Spray Equipment Tanks – Pre-Season Cleanout Worth the Effort

Posted by Andrew Greess on Dec 22, 2009

Would you rather have your pest control spray equipment down for servicing now or in the middle of summer?

The high season for pest control is approaching. Now is the time, when business is still a little slow, to get your  spray equipment in fighting shape for the long hours and hard use it will undoubtedly endure. Taking a little time to prepare now will reduce downtime during your critical busy season, as well as help reduce sprayer equipment repair expenses by fixing small problems before the become big problems.

The first thing to do is give your tank a good cleaning. Tanks often experience a buildup of chemical residue caused by pesticides falling out of suspension and accumulating on the bottom of the tank. This can cause a variety of problems.

  1. 1.   The buildup can affect the concentration of the material you are applying. For example if you are getting toward the bottom of the tank and some of the residue came free, you could be applying material at higher than label rates. Alternatively, you could be inadvertently applying a different chemical from an earlier mix.
  1. The residue could come free and clog filters, hoses, guns, tips, etc. All of these outcomes are negative and may affect equipment availability, technician productivity and repair expenses. At best, clogged equipment will cause your technician to lose time. At worst, it will destroy your pump.
  1. The cleanout process will remove other dirt, rock and debris that accumulate in a tank that likewise plays havoc with your downstream components.

Here are some thoughts for cleaning out your tank:

  1. Get the tank as empty as possible without running your pump dry.
  1. Fill the tank with clean water and run it through your system. Remove the spray gun so it does not get clogged. Periodically check the filter to be sure it does not clog. Be sure to follow all applicable laws when dealing with therinsate. If you do not have a good place to spray out the rinsate, spray it into another tank on a different truck.
  1. Add a little more clean water to the tank. This time we do not want to fill the tank we just want enough water to feed the pump and fill the hose. We want most of the tank to be visible. Turn up the pressure on your system and use your spray gun pressure wash the inside of the tank.  Add more water then spray out this rinsate as in “B” above.
  1. Fill your tank with water and add tank cleaner. Tank cleaner is available from your pest control products supplier. Most of these products use 1 pound of tank cleaner per 100 gallons of tank volume. Put the spray hose end into your tank and let the system just circulate the tank cleaner for a while per the label directions. This will remove any remaining chemical residue. Properly dispose of the tank cleaner rinsate.
  1. Run another tank of clean water through the system to remove any remaining tank cleaner.
  1. Sometimes there may be debris remaining in the tank after you have finished the cleanout. This could be stones, bottle caps, etc. We don’t have a good solution for you here. You need to find a way to manually remove this debris so it doesn’t end causing problems later. If your filter is at a low point in the system, it might be easiest to remove the filter then use a garden hose to wash debris out of the tank then out through the filter.
  1. Finally, check and clean your filter to ensure it is debris-free and ready for your busy season.

A clean tank is a good tank. It requires a bit of effort but you will be repaid in reduced downtime and fewer, less expensive equipment repairs. Spend time now preparing your equipment so your equipment can make you money this summer.