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Keys to Maintaining Janitorial Equipment

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After labor expenses, there’s typically no greater cost for a franchise owner than equipment. The tools of the trade can be pricey, but well maintained equipment is what allows you to do your job effectively, efficiently and profitably. Therefore, protecting that investment should be a top priority.

With proper care, machines like vacuums, buffers and scrubbers can run reliably for many years. Without it, however, you’ll be dealing with unexpected costly breakdowns and machines that need replacing before their life expectancy has been reached.

What are the keys to properly maintaining janitorial equipment?

Start From Day One

Caring for your equipment begins the day you purchase it (not months later when it starts to show signs of wear). People tend not to pay much attention to the owner’s manual once the vacuum has been assembled but, in a lot of cases, it is in the owner’s manual where manufacturers share best practices for operating and maintaining their product.

Also, take advantage of any training the distributor or manufacturer has to offer. For example the ProTeam website has numerous operation videos on their equipment which are excellent tools for training. Other commercially rated vacuum manufacturers also have excellent websites where they sometimes post training videos. This is particularly important with any new technology or complicated machinery, especially if you have staff with heavy turnover. You want to be certain everyone on your team knows how to use and care for every tool in their arsenal. Create and update your procedures manual, and remember to offer training to new employees and abbreviated retraining to the entire staff on a regular basis.

Proper Care of Vacuums

For most franchise owners, the vacuum cleaner gets more use than any other equipment. Daily maintenance is key to keeping this important tool running smoothly. Each day, perform the following inspections:

  • Check the bag and replace it when it’s half full (letting the bag overfill prevents the vacuum from working effectively).
  • Examine the filter for excessive soil. Clean (if washable) and/or replace if needed. Also look for obstructions in the clog ports or fan chambers.
  • Look inside the hose to make sure it’s not heavily soiled or clogged (clean as needed) and make sure the hose is properly attached to the machine.
  • Check the cord for cuts or frayed wiring and the exterior of the vacuum for cracks or broken parts. (Damaged vacuums should be replaced or sent to an authorized service center for repairs.)
  • Remove any obstructions that are wrapped around the brush roller or beater bar on an upright vacuum.
  • Also, the brush roller typically needs to be replaced every two to three months. Also, if you notice a difference in motor sound or smell burning rubber, shut down the vacuum immediately and reinstall or replace the belt.
Maintaining Carpet Extractors

Carpet extractors are a much larger capital expense than vacuums. So it’s important to avoid replacing a machine that costs thousands of dollars sooner than is necessary. Routine maintenance of these machines (whether self-contained, wanded, or truck-mounted) is simple, requiring just 10 to 15 minutes each day to perform the following inspections:

  • Tanks and water lines: Check for cracks or leaks daily, and clean them immediately after use.
  • Nozzles and wands: Look for dents or cracks in the wand head that could contact the carpet. Make sure the tips of the sprayer are free of debris and mineral buildup.
  • Hoses: Examine the hose connection for leaks, and check for tears, cracks, or obstructions in the suction or solution hoses. Clean the hoses and hose connections after each use
  • Other parts: Check the brush roller for damage and excessive debris. Look over the wheels, tanks, cord connection, and switches for wear and tear.

These simple tips—along with safe storage—can extend an extractor’s lifespan from two years to as many as 10.

Caring for Auto Scrubbers and Buffers

Complex machines like auto scrubbers and buffers can require more time consuming maintenance. Daily maintenance tasks include:

  • Check the squeegee for debris (which can lead to streaking) and clean as needed.
  • Inspect pads/brushes for wear; clean and replace as needed.
  • Wipe down the entire surface, including the cord, after each use. Also, check the machine for cracks or damage and the cord for frayed wires.
  • Rinse out the tanks after each use.
  • Rotate blades
  • Rinse and flip pads after every two hours of operation.
  • Verify vacuum shut-off device is working properly.
  • Charge batteries after extended use.

Each week, take the additional steps of inspecting the solution filter for clogs/debris, doing the “sniff test” for mold or other foul odors, check the water level of acid batteries, inspect terminals for buildup and tighten as needed, and check the recovery system for leaks. Every other week, take time to blow out the motor. Finally, once a month, check the wheels for damage or wear, inspect and lubricate moving parts, and verify all screws and bolts are and tight.

Final Thoughts

Record your maintenance efforts by keeping a log for every piece of equipment. Keep notes of daily and routine inspections and cleanings, as well as any repairs. This maintenance log will help supervisors ensure maintenance is being performed in a timely manner. They can also check the entries when problems arise to determine if any employees need training.

It’s a good idea to have at least one person on every crew trained in the basic mechanics of every machine. When it comes to technical maintenance and expert repairs, however, these more complicated procedures should be left to qualified service professionals.

Check equipment warranties carefully because some will be voided if anyone other than a service professional attempts machine repairs.

Remember: First impressions matter. Dusty or damaged equipment may send a subtle signal to your customers that you’re not running a professional operation. On the other hand, when customers see that your equipment is clean and well cared for, they’ll know that you pay attention to detail.

Backpack Vacuums and Ergonomics – Correct Fit and Vacuuming Technique are essential.

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When it comes to cleaning, time is everything. The quicker the cleaning technician can clean; the more profit there is to be made. If you are not already familiar with backpack vacuums and how efficient they are when compared to the more traditional type vacuums, I would suggest that you take the time to research and become familiar with the pros and cons of backpack vacuums. Not only can backpack vacuums increase your cleaning production rates but they can also reduce the negative effects that repetitive vacuuming can have on your body.

Reduce Back Pain By Utilizing Back Pack Vacuums Instead of Uprights

Added Advantages of the Backpack Vacuum

The research paper titled Biomechanical Assessment of an Upright Vacuum Cleaner and Back Pack Vacuum Cleaner (Department of Surgery Division of Orthopedics, Ohio State University, and Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH) presents data comparing the stresses and fatigue of custodial managers using upright and backpack vacuum cleaners; “The biomechanical assessment concluded that the use of backpack vacuum cleaners resulted in less body stress, fatigue and repetition. Specifically, the lower body motions associated with the use of a backpack vacuum were within the limits of average walking, whereas the lower body motions associated with the use of upright vacuum cleaners were more “unnatural” and therefore more stressful on the body. Also, upper body movements were less stressful since the hand to floor distance was longer with the backpack vacuum cleaner than with the upright. This resulted in an increase in the speed in which an area was vacuumed.”

Back Packs: Fit and Technique

Before investing in backpack vacuums – do your own investigation and take into account some of the following when deciding whether or not a backpack vacuum is right for you by making sure that you have sound reasoning behind your purchase.

Backpack vacuums are an ideal way to make vacuuming easier than ever thought possible. Instead of excessive bending, as is the case with a regular vacuum unit, back packs are ergonomically designed and “made to fit” in order to provide maximum comfort. This is achieved through improved harness designs, which are used for distributing weight and maintaining balance properly.

For instance, the backpack vacuums are equipped with shoulder straps and a waist belt that is padded. When you first put on the backpack vacuum, it is imperative that you adjust the belt, so that it fits secure and snug around your hips. If done correctly, the straps should easily slip around the shoulders, and should be loose. The main force of weight will then be distributed from the machine, off of the back and shoulders, and applied to the hips.

Another excellent feature of the backpack vacuum is the back plate, which is a panel that provides ventilation and is the piece of the unit that rests directly on the back. It is also the support piece for the vacuum. The back plate should be adjustable; take the time to lower or raise it in regards to the users’ height, to ensure the ultimate in flexibility and freedom to move around conveniently.

The Back Pack Vacuum and Ergonomics

In order to get the most out of the ergonomic backpack vacuum, users need to know how to use them properly, in order to provide the muscles, tendons and ligaments with the proper support and security they need. Backpack users should never have to bend their back for any reason, and the upper torso should be kept erect with very little twisting or sudden sharp movements while operating the vacuum.

By reducing bending and excessive, vigorous movements, backpack users can keep their endurance and stamina levels up, meaning, more energy and productivity while on the job. When it comes time for bending, remember to bend with your knees and use the support of your legs, not your back.

Another fantastic way to make the vacuuming experience less demanding on your back, is to frequently empty the backpack of the dust and debris. By doing so, the backpack vacuum will remain lighter, which makes a big difference compared to lugging around extra weight that isn’t necessary to carry.

As an extra bonus, some backpack vacuum can be purchased with a storage station. The vacuum storage station can be installed on a vertical surface, such as a wall, which helps the user take off and put on the backpack vacuum with ease, without ever having to bend down to pick it up, which can cause undue back strain.

Remember the phrase; “work smarter, not harder?” Whether you already use backpacks or are considering the switch, make sure to train all your cleaning staff to properly fit the backpack to them and to use correct vacuuming techniques in order to optimize the backpacks many benefits.

From my experience, ProTeam are one of the leaders in the backpack equipment sector and both The Cleaning House and G.T French carry the ProTeam line of equipment along with some locations of Swish Maintenance.

Franchise Opportunities Canada

Franchise Opportunities in Canada – JDI at The Franchise Expo

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JDI Cleaning is excited to announce that we will be participating in The Franchise Expo at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario on September 9th & 10th, 2017 from 11:00AM to 5:00PM each day. This is one of Canada’s largest Franchise Shows drawing in thousands of potential business owners looking to buy a business, or franchise opportunities across Canada.

Franchise opportunities allow you to go into business for yourself,but not by yourself. The Franchise Expo also features keynote speakers & free seminars that will inspire and educate you to grow something spectacular. Seminar topics include:

  • How to choose and evaluate a franchise
  • Understanding government regulations
  • Marketing and sales
  • Human resources
  • Legal considerations
  • Lease negotiations

Join JDI Cleaning at The Franchise Expo to learn more about our Local Franchise Program and Master Franchise Program. Owning your own business has never been easier. JDI Cleaning will be at booth #205.

Learn more about The Franchise Expo here.