As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, sealcoating season is quickly approaching its end. While contractors are finishing up their last jobs, the time to winterize their sealcoating equipment is near.
To avoid stress and costly repairs at the beginning of next season it is vital contractors properly clean their equipment before storing it for the winter.
Ending the Season
When contractors purchase new equipment the manufacturer will often give them paperwork detailing how to clean and maintain equipment. Brent Loutzenhiser, owner and president of Seal-Rite, encourages contractors to follow those steps in order to ensure proper maintenance is completed.
With 12 years experience in the pavement maintenance industry Sal Scacciaferro, owner of Pre Mix Seal Coatings in Toms River, NJ, offers services such as crack filling, pavement repair, and sealcoating. Operating with three Seal-Rite tanks and one 6,000-gal. storage tank, Scacciaferro, who typically ends his sealcoating season in November, has several tips contractors can use when winterizing their sealcoating equipment.
Jordan Ford, owner of Applied Asphalt Coatings, Salt Lake City, Utah, has been in the industry for 10 years offering services including sealcoating, cracksealing, patching and striping. When it hits mid-October or the temperature no longer reaches 60°F Ford calls it a season and prepares his equipment for the winter.
A Few Hours and a Little Bit of Water
First, Scacciaferro suggests contractors make sure all of the sealer is gone before the season ends. “We try to keep everything just about where we have to be, and if necessary we will take left over sealer and transfer it to another tank,” he says. “Anything left over we will put in a 55-gallon drum and store it in the garage.”
After the excess sealer is stored, Loutzenhiser suggests contractors power wash the inside and outside of the equipment. Pressure washing the paddles and agitator shaft through the manway will loosen any buildup on the surfaces that are not reached by the rubber wipers inside a tank.
Next, Ford fills the tank up half way with water, lets it agitate, and flushes out the residual sealer.
Letting the machine circulate water throughout both the tank and the plumbing will clean most the buildup that would be present from a typical season’s work. “Keep in mind that there are a few spots in the plumbing where abrasives can settle and really restrict your flow,” Loutzenhiser says. “A lot of times when you circulate the water, it will flush out any of those abrasives that have settled.”
Once Scacciaferro runs water through the equipment, he opens up all of the valves to make sure water is drained from the tank and nothing is left in the piping. Next, he removes the hose and rather than rolling it up he stretches it out so that water will not gather and freeze.
Once completing these steps, Scacciaferro lets his equipment sit until January or February. “Any cleaning after that is easier to complete when this stuff freezes up,” Scacciaferro says. “It’s just a matter of vibrating it off with an air gun and sweeping it up. If you try to clean it when the temperatures are around 40° or 50° F the heat from the air gun and the sun will make the sealer mush. It smears, so we wait until the dead of winter to clean the tanks.”
Once the equipment has been thoroughly cleaned, contractors should also pay special attention to the pump. Loutzenhiser suggests contractors first use an 80/50 tip and expel water through the spray tip while maintaining pressure of 100 psi. Then, apply a solution of soap and water on the outside of the material pump. This solution will allow contractors to visibly inspect their pump for any air leaks because there will be bubbles created anywhere that air might be leaking. He suggests that contractors check for air leaks at both the end and beginning of the season, before sealer is put in the machine.