This guide is meant to help consumers make informed decisions about buying ride on, walk behind, auto scrubbers (also spelled autoscrubbers), floor machines, carpet cleaners, sweepers and other floor cleaning machines. These machines can clean tile, concrete, hardwood, carpet, linoleum  vinyl floor, rubber floor, ceramic tile and virtually all surfaces.  One autoscrubber will take the job of three tools: The mop bucket, floor buffer, and wet vac an autoscrubber does all three jobs in one pass. Keep Clean Products is a great friendly resource for those that are looking for more information in Southern California, but we also want to help others not in the area by providing this guide detailing what to look for in an their floor cleaning machine.  This guide will appear as a 7 part series.

Part I 

Accessibility of parts

1. Recovery and Solution Tanks

  •  How accessible is the recovery tank for cleaning?  If an operator forgets to empty the floor machine and it sits for several days the sediment settles and creates a sludge which can be difficult to remove clean.
    • Ex. Tomcat autoscrubbers have a bathtub like recovery tank which makes it easy to rinse out using a hose or even the optional sprayer jet attachment (see Fig. 2)
    • Tomcat Magnum Autoscrubber

      Fig. 1 Picture of the recovery tank in a Tomcat Machine

  • Can the solution tank be easily emptied to change chemical types, i.e. from stripper to neutral cleaner?
    • Ex. Most autoscrubbers have a clear tube that shows how much solution is in the tank.  The tube can easily be removed to empty the solution tank. Clean your concerete warehouse, empty solution and change the pads to then clean your hardwood floor!
    • Clean Solution Level Indictor

      Ref. 2 Clean solution level indicator / drain on the Tomcat MiniMag

  • Is there a view window in the recovery tank? (See Fig. 1) If foam builds in the recovery tank it will be sucked into the vacuum motor, which dramatically shortens the life of the vac motor ($300+ expense) Some machines have “De-misting Chambers”, which in theory creates separation between the vacuum intake and the recovered solution, however, most have limited effectiveness, foam doesn’t dissipate fast enough as more is created during solution recovery.
    Why does foam occur in autoscrubbers? 
    1.  The wrong cleaner; autoscrubbers require a “low foam” detergent, some cleaners produce high foam, even at low dilution rates.
    2. Too much detergent for the level of soils on the floor.  A view window (Fig. 1) allows the operator to react and either empty the machine or add a defoamer, rather than blindly operating the machine and sucking foam and dirt debris through the vacuum motor to the detriment of its longevity and vacuum power!

2. Working and electrical components accessibility

How accessible are the major working components?  All  floor automatic scrubbing machines will have these parts: Vacuum motor, brush motor(s), clean solution filter (does it have a filter?), batteries, electric switches and components.  The easier these parts are to reach will make them easier to replace if the time ever comes.
  • Ex. Tomcat machines excel in this area. Note in the picture how everything is easily accessible.  This feature can cut your service call expense in half.
  • Exposed working components

    Fig. 3 Exposed working parts on the Tomcat MiniMag

3. Brush and pad holder accessibility 

Brush and pad holder accessibility and changing.  How accessible is the brush/pad driver.  How easy is it to remove and replace.  Some machines have a rubber or plastic shroud which protects the scrub head and contains solution under the brush.  In many cases the shroud is difficult to remove, limiting operator accessibility.  Brushes or pad drivers should be stored in the “Up” position, preventing undue bending of the bristles!  Likewise pads should be inspected frequently to make sure they are in good condition, a worn pad will not protect the pad holder from damage, and may damage the floor. There will be another installment in part VI explaining the difference between disc and cylindrical brush styles.



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