Technical Articles

Myths, Fables & Fact About Vacuum Science

Never in recorded history has a subject been discussed as much, and understood as little, as vacuum systems and their effects on carpet cleaning.  Given the complexity of vacuum theory and the industry confusion surrounding it, carpet cleaning businesses often end up on a blind quest when searching for a truckmount with a more powerful vacuum. To keep from being vulnerable to claims that go beyond the real world of vacuum physics, let’s explore some of the misconceptions out there.

Myth #1: The more lift a system has, the better the cleaning will be.

To illustrate why this is a myth, put a marble on a table and place your vacuum hose over it, sealing the cuff to the table.  Now start your machine.  Because of the seal, the vacuum gauge will show its highest lift, but the marble hasn’t moved.  Now crack the seal of the cuff and let in some air.  Even though the gauge show a drop in lift, the marble races down the hose due to air flow.  So while lift is easily measure on a gauge, it doesn’t tell you how much air is being displaced in a vacuum system, and it is airflow (usually expressed in cubic feet per minute or CFM) that conveys soil back through the hoses to the recovery tank.

Myth #2 The more CFM a vacuum has, the drier the carpet will be after cleaning.

Airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), can’t be evaluated alone any more than lift can.  That’s because lift and airflow are inversely dependent.  If one goes up, the other goes down.

To illustrate, let’s suppose your truckmount vacuum gauge reads 6” Hg level of lift.  At this level, the system is capable of moving about 175CFM of airflow.  Now suppose you add more hose or improve the wand seal.  The gauge will probably show lift climb to a level of 10”Hg, but airflow will drop to about 150 CFM.  One goes up, the other down.

So, you can’t give too much weight to CFM measurements alone when judging a vacuum system.  The most effective cleaning is accomplished only when there is proper balance between lift and airflow.

At HydraMaster, we measure air watts to quantify and predict where the “sweet spot” of a vacuum’s performance curve lies.  And we calculate the speed at which air is flowing at every point in the system to ensure enough velocity to suspend the recover water and keep it moving throughout the system.

Myth #3:  The more air velocity a vacuum has, the better the system.

Modern day carpet cleaning machines are set at many different vacuum pressure limits.  Some are done intentional and others are just doing what the industry standard has been for decades.  Ideally a range of 12”-14” Hg is ideal based on myths #1 and #2.

What is easy to overlook on any carpet cleaning machine is the amount of pressure “restriction” on the blower and engine exhaust side.  It is important to understand that the positive pressure measurement on this side of the blower is referred to as back pressure and is added to the measured vacuum pressure on the inlet side of the blower. So if your back pressure is about 3” Hg and you set your vacuum breaker at 14” your CFM will be the output of the blower at 17” Hg.  It is possible to have to different machines side by side set at the same vacuum pressure level, but produce different CFM.  The machine with the greater back pressure will have lower CFM.

Designs that can impact back pressure can be; pipe diameter, number of elbows, silencer, heat exchanger, and the type of geometry used for each of these.  Sometimes it is necessary to make connections less efficient for the sake of packaging or economy, but overall you should ask the manufacturer what the overall back pressure is of a particular piece of equipment.

Reprinting or electronically publishing these technical articles is strictly prohibited without permission from HydraMaster Corporation.

All Heat Exchange Truckmounts Are Not Created Equal

When looking at the solution temperature of a machine, most machines will go up to 230° – 250°F when water isn’t being used, but will they sustain the temperature when you are in a typical cleaning cycle, or using an RX-20? Most of them won’t.

We’ve worked hard to make the Maxx™ series, Boxxer™ and CDS™ the hottest machines in each of their classes. Prove it to yourself, run any of these machines against our competitors and you too will be a believer.

Things to think about…
When comparing solution temperatures on truckmounts, you cannot always believe the temperature gauge of the machine is accurate.

Now why is that?

There are many variables that make the temperature look hotter or colder than it really is.

  • Where is the Temperature Gauge sender located? Is it on or near the heat exchanger? Plumbing it near the heat exchanger is going to give you an artificially elevated temperature. The proper location for the sender is at the outlet quick connect manifold. This will give you a more accurate reading.
  • Where is the Pressure Gauge reference tap plumbed? This makes a difference because some machines have more pressure restrictions than others. Is the tap plumbed before the restrictions or after? In our testing of various machines we have seen that the actual pressure leaving the machine can be up to 200 psi less than what the gauge is reading (500 psi on the gauge, 300-psi actual pressure). This restriction causes a pressure drop, which reduces the gallons per minute through the cleaning tool. The less flow you have the hotter the solution. In this case you are getting the heat but at the expense of reduced water flow.
  • What size jet is being used? This can also reduce water flow.
  • What is the Vacuum Breaker set at? Is the vacuum blower inlet connection blower reduced down thus causing restriction of airflow “CFM”? Is the vacuum blower outlet restricted down? This will cause the blower to operate at elevated temperatures reducing component life. Anything that causes the system to operate at a higher “Hg level will produce higher temperatures in the Blower (and the Blower Heat Exchanger). This will also make the engine work harder.

When Testing…
When testing machines for temperature performance it is important to do the following:

  • Use an external temperature and pressure gauge. Set the machine at 14” Hg and use a number 6 jet. Connect the external gauges at the end of 100 feet of hose. Adjust the machine’s pressure until the external gauge reads 350 PSI. Use the same set-up for all of the machines you are testing. This will give you an accurate pressure and temperature reading in comparison to all of the machines being tested.
  • Let the machine heat up under a full vacuum load for 10-15 minutes. This will allow all the components to achieve their maximum temperatures.
  • Do two tests:
    First test– Run the machine for ten minutes with a continuous flow of water. This will give you a Continuous Flow temperature reading. (After ten minutes the machines temperatures will level out). The continuous water flow test will show what the machine is capable of during cleaning with Rotary machines or a continuous spray with a wand.
    Second test– Immediately after the first test, stop spraying water for two minutes. This will allow the machine to recover and heat up. Then cycle the spray with 30 seconds on, followed by 10 seconds off. Repeat this cycle for ten minutes. At the end of this ten minutes, the temperature of the machine will level out. Now take a final temperature reading. This test simulates the machine’s ability to recover and perform heavy duty cleaning followed by a dry pass.

If you have any questions please call HydraMaster.

Carpet Cleaning Wastewater Dumping: Hazardous to Your Business Health

Carpet Cleaners cannot afford to ignore the law! The dumping of cleaning wastewater onto the street, into the storm drain or onto open ground is environmentally unacceptable and a lot of people care.

We live in a time of increased awareness of how our actions affect the environment. More than ever, we are conscious of “chemicals” in our everyday lives and even the average citizen has become a self-appointed ecology cop. A whole raft of “departments” from Fish & Game to Environment Protection are showing more and more concern over our activities.

Dirty waste from our cleaning operation contains detergents, soils, fibers, and all types of foreign material. Many people incorrectly believe that if they use a detergent that is “biodegradable,” it is safe to put back into the environment. This is not the case.

Biodegradability simply means that the organic material will, in the presence of the right organisms, be reduced to a simpler organic substance. During the decomposition, the organisms consume oxygen from the water. As a result, the presence of too much biodegradable material in a stream can rob oxygen necessary for fish and plant life.

For purposes of this discussion, we have only scratched the surface of possible difficulties carpet cleaners may eventually suffer. Wastewater as we’ve defined it, is NOT considered hazardous waste. Many of the chemicals we use, however, would be considered hazardous by law if they were not diluted with many gallons of water and neutralized by contact with soils.

An acceptable method of wastewater disposal is to discharge the water into a municipal sewage treatment system after first filtering out solid material such as carpet fiber. Access to the sanitary system can be obtained through a toilet, laundry drain, car wash drain, R.V. dump, etc.

One way to comply with the law would be to accumulate the wastewater in large tanks and haul the water to an appropriate dump site. This method can be cumbersome, requiring extremely large recovery tanks and vehicles capable of carrying over 2,000 pounds of extra weight (200 gallons of water plus tank).

The preferred solution to the disposal problem is to equip yourself with what is typically referred to as an Automatic Pump-Out (APO) System. These systems are designed to remove wastewater from the extractor’s recovery system and actively pump the water through hoses to a suitable disposal drain. Properly designed, the system will continuously monitor the level of wastewater and pump it out simultaneously to the cleaning operation. The hidden benefit of this process is that the operator doesn’t have to stop his cleaning to empty the recovery tank.

The penalties for noncompliance with wastewater regulations can be serious. There have been reports of substantial fines, some as high as $10,000. Always check applicable local laws and regulations and comply.

In light of what we may eventually be required to do, we should count ourselves lucky and rush to comply with these simple, elementary wastewater disposal laws. Do it today, if for no other reason than to get caught dumping improperly, you may be put out of business tomorrow. Be a good citizen!

No Frills or Deluxe Accessorizing you Truckmount

What does the experienced professional cleaner want when he buys a truckmounted system today? Choices, and there are plenty of them. While the choices are many, they can generally be put into four main categories. There are time saving options and van organizer systems. There are quality boosting accessories and options that allow you to expand the services you offer. There is just about anything the well-heeled carpet cleaner could want.

Time Savers: Time is money in a service business like ours. Tops in this category have to be Fresh Water Tanks. These popular options save time and hassle on every job which adds up quickly. The popularity of Electric-Powered Hose Reels is growing lately, allowing quicker recovery of hoses and tons of operator-energy savings. Automatic Pump-Out Systems (APO ) not only save time by dumping wastewater automatically, but they also keep you on the right side of the law.

Van Organizers: Cleaners today want to carry more and more in their trucks. This can quickly lead to chaos and damage to equipment if things aren’t stowed correctly. Options that help the cleaner with this task include Storage Hose Reels for vacuum hoses, solution lines and fresh-water supply hoses. These reels can be individual or grouped together and there are dozens of choices. Every organized truck has to have Chemical Storage Racks, not to mention Airmover Shelves, Small Article Bins, Sprayer Holders, Furniture Protector Pad Dispensers, Wand-Storage Racks and Rake & Brush Clips.

Quality Boosters: Some accessories and options are chosen simply for their ability to enhance cleaning effectiveness. Chief among these options is the Rotary Power Head, designed to replace the wand. These tools invariably improve the quality and consistency of cleaning with sweat-savings as a bonus. New faster-drying technology promises a powerful benefit on some Power Heads. Another great truckmount option to consider is a Heat Boosting System. The value of heat in improving cleaning quality and speed is widely accepted and these options are very popular. Optional Water Softening Equipment has a wonderful, positive effect on cleaning and provides protection for a truckmount’s water heating system at the same time.

Service Expanders: Sometimes the simple addition of an accessory enables a truckmount system to perform new tasks. This adds utility value to the truckmount as well as possible new sources of income for the company. The hottest example of this type of accessory has to be the new breed of Hard-Surface Cleaning Tools and Hard-Surface Attachments for Power Heads. Many cleaners have added this profitable new service. Other accessories that expand the services your truckmount can perform include Upholstery Cleaning Tools , Pressure Washing Tools and Stair Tools.

Customizing your truckmount system has never been easier. Now, more than ever, you can effectively set-up your truck to serve your business in the best way possible.

Carrying Fresh Water, Pumping Out Dirty Water and Quicker Drying Carpets

Increased demand from professional carpet cleaners has fueled the development of a host of new truckmount accessory options. Unlike the past, today’s more established cleaner seems more willing than ever to shell out his hard earned dollars for accessory equipment that promises to make his life easier or his job results better.

Space-Saving Fresh Water Tanks
Speaking of making life easier, Fresh Water Tanks continue to grow in popularity, even in areas of the country that don’t experience hard winters. You can’t beat the convenience and speed of a truckmount system equipped with a Fresh Water Tank. A new variation of the FWT is designed to slip under a truckmount, providing an answer to the ever-present question… ”Where am I going to put it?” This type of tank is typically a little more expensive as they must be built heavier to bear the weight of a machine, but the space-savings is worth it to many cleaners.

Externally-Mounted Auto Pump-Outs
Most major truckmount companies these days offer an externally mounted APO system. The external type of Auto Pump-Out has several advantages over the In-Tank style. One advantage is larger electric motors for improved performance, reliability and longer life. Another important advantage is the ease-of-service because the Pump-Out is more accessible than in-tank APO’s.

Quicker Drying Carpets
Always the Holy Grail of carpet cleaning, once we’ve cleaned the carpet as thoroughly as possible, the customer wants it dry yesterday! Better drying is the motivation for bigger and bigger machines. Fortunately, some good new science and engineering is helping to make advancements on accessories designed for accelerated drying. New ultra-fast drying power heads are available to complement any size truckmount and some promising new Scrub Wand engineering is beginning to hit the market as well.

Something For Everyone…
Looking for labor-savings? Want more convenience or just plain luxury? Today you have more choices than ever before in accessorizing your truckmounted cleaning system. Now you know what to ask for this Christmas.

How We Get More Than Just Great Heat From Our Machines

The heat systems on our truckmounts are designed a little differently than our competitors. We’re not just after raw heat. We’re looking for MORE heat.

Smooth and Steady – We believe that a smooth, steady output of hot water is very beneficial in cleaning. If the wand spits out live steam when the operator first picks it up, yet the heat quickly drops, then cleaning will suffer. Blotches, streaks and uneven cleaning will ruin the quality of the cleaning job.

No Heat Spiking – The precision of our heat control system is unmatched at producing a smooth even flow of heat. Other machines can’t match this precision because they use cheaper, more conventional sensors like a bulb and capillary. This type of sensor is very slow acting and it has up to a 25 degree deadband. Our RTD type sensors have a 2 degree deadband and a 1 second response time. A deadband is the range through which an input can be changed without causing an observable response. 25 degrees is not very sensitive. 30 seconds is not very responsive. The result is wide swings in temperature output and heat spiking. There are those competitors that do not even use heat control systems and the heat spiking of these machines is even worse.

Precise Control – Having great heat exchangers is important but having a greatheat control system is just as critical. Added to the precision and fast response timeof our heat sensors is our specially engineered solid-state ADC™ tempcontroller. The ADC™ is the very reliable, very precise “brains” of our heat control system and it’s found only on HydraMaster equipment. The system’s fast response time is critical to squeezing more heat out of the system.

Why More Heat? – Simply put, we achieve more heat because our system comes back online from bypass mode quickly. The bypass controls are activated in seconds, unlike the slow, high deadband reaction of our competitor’s systems. Put another way, when our heat system is in divert-mode (maximum temp) and the water temp drops only 2 degrees, the system resumes heating immediately. Contrast that with our competitors system that takes 30 seconds to come back online and even that reaction may only happen when it drops as much as 25 degrees because of the deadband. Our quicker acting system ensures higher delivered temperatures.

The Engineered Difference – The thing that separates us from our competitors is our ability to apply the latest engineering tools and skills to designing a better machine.

Our 14 person inhouse engineering crew is hard at work designing truckmounted equipment that not only works better but is reliable and easy to service.

That’s how we get MORE than just great heat from our machines.

Clutch-Drive Truckmounts —A Good Idea

There are several advantages of the CDS.
Some of them are:

Space savings. Only 14” of cargo space are needed. The rest is open for tanks, reels, air movers or whatever you need to transport.

Less maintenance. By eliminating the engine required in a slide-in Truckmount, maintenance is greatly reduced. Less external heat and vibration generated than with a Slide in increases component life.

Quiet operation. While a slide-in needs to be operated with the van doors open, the CDS–with the use of the Hose Pass-Through Kit–can be operated with the doors shut, reducing almost all of the noise. The reduced noise makes it great for operating at night and in noise sensitive areas. This same feature also addresses the issue of providing locked-door security while operating in questionable areas.

Fuel economy. Many mistakenly feel that the van engine uses lots of fuel. The truth is that a late model GM or Ford-mounted CDS will use about the same amount of fuel as a typical mid-sized slide in and much less than larger slide in truckmounts. With fuel consumption at 1.5 to 1.7 GHP, the CDS really is a surprisingly economical vehicle to run!

Long Lasting. With fewer parts, lower surrounding temperatures, less vibration of components and easier upkeep, a well maintained CDS will be around creating income for years to come!

There are a couple of myths about the CDS that need to be addressed.

Myth. The CDS will wear out the van quickly.

Fact. While it is true the van engine is running during the cleaning operation, it is barely above an idle and is turning a minimal horsepower load, much less than if just driving down a level road at a moderate speed. We know of many CDS equipped vehicles that have in excess of 200,000 miles on the original engine.

Myth. If the van is damaged, it is easy to move a slide in into another vehicle to continue using it while the van is being repaired.

Fact. While it may be easier to move a slide in than a CDS, it is by no means easy. Although this has happened a few times over the years, it is unusual to remove a machine to repair a van and this presumes that you have a spare van ready and waiting. In truth, it rarely happens.

Myth. Since the van’s engine is large, the CDS will use a lot of gas.

Fact. No matter what size the engine might be, the CDS only demands a small fraction of the engine’s available power and power output is what determines gas consumption. Additionally, a van engine is usually significantly more fuel efficient than the small industrial engines used to run a typical slide-in truckmount. Finally, HydraMaster’s ESC (Electronic Speed Control) helps to manage the engine and optimize fuel efficiency.

The CDS has been successful for all of these years because it makes sense. The CDS has proven to be a reliable money-making partner for the independent professional cleaners and the system of choice for many major franchises. With the help of van manufacturer credit offerings, low-cost innovative financing programs for CDS/van combinations are usually lower interest than you can find for slide-in truckmount purchases. For these and many other reasons, the HydraMaster CDS has a long and loyal following from cleaners throughout the nation.

A Catchy Combination: Water Damage Restoration & Flood Damage Only Truckmounts

Water Damage Restoration (WDR) is becoming more and more specialized and sophisticated. Industry experts and innovators are constantly developing new techniques and methods of removing water and drying structures. A host of new products have come along in the past few years that make water damage work more efficient and profitable.

Dedicated WDR specialists no longer focus primarily on cleaning, so it is not needed on all of their truckmounts. This has led to the creation of the Flood Damage Only Truckmount (FDOT).

There are many advantages of the FDOT truckmount:

  • Size — A dedicated truckmount is scaled down and many of the components that are required when the machine is called on to clean carpets are removed. Major systems such as a high-pressure water pump, chemical injection and heating components are unnecessary with an extraction-only FDOT machine.
  • Operating simplicity — The result of a purpose-built water damage machine is extreme simplicity. Operator training is minimal and the machine’s vulnerability to “bad handling” is low. It’s about 75 percent easier to operate than a typical truckmount.
  • Easy to maintain — Simpler design and easier access to all areas of the machine results in a machine system that requires 50 percent less maintenance.
  • Reliability — A simple “no frills” FDOT truckmount that has fewer working parts has less to fail, less to breakdown.
  • Affordability — By eliminating unnecessary parts and systems, the manufacturer can concentrate on keeping the price down and put more effort into building a machine that runs quietly; an important factor when working at night to extract a flood.