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

What is the proper way to vacuum a room?

When vacuuming large areas, it is advisable to use a wider upright vacuum that has one-pass cleaning ability, such as a dual-motor upright. Vacuum in long overlapping parallel rows. When vacuuming small areas, a back and forth motion is more practical, radiating out from one point. Take one step forward, planting that foot. Then move forward and backward with the other foot a number of times in several directions until the area is vacuumed. This is the least fatiguing method.
Bob Abrams, product manager, Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn.

When vacuuming a large area with a backpack vacuum, technique is critical for optimum speed and performance. Rather than pushing the vacuum head back and forth, like an upright, use your core muscles and twist, sweeping the lightweight aluminum wand like a windshield wiper. Twist at the waist, moving the arms and shoulders as little as possible. Sweep the wand, step forward, and sweep it back. With this technique, the backpack vacuum can clean three times faster than a commercial upright.
Jacalyn High, director of marketing, ProTeam, Boise, Idaho

To properly vacuum any size area, begin by walking through and picking up clutter and any debris bigger than a penny. Start from the corner and use a slow, overlapping front-to-back sequence over the entire area.
David Parkes, general manager, Sanitaire, Charlotte, N.C.

Start by vacuuming the main area with a vacuum that is appropriate for that specific area. High soil load areas will need a vacuum with a brush bar to agitate the soil from the carpet. Whether you use a single motor (one motor driving the brush and creating the suction) or a dual-motor vacuum (a motor dedicated to driving the brush and another dedicated to creating suction) these areas need concentrated vacuuming. High soil load areas will vary by facility but here are some common areas to look for:

• The first 40 feet inside entries
• Elevators
• Outside restrooms
• Carpeted stairwells
• Areas that transition from hard surface to carpet
• Congregation points such as nurses stations and copiers

High soil load areas are the front line in your battle against soil and the damage it will cause to your floors. If soil is allowed to accumulate in these areas it will not only damage the carpet, it will spread further into the facility.

However, once the high soil load areas have been addressed, the focus then becomes production rate and what vacuum is the fastest in the area you have to clean. To illustrate what I mean, the “ISSA 540 Cleaning Times” shows that the production rate of an upright vacuum is between 2,239 and 4,000 square feet per hour depending on the width of the vacuum and whether it is a dual-motor vacuum or single-motor vacuum. While these vacuums may not be extremely productive they do offer the best soil recovery and are ideal for use in high soil load areas.

Contrast that with the vacuums typically used in the interior portions of a facility where the soil load is not as high. Backpack vacuums are rated by the “ISSA 540 Cleaning Times” at 7,273 square feet per hour, 28-inch-wide area vacuums are rated at 10,000 square feet per hour, and stand-on vacuums offer 18,000 to 30,000 square feet of productivity per hour.

Choosing the right vacuum for areas with lower soil loads really boils down to what vacuum is right for the space being cleaned.
As always “the devil is in the details,” so be sure to finish the area with detail vacuuming along walls and other objects.
Richard “Bo” Bodo, director of business development, Windsor Industries, Englewood, Colo.

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