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On the day after the season’s first bitter cold night, the repair departments at most truckmount distributors are on full alert: “All hands on deck!”
Overrun with frantic cleaners with everything from simple repairs of frozen wand valves to expensive and time-consuming repairs of pumps, heaters and heat-exchangers, repair technicians work feverishly to service the cleaners who were caught off guard by the freezing temps.
This type of scenario is not pleasant for anyone, especially the business owner who loses the revenue of sales that day and has to pay for repairs.
If your truckmount, portable equipment, or accessories freeze, you lose more than the repair costs. You lose time and possibly sales revenue from jobs that you will have to cancel that day.
Who knows? You might lose a customer to another cleaner for good. The consequences of allowing your truckmount and accessories to freeze can be catastrophic. Here are a few suggestions to prevent destructive freeze-ups.
If you can’t park your truck in a heated garage at night, the next best thing is to heat the inside of your service vehicle.
You can run an electric heater inside your truck. With unusually low temperatures, it might be best to place two small heaters in each van; one facing the console and the other towards the hoses and chemical shelves in the back.
Depending on the heater specifications, keeping them on low should keep the interior of the van well above freezing. If you choose to use electric heat, make sure that your extension cord is rated for the amperage of the heater(s).
Also, check to make sure the circuit can handle the load.
Electric ceramic heaters are small and convenient, although some feel safer using an oil-filled electric radiator. An added benefit of the oil-filled radiator is that most models feature an adjustable thermostat.
Heaters sometimes fail or the electricity may go out, so you need a backup plan.
Purchase a wireless temperature monitor and alarm. This is a device that monitors the inside temperature of your truck. If the temperature drops below a preset point, say 33 degrees Fahrenheit, a remote alarm will sound.
Operating up to 100 feet away from the sending unit, monitors can be a lifesaver. Make sure that the receiving unit has battery backup.
If heating the inside of your service vehicle is impractical, you will have to winterize your equipment.
Depending on the type of system you have, this is fairly quick and easy. The goal is to make sure that all water and cleaning solutions in the machine are replaced with an antifreeze solution mix.
Since wands, sprayers, and many other accessories are fairly easy to carry, the best thing may be to take them inside at night. If that is not an option, ensure that all water and cleaning solution is evacuated out of the tools and replaced with antifreeze.
Many water-based chemicals will freeze if temperatures drop below 32-degrees Fahrenheit and may not be “freeze-thaw” stable.
Since you cannot winterize your chemicals, it is best to bring them indoors or make sure that the interior of your van is kept above freezing by using a heater.
Warning: If you have a fuel-fired, thermostatically controlled — rather than a water flow-fired truckmount system — do not leave the heater on inside the truck to keep it warm.
Besides wasting fuel, this creates a potential hazard.
Bruce DeLoatch is an Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)-approved instructor. He is an IICRC Certified Master Textile Cleaner and Master Restoration Technician. Bruce is co-founder of The Cleaner’s Coach, a marketing and consulting firm, as well as marketing director for Truckmounts and Cleaning Solutions in Norcross, GA. His e-mail address is Bruce@CleanersCoach.com.