Why Isn’t My Auto Scrubber Cleaning My Floors?!?

This the fourth part of a 5 part series on common problems with automatic floor scrubbers. In the past 3 I covered an overview of all problems to be discussed, a scrubber not putting water down, and when scrubbers aren’t picking water up.

My automatic floor scrubber is not cleaning the floor. We hear this too often. The brushes or pad drivers are working. The vacuum motor is working. The squeegee is down. But the floor is still dirty, streaked, dull, and sticky and just generally doesn’t look very good. So we run routine maintenance on the scrubber and we find the brushes are turning at the proper RPM and with the proper down pressure. The vacuum motor is working and has the proper CFM and Waterlift ratings. The hoses are in good shape. The gaskets are clean. The squeegee is level and we find nothing apparently wrong with the overall operation of the machine. Everything is within the manufacturer’s specifications and functioning well. So why aren’t the floors getting clean?

This is one of the most difficult problems to diagnose because the supplier of the chemical products wants to blame the equipment and the equipment supplier wants to blame the cleaning chemicals. Often times it is a combination of both. If you are purchasing an automatic scrubber for the first time you should also evaluate the type of cleaning chemicals you are using. You may need to change the chemical to get the best use out of the scrubber. This is where the knowledge and experience of your suppliers come into play. Make sure you are dealing with suppliers that can offer the education and training to achieve the results you want. Here are some things to consider.


  • Make sure you are using the correct color and type of pad recommended for your floor surface. You may need to use a more or less aggressive pad to achieve the results you want. Also, check to ensure you are changing the pads frequently. Worn pads will not clean as well and may allow the pad driver bristles to poke through and damage the floor. Same goes if you are using brushes. Match the appropriate brush to your floor surface. Too aggressive and you can damage the floor. Too weak and you may not remove all the dirt. Learn more on pads vs brushes

Pad Pressure

  • Make sure the machine you are using has pressure adjustments. Some scrubbers may only have 1 setting with a predetermined amount of weight on the brush. More pressure means better cleaning but be careful. Too much pressure may damage the floor. The right pressure combined with the right pad or brush may make all the difference. More pressure also means more amp draw and drain on the batteries.

Cleaning Chemicals

  • Cleaning chemicals are needed to clean. They emulsify the soil and hold the dirt in suspension until the squeegee can wipe the floor and remove the dirty water. Without chemical, the floor may streak because the dirt settles too quickly back to the floor. This happens often when the user consistently uses only water to clean. The squeegee will then drag the dirt and smear the floor rather than remove the dirt. In most cases some type of cleaning chemical must be used. Check the ingredients in the chemical you are using. Some neutral cleaners contain solvents that can damage finish and coatings. Disinfectants can also damage and dull the floor. Make sure you are using the appropriate chemical in the right dilution for the floor surface you are trying to clean. Highly finished floors will require a chemical to help increase the shine. Never underestimate the use of a clean water rinse on a floor with a glossy finish. Sometimes, flooding the floor with plain water will restore the shine that has been dulled over time by the residue left behind by disinfectants and cleaners. Dirty, greasy, grimy floors may require a heavier cleaner with a higher ph level. Oily, greasy floors will need a strong degreaser that cleans but doesn’t dull or streak.

Machine maintenance

  • Clean your Automatic Scrubber after each use. Clean out the tanks, debris trays, pads, brushes and especially the squeegee assembly. Dirt will accumulate inside the rear squeegee blade and harden if left to dry. This may scratch the floor surface, streak the floors, and allow trails of water to escape under the blade. This may leave unsightly streaks and discoloration on the floor. Daily auto scrubber maintenance is very important in conjunction with a strong preventative maintenance program.

Finish and coatings

  • What kind of finish are you using? On vinyl tile or terrazzo, the type of finish you choose may require specific cleaning chemicals, pads or brushes. The scrubber doesn’t care what type of brushes or pads you put on it but it may make all the difference in achieving your expectations for how your floor looks. Is the polymer in the finish hard or soft? Does it require burnishing or daily scrubbing? Is it more or less tolerant to chemical usage? On concrete floors, the type of coating may also require different approaches. Is it Acrylic, Urethane or Epoxy? What type of soil is on the floor? How do you want the floor to look after scrubbing? Matching the appropriate chemical, pads, and brushes to the finish or coating is essential to achieving your desired results.


  • If you are not getting the results you want the answer may be in what type of squeegees you have on the scrubber. Are you using Gum rubber, Urethane, Linatex or Neoprene? Maybe something else. The density of the material in the squeegees may make all the difference in the cleaning results you are getting. Make sure they are cleaned after each use to remove the dirt buildup. Also, another good idea is to wipe the blade every few minutes while you are scrubbing to ensure the buildup doesn’t occur during use.

If you are not getting the results you want from your automatic floor scrubber it may not be the fault of the scrubber. There are a lot of other factors to consider. Chemicals, finishes, coatings, pads, brushes, type of soil on the floor, squeegee material and routine maintenance are just a few of the possibilities. An experienced supplier with the knowledge and training programs you need can ensure you get the cleaning results you wish to achieve.

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Why Won’t My Automatic Scrubber Pick Up Water?

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on common automatic floor scrubber problems. To recap, the first part is an overview of all the problems discussed and the second part is focused why your scrubber isn’t putting water down and if you’re reading this then you probably are either having issue with your scrubber not picking up water or are interested in learning some of the potential reasons for a scrubber leaving water behind.

Vacuuming up the dirty water on an automatic scrubber hasn’t changed a whole lot since the machines were first developed.  It is basically a vacuum motor pulling air and water through a hose attached to a squeegee on the rear of the scrubber.  The vacuum motor may be a 12, 24 or 36 volt motor, and it may be found in different places in the machine depending on the make and model, but the principle is the same. Some squeegees are lowered by hand and some lower automatically when the machine moves forward with the water control turned on.  Some vacuum motors are turned on with a switch and others turn on automatically when the squeegee is lowered.  Assuming that the vacuum motor is operating and the squeegee mechanism is down, let’s take a look at why you may not be picking up the dirty water.

  • Check to see if the vacuum pickup hose is attached.  It is not uncommon to find a hose that is not completely attached to the squeegee assembly.  This disrupts the airflow and the water doesn’t get sucked up.
  • Check the vacuum hose for holes or air leaks.  Breaks in the hose allow for lost suction and bad water pickup.
  • Make sure the vacuum hose is attached to the recovery water tank at the other end.  Once again checking for air leaks.
  • Make sure the vacuum motor is attached in some fashion to the recovery tank.  This can be a direct connection or through a hose.   An air leak here and you won’t create a vacuum in the recovery water tank.
  • The squeegee assembly should be completely level.  If an operator hit something with the assembly, it may have bent the bracket causing the squeegee to become out of line.  This can create gaps between the squeegee and the floor surface leaving large streaks of water on the floor.
  • Squeegees wear over time.  Worn or torn squeegees do not pick up water well.  Most squeegees can be removed and turned over to use the other side but eventually they all need to be replaced.  Regular replacement will better insure a clean wipe by the blades.
  • Keep the squeegee blades clean.  Remove the assembly and wash it thoroughly after each use.  A good habit to have is to wipe off the inside of the blades periodically while using the scrubber.  This keeps tiny pieces of dirt and grit from accumulating and causing bad streaks.
  • Hoses can clog periodically when picking up large pieces of debris or operating on extremely dirty floors.  Simply run a broom handle down the hose to remove the clog, and then clean out the hose.
  • Back flush the vacuum hose after each use. This will help to prevent clogs from occurring and provide maximum suction to the squeegee assembly.
  • Clean the debris trays or baskets or deflectors in the recovery water tank after each use.   This increases airflow through the hoses for better suction.
  • Clean and check lid gaskets after each use.  Bad or dirty gaskets can cause air leaks and lost suction.
  • Clean the float assembly in the recovery tank and check to see if it is stuck in the closed position.  This will prevent air flow and water pickup.

Water pickup with your automatic scrubber is essentially an easy concept to understand and maintain.  If you do not have good water pickup it is most likely because of worn or clogged hoses, worn squeegees or worn gaskets.  Check for air leaks and obstructions and make sure you have a clean, level wiping surface on your squeegees.

For more information on how you can better maintain your automatic floor scrubber follow our blog and if there is anything else you need help with give us a call or contact us.

cleaning equipment and floor scrubber service and preventative maintenance

Water is Not Coming Out of my Auto Scrubber!?!

I’m not getting water out of my scrubber

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on common problems that can occur with your automatic floor scrubber. If you missed part 1 then you can access it here.

When automatic floor scrubbers were first invented some 60 years ago or so the dispensing of water was pretty simple. There was a hand operated lever near the dashboard of the machine that controlled a cable that opened and closed a solution ball valve near the top of the scrub brushes. The ball valve was gravity fed with water combined with cleaning chemicals from a tank that was positioned above the valve. Open the valve and water came out. Close the valve and the water stopped. Simple process to operate and fairly simple to repair or replace if it broke.

This mechanical system has been replaced on many current production scrubbers. On some models there is an electric pump that pumps water onto the floor or sprays the brushes with chemical solution that is used to wet the floor surface. Machines use filters to clean the water before it hits the floor. They use solenoids that control the water flow and chemical metering systems that pre-mix cleaning chemicals with water. These devices are all controlled through a computer board that regulates the process. This adds to service issues and things that might go wrong over time but these additions make the operator’s job easier and the scrubber more productive and efficient.

Since there are now more things to possibly go wrong this means there is a need for more routine maintenance and the possibility that the cleaning solution just isn’t hitting the floor.

Check these areas first:

  • Check to make sure there is actually water in the solution tank. Believe it or not I have made service calls for customers claiming no water is coming out when in fact no one has filled the solution tank.
  • Make sure there are no obstructions in the clean water solution tank. I have seen automatic scrubbers parked in back rooms of buildings with the tank lids open so the tanks can air out. This is a good routine to have. In reality I have seen these clean water tanks being used as receptacles for cigarette butts, candy wrappers, banana peels and other assorted trash. Keep the obstructions out of the tanks.
  • If the scrubber has a pump and it is not pumping check to make sure the pump is getting power from the batteries. If the pump is bad you will probably need to replace it. These types of pumps are generally not repairable.
  • Most machines today have water filters in the solution line to make sure the water is clean before it continues through the system. This protects the solution control valve and solenoid from damage. These filters accumulate sediment and chemical buildup over time and can prohibit the flow of water. They need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Solenoids are used to regulate the flow of solution onto the floor. This uses less water and is more efficient. Solenoids need power to operate so check to make sure it is getting power from the batteries. If the solenoid is bad simply replace it.
  • The water flow on most machines is controlled by a switch on the dashboard. Check to make sure the switch is operating correctly.
  • The computer board may be bad as well. Check to see if the board is operating correctly. If it isn’t it may be the reason the solenoid, pump or switch isn’t working.

You can see there are many possible elements that exist today on current production models that didn’t exist years ago. They all require routine maintenance. They make these newer automatic scrubbers more efficient and productive and more operator friendly but they also add to your daily routine maintenance checklist.

For more information on your auto scrubber please contact us at our service and PM page. We are here to answer your questions, address your concerns and solve your problems.

cleaning equipment and floor scrubber service and preventative maintenance

Thinking About Getting a Pool Heater?

Heaters are a great addition to your pool. No one enjoys swimming in chilly water and a heater can fix that for you. There are many types of heaters, such as natural gas, propane, electric, and solar heaters. So we compiled a list of information on each heater to help you decide what heater would be best for your pool.

Solar Heater – A solar heater is an inexpensive way to heat your pool. Besides purchasing the solar dome, there is no other cost associated with a solar heater. The draw back with solar heaters is that if you don’t have any sun, then your water will not be getting any heat. You also need to look at the size of your pool. If you have a 24 ft round pool, then you will need more than 1 solar heater for your pool. Depending on the amount of sun available that day, your pool might not be getting noticeably warmer.

Gas Heater – Gas heaters are the most common heaters customers chose to heat their pool. Gas heaters have a copper heat exchange, so maintaining your water chemistry is very important. If your water becomes unbalanced or too acidic, it will begin to eat away at your copper heat exchange very quickly. If you are not constantly monitoring your water chemistry with a gas heater and your copper heat exchange is ruined then you will need to have it repaired and it can be a very expensive thing to fix. Most customers who have their copper heat exchange eaten away end up having to purchase a new heater, because the repair cost is so high. Gas heaters may also involve landscaping, if you run gas lines straight to your pool.

Propane Heater – With propane heaters you will have to purchase or lease propane tanks. Propane heaters are what you will want to use if you can’t get a natural gas line run out to your pool. Propane heaters also have a copper heat exchange so they have the same risk as gas heaters if your water is not kept balanced. All-in-all propane heaters are very similar to gas heaters.

Electric Heater – Electric heaters, or heat pumps, have a titanium heat exchange. With titanium heat exchanges, great water chemistry is not as critical to your heat exchange life expectancy, but we still recommend you keep your water balanced. Unbalanced water can cause problems with your heater and your pool water itself. Electric heaters are more expensive to purchase, but they are less expensive to operate long term. Heat pumps do, however, require the ambient air temperature to be higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because a heat pump draws warmth from the surrounding air to heat the water. Most people do not use their pools if it is less than 40 degrees, but if you do you may want to consider something else.

Pool heaters are a great way to extend your swimming season and get more use out of your pool. They also help make your pool more comfortable during the season. If you are in the market for a pool heater make sure you take your time and find the right solution for your unique needs. I hope this brief overview can give you good start in your search for the perfect heater for your pool. If you have any questions or need help in the process please give us a call or stop into one of retail stores.

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Common Problems with Automatic Floor Scrubbers

What are the most common reasons automatic floor scrubbers need service? This will be an overview. The first in a 5 part series of why these cleaning machines break down and require service. Let’s first take a look at a little history and what automatic scrubbers do and how they perform.

Automatic scrubbers have evolved quite drastically over the last 60 years or so. The first floor scrubbers were very simple in mechanical nature but very inventive for the time. (Here is a quick summary on Automatic Floor Scrubber History) They dispensed water from a clean water holding tank, scrubbed the floor with the clean water and added cleaning chemical, and then vacuumed the floor dry with a vacuum system and squeegee mechanism on the back. These 4 areas are where most of the service is needed. Putting down water, picking up water, scrubbing the floor, and operating forward and reverse. It was true 60 years ago and still true today. Although the earlier machines were much simpler in their mechanical design.

Combining the actions of a floor mop, scrub brush and wet/dry vacuum all into one machine. The first scrubbers ran on electric supplied by plugging the machine into a wall outlet, but soon they were using batteries to propel the machine. This made them much more maneuverable and easier to use.

Because these machines combined all the necessary aspects to cleaning a floor, this made the floor cleaning process much more hygienic. Operators were discovering they could use disinfectants, degreasers, and specialized chemicals to aid in creating a cleaner environment. They are great for use in hospitals, schools, government buildings and all places where large groups of people congregate on a hard floor surface. They were soon discovered to be of great use in cleaning factory floors and other large buildings. As the popularity of the automatic floor scrubber grew, so did the complexity of the machines. Constant improvements by manufacturers were made to make the machines more maneuverable, efficient, productive and easier to use for the operator.

Since the first automatic floor scrubbers were fairly simple, the required maintenance was necessary but easy to perform. Clean out the tanks. Clean the brushes. Clean the squeegee assembly and the squeegees and you were pretty much done. There were possibly a few grease fittings to lubricate on a routine basis but that was all.

The scrub brushes were raised and lowered mechanically, usually either with a hand lever or a foot pedal. The operator would let up on the foot pedal to lower the brushes to the floor and push down to raise the brushes from the floor. This was a really simple lever action mechanical system that required very little maintenance. The squeegee mechanism used the same principle. Move a lever to one side with your hand and the floor squeegee lowered, move the lever back and the floor squeegee raised. Once again very little maintenance required.

Solution was dispensed through a mechanical valve that was opened and closed by the operator. The solution valve lever was usually located conveniently next to the operator’s hand to slide forward or back as he needed more or less water. This lever operated a cable that was attached to the solution valve above the brushes. Outside of an occasional corrosion issue after 10 years or so this was very reliable.

The vacuum motor that was used to remove the dirty water from the floor was operated by one switch on the dashboard. On or Off, that was it.

The first machines used the weight and pressure of the brushes to propel the machine forward so very little maintenance was required. There was no drive motor to worry about.  You can still find some brush driven scrubbers today but most are powered by drive motors forward and reverse.

So you can see, when I get a request for a service call today, the reasons why haven’t changed a whole lot. The scrubber isn’t putting down water, it’s not picking up water, it’s not cleaning the floor properly or it’s not moving forward or reverse. These are the issues we hear most often. As the machines continue to evolve mechanically and electronically they become more complicated to service. They are also much more ergonomic, easier to use and produce less stress on the operator.

When purchasing an automatic floor scrubber, please take these aspects into consideration. Scrubbers are made to pick up all the dirt on the floors most people want to avoid. This dirt has to go somewhere and that is the inside the machine. They must be cleaned out on a routine basis to perform well. The four areas we addressed here are the most commonly heard issues for maintenance. Take care of these and you’ll get longer life out of your new purchase.

A good preventative maintenance program will help you prevent these problems and have less down time. Effective preventative maintenance has two big components; scheduled maintenance calls by a trained professional (monthly, quarterly, or semiannually depending on your needs) and daily routine maintenance done by you and your team.

For more details about our preventative maintenance program and service department please visit this page. Also be sure to check back or subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss parts 2 through 5 of this mini blog series on common problems with automatic floor scrubbers!

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The Importance of Preventative Maintenance on Your Auto Scrubber

Automatic Floor Scrubbers live in dirt. They are designed to suck up all the dirt and debris and contaminants that most other types of equipment are designed to avoid. This dirt gets everywhere. Most of it goes where it is designed to and ends up in the recovery water tank. However, because these machines work in water, the dirt also sticks to the inside of hoses, feed lines, filters, control valves, float assemblies, spray jets, squeegees, wheels, drive assemblies and a variety of other places.

These machines must be maintained if they are to continue functioning properly. I hear a lot of people say when they purchase a new machine that they don’t need a maintenance agreement. The new scrubber is under warranty and they can maintain it themselves in the meantime. The issue I’ve seen for over 30 years is that they never seem to have the time for the required periodic maintenance and they don’t realize the warranty coverage from almost all manufacturers does not cover routine maintenance. Warranties from manufacturers cover defects in material and workmanship. So, if the scrubber runs well when it is delivered, it becomes difficult to claim a defect after many hours of use when the machine is covered in dirt and debris and hasn’t been properly cleaned, inspected or maintained.

The average life of an automatic scrubber is approximately 7 years. With proper care they can last 10 years or more. It just makes sense when you consider the several thousand dollar investment, that the equipment be properly maintained.

A good periodic maintenance program will list many crucial areas to be inspected on a routine basis. A good rule to follow for preventative maintenance is every 100 hours or every 90 days. Perform the basic inspections to keep the machine in good running order. These include checking, repairing or replacing hoses, filters, linkages, grease fittings, drive motors, brush motors, vacuum motors, actuator motors, LCD displays, switches, solenoids, squeegees, and batteries are just some of the items that need routine inspection. Anything that moves or comes in contact with water or cleaning chemical needs to be cleaned.

Daily and weekly maintenance is something that needs constant attention. Check out this infograph for daily automatic scrubber maintenance. Batteries need to be checked, tested and filled at least on a weekly basis. Brooms, brushes, squeegees, solution and recovery tanks and debris trays need to be cleaned daily. At the end of every day wipe down the machine to remove any standing water that may promote corrosion or wear.

The importance of periodic maintenance on equipment that lives in dirt and water cannot be emphasized enough. The best place to start is by requesting a service inspection from your local expert cleaning equipment distributor. Most good local cleaning equipment distributors have the expertise and can inspect and maintain a variety of different brands, makes and models.

Contact us at the Rhiel Supply Company and we will be able to service your equipment on a timely and routine basis. We provide all the reports necessary for good record keeping. If you are outside our service area we can provide the name of a servicing distributor in your area.

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Is an Automatic Floor Scrubber Right for You?

Thinking about purchasing an automatic floor scrubber? There are a lot details to think about. Not just the construction and reliability but also maneuverability, coverage, the floor surface being scrubbed, type of debris being removed from the floor and budget requirements. A person can damp mop about 5,000 square feet of floor area in an hour.  Automatic floor scrubbers can do 5 times that and more and be an essential part of your floor cleaning program.

Cleaning a floor is labor intensive. Automatic scrubbers can increase productivity, reduce labor hours, increase efficiency, and clean better than a mop. Up to 90% of the cost of cleaning is labor. Everything you can do to reduce this cost affects your budget. The one time cost of a floor scrubber can easily be justified by the savings in labor. The larger the facility, the larger the savings in labor.

If you’re not sure which machine may be right for your application, remember this, the machine with the lowest price tag is not necessarily the best machine for the job. Look at the Return on Investment (ROI). Even though it may be more expensive, a larger machine capable of cleaning much larger areas may be a better investment. The larger the coverage area, the greater the productivity and efficiency and the bigger the savings in labor.

To determine the ROI is a relatively simple process. Divide the Cost of the machine by the monthly labor savings. For example, if the equipment cost is $8,000.00 and the monthly labor savings is $1500.00, divide $8,000 by $1500. The result means you will have the machine paid for in a little over 5 months. The typical lifespan of an automatic scrubber is approximately 7 years. If well cared for the life span can reach 10 years. That means you will be saving $1500.00 per month in labor for the next 9.5 years. That’s a labor savings of $171,000.00 over 10 years on an $8,000.00 investment. Once you realize how much you can save in labor you may be able to justify an even larger scrubber, or you may be able to add additional equipment to do an even better job cleaning and add to the labor savings.

Make sure you are selecting the right machine for the job. This is a long term investment and selecting the wrong equipment may be something you have to live with for a long time.

Determining the right scrubber for your application is only the first step in the process. Now you must determine where to purchase it. For most facilities finding an expert local distributor is the way to go. Local distributors typically have multiple lines of equipment from which to choose. They also have experts in the floor care industry and the local parts and service departments to back up the equipment after the purchase. Make sure to have a representative complete an in depth facility survey that takes into consideration all of your issues and concerns. Local distributors can then demonstrate the scrubbers that will do the best job and stay within your budget requirements.

For more information on the proper selection of an automatic floor scrubber contact us at the Rhiel Supply Company. We can help with expert knowledge, state of the art equipment, facility surveys and equipment demonstrations.

Informed Buyer's Guide to Automatic Floor Scrubbers