- THE MAGAZINE
Although there is probably a general agreement within the carpet/upholstery cleaning industry that truck mounts can clean more carpet per hour than most portables, setup time for a truckmounted carpet-cleaning unit can take longer, especially if you don’t have a plan. Timely setup for cleaning with a truck mount requires just a few little incidentals to make it all work. One thing that helps save time on setup and wrap-up is a shut off valve on the male end of the water supply (garden) hose. If this valve is in the closed position when you connect to the water source, then you can immediately turn the water supply on instead of making a trip back to turn it on after connecting hose to machine. This procedure will also allow you to bleed trapped air from the supply hose before connecting to the machine with a quick connect. This step is important on machines that don’t use an incoming water tank. It also allows you to use this water source for rinsing equipment or filters before stowing them, and for accessing water for diluting cleaning/spotting/protection products. There are many advantages from one well-placed valve.
Also, the truck’s location can facilitate setting up systems and prevent possible damage. It may be best to back the truck into a desired parking spot since it may be safer to back off a busy road than to back onto one. Engine exhaust should be directed away from the structure being cleaned and away from bushes, buildings and adjacent vehicles.
Further, before starting to move equipment into the jobsite, take a few minutes to walk through the job with the client and confirm the areas to be cleaned and services to be performed, such as furniture moving and pre-spotting or protectors. Use this time to agree on a price and have the client sign the contract.
One of the first tools brought in and set up should be the vacuuming system for dry soil removal. Even if you’re cleaning with a truck mount, it ’s best to remove as much soil as possible before initiating any wetting processes. Dry soil moves much more easily than mud! The equipment used for pre-vacuuming should be more effective than a household vacuum for best results. More than 80% of soil in the average carpet can be removed dry! However, if the truck mount will be used as the vacuum source, then be sure filters are in place to protect the blower. Dry vacuuming is an option (extra cost) in my basic cleaning package, but is included in my deluxe package.
A shutoff valve (usually a 1/4-turn ball valve at the end of the high-pressure hose), which attaches to tools such as wands or hand tools or pre-spray applicators, enables you to change tools as needed during the job rather than going out to the truck and cutting off pump pressure. This valve should be kept in the OFF position during setup so you can attach tools after the cleaning unit is started.
The most expedient process for pre-conditioning the carpet is to start as far into structure and work your way out, while pre-conditioning areas to be cleaned. I usually place the pressure sprayer and hose end at this point but don’t connect them now since a little tug on the hose can upset the sprayer and spill pre-spray onto the carpet. This process will involve putting furnishings to be moved for cleaning onto damp carpet, so extreme care should be exercised to place protective pads or blocks as needed to ensure that no bleeding or staining occurs. Once furnishings have been moved and protectors have been placed, use the valve to change to the floor-cleaning tool to be used. While applying pre-spray avoid spraying over the top of the high-pressure hose to avoid areas that don’t receive pre-spray. The outcome is carpet that may not release soil effectively during the cleaning/rinsing steps, and may result in soiled areas that look like a dirty snake crawled across the carpet.
Vacuum hoses, due to their bulk, can potentially cause damage if not handled properly. Corner guards are very helpful in preventing damage to base moldings from poorly handled vacuum hoses. Refinishing base moldings can be time consuming and expensive if damage is inflicted by pulling vacuum hoses around corners. Keep hoses on the floor and do not route them across furnishings. Some vacuum hoses will shrink drastically when put under strong vacuum and may upset objects near them. If running hoses up a flight of stairs, a hose hook will keep them from sliding back down the stairs. Pull the vacuum hoses out of the building after you no longer need them, and lay them out in long “S”-shaped forms near the storage area. Do not pile them up, and create a slip/fall hazard.
Pressure hoses and power cords are easiest to roll/wrap up if they are stretched out full length with no curves or loops. They may also require twisting to keep them in alignment while being rolled up. Hook and loop fasteners, such as Velcro(TM), will keep hoses and cords in order when not in use and save much time during setup.
Further, don’t throw your old portable away when you buy the truckmount; you may still need a backup unit some day. Even the most reliable, best-engineered system can break down and leave you high and dry.
Spending some time developing a plan of action for setup will enable you to minimize setup time and reap all the benefits of that powerful truck mount. Keep in mind: You don’t start making money until you start cleaning. That’s when the rewards of the truck mount really begin to flow in.