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9 Reasons Your Cleaning Machine May Not Be Working Optimally—and How to Fix It

February 14, 2024 10:11 AM by Tennant Company

Posted in Staffing & Personnel Cleaning Solutions Sustainability Best Practices

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If a commercial or industrial floor cleaning machine malfunctions, it not only poses a challenge for your cleaning crew, but also carries the potential for costly repairs or even the need to replace the machine entirely. For managers and machine operators, understanding how to diagnose and troubleshoot signs of poor performance helps to prevent costly machine downtime, repairs or replacement.

We interviewed Chance Aldrich, a tenured member of Tennant’s service team, to identify 9 reasons why commercial cleaning machines may not be working optimally and paired each with effective troubleshooting approaches you can take to ensure machines operate at peak performance.

1. Clogged vacuum hose

The problem: Operators can tell if a machine has a clogged vacuum hose by how well it absorbs water. If their machine isn’t picking up water as well as it usually does, there is likely a blockage in the vacuum hose or the machine isn’t properly set up.

Preventative measures: To prevent inefficient work, make sure operators clean out the hose before each use. Also, ensure the drain hose cap is securely fastened, so the entire vacuum system works correctly.

2. Tripped circuit breaker

The problem: If your operators notice that only one side of the cleaning machine is working, the issue is likely a tripped circuit breaker. An indicator for a tripped breaker is when a white button is popped, showing red.

Preventative measures: To avoid a tripped breaker and disruptions in your machine’s functionality, make sure your team regularly inspects and resets the circuit breaker as part of their machine maintenance. If the circuit breaker continues to trip, there is most likely a larger problem that operators must deal with. Have your operators refer to the operator manual if it continues to happen.

3. Brush bind-up

The problem: It’s normal for the cleaning brush to pick up things like wrapping from pallets, mechanical wire and other debris. However, if too much becomes entangled in the brush, the scrubber or sweeper won’t work properly and can lead to more significant issues later down the road.

Preventative measures: To get the most out of your floor cleaning machine and avoid motor damage, have your operators check and clean the brush each time they use it. Over time, if the brush isn’t cleaned, it will kill the machine’s motor. This is particularly important for hydraulic-run motors since repairs are costly.

4. Worn down brushes and squeegees

The problem: If an operator notices a brush or squeegee is missing areas of the floor when cleaning, the issue is most likely that one—or both—of them are worn-down.

Preventative measures: An operator can lengthen the lifespan and improve the performance of a squeegee by using all 4 edges for cleaning.  By rotating the squeegee and using all 4 usable sides, you’ll need to replace it less. As for brushes, operators must pay attention to bristle length by checking the yellow brush indicator before and after each machine use. If the bristles are past the yellow line, a replacement is necessary.

5. Cleaning under the machine

The problem: Often, the parts of the machine that go unchecked are the parts your operators don't see regularly. They’re also the ones that can create the most frustrating issues. In this case, not cleaning underneath the machine can lead to debris buildup or worn-down brushes.

Preventative measures: Have your cleaning operators create a simple yet thorough checklist of what to inspect underneath the machine with each use. This will prevent larger operational problems down the line.

6. Smelly solution tanks

The problem: If the machine operator notices an unpleasant odor when using the machine, it’s likely due to a dirty solution tank.

Preventative measures: Make sure your team cleans out the solution tanks to prevent unpleasant odors from happening. Before or after a cleaning operator uses the machine, they can clean the tank with a spray bottle of soap or vinegar to keep the tank smelling fresh.

7. Debris tray build-up

The problem: We get it. It’s easy to let a debris tray fill up. But the longer operators wait to empty it, the messier the problem. If a tray is at capacity, it won’t take in any more debris and won’t effectively clean the space your operators are working on cleaning.

Preventative measures: To prevent debris tray buildup, operators can easily (and quickly) clean the tray before and after each machine use.

8. Blocked solution filters

The problem: If an operator notices that no water is coming out of the solution filter, something is likely blocking it.

Preventative measures: Avoid clogged solution filters by having your operators routinely check for filter blockage and clean the filter before each use.

9. Scrub brush hose

The problem: Like the vacuum hose, the scrub brush hose won’t work properly if a lot of debris builds up inside of it. When this happens, gunk accumulates in the hose and can turn rock hard causing a much bigger problem.

Preventative measures: To prevent this problem, operators must clean out the scrub brush hose with each use. While it might seem tedious, this practice prevents build-up from occurring over time and keeps your machines running smoothly.

Make the manual your cleaning operators’ best friend

Tennant equipment manuals are an incredibly valuable tool that work alongside our cleaning machines. Manuals provide comprehensive machine information, allow for easier troubleshooting and a better understanding of the equipment’s intricacies. If your operators lose or damage the physical copy, they can access the digital manual via the Resource Center.

Embracing a proactive approach to your floor cleaning routine ensures smoother operations and maximizes the life and efficiency of your machines. When your team invests time to address common issues and implement preventative measures, machine operators can significantly reduce downtime, increase the lifespan of the machine’s components, and optimize cleaning performance.


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