Troubleshooting Drying Systems

Dirtbuster car wash

Troubleshooting Drying Systems

Resolving Issues in Your Drying System

The drying system is considered by many people to be one of the most vital parts of any successful car wash business.  Despite these and other challenges, good maintenance and housekeeping procedures help operators minimize or prevent operational issues with their equipment.  Clean equipment in good repair is the key to avoiding costly downtime during the high volume winter car washing season.  Create a maintenance checklist to help you address all potential issues; while the weather is on your side.  After cleaning all those cars, the equipment in your car wash needs to be cleaned too.  If your tunnel and equipment are dirty, the air being drawn into your drying system will be dirty as well.  Keep the tunnel, floors, pit, walls and equipment cleaned.
While cleaning the floors, inspect the dryer’s mounting components.  Car wash floors slope toward the pit drains so most equipment has to be leveled when installed.  Inspect the mounting plates, shims, bolts and nuts for dirt and corrosion and tighten bolts to factory specs.  Inspect welds and seams in the dryer’s air handling components for cracks.  Sometimes dark streaks will appear on the metal if air is leaking from a cracked weld or loosened component.

Before attempting any of the following recommended maintenance procedures be sure you are wearing appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment) and ensure that electrical power is disconnected (use lockout/tag out procedures) to the equipment you are handling.  Inspect the air intake routes to your drying system.  With electrical power disconnected, inlet screens should be removed and any debris carefully cleaned out.  Inspect your impellors for missing balance weights, damage to the blades, corrosion, debris and grime build up as well.  These issues can cause balance issues with impellors.  Noise and vibration are indicators of an out-of-balance impellor.  If not addressed as soon as possible you will experience a catastrophic failure of the impellor which may damage the associated motor, nearby equipment, possibly your customer’s vehicles or your employees.  Ensure that inlet screens are securely replaced.  Use only manufacturer designed screens or covers; restricting the airflow to your dryer decreases efficiency, raises energy costs and can damage the motor.

Motors should be inspected, cleaned and greased.  If the motor is making a whining or grinding sound be sure to inspect the motor bearings.  Inspect the wiring connections for corrosion or loose wires.  Have repairs done by a qualified electrical contractor.  Inspect the motor’s cooling fan cover.  The inlet and cooling fan should be cleaned of wax and grime build up.  Use the manufacturer’s recommended amount and type of grease for lubrication.  Refer to the manufacturer’s maintenance manual for this information.

If your drying system has cloth components, nozzles or any other feature that touches the car be sure that those are regularly cleaned of wax and soap build up per the manufacturer’s recommendations.  If your blower has any type of inlet flow control system the following components will need your attention.  Inspect air hoses and valve for cracks and leaks.  Moisture separators should be inspected and drained daily.  Oil reservoirs filled and any gates or other components in the airflow pathway should be cleaned.  Refer to your manufacturer’s maintenance manual for the required procedures.

Also on the electrical side of troubleshooting dryers, there are some necessary steps we need to take to make sure your dryer operates smoothly and efficiently.  Before troubleshooting starts, have qualified employee familiar with the electrical/electronic equipment in service.  Qualified employee is the person who knows basic safety precautions while working with electrical equipment. They should have available multi-meter as electrical measurement tool, screw driver and electrical tape.  Also, they should wear grounding strap when touching electronic boards or other components while the power is off.

There are other useful habits to make troubleshooting a success, such as having an installation manual available and following maintenance schedule recommended by manufacturer.  It’s always good to learn and check what the equipment’s ‘normal’ performance is.  The best time for troubleshooting is when equipment still performs, but with less efficiency.  It also doesn’t hurt to memorize the location of circuit breakers, power switches and other disconnect devices.

When you are troubleshooting on the electrical side, there is nothing more important than following safety rules while working with electrical equipment.  Turn the power off before plugging in or unplugging any piece of electrical equipment.  Watch for a smoke or ‘burning’ smell.  If there is one, shut the power off immediately and research the cause of it.  When failure in performance happens, with no smoke or bad smell, reset can be done by turning the power off or pushing the ‘reset’ button.  The better way to find out if the fuse is blown (with no visible signs) is to measure the voltage on both metal terminals.  When full voltage reading is only on one of 2 fuse terminals, fuse is blown.  Don’t worry if you don’t know Ohm’s law.  Ohm himself didn’t know it for a while. Troubleshoot by yourself only when you are sure you know what to do or otherwise, call the manufacturer for assistance.

We at Proto-Vest recognize importance of helping the customer in troubleshooting as soon as possible.  The sooner the customer contacts us, the better results can be achieved.  Successful troubleshooting may only be as a result of mutual effort by customer and manufacturer (product developer).