Some people have concerns that wide-area vacuums do not clean as effectively as their smaller counterparts. This was true in the past. Large-area vacuums were initially outdoor sweepers that were brought indoors with few, if any, modifications. They were good at removing surface soil and debris but did not deep clean because there was no vacuum system. Later iterations did include vacuum motors but the performance still left something to be desired. 

If contractors are going to pay a significant sum of money for new equipment, they are going to demand that it works. Today, modern wide-area vacuums are quite efficient. Some models feature dual one-horsepower vacuum motors combined with separate powerful brush motors. Certain models feature motors that create 195 CFM and closed waterlift of 45 inches. New brushes are made from durable nylon. They turn at more than 1,500 rpm and aggressively groom the carpet fibers allowing soil to be easily removed. 

These modern machines have superior design features such as a compact profile that shortens the travel distance for the soil to reach the filter bag. And the newer models are quiet — most operate between 66 and 68 decibels.

Indoor air quality is also addressed by using a multiple stage filtration system. Quite a few machines offer optional HEPA filters as well.

A new addition to the wide-area vacuum market that even further improves productivity is the battery-operated riding machine. This equipment is available in models that vacuum up to 28-inch swaths. Rider models usually have double cleaning brushes that rotate in opposite directions. Additionally, most are equipped with side brooms that allow cleaning right up against walls. Optional hose and wand attachments make it possible for the operator to clean baseboards and overhead spaces without dismounting.

These rider vacuums are surprisingly quiet with decibel levels in the same range as electric walk-behind models. Most vacuums feature built in maintenance free batteries and on-board chargers. HEPA filters are standard on most machines, as are large capacity collection bags.

The most important benefit is, of course, increased productivity. Riding vacuums can clean between 30,000 and 45,000 square feet per hour. Assuming a 30,000 feet per hour production rate and $10 labor rate, the cost to clean 100,000 square feet is reduced to about $33 dollars. 

Payment Options 

Building service contractors should have a discussion with their equipment supplier about creative ways to pay for the equipment in order to better manage cash flow. Suppliers may offer 90 days same as cash, six-month interest free, or other staggered payment plans. Be sure to ask because distributors do not always make these offers up front as a part of their quotation. 

Leasing is another viable option that almost every supplier offers. Leasing offers BSCs the ability to pay for equipment over longer time periods (typically 12 to 60 months), plus the payments can often be deducted in the current accounting cycle rather than amortized over a longer time. The dollar buy-out provision enables purchasers to own the equipment outright at the end of the lease period.
Louie E. Davis Jr. is a san/jan industry veteran and freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala.  

next page of this article:
Investing in a wide-area vacuum may help BSCs retain cleaning frequencies