Larger melter/applicator units have the ability to offer contractors more options than the smaller push units. One option is the choice between a heated or a non-heated applicator hose. Heated hoses are self-regulating and can sometimes be easier to use because they are all automatic, Manning says.
A heated hose might also benefit contractors who work in colder seasons because it helps prevent the sealant in the hose from freezing up, Dunn adds. "Heated hoses are especially helpful whenever temperatures reach degrees in the 30s and 40s."
Manning says the best way for a contractor to decide whether to go with a heated or a non-heated hose is to try them both out.
Most larger units also have the option of one or two applicator hoses. Several melter/applicator units come standard with dual hoses that can be both heated, both non-heated, or one of each, Dunn says.
Dual hoses are most helpful in larger production jobs such as major highway work or larger parking lots, Manning says. Dual hoses can also help contractors finish a job faster with the use of only one cracksealing application unit and tow vehicle.
Another option manufacturers are seeing more contractors buy is a material transfer conveyor. These conveyors, also known as auto loaders, extend from the applicator's loading hatch allowing contractors to load sealant onto the conveyor from a distance or even from the truck. Like the option of two hoses, Dunn says that a material transfer conveyor is another option suited more for contractors doing high production work.
Even if contractors are purchasing a larger unit they may also want to consider having a pour pot and/or 10-gallon bander as well.
"There are a lot of times where you might want to team up the larger equipment with the smaller equipment to double the production," Schwartz says. For example, some contractors will use an applicator hose near the machine and use pour pots further away or beyond the reach of the hose, Dunn says.
A final thought
"Don't talk to a manufacturer until you decide the use for and what type of equipment you want," Manning says. "And don't buy a machine without trying it." It is important to "test drive" your larger application units before making your final purchase.
Cleaning before crack filling
Manufacturers agree that the key to successful crack sealing is a properly cleaned crack. Handheld or backpack blowers can be used to clean debris from cracks, but they may not always dry the crack. Another tool for crack cleaning is an air compressor. Many manufacturers are now offering integrated air compressors on larger hot pour crack sealing melter/applicators. Kurt Schwartz of KM International suggests contractors invest in a portable heat lance because it cleans and dries the crack at the same time.
"It's a system," adds Brad Dunn of Cimline. A properly cleaned and dried crack can be the best starting point for a successful crack sealing job.