ICS Magazine

No Truckmount - No Problem

November 25, 2008


Back in the early ‘70s, I was one of those buying the first truckmount production models. I was thrilled with the power and efficiency I achieved on carpet-cleaning jobs. My company grew at least in part due to the ability to process more work while performing excellent cleaning with my truckmount.

While I loved my truckmount and what it could do, I never gave up my portable extractor, rotary scrubber or other portable tools that allowed me to work where the truckmount wouldn’t go, and do what the truckmount wouldn’t do.

I know this may be hard for those of us with TLD (Truckmount Love Disorder) but today we are going to leave the truckmount behind while we talk about portable machines and accessories that can do amazing things – including making you some amazing money.

Let’s look at the portable extractor and the tools that can make it more useful. You might ask, “Why even have a portable extractor?” Some situations make portables almost indispensible, including jobs in high-rise buildings; small carpet jobs; upholstery cleaning; as a backup in case the truckmount fails, and cleaning tile, grout and other hard surfaces.

Most professional cleaners are familiar with using a portable extractor for carpet cleaning, so let’s dissect some of its other uses and tools. 

Upholstery Cleaning

In times past, when cleaning upholstery we had to be especially careful to control the pressure and vacuum produced by our portable. Upholstery fabrics can be delicate, and too much pressure or vacuum can ruin them. There are at least three hand tools and possibly more that now allow you to use increase vacuum and pressure from the machine while protecting delicate fabrics.

Internal spray tools with vacuum relief sleeves can compensate for high solution pressure from the machine, as the spray is inside the vacuum chamber. These tools allow a considerable amount of solution to come in contact with the fabric, while at the same time move substantial air through the back of the fabric preventing over wetting. These tools function well from 50psi to 400psi as long as the vacuum is in balance with the pressure.

There is a new design of the jet-less tool that uses a smooth bar where the solution passes and is injected gently into the fabric, with a thorough extraction to follow. The new tool allows for higher solution flow for better cleaning and faster movement. This tool may also be used under a wide variety of pressure and vacuum. When combined with the correct machine and chemistry, it is very effective at soil removal and leaves the fabric just slightly damp – ready for quick drying.

Another tool making a strong comeback after some redesigns uses a hydrokinetic system, wherein a high-velocity shearing action is created by lifting the surface of the fabric, injecting cleaning solution and vacuuming with no flow going through to the cushion. The tool can clean lightly soiled delicate to heavily soiled olefin with little adjustment needed at the machine. Fitted with a Teflon glide, the tool is very smooth and easy to use. It is best utilized at 100psi or greater. Quick drying is another advantage of this tool.

By using a portable for upholstery cleaning, you can free up the other equipment to make money elsewhere.

Tile and Grout Cleaning

The right portable can really shine and does an awesome job of cleaning tile and grout – even compared to a truckmount at five times the cost.  If you’re considering a portable that has all the pressure and vacuum you need, and can run continuously without filling or dumping, there are several models on the market. This can be a very smart move if you are keeping your truckmount busy, or if you don’t have a truckmount and want to move into this lucrative market. While the vacuum will not equal that of a large truckmount, the vacuum is not used in the cleaning action, but simply removes the spent solution from the floor. A good portable vacuum will do this.

There are several different tools necessary for cleaning tile and grout. If you are serious about doing some volume, doing a great job and making money while you’re at it, consider using a rotary spinning tool. These work using high pressure to turn a spray bar with two jets on the end at a high speed, exerting hard-hitting water pressure that blasts dirt out of the grout lines. I would suggest you have at least 700psi to effectively run this tool.

We don’t have room to mention the dozens of other tools you may want to consider adding to your arsenal for tile and grout cleaning, but items like grout brushes; edging tools; countertop tools; sealer applicators and training materials should have a place on your truck and always be in place. 

Flood Extraction

Hold on, stop screaming at me. I know a truckmount is going to outperform a portable every time when it comes to flood extraction, but there is a place for portable extractors in restoration. If you have a good vacuum system with significant lift and cfm, by employing a Water Claw stand-on tool or one of the premium riding tools, you can extract to a satisfactory level. If you are pulling and disposing of the carpet and pad, this system works quite well; if you are drying carpet and pad in place and using a portable extractor, you may add hours or even days to the dry time if you do not take your time and use proper procedures.

If your machine has an automatic pump-out, the extraction process will be much faster and your back will thank you.

  Portable extraction equipment will continue to be used in our industry. Combined with the proper tools, its value to you and your customer is ever increasing.