Even with a preventative maintenance program in place, parts wear out and machines malfunction. Fortunately there are clues BSCs can look for that might indicate it’s time for a service call or replacement.

One of the most obvious signs of a problem is a color change in the diluted chemical.

“If you’re filling your mop bucket or spray bottle and it’s typically a clear solution with a tinge of pink or blue, but now it’s completely clear, it’s probably an issue,” says Parker. “The chemical’s probably not coming out. Or on the flip side, if it’s all suds there’s something wrong with the dilution ratio.”

According to Bergholtz, color changes could indicate a blocked hose.

“If the product’s usually bright blue, and you notice the color is a lighter shade of blue, you could be getting one ounce a gallon instead of two,” he says. “Maybe the hose is clogged, and it’s not siphoning enough of the product out.” 

In addition to watching for color changes, BSCs should take stock of how often chemicals need to be replenished.

“If the chemical proportioner’s used regularly it should be inspected quarterly,” says Engoren. “If custodians aren’t changing the concentrates that’s a hint that something’s wrong. If it lasts too long, the product’s not being consumed, so they need to look at the dispensing equipment to see why it’s not coming out.”

A decline in the quality of work could be evidence of improper dilution ratios.

“If the appearance of the building is becoming more difficult to upkeep, BSCs should look at their cleaning solutions to see if they’re using the right proportions,” says Engoren.

Operator error could also be to blame for inaccurate dilutions, Parker says.

“There’s definitely user error,” says Parker. “They could be hitting the wrong button and filling a spray bottle with the dilution rate for a mop bucket, or vice versa.”

Educating end users will help them avoid some of these errors, as well as recognize potential problems that could lead to machine malfunctions. Training custodians about the importance of accurate dilution rates will also dispel the myth that more is better.

“Sometimes people who are cleaning have the mentality that if I use more I’ll get the job done quicker and that’s not the case,” says St. Lawrence. “For example, these units come with metering tips, and it’s amazing how many times you find people have gone in and taken out the tip completely. There’s a thought process that if a little bit’s good then a lot will be better. That’s a fallacy because you’re no longer using the correct dilution to do the cleaning and you’re using more chemical.”

Fortunately St. Lawrence is seeing fewer instances of janitors tampering with chemical proportioners, thanks to distributors’ increased efforts to educate end users.

“We’ve really tried to point out to people that removing metering tips doesn’t mean you’re doing the job quicker, you’re just using more chemicals,” he says. “There’s a better understanding of cost nowadays. People are looking at proportioners because they want to use the right amount of chemical to keep their costs in line.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C.

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Tips For Removing Build-up In Chemical Dispensers