Steam Cleaning & Steam Cleaners
I know the steam cleaning should really be in the day to day maintainance section, but since we're talking about getting your facility consturcted at this point, I want to make sure you make a space for the steam cleaner - as this is not a tiny machine - and needs proper power and venting.
Trust me, we've tried every imaginable spray, drain system and machine to clean the turf - and the best, and least expensive way to do it right is to get a commercial steam cleaner. If you steam clean all the turf each week, you can suck the grease up off the top of the fibers before it works down into the turf. Since we had done all that watering, hoping that our drainage would work - we had really created a bigger mess than we needed to. And in walks a steam cleaner to the rescue.
Now this is not like the little thing you rent at the grocery store - or buy for $150 at home depot. I'm talking a commercial steam cleaning unit. The kind you see in the back of a professional steam cleaning van that comes out to your house and charges you $150 to clean 4 rooms. These are normally large gas powered engines - like 24 horse power, or 31 horsepower engines hooked up to a large dual tank - one for clean water - one for dirty water, and the engine uses a belt to run a high pressure blower that provides the suction, and a high output water pump that runs the water down the line to the head. To heat the water, they use a heat exchanger that runs the water through the exhaust pipe which then heats it to over 220 degrees. That's what lets it come out under pressure, and hot - border line steam.
These guys normally weigh about 500 pounds or so, and can fit in a van
or trailer. We took ours, and put it in the back corner of our field.
But then you have to cut a hole in the side of the building to run the
exhaust to the outside. And you need a water line coming in to it. It's
not the greatest idea to run a gas tank inside your building, so we used
one of the outside mounted ones that you see on trailers, and mounted
it outside the building, and plumbed the gas line into the machine.
Now commercial steam cleaners are rated by how much suction they have, and that is listed in inches of mercury lift. You want about 15 or above - that is pretty good suction. We have over 200 feet of hose for ours, and the steam cleaner sits right between the two fields. That gives enough hose length that you can steam clean either field, and all the way up into the lobby.
And we steam clean the turf every week - and touch ups every night. We'll get more into this when we talk about field maintainance, but I just wanted you to plan on having room for one of these beasts where you can effectively reach all parts of your facility with it - so ideally, near the middle of the place - on an outside wall so you can exhaust it out.
You will find that new, these babies are a bit expensive. A good commercial steam cleaner will run $12,000 - $20,000. The good news is I ended up changing mine up a bit. I turned it into an electric unit with a 20 HP electric motor I bought used for $600.00. Now that is a 3 phase 220 motor - so make sure you plan for power getting there if you plan on doing it as electric.
There are a lot of advanteges of going electric:
- You don't have the heat and noise of the gas motor. And we found that we really didn't need the heat. Just the water and suction gets up the grease - so you don't need to use the heat exchanger.
- With todays gas prices, it's pretty expensive to go through 20 gallons of gas every week to 10 days (that's how much we used to do 20,000 feet of field each week or so.
- Gas engines have a tendency of breaking down - leaking, using oil, etc - so less maintainance with electric.
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And because so many people think they can start a carpet cleaning business and get rich, you might be able to find used ones kicking around and save some money. If their motors are falling apart - you might be able to pick one up real cheap, and switch it to electric like we did.
Now, we have gone to a custom unit. As I open my second Franchise Field, we now have a manufacturer that custom makes a special unit for us to our specs. It has larger capacity, sludge pump capability, multiple placed clean out ports, then has the outgoing water filtered and flow into sediment settling tanks with the waste water for proper disposal. We still outfit them with the standard suction blower, but add extra muffler systems to knock down the noise and of course, we configure it for 220 electric motors.
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582 E Hwy 121
Lewisville, TX 75057
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