Compressor Tank Maintenance

DO I NEED TO DRAIN THE AIR COMPRESSOR TANK?

Did we even know that there is a drain on a compressor tank, and why the compressor tank drain is needed?
Every air compressor will generate water when itís running. The issues that affect the amount of water that the compressor pump deposits into your compressor tank include;
  • the humidity and temperature of the air thatís being taken into the compressor pump
  • how hot the pump has become and, by extension, how hot the tank has become
  • the amount of time the air sits in the tank and cools

On bigger compressors pump created water pouring into the compressor tank can be measured in tens or hundreds of gallons of water daily. On a smaller, DIY type compressor, not so much, but some water will be dumped into the tank by the compressor pump all the time the pump is running, for sure.

SO, WHATíS THE PROBLEM WITH A BIT OF WATER IN THE COMPRESSOR TANK?

Well, actually, there are three main issues.
One is what the water has the potential for doing inside the tank.
Next, what that water can do as some of it exits the tank, along with the air, thatís blowing down the air line to your air components.
Third, over time, water can fill a compressor tank.

WHATíS THAT WATER DOING TO THE TANK?

Compressor tanks are designed, built and pressure tested to resist a certain amount of internal pressure. Typically, this burst pressure is far higher than any pressure that the compressor can generate, as long as the compressor is working properly.
When they are built, the insides of the tank are typically covered with a moisture resistant coating, this to stop water-to-steel contact. Itís my opinion that the lower the price of an air compressor, the less likely that the tank is going to be manufactured to a high standard and that standard will include the quality of the inside-tank coating.
If water stays inside the tank, it, plus any other material that finds its way into the tank Ė which can include bits of metal, air intake dust, residue from pump coatings, pump lubricating productsÖ and so on Ė can react with and affect the tank coating. That water / crud slurry can weaken the tank coating and eventually allow moisture to come into direct contact with the steel in the tank. Rust results.

The tank is a pressure vessel, and anything that can affect the integrity of the tank itself and that includes a rusting tank, should be avoided. So, thatís what water inside the compressor tank can do. What about the water that exits the tank?

WATER FLOWING OUT OF THE TANK CAUSES PROBLEMS TOO!

What are you using compressed air for? Itís to supply air to air driven tools and chemical pumps. Also, to inject air through solenoids for foaming products. Regardless, there are no circumstances I know of where water blowing out of the air line into anything does good.
If there is free water sitting in the compressor tank as fresh air is pumped into the tank some of that air riles up the water in the bottom of tank and captures it in the air stream. This water, along with the compressed air, flows out of the tank and down the air line to where you are using air.

Water rusts metal. The inside of air tools contain metal. Water will rust the air tools, eventually causing them to seize and result in costly repair.

A COMPRESSOR TANK FULL OF WATER!

Water enters the tank every time the compressor pump runs. Some of that water blows back out of the compressor tank as air is being used. Much of it doesnít.
In time, particularly in high humidity areas and days, water will occupy more and more of the tank space. Suddenly your 30 gallon tank becomes 25 gallon capacity, then 20Ö and so on.

DO I NEED TO DRAIN THE COMPRESSOR TANK?

Do you need to drain the tank?
Yup, you do.

WHERE IS THE COMPRESSOR TANK DRAIN?

Since tank drains rely on gravity to help them drain water, they will almost always be installed at the lowest point of the compressor tank.
You typically cannot see the threaded portion that goes into the tank. You normally will see the Tee handle.

There is hole through the handle and up through the drain valve. As the Tee handle is turned, a plug either opens inside the valve to allow water and crud to escape, or the plug is moved into the hole to block the drain.

DONíT NECESSARILY EMPTY THE TANK COMPLETELY!

With some air pressure in the tank, turn the Tee on the drain valve to open it. Careful. Sometimes the threads are reversed, so if you cannot turn it one way, assume that it is shut tightly, and turn the Tee handle the other way.
The air pressure in the tank will start to blow the water in the base of the compressor tank out through the drain as the drain is opened. Typically, you will hear a hissing and maybe a popping sound as water flows into the drain and out ontoÖ put down some cardboard or some such to catch the water, as it will stain a floor given that itís not just water coming out.
As soon as the water stops coming out, close the drain, keeping the remaining air in the tank for the next use. Unless you arenít planning to use the compressor for a while. Then I tend to drain all the air out and leave the drain open. Just donít forget to close it before you fire up the compressor the next time, or it will run and run and wonít build tank pressure, and likely you wonít be able to hear that the air is blowing out of the drain as fast as the pump is putting it in the tank, due to the noise of the motor and compressor pump.

AUTOMATIC TANK DRAINS

We tend to place our compressors out of the way so that they donít interfere with work in the shop. That same tendency sometimes makes it very difficult to get to where the drain on the tank is, or worse, get down underneath the compressor to try and see it, and open it.
As a result, some tanks may never get drained. This is not good.
An option to making draining the compressor tank easier is an automatic compressor tank drain.
If draining your compressor tank after use is such a pain in the ó that you never get around to doing it, spend some money and take the time to install an automatic compressor tank drain. Let it take care of getting all the water out.

JUST DRAIN IT!

Whether you tend to stick with the manual drain that came with the tank or opt for installing an auto drain to ensure that you do drain the tank regularly, yes, you do need to drain the compressor tank.

Donít forget to do so!

Quick check for the Coin Acceptors

When doing a thorough check on your car wash, of course, you would start the bay up and, while washing it down, run through all the features to be sure they work properly. Other times, for a quick check, drop a nickel, or some token, or another coin which you don't normally accept into the coin acceptor. If it goes through and out the coin return, you can be fairly certain the acceptor is not plugged. On the other hand, if it gets stuck, you can be pretty sure this needs some attention.

Selector Switch

Before installing and on a regular basis, spray a little lubricant such as WD40 or LPS into where the stem enters the housing. This will help to keep the switch turning freely and last longer.

Grease on Hoses?

When checking your bays, carry a light coloured cloth. As you move from bay to bay slide the cloth down each hose and check for grease or dirt. May save you an unhappy customer complaint.

Cold Water Rinse

If you run hot water for soap and wax and cold water for your rinse. You may want to change that for the winter months. In most cases, you can switch to warm water or hot water rinse quite easily. Contact Pelco for instructions on how to do it for your system.

Bill Changer

Setting The Bill Changer To Foil Scammers

Some car wash owners are unaware, the bill changer has a setting to limit the time in which a person can insert a bill to get change. By using this setting you may deter counterfeiting and "Stringing". Call Pelco to learn how to activate this setting.

Weep Controller

December brings the start of winter and the cold snowy days. It's a good idea to check your weep controller to be sure the water is coming when needed and for as long as needed. If using a Weepmiser, verify the temperature displayed on the unit with a thermometer at the probe location if possible. Second best is to check the temperature from your car, phone, or thermometer at your location. If the readings don't match, you may be able to adjust the sensor to do so. Also observe your weeps at the brush and gun. When first starting, they will only stay on for around six seconds. You want to be sure the water is actually coming out for a long enough time to keep it from freezing. For further information or help, call PELCO.

Problematic Coin Acceptor?

When you have a coin acceptor acting up. Replace it but don't simply throw the problem one out, or leave it on a shelf. Send those into Pelco. In most cases, we can either fix them in-house or send them to be fixed at less cost than replacements.†

Shipping Costs?

Couriers and freight carriers apply rates based on the volume of the shipment as well as the weight. A package may weigh 1 kg but because it is bulky and needs a larger box, the cost to ship†is based on what is called Cube Weight. The size of the box determines its shipping cost. How can this help you? When you are ordering in items which may be fairly large, however relatively light for their size. Look around and see if there are some smaller items you would like to have in stock or to do some routine maintenance. Adding these items may only increase the shipping cost slightly, or perhaps even not at all. This could amount to free or nearly free shipping on those smaller items. This can save you money.

Spare Parts

It's a good idea to keep a spare igniter for your boiler style water heater, or a spare thermocouple if you have a tank type heater. These can be invaluable if you find your heater has stopped firing.

SAFETY AT ALL TIMES

Remember to keep your safety paramount while taking care of your business during this trying time. COVID-19 has proven to be a real challenge for everyone.

Although reports have stated the virus does not linger on hard surfaces, itís a good idea to wear gloves while cleaning up and doing repairs, whenever possible. The nature of car washing is such that there is almost always a safe distance from others while washing, but be vigilant about contact. If customers see that your wash is neat and clean, it makes them more comfortable about using it.

Have Some Assemblies Made Up Ahead of Time

Repairs can be made much faster and easier if a little advance word is done.

If you put together your gun/wand assemblies ahead of time. When a problem crops up with one, you can simply change the whole piece and get back into business sooner. Repair the broken pieces when you have the time and put it back on the shelf, ready to use when needed.†

You can do this with your foam brush handles and brushes as well as vacuum hoses and nozzles.

Clean, Clean, Clean

I know it is something which you do all the time but especially now, during this health challenge, it is critically important to your continued success to be especially vigilant with this.

Many of your customers are extremely cautious about how they interact with their outside chores. Washing their vehicle is one of them. When they enter your car wash and see everything tidy and clean, no build up of dirt on the floors or grime on the hoses, guns and other items. Bays that are well lit and inviting; it helps put them at ease. This comfort translates to profits to you as they feel secure in using a facility where it is clear the owner is doing all he or she can do to offer a safe environment. Take some extra time to ensure your business looks as good as possible and always with everything working as it should.†

A Contact Numbers Can Benefit You

Posting a contact number in your vending area or another convenient spot around your car wash allows customers to notify you in the event of a problem. It could go directly to a voice mail system or your cell phone. It could be anything from lost money to a serious water problem. This lets your customers know you care about the services you offer to them. Your prompt attention to this can reap benefits in positive word-of-mouth and online comments.

Smelly Pits

During this very warm summer weather, you may notice an unpleasant odour coming from the pits in your bays. When you smell this, pour a little liquid chlorine or even simply household bleach into the pits. This works surprisingly well at keeping the bad smell away.

Dirty Vacuum Bags

A smart way to keep ahead of vacuum problems is to stock and extra set or two of the bags your vacuums use. That way when it comes time to clean the bags, you put your spare set in and put the vacuum back into service with very little down time. Now you can clean your used bags at your leisure, hang them up to dry and they will be all set for the next time.

Do you want to make customers happy and keep them coming back?

Make sure you have all your features which use chemicals set to give a good show on their vehicle. Customers who see a lot of soap and pre-soak notice it and entices them to return. Tire cleaner which coats to wheels and attacks the brake dust encourages them to do it more often. When your wax goes on with a nice foamy appearance it beads on the paint and the water breaks quickly. All this foam makes them use your rinse to clear it as well.

Are you struggling with getting your low-pressure features which run through the gun, like pre-soa

In many cases there are solutions to getting the product out to the customer faster. You may be able to move the assembly where the chemicals merge with the high-pressure line closer to the bay itself. This is easier if you have access to the lines which go to the booms.

Another way is to have your low-pressure features go through the high-pressure pump, but at a lower pressure than your normal intensity, something around 300-500 PSI, while still using the higher pressure, 1000 PSI or more for your soap, wax, and rinse features.

Contact Pelco to find out what you can do to improve product lag time and increase your customer satisfaction.

Glycol Top-up?

This time of year, you may find the glycol in your de-icing system is low and needs to be topped up. Itís important to know whether you have Ethylene or Propylene in your system. Either Ethylene or Propylene will give you the protection you need and the two will mix together. HoweverÖ Although we all want to use Propylene for the environment, combining the two will have one big drawback. You will no longer be able to accurately measure the strength of your antifreeze. The methods used to test the strength is different for each product and mixing them will render each method useless.†

Itís best to add whichever type is currently in your system when you are topping up.
For any questions about this or anything else, call Pelco.

Electronics + Moisture = Damage

Although most electronic parts donít mind the cold weather, they donít like to get wet and they especially hate to stay wet. The devices in your meter box, acceptor, switch, and whatever else you have in there can experience potentially catastrophic damage from the moisture. A cheap and easy fix for that is to wire in the Pelco coinbox heaters. These little items come with a strong adhesive which will stick to the side of the meter box and wire into your 24-volt supply. Although we canít stop water from getting into the box, this will help to dry things out so your electronics will last longer.

Car Wash Lighting

If you havenít already done it, look into replacing your bay and exterior lighting with LED fixtures. These items have reduced in price since first introduced and are now very affordable. You will not only increase the light level in and around your bays; youíll be saving a noticeable amount on your electric bills. Today, LED fixtures come in a wide variety of configurations and wattages. There will be ones which will fit all your needs and will pay for themselves in a very short period of time.

Not enough product on the vehicles even though, mixing tanks are full and have lots of product?

One reason could be the tubes and hoses coming from your concentrate pails/drums and going to your mixing tank. After awhile these tubes become hard and unyielding. When this happens, they start to lose the seal where they attach to your chemical proportioner.

If you notice these tubes are so stiff you canít compress them by squeezing, they likely are leaking air at the fittings and need to be replaced.

Bill changer acting up or rejecting a lot of bills?

Try taking a soft makeup brush and brushing the sensors in the bill validator. Often this can make a world of difference.

Car Wash Pump Slowly Losing Pressure

If this is happening in one or more of your bays. Before spending time and money looking for a more complicated problem, change your spray nozzle out with a new one. Pressure is almost entirely determined by the spray tip and a worn one will allow more water to flow through the nozzle and reduce the pressure.

Pump Repair Needed?

Do you have pumps needing more repairs than you can do? Send them to PELCO. We will tear down and inspect your pumps, make a list of repairs needed, along with the cost to make those repairs and send you a quote to do the work. No repairs will be done before you see and agree to the quote. Don't let those pumps sit there unable to be put into service when needed. Call us today.

Chemical Feed Lines

An often overlooked item, but one which may cause problems hard to diagnose are the tubes and hoses on your chemical distribution centre. The lines used for drawing your soaps and waxes from the concentrate to the mixing containers get hard and brittle over time.
This can lead to a loss of seal at the connection points, which in turn may allow some air to be sucked into the line, weakening your mixture. Make it part of your regular routine to check these lines and replace them as necessary.

Clogged Spray Nozzle

Plugged spray tips, an annoying part of running a car wash. Here's an easy way to get the tip cleaned and back in business. You'll still need to remove the tip from the wand. Keep a paper clip on your workbench, or drawer. Open up one of the "legs" and you'll find this is just right for pushing the culprit out of the end so you can remove it by rinsing or simply tapping the nozzle on a hard surface.

De-icing Problem In Bays

My floor-heat/deicing boiler is running and hot, but the supply tube to the bays are cold.

A car wash owner asked me about this. His heater/boiler was running fine and producing hot water, but the lines going to and especially coming from his bays were cold. After tracing the lines back through the headers and supply piping, we found a bypass line connecting the hot water output to the return. this is quite normal and proper, as it is advantageous to keep the water warm to prevent boiler shock. The problem was, the balancing valve was almost completely open allowing the hot water to merely loop around back to the boiler and not put much heat out to the system. By throttling the valve back so that only a small amount of hot water went back to the heater the temperature of the water going out to the system rose dramatically and eliminated the icing problem in the bays.

Twisted Hose

Are your hoses always twisted?
If you always seem to be untwisting your high pressure or low pressure hoses, here are a couple of suggestions. Are the hoses too long? See the tip under Tips & Tricks on our website. Additionally, you might like to install a second hose swivel at the top of the hose in question. Put it right where it attaches to the boom. Many car wash owner have stated this greatly improves customer satisfaction and all but eliminates the twisted hose problem.

Weepmiser Auxilary

Make your weepmiser weep controller do more.
It's true, Weepmiser can do more than simply turn you weep system on and off. Within the programming of your Weepmiser, you can set a temperature, independent of your weep settings, which will allow your de-icing boiler to fire as the temperature drops and also to not fire when the temperature warms up. This will help to keep heating costs down and profits up. You'll need a relay and some wire to do it. Check your instruction booklet to discover how it is done, or simply call PELCO. We would be pleased to assist.

How to Thaw Frozen Bays

Now that the weather is growing colder, the possibility of frozen bays rears its ugly head. It's something we all hate but must correct to prevent serious and costly damage to equipment. Here is the easiest way to thaw frozen hoses, booms, guns, and brushes. If the hoses are not yet stiff, but only the gun or brush froze. You may have caught it in time to dip it in a pail of hot water to thaw. If not, you can start by taking the frozen offender down from whatever boom its attached to and taking it into the warmer equipment room to thaw while you tackle the boom and line going to it.

Start by turning your weep to that boom on full and it nothing comes out. take a garden hose or other hose you may have and hook it to a hot water line in your equipment room. A regular garden hose gun works well for this. You'll need to spray the frozen part, boom or line until it warms up enough to allow the weep to come through. In some car washes, the line going out to the boom is run through a conduit and is easily unhooked and pulled back into the equipment room to thaw, while you address the boom. DON'T USE A TORCH! This is dangerous and ineffective.

Measuring oil for pumps

One of the things which makes oil changes a thing to be dreaded is trying to pour the oil into the pump without overfilling or making a mess. Go to your local food store or hardware and purchase a plastic measuring cup with enough volume for your pump. Usually, a 1 litre cup will do nicely for most car wash pumps. Check the specs on your pump for oil capacity and fill the cup to that amount. Then after you've drained all the oil, simply pour it in. Easy!

Changing Chemical Products

Did you know, when making a change in your soaps or waxes to a different manufacturer, or sometimes within the same manufacturer, mixing different concentrations together may lead to plugged distribution lines. The different products may react to each other. Congealing, or crystallizing are not uncommon outcomes. This may lead to leaner mixtures going to the pumps and a poor-quality wash. PELCO recommends cleaning the concentrate and mixing pails, as well as flushing the distribution lines with water before making the changeover. This step could save you hours of frustrating searching for why your products are not doing the job intended.

Spray Nozzle Sizing Chart

Compressor Tank Maintenance

Compressor Tank Maintenance
Did we even know that there is a drain on a compressor tank, and why the compressor tank drain is needed?
Every air compressor will generate water when itís running. The issues that affect the amount of water that the compressor pump deposits into your compressor tank include;

  • the humidity and temperature of the air thatís being taken into the compressor pump
  • how hot the pump has become and, by extension, how hot the tank has become
  • the amount of time the air sits in the tank and cools.



READ MORE

Direct drive or belts, which is better?

Volumes have been written on which is better; direct drive a pump, or belt drive it. Proponents of direct claim you eliminate belt slippage and wear with direct drive. Belt drive people say the pumps last longer, by running them slower than at full motor speeds. Who is right? The answer is, it depends. In the self-serve car wash market, we tend to use more robust pumps than those used in the pressure washer market aimed at homeowners. For us, the question is: how does either affect pump life and routine maintenance?

Starting with pump life. If your wash is using a direct drive pump rated for the kind of use we typically see in the wash industry, it has a back end, the crankcase end, large enough to handle the increased heat and stress demanded by faster speeds. Oil condition is critical to ensure the least amount of wear. The belt drive pumps run slower, but also need the oil to be changed regularly to prevent wear. Belts will wear after a time and will need to be changed. Selecting the proper belt style, length and type with allow your belts to run for many years without the need to change.

Direct drive pumps also need maintenance, as the "spiders" will wear down and need to be replaced. These are the plastic pieces which connect the two metal parts on the pump and the motor. So the answer is, either one will perform nicely for you as long as proper steps have been taken when engineering the systems.

Worn Nozzle

Cause
A worn nozzle results in lower pressure because there is less resistance to the water flow. A pump generates flow, not pressure. The orifice size of the nozzle determines the resistance to flow and therefore the pressure created. As the nozzle wears the orifice size increases, which produces less resistance. Often, pressure-related problems are not due to the pump, but due to downstream components.
Solution
Replace nozzle with properly sized nozzle.

Faulty Regulator

Cause
A regulator is a pressure control valve that sets and maintains system pressure. An internal piston shifts based on downstream pressure to allow flow to either travel to the system or back to the source through the by-pass port. A worn or ďstuckĒ piston can cause excess bypass flow and low system pressure.
Solution
Take regulator apart and inspect the piston valve assembly. Look for evidence of wear of lack of movement. Repair and clean as indicated or replace internal piston.

Worn Seals

Cause
Over the course of operation, seal wear occurs due to the reciprocating movement of the plunger. Worn seals allow fluid to migrate to the low-pressure side, which can result in a lower flow and thus lower system pressure.
Solution
Inspect and replace seals. Follow service and preventive maintenance recommendations.

Pressure Gauge

Cause
The pressure gauge displays the system pressure. Gauges can fail due to over-pressurization of pressure spikes. A faulty gauge reading can lead to misinterpreting system conditions and therefore taking inappropriate actions. Always verify system pressure before attempting system maintenance or repairs.
Solution
Replace pressure gauge. In some systems, a pressure diagnostics sensing port can be used to verify system pressure. Use high-quality glycerin-filled gauges with built-in pressure snubbers.

Belt Slippage (Belt drive units)

Cause
Belt-drives are used to set and control the pump speed, measured in ďrevolutions-per-minuteĒ or ďrpm.Ē Belt slippage causes the pump to run at a lower speed, which affects pump output flow. Lower flow means resistance to the flow decreases, which translates into lower system pressure. Pressure is the resistance to flow.
Solution
Inspect the belt-drive assembly and belts. Tighten or replace belts as indicated.

Undersized or Clogged Inlet Filter

Cause
An inlet filter removes contamination, preventing it from entering the pump. An improperly sized filter or one that is clogged reduces the amount of liquid to the pump inlet, which can cause cavitation and even severe pump damage. Reduced inlet flow also contributes to reduced flow to the system, which works to reduce system pressure as there is less resistance to the lower flow being produced.
Solution
Inspect filter and filter screen or mesh. Clean per instructions. If filter is damaged, replace. Also, verify filter sizing. A good rule-of-thumb is to match the inlet port size of the pump; do not reduce the filter port size.

Inadequate Water Supply

Cause
Adequate water supply is essential for the operation of the pump. Incoming water lubricates and cools the pump. Water is also required to fill the pump chambers. An inadequate water supply will result in a lower flow being discharged from the pump and therefore lower system pressure. Severely restricting water supply can cause catastrophic pump failure, resulting in system shutdown and the need for a complete pump re-build or total replacement.
Solution
Inspect the incoming line for obstructions or any flow restrictions. Follow pump guidelines for inlet port and line sizing. Increase line size if necessary. Verify supply line pressure and increase if indicated.


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