A reader writes: “Can you recommend a good HWE (Hot Water Extractor) unit? Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.”

As to recommending a carpet extractor brand, I do not have a lot of recent firsthand experience but always recommend you try to select a local distributor that represents one or more good lines of equipment. Since companies are merging by the day, I have a hard time tracking who does what. Many of the old names are either gone or gobbled up by other companies.

That said, here are 12 tips I do have when selecting equipment:

  1. I recommend you try to stay with the same product line, when possible, to have some standardization.
  2. Durability and support service (think providing loaners) is very important.
  3. Don’t hesitate to negotiate a service warranty as part of the cost.
  4. Be sure you get proper training/support on use/maintenance, etc.
  5. Get units that can not only clean carpet but also clean RR tiles and other areas when appropriate. This may mean additional tool purchases.
  6. Do not go with lead acid batteries unless you know they are allowed to be stored in your buildings.
  7. Look at productivity for the various types while taking into account the type areas to be serviced. For example, if you are conducting route work at a lot of smaller accounts you may need a fairly light unit that can be ramped on/off a van. If you can leave the unit in a large account (think 100,000 SF +) then consider a rider or a large self-propelled unit.
  8. Conduct an ROI (Return on Investment) with each unit to determine how long it will take to pay for itself compared to what you are currently doing and to other systems. If the numbers don’t make sense then you may be on the wrong model.
  9. If you have enough SF in small accounts and have access, consider a used truck mounted unit that can not only clean carpet but also clear RR floors, etc. while on site.
  10. Also, give serious consideration to an encapsulation system that can clean with less moisture and extend the times between HWE (hot water extraction) in many cases.
  11. Closely review the wording in the contract specifications and either clarify or simply go by the letter of the specs since you can get dinged for not being in compliance due to uninformed, legalistic customers who do not understand technology.
  12. If you can delay purchasing, I highly recommend you attend one or more of the conventions and trade shows conducted each year to check out all the offerings.

Remember it is all about the labor expended (think wages/benefits x total labor hours) that will make or break any system.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.