One-and-done seems to be the new normal now in college roundball. But when it comes to wet vacuums, there is no arguing, one-and-done is an expensive proposition when someone does not clean the equipment thoroughly after use, especially when removing floor stripping "slurry."
With almost 75 years in janitorial equipment, supply distribution and repair, we have run into many interesting uses of cleaning equipment. Some did not work out well. Our job in training and advising helps people use their automation better and for longer, and that creates improved long-term investment. We hope we always do that job well.
On occasion, however, we see some cringeworthy results. One that recurs from time to time is a ruined wet vac that was used to clear finish slurry - that concoction that forms when finish stripper and old finish combine - and not cleaned for too long after use. The result is a sort of modern day Pompeii Syndrome where the results are frozen in time awaiting archaeologists to dig them up a millenium from now.
Here are three things anyone charged with using a wet or dry vacuum to clear slurry from floors while refinishing needs to know:
1. MAKE SURE THE VACCUM IS SET UP FOR WET REMOVAL MODE
Obvious? Yes. Sometimes forgotten or not understood? Also, yes. A wet or dry vacuum is either bagged for dry or set up so the bag is removed and a "float" protects the engine and other parts when handling wet or semi-viscous materials. The equipment manual will explain any special details.
2. USE DEFOAMER AND FOLLOW LABEL ADVICE/INSTRUCTION
Slurry removal usually creates a lot of foam with embedded finish in the mix. Foam can enter the engine housing around the float before the liquid material rises high enough to shut the vacuum down. Defoaming is designed to reduce this possibility. Don't forget to apply defoamer to the hose as well. A couple of capfuls should do, but check label instructions.
3. DISASSEMBLE AFFECTED COMPONENTS AND RINSE THOROUGHLY
If rinsing is performed immediately after use, adding more stripper is not always required. If the wet vac has set for several minutes, it may be necessary to add some stripper in the tank and apply agitation with a brush in critical areas where the finish has begun setting up again. This is definitely one of those times where sooner is better than later and saves effort.
Clean the tank, hose, wand and squeegee tool. Remember that slurry can set up anywhere, so the object is to get enough water mixed in that the material is washed off of all surfaces and into appropriate mop sink or floor drain areas. Then, run a moderate amount of warm water down that drain for about seven minutes. Check city and state requirements for any other potential guidelines.