ICS Magazine

Wands and Extraction Tools

August 10, 2005


Today's hot-water extraction cleaner has a wide range of wands and extraction tools to choose from when performing the cleaning process.

Selecting which tool to use often depends on carpet type and condition, as well as the condition of the cleaning tech. Power heads are usually the tool of choice for us older guys because of their ease of use, as well as the need for some degree of pile recovery.

Power heads are available as rotary-action machines without brushes, or as brush-assisted models (generally with a cylindrical brush). One of the biggest challenges in commercial hot-water-extraction carpet cleaning is to get the carpet cleaned and dried without spots and soil wicking during the drying process.

A key to successful cleaning and drying is thorough recovery of the rinse solution. In industry's formative years, many machines were equipped with "drag heads" that were connected to the base unit by hoses. They were pulled backward across the carpet to perform the rinse process; the early models featured no brushes. While the role of the brush is to provide agitation to remove visible soiling on the tips of the tufts, what it actually does is to force the rinse water down into the pile yarns where removal is now much more of a challenge. This can result in slow drying and wicking.

Rotary-jet extraction heads provide a level of agitation that effectively removes the soils built up on the yarns, and also provide some degree of pile lifting, which is often necessary on cut-pile products. They are often the choice of us older guys, whose backs are not as strong as they were a few years ago, since they are easily "driven" or "steered" without the push-pull necessary with a scrub wand. But there can be a steep learning curve in developing the proper touch of running a rotary head. Think "scrubber-through-the-wall-uh-oh." When starting out with a rotary head, it is a wise idea to have an assistant whose job it is to pull the plug if the head gets away from the operator.

Scrub wand is a term used to identify the lightweight instrument generally supplied with new machines. They are almost always metal: some aluminum, some steel, some titanium. The size of the tube used on the wand will have an impact on the degree of water recovery, with 2-inch getting the nod as most effective at removing rinse water because of its ability to flow more CFM.

A 2-inch wand is also much more difficult to push and pull, and is usually heavier than a 1 1/2-inch wand due to the extra metal in the tube. Wands may have one or two bends in their length, with the double-bend or "S" style possessing more of an ability to get under furniture.

Another thing to consider is the number of jets on the wand. The more jets, the more potential for problems, such as clogs, which can result in dirty and clean streaking due to interruption of the delivery pattern of the rinse water. These streaks will run in the same directions that the wand is being pushed and pulled. Streaks that run crossways to the direction of push-pull are the result of the technician failing to pull the wand 3 to 4 inches past the point at which the solution trigger is released, leaving a wet streak running across the width of the area.

It would be difficult to discuss wands and wand use without mentioning the newest accessory for wands, glides. These devices, which clip onto or into the cleaning head, are generally made from Teflon or some other space-age material and make it much easier to push and pull the wand (an old guy pointed that out!). Some designs will drastically increase rinse-water recovery, resulting in shorter drying times. One of the most effective designs currently available uses a series of 1/8-inch holes through which air flows in a vortex or whirling manner. The increased airflow allows for the recovery of much more water than does a simple slot. Initially available for just a few of the more popular wands, the resounding acceptance of glides in the marketplace has been recognized by manufacturers tooling up to provide glides for almost all wand models now available. My experience with a "holey" glide has convinced me that they are more efficient at water removal, and are much easier to push-pull, than a wand with standard metal lips.

Whatever type of cleaning head you may choose for your operation, take the time to learn to use it properly, and don't skimp on dry passes. Remember: get it clean and get it dry. Hope this is useful to you. Until next month, see ya!