Four to the Door: What For?

May 7, 2008
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If you have no idea what “Four to the Door” means, rest assured I am not suggesting four technicians show up on every job. Our subject today really comes down to getting carpets and floors dry as quickly as possible, and much of that is tied to airflow. We will cover “Four to the Door” a little later.

Many carpet-cleaning companies, including at least one well-known franchise, have become successful by promoting fast dry times. In this fast-paced world we live in, people have come to expect everything faster. Internet connections considered fast just a few years ago seem to creep at a snail’s pace today. Some folks are too busy to even dial a phone number. They want push-to-talk instant communications. Is it any wonder that dry times of a few hours that thrilled our clients a few years ago are the expectation today?

Although there are many variables, when it comes to drying carpet quickly airflow is the key. Centrifugal air movers (snail-shell style) are being replaced by newer, powerful down-draft fans. But what about the air moving directly through our wands?

You might know the Gadget Man has a Tim Taylor complex (“The more powerful the better” for those who did not grow up watching Home Improvement.) But I understand that not everyone needs or can afford the biggest, baddest truckmount made.

Avoid Leaks

Look at the airflow from one end of your system to the other. Find the leaks and plug them. Is the gasket on your waste-tank lid all there and flexible enough to seal tightly? New foam gaskets are an easy fix.

Are the hose cuffs tight to the vacuum hose? Could you be losing vacuum where pairs of hose cuffs meet? The newest styles of cuffs not only eliminate air leaks where the cuff fits on the hose, but also connect tightly to each other.

What about the vac hose itself? Hoses age, become brittle and crack. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the vacuum hoses, it is likely time to get new ones.

Filters

Keeping filters and catch baskets clean at every point along the way is also a basic necessity to keep the air flowing. Filters are usually located inside the waste tank. Cleaning these can be an unpleasant task. A clear view filter inserted in your vacuum line makes it plain when the filter needs to be cleaned. This can be done without straining to reach over your cleaning unit and getting your face into a smelly waste rank. The clear view filter is also a great marketing tool, as it allows Mrs. Homeowner to see all the soil you are removing from the home.

The Latest Innovations

Airflow is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). More CFM at the carpet means more water and more soil will be removed. Thus, any steps you take to increase CFM will produce carpet that is cleaner and dries faster.

There are two ways and only two ways to get more air through a vacuum hose. First, you can make the air move faster, e.g. increase the velocity. The improved hose cuffs mentioned above are smooth to reduce turbulence and the resulting loss of CFM. These cuffs reduce the resistance to airflow and increase the velocity. The final result is more air delivered to the cleaning tool.

The second way to get more air through the hose is to increase its size. This has been addressed by two new concepts. Replacing 2-inch-diameter hose with 2½-inch hose is the most straightforward way to reach this goal. At first this may seem to offer only minimal improvement; after all, the hose is only ½-inch larger.

Is 2½ inches just a 25 percent increase over 2-inch diameter? Not at all. Think back to fifth grade (You are smarter than a fifth grader, aren’t you?). The formula to find the area of a circle is:

pi x r2

Using that formula, we find that a 2½-inch hose is an increase of more than 56 percent! That much more airflow can make an average truckmount clean like the big box-truck machines. And if you already have one of the big machines, it becomes supercharged.

Another way to increase the effective size of the hose is a system that has become known as “Four to the Door.” Using two vac outlets from your vacuum source, parallel 2-inch vacuum hoses are run from the unit to just outside the entrance to the home or building you are cleaning. A “Y” then connects these two hoses into a single 2-inch hose, or maybe even a 2½-inch hose.

Some cleaners who want to get the maximum available power from their truckmounts are combining these concepts to achieve “Four-and-a-Half to the Door” or even “Five to the Door.”

These improvements appeal to the Tim Taylor in all cleaners. But the results, improved airflow and cleaner carpets that dry faster, will appeal to our customers who are dealing with families, visitors coming and all the other demands of our fast-paced world that call out for their carpets to be dry as soon as possible.

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