3 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Truckmount
By Amanda Hosey
Truckmounts are the most essential piece of equipment for most in the carpet cleaning industry. Yet, despite the high financial investment they require, regular truckmount maintenance often gets lost in the shuffle of a busy schedule. But daily checkups, top-offs, and cleaning—in addition to less frequent maintenance—are key to extending the life of this important technology.
Dennis Bruders, member of the Legend Brands technical support team, likens the need to for daily truckmount maintenance to that of other industries with major equipment: “Heavy equipment operators and commercial truck drivers start every day by visually inspecting their equipment…Just like a carpet cleaner, [they] do not make money when the equipment is not running.”
Preventative maintenance is key to extending the life of any truckmount and avoiding costly downtime. Modern truckmounts are sophisticated pieces of equipment that, if cared for properly, will bring in money for a carpet cleaning company for years and years.
“Nothing stays new forever; however, maintained equipment stays running like new longer,” says Cleanco Truckmounts Sales Representative Miranda Himmelman. “Due diligence pays off in the long run.”
And while, as Bruders points out, we can’t rank truckmount maintenance tasks by importance—since they are all essential to the overall wellbeing of the equipment—what follows is a look at the needed daily truckmount maintenance that is most often neglected—and which will most quickly land your truckmount in a time out if overlooked.
SAMPLE DAILY TRUCKMOUNT MAINTENANCE
|Engine||Check engine oil level. Fill to proper level.|
|Engine||Check coolant level in reservoir. Fill to proper level.|
|Vacuum Pump||Check vacuum pump oil level. Fill to proper level. Do not overfill.|
|Vacuum Pump||Spray a silicone or Teflon/PTFE-based lubricant into the lubrication cup for 5 seconds.|
|Pressure Pump||Check water pump oil level. Fill to proper level.|
|Vacuum Inlet Filters||Inspect filters in the waste tank; clean and/or replace if required.|
|Strainer Baskets||Empty and clean stainless-steel baskets in the pre-filter box and waste tank.|
|Vacuum Hoses||Rinse with fresh water.|
|Waste Pump-Out||(Optional equipment) Inspect and remove any debris or sediment.|
1 | Checking oil
The experts agree that fluid checks and fill-ups are one of, if not the, most important components of truckmount health and longevity. Oils cut down on friction, protect parts from the often-extreme temperatures, and help prevent wear.
“Without power, the rest of your machine cannot work, so our first recommendation for truckmount maintenance is to do daily engine oil checks and periodic engine and oil filter changes,” say Louie Patayon and Dennis Russell of the HydraMaster Technical Support Team. “Be sure that the oil dipstick is at the full mark every day.”
Daily oil checking and refilling should be done at the end of the workday, as well as at the start of the workday before going to a single job. If possible, especially if there is a suspected leak that needs repairing, oil checks during the day are recommended.
Bruders points to Legend Brands’ sample Daily Truckmount Maintenance schedule (see bottom of page) for fluid-check guidance. Each day engine oil, engine coolant, vacuum pump oil, and water pump oil should all be checked and refilled to the necessary levels, and lubrication should be added to the vacuum pump.
Daily oil checks may feel unnecessary, especially if oil levels are fairly consistent, and skipping a day might seem acceptable. But one day often turns into many days, which can ultimately cost a company in downtime and repairs.
“The engine, blower, and pump are the main components that make the truckmount operate and are also the most expensive components to replace, so making sure that the oil is at the correct level daily is very important to keep these components operating smoothly daily,” Patayon and Russell stress. “For example, the smaller air-cooled engine’s oil capacity is only 1 quart, so if you are at half a quart on your dipstick, you are only cooling the engine at 50% efficiency… This can result in overheating the engine and damaging parts to the point of having to replace an expensive component.”
Daily oil checks are not only about maintaining the appropriate levels, but also about catching problems early. Himmelman explains, “Low oil is a sign of a leak, and this is an issue that can be caught early and fixed with daily oil checks.”
Jeremy Wilson, director of truckmount sales for AeroTech Manufacturing Inc., agrees about the importance of daily oil checks for catching larger problems. In addition to checking the fluid levels, he says it is important to also “pay close attention to the color, smell, and viscosity of oil.”
Wilson explains that, in combustible engines, motor oil is generally light colored and transparent, so blackened oil means it is time to change the oil and filter. If it smells like gasoline, the engine, fuel system, or ignition system needs servicing. If the oil appears light brown and milky, it is a sign coolant is leaking into the crankcase. Similarly, if the oil in water pumps or APO pumps with diaphragms appears milky, it is a sign water is entering the crankcase because the seals or diaphragms are worn.
Beyond the daily oil checks, it is, of course, essential to the longevity of a truckmount to change the engine, pump, and blower oil and filter regularly. How often this occurs depends on the engine type, and companies must be committed to following the appropriate schedule per their truckmount’s manufacturer.
2 | Cleaning up
Keeping your truckmount and vehicle clean is a task easily overlooked. How much can unit cleanliness really affect the functioning of the equipment? More than you might think.
Himmelman suggests using the time wiping things down and generally tidying up during the day to look for indications of larger problems. She says, “Seeing something like this at an early stage can be less costly and result in no downtime versus a costly, lengthy repair.”
Some things she suggests looking out for are pooling water, leaked oil, and wearing parts, among other things. Pools of water are especially important to keep an eye out for during clean-up time. Wilson says water leaks are the most-overlooked and most left-unrepaired issue his company sees, and those leaks generally exacerbate rusting and corrosion, leading to extensive, costly repairs that cause downtime and lost revenue.
“The water leaks are generally very obvious and in your face. They occur on the high-pressure water lines and fittings. It’s quite obvious because water will be dripping onto the van floor and puddling up under the vehicle,” Wilson explains. “I don’t think people realize the long-term effect the water leak will have.”
Beyond more general tidying, there are other regular, specific cleaning tasks that are important to the overall health and longevity of your truckmount.
Patayon and Russell stress the importance of daily maintenance on the recovery tank and recommend cleaning out the waste filter basket after every job. They explain, “Keeping your filter clean will allow for maximum airflow and result in ultimate vacuum for extraction.”
Other daily cleaning necessities include inspecting and cleaning out the pre-filter strainer basket, flushing vacuum hoses with clean water, and removing debris from the waste pump’s outlet. There are, of course, other less regular cleaning requirements to keep in mind. One especially important one is flushing the coil, which should be done every three months, according to Himmelman, who considers this one of the most overlooked and important maintenance tasks.
“Water deposits can build up on the heated components of your water system. Over time, even non-heated components will start to collect water or chemical deposits and start to close the gap in the hoses and tubes,” she explains. Improper water flow to the pump can damage pump seals, cause issues with cooling, and result in lower water temperatures and, therefore, a more difficult and inefficient cleaning process.
3 | Blower lubricating
Keeping the vacuum blower lubricated is a quick and simple task. It is also one that, when overlooked, can really hurt a company’s finances.
Himmelman considers blower lubrication the most overlooked aspect of truckmount maintenance. She says this easy daily task consists of simply spraying lubricant into the blower to disperse the water/chemical that builds up on the blower’s lobes.
“Lubricating prevents the blower from locking up and a costly repair to fix this,” Patayon and Russell explain
That “locking up” is a result of the shaft bearings seizing due to lack of lubricant, according to Himmelman. “This can cause damage to many other components of the truckmount and increase the cost of repairs,” she says. “Proper lubing of the PTO shaft will ensure a long life for your unit.”
Some manufacturers recommend lubricating the blower at the end of the workday, while others recommend doing so after each job. It is, therefore, important to check with your truckmount manual for recommendations specific to your equipment.
Himmelman reiterates, “Blower lubrication is something simple and easy to do that can save a lot of money and downtime.”
Bettering truckmount maintenance
All of a company’s technicians should be trained on the maintenance expected of them and held accountable it.
“Companies that require technicians to fill out a form and follow a checklist enjoy the benefits of higher profits due to less downtime,” Bruders explains.
Manufacturer-recommended schedules with information on tasks that should be done each day, as well as less frequently, are included in virtually all truckmount manuals. Use your manufacturer-specific schedule to create (and make sure everyone follows!) your company’s maintenance schedule. Some manufacturers also offer maintenance apps, which can aid in the schedule development and adherence process.
“Breaking the maintenance items up into hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly checklists will help ensure each item is getting done and is a great way to log the maintenance. For multi-truck fleets, I recommend creating a ‘service work at a glance’ maintenance log for each truck on one sheet if possible,” Wilson advises. “This will help bring full visibility of the required maintenance to one sheet, ensuring items and truckmounts aren’t getting skipped.”
Providing employees with visual reminders and ways to track maintenance ensures necessary upkeep is done and allows a company to hold accountable those who neglect it.
“We have always found that the more you make these recommended tasks visible, the more likely technicians are to remember to do them,” Patayon and Russell report. They also recommend taking advantage of any videos on maintenance offered by your truckmount manufacturer for training technicians. “Seeing the necessary actions done is a great way to train new technicians and even refresh your own knowledge if it has been a while.”
Ultimately, upkeep on truckmounts should not be considered separate or additional work for anyone working in the field. It is an essential component of the work and should be considered part of the job.
As Bruders explains, “Equipment maintenance should not be considered a ‘chore.’ Keeping the outside of the vehicle clean, the inside free of debris, and following maintenance schedules is just simply a job requirement for a carpet cleaner.”
[infobox title=’Recovery Tank Maintenance Tips from Louie Patayon and Dennis Russel’]
- Check and clean your blower flat filter and be sure the filter is properly seated in place. This filter protects debris from entering the blower.
- Observe the condition of the recovery tank lid gasket and repair if necessary. The lid gasket provides an air-tight vacuum seal. Any tears in your lid gasket can cause a vacuum leak and result in poor vacuum performance. That can cause complaints from your customers about the carpet taking too long to dry.
- Observe and test the recovery high-level tank shut-off float. To do that, turn the machine on and lift the float switch manually to verify that it shuts the machine off. The high level shut-off float shuts the vacuum off to prevent wastewater from sucking through the blower.
- Leave the recovery tank lid open when not using the machine. This allows for airflow inside the tank to prevent moisture and condensation wicking into your blower’s cast iron lobes.
Thinking long term
Truckmounts are a major investment, and just like any other major investment, upkeep is essential to lengthening its lifespan and getting the most out of the money you put into it. A little time put into preventative maintenance every day will save your company a lot of money down the road. Patayon and Russell remind us “maintenance is cheap; repairs are expensive.”
Keeping all employees knowledgeable of the maintenance required of them and why it is important is key to ensuring the work gets done. “Owners should emphasize to employees that this valuable equipment pays their salary, so they should maintain it as if their livelihood depends on it—because it does!” recommends Bruders.
It is important to remember that long-term, regular maintenance affects the company in multiple financial ways:
- Not following the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule can void your warranty coverage, meaning you could be on the hook for all repairs resulting from the neglect.
- In addition to money spent on repairs resulting in maintenance neglect, there is also the lost income of losing equipment during repairs, which could be lengthy, depending on the damage.
- Proper upkeep on your equipment will increase the resale value, should you choose to sell your truckmount, according to Wilson.
“Today’s modern truckmount is a highly engineered and refined piece of equipment that if serviced and maintained properly will give you thousands of hours and years of trouble-free operation,” Bruders says.
Know your truckmount manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure everyone is sticking to it. You can find the recommendations online at the manufacturer’s website or contact the manufacturer if the one included in the manual is misplaced. By adhering to the appropriate maintenance schedule for your truckmount, you can extend the life of this sophisticated equipment and make the most of your investment.
Amanda Hosey is the managing editor of Cleanfax. She has worked as an editor and writer for more than 10 years, including six years with Cleanfax. Reach her at [email protected].