The first step to proper floor-care machine maintenance is to read and understand the owner’s manual. This book should be considered a reference point for any questions or concerns about the machine’s performance, as it will contain a maintenance schedule and troubleshooting guide. Beyond that, there is plenty building service contractors can do to prolong the life of their floor-care machines.

Make sure operators are familiar with the machine, how it should be used and how to respond to problems. Most manufacturers will offer custom training on a newly acquired piece of equipment, and many also have fee-based extended maintenance plans that includes monthly visits from a maintenance professional.

Preventative maintenance should be happening on a daily basis, and involves simply inspecting machines and keeping them free of dust and debris. Problems detected early may take less time and money to fix, and a few simple tasks to check a machine before and after use can make a difference.

The exterior of machines also needs attention, as a clean and nice-looking piece of equipment can make a good impression on customers. Exterior cleaning can also alert users to any cracks or stains that could indicate a bigger problem, potentially preventing problems with motors, belts, wheels and air-cooled engines.

Maintenance of autoscrubbers, burnishers and buffers can be time-consuming, and because of their size and complexity, often require additional attention on a regular basis.

Pad and pad holder maintenance can be done daily, and should not be overlooked as they are critical to performance. Cylindrical and parallel brushes can be a magnet for tiny objects and should be checked regularly. Items caught in the brushes should be removed to minimize further maintenance. Squeegees not only attract debris such as lint and hair, but they are susceptible to rips and small tears that limit the tool’s effectiveness.

Joints need constant attention and should be lubricated regularly, or the machine will not run smoothly. Operators should be able to perform that task on their own, but check with the distributor or manufacturer to determine the proper type of lubricant. Watch carbon brushes in particular, as letting them deteriorate can destroy the engine. Keeping tension from cords while in use and proper coiling of cords after use are also key to preventing damage to electrical aspects of machines.

One way to ensure machines are getting the service they need is to have them checked out when other machines are in for periodic servicing.

Exerpted from the April 2006 issue of Housekeeping Solutions and the March 2007 issue of Sanitary Maintenance.