Unlike vacuums, carpet extractors typically represent a large capital expense. They can cost many thousands of dollars, so facility cleaning managers are very keen to avoid expensive repairs or, worse, replacement.

But, like vacuums, routine extractor maintenance is simple. Whether departments use self-contained, wanded or truck-mounted units, workers should set aside 10 to 15 minutes each time the machine is used to:
• Unscrew the jets across the front of the machine and run vinegar and hot water through them until water comes out in a full fan pattern.
• Drain and rinse the tanks, making sure the float valve is clean and moving properly.
• Clean and rinse hoses, brushes and filters.
• Remove clean brushes and store them so they aren’t flattened out on the floor.

Failing to routinely perform these tasks can result in clogged jets that leave streaks on the floor, smelly tanks that can spread dangerous bacteria, and overworked motors that lose suction or can even catch on fire.

“About 80 percent of the repairs we do are because machines are dirty or clogged, or the batteries aren’t maintained,” says Allen. “There’s nothing worse than having a week of downtime during the busiest time of the year because you didn’t do some simple maintenance. Avoid that by having a plan.”

Simple maintenance, smart storage, and not abusing the machine can extend the life of an extractor from two years to as many as 10.

“If you treat an extractor poorly and don’t do the routine maintenance work, you’ll be calling people like us to fix them and that can get very expensive,” Rothstein says. “It takes a lot to kill an extractor, but if the body or motor get damaged, you might as well buy a new one because of how much it would cost to rebuild it.”

Maintenance is negligible for other carpet care equipment. On an encapsulation machine, simply keep the brushes clean. With a dehumidifier, after each use, just empty, rinse and wipe out the tank to avoid bacteria growth. For an air mover, occasionally grease the bearings and check cords and switches for damage.