The cleaning wand, that
ubiquitous instrument wielded with casual precision by legions of professional
technicians, is at once a tool of monumental importance yet so common it is
often regarded as little more than an afterthought.
cornerstone of the professional’s equipment arsenal, the wand’s fundamental
qualities are reflected in the definition offered by the Institute of
Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification in the “S100 Standard and
Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning”:
Wand: A floor tool used to inject and extract
solutions during “steam” cleaning.
Sturdy. Reliable. Succinct. What
else is there? As it turns out, plenty.
Cleaning veterans are well versed in wand vernacular, but
those new to the industry will quickly come to realize that, once you delve
beneath the surface, the possibilities begin to literally take shape. Do you
prefer a straight wand? How about an “s” bend? A double bend? And would you care
for that in a single jet? Dual jet? Multi jet? Jet size? What’s the psi rating?
Stainless steel construction? Brass valves? And what about glides? Well? We’re
into account as well the myriad stair tools, upholstery tools, hard-surface
tools and other specialty extraction equipment on the market, and you may find
yourself succumbing to what fishing writer John Gierach describes as
voidophobia: the unreasoning fear of having empty vest pockets – or, in the
cleaner’s case, empty space in the truck. Someone went through great time and
effort to create this space; it seems almost disrespectful not to fill it up
here’s the rub: depending on your company, the services you offer and the
market in which you operate, many of these “extra” extraction tools are vital,
necessary components for running a successful business. How to best determine
what you need? While everyone has their own opinion as to what the “best”
extraction tools are, of this they are of one mind: try before you buy. A good
distributor or supplier will be more than willing to let you test a variety of
wands and other tools, as well as provide instruction and offer honest advice.
now you’ve got your wand; how do you use it? The late, great Bob Wittkamp, who
for years wrote the “Carpet Cleaning Basics” column for ICS, believed in
cleaners having a solid wanding technique. The following is Bob’s description
of the proper way to employ a wand on the job:
Find your starting point. Move
the wand head to this position and squeeze the valve trigger to allow solution
to flow through the jet and into the carpet. Pull the wand toward you a
comfortable distance, then release the valve trigger and continue pulling the
wand about 3 to 4 inches past the cutoff point to pick up excess solution; push
the wand back up, finishing at the starting point, and repeat.
As the wand is returned to the starting area, move it left or
right, depending upon which direction cleaning is proceeding. Repeat this
pattern until the wand has reached the end of the area being cleaned. Now up
and back, over and over, ad infinitum, until all areas have been rinsed of soil
and cleaning agents.
the entire process, you must be aware of proper overlap to avoid problems. If
any problems develop, they will normally be related to clean streaks or dirty
streaks either parallel or perpendicular to wand stroke direction. If the
streaks are parallel to the direction of wand stroking, they are overlap problems.
If the streaks are perpendicular, the cause is often the technician’s failure
to continue the wand stroke after the solution flow has stopped. As you change
the direction of travel, most wands’ jets will be beyond the reach of the
vacuum slot, leaving excess solution and requiring you to pull 3 to 4 inches
past the solution shutoff point.
In addition to the “standard”
scrub wand, there is a category of extraction tools out there commonly known as
rotary extraction equipment, two examples of which are HydraMaster’s RX-20HE
and the Rotovac Powerwand.
As the spray jets inject the cleaning solution, the vacuum
slots simultaneously scrub and extract the solution back out. The RX-20HE
features three spray jets matched with 5 vacuum slots, and makes more than 650
cleaning passes per minute. The Powerwand has two stainless steel cleaning
heads, each with three solution jets and three vacuum slots, producing 1,500
multi-directional cleaning passes per minute.
Depending on who you ask, the
average cleaner working with a standard wand will make somewhere in the
neighborhood of 60-70 passes per minute.
So what is the best extraction tool for you? The ICS Bulletin
Board is a quick and informative resource that, as of this writing, when
“carpet wands” is entered in the search function, stops after the first 200
threads dealing with glides; drag wands; tips and tricks; power heads;
composition, jet size and more. It’s not an all-knowing, one-stop shop, but it
should provide you with more than enough solid information to get you on your
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