- THE MAGAZINE
In maintaining their cars, some folks like to keep everything as the factory designed it. When it comes time to replace something, they will buy OEM parts just like the car original was equipped with. Others love to modify their ride, maybe its new tires and rims or perhaps more radical changes, like adding air induction to a bored and stroked engine for greater performance.
The same is true for technicians and their cleaning wands, some like to stick with the factory original version while others experiment with a variety of jets and accessories.
Although I am going to focus on carpet wands, the same principles and basic facts about spray tips would apply if they are used on an in-line sprayer, an upholstery tool or anywhere else.
Your carpet cleaning wand probably did not come with an owner’s manual or maintenance schedule, so how often do you need to replace the jets? Is it really possible to increase performance by making some changes? And what do all those numbers mean?
Let's Look at Your OptionsThe spray from a TeeJet is straight line or a flat spray that usually tapers down at each end. This gives an even coverage when you factor in overlapping. TeeJets have no threads but are held in place by a retaining cap that screws on over the TeeJet.
An “E” at the end of the ID number on the jet stands for “even coverage.” Rather than spraying less at each end, the spray pattern is even from end to end. This is designed for use in situation where you don’t overlap. Some technicians like this approach when applying protectors.
VeeJets produce a spray pattern similar to TeeJets; but the VeeJet has threads, most commonly male, but female threaded versions are also available. Carpet wands often are fitted with ¼-inch male pipe thread, while upholstery tools use a smaller VeeJet with 1/8-inch threads.
The last two or sometimes three digits indicate the size of the opening. In the cleaning industry you may see sizes of 01, 015 (1½, not 15), 02, 04, 06 or 08. The larger the number, the larger the opening and the greater the volume of solution. In theory, an 06 will put out three times as much as an 02.
These last two numbers represent specific flow rates at given a pressure, but there are many variables, such as the capacity of a pump to put out more water and still maintain the pressure it is set at. So while an 06 definitely dispenses more solution than an 02, it won’t be three times as much in a practical carpet-cleaning application.
The next time you see a TeeJet stamped “8006 SS” you will know that the spray angle is 80 degress, the flow rate is 06 and the wand is made of stainless steel.
A large opening produces larger droplets of whatever is being sprayed. A smaller opening puts out smaller drops. Does the size of the droplet matter? Yes!
If you are extracting carpet, naturally you want your rinse solution to reach the carpet. Small drops aerosolize forming a mist that will be suspended in the air for a long time. It doesn’t all reach the carpet. Some will be in the air where it can be inhaled by the technician or occupant.
Flood Jets deliver a wide-angle spray pattern and large droplet size. The opening is designed to minimize clogging problems. The spray is disbursed at a right angle to the direction of water flowing into the jet.
Keep your eye on the spray pattern. These jets may sometimes put down an uneven spray. Flood Jets are used on some upholstery tools and rotary extraction tools.
Spray tips are available in both brass and stainless steel. An “SS” in the ID number indicates stainless steel. Brass tips are less expensive but wear faster and will need to be replaced more often. How often you replace tips will depend on how much use they get, the hardness of the water and the corrosive properties of the cleaning agents.
It can be difficult to tell by sight when the opening of a spray tip has been enlarged, so change brass tips every three months and stainless steel every 6 to 9 months.
Increased PerformanceI started off talking about changes to increase performance. How does changing tips accomplish this? What benefits come with increased flow rates? What other changes might improve my cleaning performance?
If your wand came standard with jets having a total flow rate of 06, consider increasing the total flow rate to 8 or 9 or higher. This could be done by replacing a single 06 jet with an 08 jet, or replacing the 015 tips on a 4-jet wand with 02s.
Of course, if you are putting more water down on the carpet, you will need to extract that additional water. So be sure your vacuum system is in top-notch condition and consider upgrades like 2 ½-inch-diameter hose or the 4-to-the-door strategies discussed in earlier Gadget Man articles.
More water, a higher flow rate, equals greater flushing action. This is helpful when particle soils are deep in a dense pile, such as many commercial looped carpets. Of course, water-based soils are also being flushed out. Your IICRC classes taught you the value of heat along with agitation, dwell and proper chemicals. More heat equals better cleaning not from hotter water, but rather a greater volume of hot water.
Much heat is lost between the spray tip and the carpet. Another way to get more heat to the carpet is to move the spray jet closer to the carpet. This can be done with the use of extenders. Remember that when the jet is closer to the carpet, you will need to widen the spray angle to avoid gaps in the spray pattern.
Have you noticed drips after you release the trigger? Consider modifying your wand by inserting a check valve between the manifold and the spray tip. This also puts the spray tip closer to the carpet.
Short (Stubby) check valves and/or extenders can also balance the change in distance off the carpet if you choose to use a glide.
MaintenanceFinally, whether family car or hot rod, maintenance is a key to peak automobile performance. Just as you should change the oil filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, there are probably filters in your wand that need to be cleaned or changed regularly.
The filters in your wand may be located right behind the quick connect where your cleaning solution enters the tool or they may be screens directly behind each spray jet.
Don’t allow “out of sight” to become “out of mind.” This can result in reduced flow, plugged jets, streaking and all manner of annoyances. Check the filters and clean them regularly. Replace when needed. You will be more likely to finish the carpet cleaning job with some time left to work on that project car.