or is worn as it will decrease your suctioning ability.

“The best vacuum is when your suction and air flow are optimized,” Osborn explained. “If I take a vacuum nozzle and it sucks down to the carpet, but there is no air moving, but there is maximum suction, then there isn’t a vacuum.

“You can pick up a bowling ball with the suction, but if there is no air flowing through the hose, then the dirt isn’t moving,” Osborn said. Osborn added that it is even advisable to check the vacuum every other day.