We have had a number of technicians and PCO's stop in the past week. They asked us to service their pumps because they were losing pressure. It turned out all that was needed was to clean their filters. We gave them a lecture, but no invoice, and sent them on their way.
Checking and cleaning your spray equipment filter is the best thing you can do to reduce downtime and repair expense.
Would you like to boost productivity, improve service and reduce repair expenses? When it comes to pest spray equipment, the single most effective means of achieving these results is proper filtration.
Filtration is the removal of suspended foreign material from water. Foreign material can be dirt, sand, rocks, trash or anything else that makes its way into your spray tank, other than the chemical you've added.
Filtration is critical to pest management professionals (PMPs) because debris will wreak havoc: damage pumps; clog hoses, guns and tips and starve pumps of water, causing extensive damage. Our service facility estimates that almost 50 percent of sprayer repairs are avoidable if proper filtration design and operation is implemented.
While I'm focusing on power sprayers in this column, much of the information also applies to compressed air sprayers and backpacks.
Design includes equipment selection, placement and access. Selection should be based on material being applied, quality of water, technician compliance and the type of pump.
Most PMPs can get by with one line strainer between the tank and pump. Note that a line strainer refers to the complete unit, which contains a metal filter. However, the mesh of the filter is important: Too fine, and it will clog quickly; too coarse, and small debris will get through.
If your water source is poor, use additional filtration. For example, many termite pretreaters in new home developments rely on water lines filled with debris. For some clients, we've added a line strainer on the hydrant fill line, a filter basket in the tank fillwell and/or two line strainers between the tank and pump. In the last situation, the first filter is coarse and the second is fine — a combination that works well to eliminate most debris.
Some pumps require more filtration than others. Roller pumps, for example, are sensitive to debris and require better filtration than diaphragm pumps.
It's critical that the filtration device be located for easy technician access. This includes being able to easily reach and check the filter, as well as ensuring the system is plumbed so the filter can be checked without causing a spill. If the tank is bottom-plumbed and the strainer is below the water level in the tank, be sure to install a shut-off valve so the filter can be checked even when the tank is full.
Whatever filtration system you and your equipment provider design, try to standardize it across all your vehicles.
Checking and cleaning the filter is the single most valuable preventative maintenance task you can perform. It's also the easiest.
For new equipment, check the filter daily. If there's consistently no debris, consider reducing the frequency. When you determine the appropriate frequency, make it a company policy. Too often is better then too seldom. Reinforce the importance of checking and cleaning the filter.
Eventually the filter will become too dirty to clean. Replace it. Chemicals will eventually swell the gasket in the line strainer, making it impossible to create an airtight seal and causing the pump to suck air. Replace the gasket.
Equip each vehicle with an extra filter and gasket so the technician can perform this repair in the field. If you've standardized your filtration, this is easy.
Eventually the line strainer body may crack, causing an air leak. This requires replacement of the entire unit.
These steps, if followed, will boost productivity, allow you to provide better service to your customers and reduce repair expenses.