Competitive Advantage: How Your Equipment Can Make You Stand Out

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As cleaning professionals, we know that key technological advancements have changed the face of cleaning and restoration, increasing both efficiency and sustainability across the industry. Traditionally, restoration services have required massive amounts of water and potent chemicals to restore various surfaces, from tile and stone to smoke-damaged fabric and carpet. However, advancements in the design and production of pressure washing and steam cleaning equipment have increased temperature and pressure levels that provide higher quality results and require less effort. 

Types Of Equipment To Have In Your Kit

Pressure Washer

Commercial and industrial-grade pressure washers will provide the best functionality for completing restorations and maintaining cleaning standards for your business. A highly functional pressure washer will allow for different pressure levels, temperature options, and flow rates to help adjust between tasks. In addition, the industrial grade distinction helps ensure results are up to par with state and federal compliance regulations, not only for cleanliness but also for safety and operational guidelines. 

Vapor Steam Cleaner

Vapor steam cleaners use dry steam technology to clean, sanitize, and degrease hard and soft surfaces. The machine contains a boiler responsible for boiling water and turning it into steam, differing from pressure washers in that they do not have a burner inside. Steam cleaning is not only a great addition to restoration services, but as a contractor, you will find that it can take care of oddball maintenance jobs such as cleaning your shop or even the interior of your truck. 

How to Optimize Your Clean

The right equipment will save you time and money, but choosing the tools can be tricky. Keep in mind the following figures when shopping around. The pounds per square Inch (PSI) will tell you the cleaning pressure while the gallons per minute (GPM) refers to the amount of water dispensed. Pressure levels will range from around 750 to 5,000 PSI, with commercial products teetering on the higher end. Depending on the project, you can have too much PSI, but this can be balanced through your GPM levels. For more delicate materials such as glass, a higher GPM with lower PSI will increase the flow rate, so more water is used faster, but with less pressure hitting the surface you are cleaning. 

Pressure Washers

Finding the most suitable pressure washer for your cleaning needs requires looking into a few key specifications. Firstly, a heated pressure washer will give you more flexibility and decrease the labor time for many jobs. Therefore, you must consider the right heating methodfor your machine. Newer machines are engineered to be more environmentally conscious and will run off of propane or electricity as opposed to diesel. These models are usually more portable and quieter when operating. Secondly, you will want to be wary of the GPM to remain environmentally cautious. Keeping the PSI level at 1000 combined with high heat levels will provide optimal water efficiency for most jobs. Another major benefit of adding a pressure washer to your toolkit is that muriatic acid is not used, drastically reducing the risk of chemical damage.

Vapor Steam Cleaners

The vapor steam cleaner is a powerful tool that can be used in many different contexts which will improve the efficiency of your business across the board, depending on the model you choose. The key feature of industrial steam cleaners is the combination of lower pressure levels with high temperatures, which can penetrate stuck on dirt much easier than residential models. The high-temperature functions allow for intense cleaning on surfaces that cannot handle the higher PSI levels of pressure washers. An industrial grade vapor steam cleaner will offer the versatility of up to 175 PSI. High-temperature steam is created through specialized water heating technology, which melts the bond between the surface and the dirt. The moisture from the vapor suspends the dirt at the surface level until it can be wiped away by a microfibre cloth, mop or extracted with a vacuum pump, depending on the surface.

Best Practices When Using this Equipment

Depending on the restoration task at hand, there are a few dos and don’ts for pressure washers and steam cleaners. Generally, when a pressure washer is not suitable for the application, the steam cleaner is a better substitute and vice versa. Anytime you use either piece of equipment, you should have a prep routine to ensure safety to reduce the risk of damage to the area. Be sure to thoroughly sweep and tidy the area and dust and wipe surfaces before starting the wet washing.

Outdoor restoration projects should be done with your pressure washer. Start by assessing the area and checking for drains– this will be crucial for ensuring you don’t flood the space. Anything hard in the area can withstand the higher PSI levels; conversely, you will want to move any items that cannot handle the pressure. Any surfaces that will erode an abundance of water, such as painted furniture or drywall, should not be pressure washed. Additionally, proceed with caution for more porous stones such as marble and limestone; you will benefit from a lower PSI, higher temperatures and a wide fan nozzle attachment (approximately 40 degrees) that will decentralize the GPM.

The vapor steam cleaner can be used on more delicate surfaces, such as crystal antiques, old metal, and even mosaic floor tile, without the worry of mineral deposits appearing. If you are looking to restore leather, such as in a car, the best practice is to use a lower PSI with a high temperature in conjunction with wiping it down. Follow up with a leather conditioner to prevent the surface from drying out. A steam cleaner will rarely be used outside; however, it still produces high temperature levels and moisture, so be sure to keep all objects that can be damaged out of the way, such as electronics.

For jobs such as flood restorations, you will need to complete a proper water extraction along with drying and dehumidifying. However, following up with a vapor steam clean treatment will kill mold and mildew before it builds up. Consider investing in different attachments to increase efficiency for hard surfaces such as sealed floors, tile and grout. For example, attaching a floor brush to the steam cleaner and setting it to high heat levels will better agitate the grime to lift it from the surface, while window squeegees can be excellent for finishing a glass restoration.

Both products we’ve talked about have their limitations when it comes to natural stone. For example, stains could not be removed from marble or other porous stone if it was not properly sealed. In this case, it is best to use a clay compound. Overall, be wary when working with old wood, as the pressure washer will likely be too intense, and the vapor steam cleaner has unknown side effects. Lastly, remember to follow proper safety precautions when using each piece of equipment. Always rope off lengthy hoses as they get hot, and keep in mind the fire code of the working area. Always tarp off and seal nearby objects that cannot get wet, and use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect yourself. 

Following these recommendations will increase efficiency in your restoration projects and better manage labor time. Whether investing in a pressure washer, vapor steam cleaner or both, keep in mind the key metrics that will make the equipment the most versatile for your projects. In the long run, your business will be more sustainable; by using water-conscious equipment, removing the need for harsh chemicals, and choosing a heating method that is not diesel. When it comes to cleaning and sanitizing for your business, let your equipment do the work for you – and take the pressure off.

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Matthew Baratta

Matthew Baratta is vice president of Operations at Daimer Industries®, a leader in innovative, technologically advanced commercial and industrial cleaning equipment for major commercial and industrial cleaning and restoration applications. Baratta has extensive knowledge in the cleaning industry and has earned a master’s degree in Public Health.

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