Once contractors have ceased sealcoating, the most important thing they can do is take care of the sealcoating equipment that has been so productive for them all summer.
?Cleaning and inspection is the single most important thing a contractor can do,? says Gordon Rayner, president of Rayner Equipment Systems. ?Be it a paver covered with a season of asphalt particles or a sealcoat machine covered with splattering, they all need to be cleaned to see what you really have.?
Rayner says that more than just being unsightly, dirty sealcoating equipment hides problems that need to be taken care of, including worn bushings, chains, cracked brackets, leaking hydraulics, and chaffed hoses.
?Pretend your equipment is an airplane and you are betting your life on its condition,? Rayner says. ?It?s not an airplane but as a contractor you are betting your business on the performance of your equipment, so clean it so you can see it.?
Once the equipment has been cleaned he suggests a full inspection, complete with written notes, to inventory any problems and the condition of each part of the unit. Then make any and all repairs necessary.
?If you see a problem that seems to re-occur every year, try and find a way to improve the system so it doesn?t happen again next year,? Rayner says. ?Having no downtime is like money in the bank.?
Eric Humphries, sales manager at Neal Manufacturing Co., says the best way to protect sealer application equipment is to keep it indoors throughout the winter to prevent having to winterize it. But if keeping the machine indoors is not possible, here are essential steps to take to keep your sealcoating equipment lasting longer and working more efficiently for you in 2009.
Clean the tank
Start by thoroughly cleaning the outside of your equipment, including scraping dried sealer from the unit. SealMaster?s Mike Bechtel says this is also a good opportunity to sandblast and repaint the machine.
Then turn to the inside of the tank, which accumulates sealer throughout the season. Humphries says the sealer builds up inside, sticking to the insides of the tank, the agitator shaft, and blades and gets hard to the point of brittle when the tank gets hot and when it gets very cold.
If you can?t keep your sealcoating tank warm all winter you need to drain the material from the machine.
Humphries recommends cutting off the main valve (at the bottom of most tanks), then introducing raw sealer through the ball valve at the bottom of the unit. Allow the system to suck in between 5 and 10 gallons of raw sealer ? sealer without sand ? into the system to remove all sand from the pump. Place the wand into the sealer tank and recirculate the sealer back into the tank
After you?ve run the raw sealer through the system, use the same procedure to flush the system with water. Place the hand wand into the tank and run water through the system to clean everything out. ?Two, three ,or four gallons of water should be plenty to clean out the system,? Humphries says.
Bechtel says once the tank has been emptied of sealer, the next step is to fill the tank with about 50 gallons of water, agitate it well, then pump the water out through the spray wand and spray bar. This cleans the agitator shaft and inside walls of everything but the baked-on material.
?There?s almost always some type of buildup inside the tank, and the material will harden to a clay-like texture over the winter,? Humphries says. ?If there?s too big a buildup the agitator might not work at the start of the next season, or it could clog the filter basket.?
He says some contractors opt to ?suffer through? the first few tank loads at the start of the next season, as the buildup falls into the strainer basket and clogs the system, causing delays in the work and slowing production so they can get away without cleaning the tank properly during the winter.
?The best practice is to get it cleaned out if you have someone to get inside the tank,? Humphries says.