Additional risk for spray professionals comes during the winter. Deep freeze conditions can cause considerable damage to pest control spray equipment. Some of the most expensive parts are most at risk of freeze damage. Water can freeze in lines, and the ice can damage pumps, spray guns, line strainers (filters) and hand sprayers. In addition to the added cost of equipment repairs, customer appointments will be missed while equipment thaws out or is repaired. There are steps to take to reduce the risk of freeze damage to spray equipment.
Work with an equipment provider to build in preventive measures, such as installing a:
- Valve between tank and filter to shut off the flow of water through the system
- Drain at a low point in the system to allow water to drain out
- Fitting (like a tee or cross) with a removable plug to allow the addition of anti-freeze to the pump
- Train technicians to be aware of, and take steps to, prevent freeze damage. Remind techs damaged equipment affects their ability to provide outstanding service to customers and hurts the company financially.
- Train technicians to always release the pressure when they’re done spraying. Systems under pressure will experience more damage from freezing than would otherwise result. This is especially true for handheld compressed air sprayers and backpacks.
- Train technicians not to use frozen equipment until it thaws. Using or running frozen equipment will exacerbate small problems (i.e., more expensive, longer delays, etc.).
- Store vehicles in places where the equipment won’t freeze.
- Wrap hoses with insulating material to reduce freeze risk.
- Cover equipment with insulating blankets at night.
- Purchase a pump heater to keep your pump warm and cozy at night.
- Build a pump heater by hanging a light bulb inside a cardboard box over your pump. Be sure there’s no fire risk.
- Drain water from equipment before an expected freeze.
- Add antifreeze to equipment being stored for the winter.
- If storing a pest control sprayer for the winter, consider removing the pump to perform annual maintenance.
Awareness and preparation are key to preventing freeze damage to your spray equipment. Remind technicians of their responsibilities to prevent damage to company equipment. Perform spot checks to ensure your policies are implemented. Track damage by technician to identify repeat offenders and problems with equipment design.