In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by building service contractors.

Is the battery powered vacuum going to become more prevalent? Why aren’t there more battery-powered vacuums on the market?

Right now there are challenges with run times and the length of time it takes to recharge batteries. This is changing quickly and we will see more products enter the marketplace in the near future.
David Parkes, general manager, Sanitaire, Charlotte, N.C.

We certainly hope so. Removing the cord and allowing cleaning crews to “go free” is an obvious way to improve productivity. However, until recently, battery technology has been a serious limiting factor in making cordless vacuums a reality. Older nickel metal hydride batteries are heavy, and by the time you stored a useable amount of energy, the pack was too heavy to use. Newer lithium ion polymer batteries store the same amount of energy but weigh up to 2.5 times less. Advances in battery technology are bringing us closer to truly “cutting the cord” with a battery that is light and long-lasting enough for commercial and industrial demands.
Jacalyn High, director of marketing, ProTeam, Boise, Idaho

Battery powered vacuums have struggled on the market primarily because they are expensive. Over time, as the cost of the battery technology comes down, battery-powered vacuums will become more prevalent. People who use them, like them a lot. They offer convenience and productivity savings.
Bob Abrams, product manager, Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn.

Battery powered vacuums will open an entirely new world of productivity when the technology is ready. As a rule of thumb anytime you untether a piece of equipment from a cord you gain about 25 to 30 percent in productivity, so making a commercial upright or backpack cordless will mean a tremendous gain for the user. The challenge is that the battery technology is not yet at the point where the batteries are light enough and provide enough run time for the vacuums to be effective.
Richard “Bo” Bodo, director of business development, Windsor Industries, Englewood, Colo.

How do you properly roll up a vacuum cord to prevent it from wearing out prematurely?

Unplug the vacuum from the wall, and then wind the cord using the cord guides and clips. The cord will work out kinks and twists, and you will extend the life of your cord.
— David Parkes, general manager, Sanitaire, Charlotte, N.C.

A vacuum cord withstands a lot of abuse and can quickly fray or short if it is allowed to twist up into knots. Extend the lifetime of your vacuum cord by rolling it up from the vacuum to the plug pushing any kinks or twists towards the plug as you go. Try to roll up the cord the same way every time you store the vacuum. Once your cord is “trained,” it should easily store without twisting.
— Jacalyn High, director of marketing, ProTeam, Boise, Idaho

One effective technique if you have a cord wrap on an upright vacuum is to wrap it in a figure-8 motion, alternating the direction of wrapping the cord. In this way, when the cord is released for use again, it will not get tangled or coiled up. Also be sure that the plug is disconnected before wrapping the cord.
Bob Abrams, product manager, Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn.

Vacuum cords “pig-tail” over time and with use; we have all seen cords that twist and curl and ultimately need to be replaced. This is due to the heat that builds up in the metal wires as electricity flows through the cord. When the cord is unplugged and the user grabs the unplugged end of the cord and begins wrapping the cord as they walk back towards the machine the “twist” that has been created by the heat is locked into the cord as it cools. The best thing to do is to unplug the machine, drop the cord, walk back to the machine, and begin wrapping the cord while standing next to the unit. This will allow the twist to work its way out of the cord as it is wrapped.

Finally, do not over-use extension cords. Most manufacturers of equipment recommend using an extension cord that is no more than approximately 50 percent of the length of the cord supplied with the machine. That means if your machine comes with a 40 foot cord you should use no more than about 20 feet of extension cord. Using longer lengths of extension cords will burn up motors in your equipment as it causes them to work much harder to draw the electricity to the unit.
Richard “Bo” Bodo, director of business development, Windsor Industries, Englewood, Colo.

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Why Janitors Should Vacuum Hard Floors and Vertical Surfaces