Backpack sprayers can be an important tool to get the job done and keep your business profitable. How do you know what to buy and how to maintain it? Here are some quick tips to help. Note: these tips are for those of you that buy quality equipment and take care of it. If this does not describe you, buy something cheap and replace it in a few months when it wears out.
1. Backpack Sprayer Selection
- Standardize. If all your backpacks are the same, everything is easier: training, operation, maintenance, parts inventory, etc. Standardization is one reason Southwest Airlines, which flies only 737s, makes money when other airlines lose money.
- Quality. Select a quality backpack. For example, the spray valve (i.e., the spray gun) should be well built out quality materials, such as brass or steel, not plastic. The backpack needs to be well-built. If the backpack looks flimsy, it probably is; don’t buy it
- Serviceability. If you can’t service the sprayer, it is a throwaway. The pump needs to be easily accessible for cleaning and service. The backpack’s filter must be easy to access and clean. If you can’t clean the filter, the backpack won’t last.
- Repair Parts. Check to ensure repair parts are available. If not, the backpack sprayer is a throwaway. Don’t buy it.
- Multiple Tips. Are multiple spray tips available for the backpack? If not, the backpack can only be used one way, which limits it value to you.
2. Backpack Sprayer Use
- Don’t over-pressurize it. If your backpack doesn’t pressure up normally, don’t keep pumping; you will break it.
- Release the pressure. After each use, release the pressure. Never store the sprayer under pressure. This reduces the life of hoses, gaskets, o-rings, etc., and increases the risk of freeze damage.
- Prevent freeze damage. Don’t expose the backpack to freezing temperatures. If this is unavoidable, release the pressure, drain all water from spray valve, hoses, etc.
- It’s a spray wand, not a crowbar. Use the sprayer the way it is supposed to be used. Don’t use the wand to open gates or push obstacles out of the way.
- Ensure backpack users report problems. Employees will ignore problems and keep using sprayers. Problems always get worse so don’t ignore them.
3. Backpack Sprayer Maintenance
- Clean the filter. This is the single most impactful thing you can do to reduce problems and extend sprayer life. Check filter before every use.
- Clean out the backpack. Debris and chemicals can build up in tank, pump, hoses, tips, etc. Clean out the tank periodically and flush the sprayer with clean water.
- Clean the tips. Use an old toothbrush and mild dish soap. Do not use needles or any other metal objects, which will damage the tip.
- Replace worn tips. Worn tips apply more product, which costs you money.
- Preventative maintenance saves money. Every year, tear down the backpack, thoroughly clean all components and replace o-rings and worn parts.
- Training. Make sure your employees understand proper use and maintenance. Periodically review proper procedures because employees forget or look for shortcuts that will cost you money.
Hope this helps. Happy spraying!
NOTE: We recommend the Swiss-made Birchmeier Backpacks which come with a 2 year manufacturer's warranty, though any backpack that meets the quality standards described in #1 above should be a good one.