Airless paint sprayers can be excellent rental items, provided they are well taken care of and there is good communication with customers.
Before we get into how to take care of airless paint sprayers and communicate effectively with customers, let's take a look at how these machines work. "An airless sprayer atomizes, or breaks up fluid into small droplets without the use of compressed air," says Mike Vangstad, worldwide product marketing manager at Graco Inc. "In an airless system, fluid is pumped under high pressure through a spray tip. The tip size and pressure is what determines the material flow rate. The tip also creates the fan pattern. Airless spray is the preferred method of spraying paint by professional painting contractors because of the speed of application and the quality of the finish."
The basic components of an airless paint sprayer are the pump, motor, gun, hose and tip, explains Tom Heine, specialty business sales manager, Titan. "An airless paint sprayer has many internal components, including motor, piston rod, packings, o-rings, check balls and seats. The piston rod moves up, creating a vacuum to siphon up the paint into the fluid section, and down to push the paint into a high-pressure hose," he says. "The packings create a seal to prevent pressure losses during operation. Professional airless sprayers use self-adjusting packings to prevent premature wear and the need for repairs. Check valves, or ball and seat valves, direct the flow of material from the fluid section of the pump to the hose. This prevents the paint from being pumped back through the pick-up tube."
He adds that 3,000 psi is typically the operating pressure within an airless paint sprayer.
Airless sprayers are classified by their components. "Simply stated, electric airless sprayers are powered by an electric motor and gas airless sprayers are powered by a gasoline engine," Vangstad says. "The electric airless sprayers have the advantage of being able to be used indoors, while the gas airless sprayers are more compatible to outdoor jobs where power is not readily available."
He continues, "Another key component of an airless sprayer is the pump. The pump is what does the work and moves the paint. For lighter-weight materials, a diaphragm pump may be used but a more versatile choice is a piston pump. The pump is what takes the abuse from the paint and does require routine maintenance to ensure a long life."
In tip top shape
Cleaning and routine maintenance are essential for long pump life and trouble-free rentals. According to Vangstad, cleaning of the pump can be done as follows:
- Place the pump suction tube in clean water or mineral spirits.
- Remove the tip guard and tip assembly from the gun and put aside for cleaning.
- Chase all of the paint out of the pump and collect back in your paint pail.
- Continue to pump water or mineral spirits through the pump and into a waste pail for about 30 seconds.
- Remove any filters in the gun handle and/or on the sprayer and put aside for cleaning.
- Continue to pump water or mineral spirits though the pump until the water becomes clear.
- Pump enough storage fluid into the pump to just fill the pump - about 8 oz.
- Clean the tip, tip guard and filters by hand; and then reassemble the sprayer.
- Add piston lube to the wet cup of the pump (near the pump rod).
When a rental unit is returned, you need to first verify that it was properly cleaned (do this before returning the rental deposit to the renter). Examine the suction tube to see that it is clean, and pull out the filters for a quick inspection.
"You should also check to see if there is evidence of paint on the pump rod," says Vangstad. "If so, you should have the pump repacked with new packing right away. This will help prevent damage to the pump's hard parts - rod and cylinder - which is a more costly repair."
Other items to inspect include:
- Inlet screen
- Manifold filter
- Gun filter
- Inlet suction tube
- Power cord
- Gun trigger guard
- Gun tip and guard
Check these items for unusual wear and/or damage. Replace or repair if necessary.
Heine at Titan has the following suggestions:
- Ensure that the siphon tube and return hose are attached and secure.
- Ensure that all fittings (gun, hose, etc.) are attached and secure.
- Make sure all airless hoses and spray guns are electronically grounded.
- Make sure the pressure control knob is turned to its lowest pressure setting.
- Make sure the On/Off switch is turned to the off position.
- Fill the oil cup with approximately 1 tablespoon piston lube.
- Never operate the unit for more than 10 seconds without fluid. This causes premature wear to packings.
- Make sure the electrical service is 120V (15Amp) minimum. Always use a minimum of 12-gauge, three-wire extension cord with a grounded plug. Never remove the third prong or use a third adapter.
- Plug the power cord into a properly grounded outlet, staying at least 25 feet away from spray area.
All rental sprayers come with an operation manual. Walk the renter though this manual, paying close attention to the safety warnings, such as skin injection and fire/explosion warnings. Although these are very serious hazards, they can be easily avoided by using all safety guards on the gun and spraying in a well-ventilated area.
"By far, the number one procedure that will increase the longevity of the paint sprayer is to clean and flush out the paint sprayer, gun, filters, and tips after each and every use," Heine says. "It's also good practice to keep the paint sprayer in another room, while spraying."
Renting airless paint sprayers can offer your rental business many benefits, Heine says, in addition to generating revenue and profit.
"You're providing a necessary and requested service to your customers," he says. "Contractors, painters and DIYers purchase from where they know and who they know. Providing this service keeps the end user in your store and out of the competition. Plus, renting spray equipment helps sell other related items that a rental store provides."