How to Winterize
Your Carpet Cleaning System
With the winter months comes the cold weather. Here are some "winterizing" tips and procedures, to help protect your carpet cleaning equipment from freeze damage.
Tip 1 - Always pay attention to your daily local weather forecast.
Not winterizing your equipment for only one forgetful night of below freezing temperatures can cost you hundreds of dollars in freeze damage repairs and down time.
Tip 2 - Keeping the pilot light lit on your water heater does not always produce enough heat to guard against freezing.
By it's self, keeping the pilot light lit with a window cracked to reduce moisture buildup will not protect your water heater or the rest of your equipment from freezing.
Tip 3 - Antifreeze or windshield washer fluid doesn't always do the trick.
Running antifreeze or windshield washer fluid through your entire system every night and then having to run it back out of your system every morning before your first job, can be costly and time consuming. Besides, when the temperature drops to the low twenties or teens, you can not always count on either to always protect your equipment from freezing.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
1 - Park inside.
Of course the easiest and for sure way to protect against freezing is to park your van truck or trailer in a heated garage or building.
2 - Electric heaters.
Easier in a house than an apartment and as long as the power stays on an electric heater can work great. For the most part, depending on the size of the heater, it will not keep your van toasty warm, but will keep it above freezing. Placement is the key for an electric heater. Do not place it in the cab of the vehicle, the back of the vehicle or on top of the fresh water or recovery tank or system, because as we know heat rises and is only going to be projected so far from the electric heater. The best location for your electric heater is on the floor and in front or slightly to the side of your system console. For heat exchange systems, try to aim the heat flow at the system console heat exchangers and chemical metering. For propane and kerosene systems, angle the heat flow between and towards the water heater and system console.
3 – Propane heaters.
If it is difficult to run electricity to your system for an electric heater, or if you are concerned about the power going out, you can also use propane heat. This is accomplished with a propane tank, like the ones used on a barbeque grill and a heating element that attaches to the top of the tank. Heating elements can be purchased in different sizes from places like Bass Pro Shops, Home Depot, etc. Just make sure you keep a sufficient amount of propane in your tank and a window cracked to reduce moisture buildup.
4 – Drain all water.
The option of draining the water from your pump, chemical metering system and water heater or heat exchangers is a sure way to avoid freezing, but considering the time involved, this process is better for a system that will not be in use for some time.
5 – Wands, hand-tools and hoses.
Any closed mechanical systems with water in them, such as wand valves, detail-tool valves, hydro-force valves or hose ends will expand and break if they freeze. One for sure way to protect your wands and hand tools, is to take them inside at night. But, if you can’t take them inside, the other option is to attach “quick disconnects” to them, making them open to allow air in and water out. For example if you have a “male” quick disconnect on the end of your solution hose, attach a “female” quick disconnect and make sure you open the shut-off valve if present to allow water to flow freely. The water in the hose may still freeze but the male quick disconnect should be the safe. Repeat the same steps with the quick disconnects attached to your wand, hand-tool and hydro-force valves.
Whichever you decide is the best routine for you, the most important thing to remember is to consistently winterize your system, because it only takes one night.
By: C. Stephen Smith