Replacing brooms as they wear out is, with tires, the most-common maintenance task contract sweepers handle. Primary replacement options are one-piece tube brooms, flat or convoluted wafers, and strip brooms, and all have their specific applications, reasons for use, and advantages and disadvantages.
Interviews with three United Rotary Brush Corp. broom specialists -- Harry Vegter, director of engineering; salesman Perry Stenzel; and Tom Staab, contracts & product compliance -- offered insights into which replacement brooms contractors should consider and why one type might be considered over another.
"The different styles of brooms are something not many people give much thought to," Vegter says. "If the sweeper comes with a tube broom they usually replace it with a tube broom and never give much thought to replacing that tube with a different type of broom.
Staab says that as a rule, sweepers in the construction market primarily use wafers, while the municipal market uses tubes and strips. "The type of broom is often tied to the machine, tied to the application, and tied to the broom that was initially sold with the machine," Staab says. "Most contractors put on what they take off."
But he says contractors should consider other types of replacement brooms because they can offer advantages. "When our salesmen are in the field talking with contractors about their sweeping requirements they can help them decide what style broom works best," Staab says. "We're not just in the business of selling brooms. We want to make them aware of what's available to help them meet their needs."
Wire and Polypropylene Wafers
Vegter says the most-commonly used replacement brooms are wafers, available in both flat and convoluted styles. Flat wafers come with spacers that create a 1-in. space between each wafer on the broom core. Convoluted wavers create their own space due to their convoluted shape. Typically there are 7 convoluted wafers or flat wafers per foot. Wafers are available in either polypropylene or wire bristles (filaments) and are available in diameters to fit a variety of sweeping equipment.
Vegter says construction companies, sweeping contractors and paving contractors replace existing brooms with wafers to customize their broom. "They can make dense heavy-duty brooms with smaller or fewer spaces, and they can also mix wire and polypropylene," he says.
Stenzel says wafers are common in construction sweeping partly because there are more options of mixing poly and wire. "Polypropylene does more sweeping than wire does," he says. "Wire is the cutting action and poly is the flick." He says the type of broom and bristle often depends on what the contractor is sweeping. Airport runways, for example, require a wire broom to cut the rubber left on the runway from airplane tires.
Stenzel says the most common wafer configuration on a broom is to alternate wire wafers with polypropylene wafers. "Sometimes you see two wire and two poly because that will give you more wire throughout the broom and make for a more aggressive broom," he says. "For general purposes, though, most contractors use either a combination of poly and wire or all poly."
Staab says that depending on how you position the convoluted wafers an operator can make a broom more or less dense. He says convoluted wafers "are shipped stacked like Pringles potato chips. They're nested together when shipped and you just locate every other wafer from a 12 o'clock to a 6 o'clock position on the wafer core in order to create a space between each wafer. Or you can make the broom denser by decreasing the space between the wafers by reducing the distance of the two clock positions."
Stenzel says wafers offer greater versatility to contractors with a variety of sweeping equipment in their fleets. "Strip and tube brooms have to be made specific to the length of the broom core on a specific piece of equipment," he says.