What’s In a Wand?

August 11, 2003
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For the cleaning technician or company that has decided that hot-water extraction (HWE) is the cleaning method of choice, there are a number of equipment decisions to be made, including the type of floor tool/wand to be used.

Wands come in a number of styles. Among the choices to be made when selecting a wand is what material the wand will be fabricated from. Materials available include aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. The lightest-weight tool will be fabricated with titanium, although there will be many situations where the heavier stainless steel will be beneficial. More weight on the wand contributes to a better seal at the wand-carpet interface, the point at which the wand lips meet the carpet. The better the seal at the WCI, the more thorough the extraction.

The diameter of the wand tube also affects extraction effectiveness. Diameters will range from 11/2 to 2 inches. A 2-inch wand will move more air than smaller sizes, resulting in more-effective extraction. Another decision relates to the configuration of the wand tube. This can be a single bend or a double bend (an “S” shape). My personal favorite is an antique HydraHoe single-bend. It moves easily across the carpet surface without digging into the pile and creating additional resistance to be overcome by the operator.

When it comes to jets, there are quite a number of factors to consider, including the number of jets, the distance from jet to carpet, whether the jet is enclosed or not, the material used to make the jet, and the size of the jets.

The number of jets on the wand may range from one to five or more. Conventional wisdom says that the closer the jet is to the carpet, the less heat will be lost between jet and carpet. However, jets that are very close to the carpet usually deliver a finer spray than a jet mounted further from the carpet. The smaller the droplet in the spray, the greater the heat loss to ambient air. A larger jet mounted further from the carpet will deliver larger droplets that lose less heat and hit the carpet with more impact, releasing more soil and contaminants and allowing for more rapid cleaning.

Enclosed jets will generate less overspray, lowering the danger of damaging surrounding surfaces. Jets will generally be made from brass or stainless steel, the latter being more resistant to the abrasive/erosive action of the cleaning solution going through them.

Now, what do those little numbers on the jet mean? There will usually be five numbers. The first three indicate the included angle of the spray pattern, generally ranging from 65 degrees to 110 degrees. The next two numbers indicate, in tenths of a gallon, the amount of liquid that will pass through the jet in one minute at 40 PSI. For example, take a 110-degree spray pattern with a 03 tip, or 11003. This tip will pass .3 gallons of liquid per minute at 40 PSI. As this number increases, the flow rate increases; a 06 tip will pass twice as much liquid as a 03 will. Your supplier should have a chart showing various jet sizes and their flow rates at varying pressures. Keep in mind that if you increase jet size you effectively lower your pressure.

Even though a wand has very few moving parts there is still some maintenance required, such as cleaning filters, cleaning the jet openings and servicing the flow control valve. Filters may be located in the hardware at the valve or in the jet body itself. Check the equipment manual that comes with the wand. When a jet becomes clogged from some sort of “trash” in the solution flow it will be necessary to remove the jet to dislodge the trash (the law of probabilities says the more jets on a wand, the more likely a clog will occur). Some technicians keep pins, pokers, screw drivers or some other item for this task. I have always preferred to keep a tip-cleaning set, such as welders use to clean torch tips, for the clogged-jet situation.

You will have to decide what surfaces you will be cleaning with your wand. Basically, how do you want it to function? A wand designed for carpets may not work well on hard floors such as ceramic tile due to overspray. A full-length wand may not work well on steps.

We have been talking here about simple wands powered by the cleaning technician. But when is a wand not a wand? There are some “wands” which are actually electric motor-driven power heads, rotary configurations that have a number of spray jets and vacuum heads. The rotary action creates very effective extraction, and will “dig down” to get the dirt while providing extremely aggressive lifting of the carpet pile, or what I call “nap renewal” in my presentation to the customer. Carpets such as cut-pile nylon can be restored remarkably well with rotary extraction systems.

Well, there it is in a nutshell. I hope that this helps you make a better, more-informed decision when it comes time for you to select a wand or tool for your system. That’s it for now, but until next month, remember, “Get it clean and get it dry!” See ya!

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