What you don’t know, WILL bite you in the …Wallet!
Every week our pest control equipment repair shop sees equipment that puzzles us. Obvious design flaws that cause pest control companies expensive downtime, repair expense, missed appointments and lost revenue.
After seeing the same problems repeatedly, we began to document them so that you can learn from other's mistakes. This is the first in a series to explain some of the things to look for and what questions to ask before making an expensive purchase. Hopefully some of these ideas will prevent you from getting bitten.
Pest Control Equipment – Cheap Does Not Save Money
This photo show the the bottom of a 50-gallon poly tank on a pest sprayer. The tank fitting, elbow fitting, hose and clamp are all JUNK! These fittings are low quality and will not stand up to heat, cold, bumps, chemicals, hard use, etc.
Not Just Cheap. Just Plain Wrong!
The way this powerspray rig is plumbed means that if any problem occurs in any of these parts (fittings, clamp or hose), the tank will drain. There is no way to shut off the flow and you now have a 50-gallon chemical spill on your hands.
Interestingly, I was giving a presentation on spray equipment safety and showed this photo. A spray technician raised his hand and said that exact thing happened to him. He had a brand new power sprayer. As he was leaving the lot, he hit a bump and an elbow fitting (like the one in the photo) snapped.
He spilled 100 gallons of chemical. Fortunately, he was still on his lot and was able to hit it with lots of soak up. It cost him and his department a couple hours and quite a bit of chemical but no fines and no bad press.
Pest Control Equipment – Pay Attention to the Little Stuff
We raise this issue because many power spray rig buyers pay attention to the expensive components of a power spray rig (pump, motor, reel, etc.) but often overlook the small stuff. Many spray rig manufacturers use cheap fittings to lower costs, because they think no one will notice. Many do not notice, until they have a problem.
While these small components may not be expensive, the wrong component in the wrong place, or a worn component can cause serious safety issues such as chemical spills and chemical exposure.
There are huge variations in quality of clamps and fittings. For example, fittings can be steel, brass, black pipe, poly, PVC or nylon. No one has ever asked me about fittings when buying a power spray rig. Fittings are almost never specified when we are asked to bid a set of specs. The wrong fitting in a critical position can be disastrous. A fitting that is too short, thin, or weak can crack under pressure, vibration or torque, resulting in an expensive spill.
Is This Equipment Risk Real? Or Is He Being Alarmist?
It’s real. Here’s the proof.
This photo shows what can happen with cheap fittings. A backpack fell against the black fitting at the bottom of a pest control spray rig breaking the fitting. There was no shut off valve, so 50 gallons of chemical spilled. Because of the cheap tank construction (i.e., the tank fitting is part of the tank, not a separate component), the tank also cracked. The tank was not repairable and had to be replaced, resulting in significant cost and downtime.
Fittings in key or high-risk positions should be heavier-duty to reduce risk. For example, the pickup fitting coming out of the bottom of a tank is critical. If it breaks, the tank will empty. Fittings attached to valves that are turned or hoses that are pulled need to be heavier-duty to handle the stress.
The risk of a chemical spill from a cheap fitting is not worth the upfront savings. When purchasing a power sprayer, pay attention to all components, not just the expensive ones. Ask questions to know what you are getting.
Want more info on this subject?
Download our complimentary document, 15 Questions You Must Ask Before Buying a Power Spray Rig.