Tag Archive for: product comparisons

Choosing the Right Cleaning Equipment

When purchasing cleaning equipment to be used to clean your facility there are several factors to consider.  This applies to all types of equipment ranging from vacuum cleaners, floor machines, burnishers, and carpet extractors to larger pieces such as battery powered automatic sweepers and scrubbers.These factors include the Life cycle of the equipment, the Cost of ownership, the Production rate, and How likely your machine operators are to use it.  I will address these individually in separate articles.  If any of these factors are questionable, you are probably looking at the wrong piece of equipment for your application.

Cleaning equipment comes in many different brands, shapes, and sizes and are designed to be used in many different applications.  Many cleaning equipment manufacturing companies specialize in niche products to be used in specific applications and are unique to specific cleaning challenges.  These have to be taken into consideration when going through the purchasing process.  In any case, in most situations, equipment should be demonstrated in your facility, on the floor surface to be cleaned, by the piece of equipment you are considering for purchase.  Don’t cut corners.  Use the equipment during the demonstration the way you plan on using it once you own it.  This should eliminate any buyer’s remorse that may occur after the purchase. If you carefully plan what type of equipment you need, how it’s going to operate, how much production you will get out of it, how long it will last and ensure that it fits into your budget requirements, your expectations should be met.  Just plan your decision around the following key factors and the cleaning equipment you purchase should provide the results you want and need.


The life cycle is a pretty simple concept.  How many years do you expect to get out of a particular piece of equipment?  There is the old adage “You get what you pay for”, and that is certainly true here.  In theory, the more you pay for a machine, the longer it will last.  But this isn’t always the case.  Look at the components of a particular machine. If the components are the same, the life expectancy should be close to the same.  For example, if a floor machine has a metal triple planetary gear box, 2 capacitors, and safety locks on the handles, you’re probably looking at a decent machine.  The prices may vary by $500.00 or more.

Maybe one manufacturer will use plastic in certain areas, where another will use steel or aluminum. This may be acceptable to you, or maybe the cosmetic metal components are worth the extra price.  If you expect your equipment to withstand a lot of daily abuse, the extra money may be worth the heavier metal components.  You have to decide.  But the real question is, “How long do you want it to last?”.

If you are a private company buying an automatic scrubber who watches its bottom line you will probably say you want it to last as long as possible.  You will perform all the daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance necessary to ensure a long life.  You may be willing to pay more for a machine that lasts longer and your biggest concern is getting the best possible Return On Investment you can on the purchase.

However, if you are a contractor who has to purchase a new scrubber for a cleaning contract, price is a major issue. You may want to invest the least amount you can in a machine that has the potential to last just long enough to complete the contract.  This enables you to increase your profit margin, complete the contract, and not have to worry so much about maintenance expense.

So you see, the type and price of a machine are dependent on your anticipated life cycle.  The average life of an automatic floor scrubber is about 7 years.  But this can vary drastically.  Manufacturers who cater to contractors may build more units with a shorter life span while manufacturers who build for private industry may build equipment with a much longer life cycle.  In any event, make sure you know the type of equipment you need and the duration you will need it.

In the next 3 articles, I will address Cost of Ownership, Production Rate, and Will Operators Use It?

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at The Rhiel Supply Company, www.rhiel.com.


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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The Ultimate Scrubber Showdown: Pads vs. Brushes

Basic understanding:  As in choosing how to clean anything the same premise applies to pads and brushes.  What type of floor surface are you trying to clean and what type of dirt or debris are you trying to remove.  This is the basis for deciding whether to use pads or brushes and what type to use.  Floor pads are typically used with floor machines, burnishers, or automatic floor scrubbers.  Scrubbers operate at 175 to 300 rpm.  Burnishers operate at 1500 to 3000 rpm.  Cleaning pads are round and made to fit the diameter of the pad holder on the machine.  Hand pads are available, made with the same type of material if you have an application where a machine won’t fit.  If you are cleaning a resilient tile floor with multiple coats of finish that is already relatively clean you are going to use a light duty pad or soft fiber brush.  This will wash the floor, break away any loose dirt and not damage the finish.  If you are cleaning a pitted, uneven concrete floor imbedded with dirt, oil and grease an aggressive brush is going to be your choice.  Pads come in a variety of colors, and textures for a wide range of applications.  Brushes range from soft bristles to extremely aggressive bristles and are used for concrete, tile, carpet and other varying floor types.

Cleaning Pads:  These come in multiple colors to indicate the aggressiveness of the pad.  White for cleaning.  Red for scrubbing.  Green or Blue for deep scrubbing or top scrubbing.  Black for stripping.  The darker the color the more aggressive the pad.  White or red pads will not remove floor finish if used properly.  Green or Blue pads will remove the top layer of floor finish.  These are used for top scrubbing where you want to remove the top layer and any dirt that is imbedded in it.  You can then add another coat or two of finish to brighten the floor.  Black pads are used for completely stripping the finish from the floor.  Black pads come in regular and high productivity pads.  The high productivity pads are more expensive but they are much more productive and efficient and most often will save time and labor.  All colors of pads come in sizes to fit all floor machines or automatic scrubbers.  The standard sizes are 13”, 17” and 20” but all sizes are available to fit any size machine you may have.

Polishing Pads:  Polishing pads come in lighter colors typically tan or light pink or light blue.  Polishing pads are also known as burnishing pads.   Burnishing machines are available in electric, battery or propane powered and come in walk-behind or riding units. Polishing or burnishing pads are designed to put a brilliant shine on the floor.  Assuming there is enough floor finish to do so.  As they shine the floor it also hardens the finish to better protect it.  I have seen customers try to use red or green or blue scrubbing pads on a burnisher only to find out that is not a good idea.  The dye in the pad can bleed out if you hit a high spot on the floor and leave a colored mark in the tile.  In addition, scrubbing pads are made to be used on lower speed scrubbing machines.  They don’t hold up as well and often times come apart at high speeds.
Brushes:  Brushes come in a variety of fiber or bristle types from soft nylon to aggressive bristles with carbide steel implants.  The soft bristles can be used on resilient tile and other types of coated floor surfaces while the aggressive bristle bushes, also known as Nylo-Grit or Strata-Grit are used for pitted concrete with dirt, oil and greasy buildup.  Brushes are also better a choice in other situations like grouted tile, carpet, and other uneven and textured surfaces.  The bristles will dig into the uneven surfaces where a pad will glide over the top.  If you are using a brush for carpet you will want to break in the brush before using it.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions first on how to break in your particular brush.

Which cost more: Brushes can outlast a pad 100 to 1 in usage rate.  But they are much more expensive and require more cleaning when you are done scrubbing.  Say you are spending $3.00 each for a floor pad.  A brush used in a similar situation could cost $150.00.  At 100 to 1 you could spend $300.00 on pads versus $150.00 on a single brush.  But that isn’t the whole story.  Both pads and brushes should be cleaned out before the next use.  If you are stripping a floor, the floor finish and stripper will build up inside the pad or brush.  You should always use both sides of a pad but it can still be thrown away after using it.  Because of the investment, a brush will have to be cleaned.  The labor cost to clean out pads could far exceed the cost of the pad itself so throwing away the pad could be the least expensive option.   The labor cost to clean out a pad can become greater than the cost of the pad.  So even though brushes could be a better option long term, in some applications pads become cheaper to use because of labor costs.

Specialty Brushes:   Specialty grinding Brushes are available to put a brilliant shine on terrazzo or concrete floors using only water.  These diamond based brushes come in a series of grits from aggressive to fine and are used in a process to gain a brilliant shine on concrete or terrazzo without using a finish or coating. After using these special tools, regular brushes can be used to maintain the floors and the shine.  There are also other specialty brushes designed for use with tile and grout and other textured, uneven, or synthetic surfaces.

Specialty Pads:  Specialty pads are also being used to clean a variety of new floor surface types.  Newer, textured, uneven synthetic surfaces create a problem for floor care but newer pads are helping to maintain these surfaces.  Pads are available now to remove scuff marks and combat the buildup that occurs in grout lines on tile floors.

Stripping pads are also a newer product.  When used with the right floor scrubbing equipment these pads can remove floor finish using only water.  These pads can cover about 5,000 square feet per pad and not use any chemical stripper.

Chemicals:  The chemicals used with the pads can be as crucial to the cleaning process as the pads or brushes you use. The pads and brushes are designed to agitate but the right cleaning chemical will help emulsify the dirt and lift it from the floor.   Always use the right chemicals to remove the dirt or debris and always use it according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

As with most products, the pad and brush manufacturers are constantly making innovative designs and using newer materials to make the cleaning process easier and more cost effective.  To make sure you are using the most efficient products for your particular facility, contact us and we can assist in designing a cost effective program to maintain your facility.


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