Sealcoating equipment maintenance is an important concern for this time of year whether you are preparing to wrap up your season or you are only halfway through. And after working your machines long hours out in the sun for months some maintenance issues may arise. It is important to know what may need attention on your machines, how you can be aware of possible problems while out in the field, and what you can do to keep things running effectively.
Parts to check
After several months of hard work you will need to check multiple parts for signs of wear. The spray wand hose is the first thing to show wear, says Brent Loutzenhiser, CEO and owner of Seal-Rite. "You would want to watch your hose for frayed areas and to make sure that you don't have any bad spots in the hose where your hose could blow and make a mess," he says.
Loutzenhiser says he has heard of occasions where a hose has blown and sealer sprayed all over cars and on buildings. His advice is when in doubt, change your hose. However, a complete hose change may not always be necessary. Loutzenhiser points out that most hose wear is up near the spray wand. Instead of completely replacing the hose, Loutzenhiser suggests a little trick. "Pull your hose off and swap ends, putting the spray wand end at the reel end and vice versa. That way, you've kind of doubled the life of your hose."
Another important part that needs regular attention is the spray tip on the hose. Gordon Rayner of RaynGuard says spray tips wear out from the friction abrasive materials (such as sand or minerals) cause when moving through the tips. "These [sand and minerals] act like sandpaper and will cause spray tips to wear more quickly," he says. Like fraying on the hose, spray tip problems can be seen by an operator out in the field. Rayner says loss or degradation of the spray pattern the tip produces is a sign that the spray tip is worn out.
Loutzenhiser says other clues an operator can look for include "streaming on the edges of the spray pattern, more pressure needed than before, more material on the ground, or if he couldn't get a nice spray pattern." His best advice here is not to be afraid to throw away spray tips that are not performing like they should.
The piston pump, which pumps material from the tank to the spray wand, is another area of concern for contractors, says Eric Humphries, sales manager from Neal Manufacturing. He suggests making sure there is enough oil in the top of the pump to help keep the pump's leathers lubricated. He says if you can look in and see the top of the pump then you should add more oil and repeat this routine at least once a week.
The spray system might be the most obvious aspect to wear down with use, but other elements also will wear out and need to be properly maintained.
- Belts. Belts on the compressor should be replaced every two or three years.
- Bearings. The bearings on the end of the tank that hold the agitator shaft can start leaking. Loutzenhiser says the maintenance for these bearings could be as easy as tightening a few nuts, depending on the age of the unit. When in doubt, replacement is a good maintenance project to do in the off season when the tank is not needed.
- Rubber wipers. Some sealcoating equipment uses rubber wipers inside the tank on the agitator paddles to scrape material from the tank sides and bottom. Loutzenhiser says these wipers can wear down or soften within five years. If the wipers no longer touch the sides of the tank or the sealer is not being scraped off the sides then it is time to replace the wipers.
- Pump diaphragm. Often people don't realize these need to be replaced. Most 2-in. air-diaphragm pumps can pump 300,000 to 500,000 gallons before replacement is necessary, according to Loutzenhiser. The amount of sand per gallon you are running in your mix is an important factor determining how quickly your pump wears out, too.
- Brakes. While some sealcoating units don't have brake systems others are built with long-lasting brakes. If the machine does have brakes, be aware that they may wear down.
- Engine. The engine is an important component on all equipment so maintenance here is essential. Keep an eye on the oil and change the filters regularly to keep it running efficiently.