It might be hard to imagine during 80-degree summer days, but winter is soon approaching. That means it is time to start thinking about maintaining your carwash’s doors and getting them ready for the upcoming winter season. This article will discuss effective ways for winterizing carwash doors.
Why look at winterizing carwash doors?
Although your doors may have been in working condition when taken out of service last spring, that does not mean they are ready to endure another long, cold winter. Like so many aspects of your business, planning and investing the time in advance will pay off this winter with lower heating bills and reduced downtime and emergency maintenance.
Modern electric-operated doors have made putting your doors back into service much easier, with no air lines to drain and replace, rollers to lubricate or panels that fill with water over the summer.
However, your doors still need to be cared for and maintained properly. It is common for operators to run their doors only during the cold winter months and leave them open when temperatures are above freezing. One of the best things you can do to prevent winter downtime is to cycle your door as a regular practice in the summer. Everything works better with regular operation.
Here are some effective ways for winterizing carwash doors.
Start with the perimeter of the door
For your fall checkup, it is best to start with a good, complete visual inspection of the door. Check to make sure the hood does not have any dents or damage that could be touching the door. Inspect the frame rails to ensure they are clear of debris and the seals are still in good shape. Over time, brush seals can lose fill or “take a set” that limits their effectiveness.
Vinyl seals can also rip and curl over time. Seals are inexpensive, easy to replace and will provide savings on your heating bills. Check the bottom loop on the door and see if it is ripped or torn.
Check all mounting hardware and anchors, as loose hardware and anchors are a safety hazard you do not want to ignore.
Inspect the door panels for wear and tear. Clean the door panel and if there is soap or general carwash grime buildup on the panel a good, no-scrub wall cleaner will remove it. After the initial cleaning, use glass cleaner to clean the clear vision panels to let the most light into your wash bay.
Clean, clear panels will allow prospective customers to see activity inside your carwash and encourage them to buy a wash. If the clear vision panels are not looking as clear as they did when they were new due to scratches and wear, you can slide out the old panel and easily slide in a replacement.
Order your replacement panels now to avoid an emergency when the first freeze is expected. Check your reinsertion guides to see if they are at the proper angle and will capture the door panel, allowing it to drop back into the frame rails.
Inspect the operator
Run the door for several cycles and listen. The operator should run smoothly without any chattering or clanging, which might be an indication something is getting ready to go wrong.
Does the motor vibrate excessively? There are adjustments to dampen the vibration on the motors. Lubricate any bearings and check and lubricate any chain drives. If the door has a counterweight, make sure it is not chafing or rubbing and inspect for signs of wear.
If the door motor has a brake assembly, inspect and adjust the air gap and clean with an automotive brake cleaner.
Check open and close limits. Does the door open and close right where you want it to? If not, you can adjust the limit on the doors and ensure the door is opening and closing at the proper height.
Check to make sure the safety photo eyes are operating by inspecting the lights on the photo eyes prior to operation. Both sender and receiver photo eyes should have a green power LED light lit. The receiver will also have a yellow alignment light that should be lit when there are no obstructions in the photo eyes. Make sure the photo eyes are reversing the door for the entire travel of the door and the photo eye is disabled when the door is closed.
Double check all the door’s activation systems and back up activation are operating as you would like. Imagine different scenarios that could occur in the winter and set up the activators to account for them.
For in-bay automatic operators, when does the entrance door open? What if a customer takes a long time to drive into the bay? Is the exit door timed to open at the right time? What if the customer backs up to get more time under your dryers?
In a conveyor carwash, is the entrance door motion sensor opening the door without the customer having to slow down? Can your attendants easily access the opener? Is the exit door in time with your conveyor? Is there a confirmation signal that the door is open tied into your e-stop? Is there an auxiliary opening device if a customer drives ahead of the rollers?
Inspect your control box to make sure it is clean and dry. Also, make sure the seals inside the box are in good condition and all penetrations coming into the control box are from the bottom of the box. Top mounted conduits can allow condensation to form and enter the control box regardless of how tight the connections are.
Test the e-stop to make sure it will work in an emergency. If you use an auto close timer, make sure it is timing out when you want it to.
Proper door checkups early in the fall will ensure your doors are ready to go in cold weather operations. Last year’s winter did not really arrive until January, but could it start in October this year.
The old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder and snowier 2016-2017 winter. Whatever is in store, a thorough and complete winter preparation plan now will ensure readiness for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. It is wise to take steps in winterizing carwash doors.
Tom Zimmerman is the national sales manager for Wynd Star Doors by Rytec. He has worked with professional carwashers and distributors for over 11 years to find solutions that improve productivity and operations. His experience in all types of carwashing and facilities provides insight into the best practices in setting up a door program. Wynd Star Doors revolutionized the carwash door market with the first high-performance breakaway carwash door.