Winterize Your Dryer While There is Still Time
It is that time of the year again to winterize and prepare for the challenges of avoiding costly downtime during the winter season! Car wash owners should enter the cold months with a good sense of preparation and readiness for anything that could go wrong with their dryer system. After all, the cold and icy weather can do some damage, whether it is from a huge drop in temperature or an icy snow storm that can slow down your business. No matter what type of dryer system you own, car wash owners and operators should follow the best winterization practices that can help them prepare for the brutal winter weather.
Prepare a Checklist
Start a maintenance checklist while the weather is still in good condition. You want to give yourself enough time to order any parts or equipment that you may need so that everything gets shipped on time. When creating your checklist, keep in mind of the car wash drying system, equipment and area that needs to be cleaned, including the tunnel, floors, pits and walls. The more you prepare yourself with a checklist, the better chance of ensuring a proper operation without any downtime or lost income due to paying high repair and replacement costs.
Follow Maintenance Procedures
Before attempting any of the following recommended maintenance procedures be sure you are wearing appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment). To secure your safety, you may want to ensure that electrical power is disconnected (use lockout/tagout procedures) to the equipment you are handling. There is nothing more important than following safety rules while working with electrical equipment. It’s always good to turn the power off before plugging in or unplugging any piece of electrical equipment.
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. You should also look for 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.
Internal Drying System Inspection
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 impellers for missing balance weights, damage to the blades, corrosion, debris and grime build up as well. These issues can cause balance issues with impellers. Noise and vibration are indicators of an out-of-balance impeller. If not addressed as soon as possible you will experience a catastrophic failure of the impeller, which may damage the associated motor, nearby equipment, possibly your customers’ vehicles. 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.
Motor Inspection and Cleaning
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.
Check and Clean Other Components
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.
Research Equipment that’s Beneficial for Cold Weather
Car wash operators may find it beneficial to add heat to their car wash operations during extreme cold conditions with equipment such as a tunnel heater. The primary advantage of a tunnel heater is preventing frozen water pipes and ice buildup on the car wash equipment. Adding heat to air already moving through the drying system can reduce the need for secondary heating systems in the tunnel thus allowing for energy savings and less downtime.
Although winter time usually results in an increase in business it also brings additional challenges in the form of ice, salt-coated cars and increased energy consumption. Why wait until the very last minute for proper maintenance and housekeeping procedures when you can minimize and prevent operational issues now? A 20 degree day with cars lined up to the street is not the time you want to be replacing car wash components. Now is the time to order replacement parts and get your equipment in tip top shape!