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Keep Your Heavy Equipment Clean

Jobsites expose your construction machines to dirt, dust, mud, grease, salt, and more every day. All that debris can collect in and on parts, contaminate the grease keeping those parts moving, and build up in areas that can cause serious machine problems and costly repairs, like joints, hydraulic systems, and electrical plugs.

Why keep equipment clean
Dirt and grime can slow down components, making your equipment less efficient, lead to unnecessary downtime due to part failure, and shorten the overall service life of your machines. Accumulated debris can damage track rollers, sand will wear down pins and bearings, and wood debris in machine enclosures can be a serious fire hazard.

In addition to preventing downtime and lengthening the life of your equipment, maintaining a clean machine also increases the safety of your team. Dirty equipment can lead to malfunctioning components or possible failure of electrical or hydraulic systems, which can present dangers to the crew operating or in the vicinity of the machine. Servicing and repairing clean equipment is also safer than with dirty equipment, because there is a smaller chance of being hit by falling debris or slipping.

Pressure wash your machines
The best way to clear dirt and debris from your equipment is to use an industrial grade pressure washer. To avoid damaging paint, electrical connections, hose connections, or labels, it's important to use a washer or nozzle that can deliver a high volume of water at a pressure below 1,200 PSI. Household pressure washers will not deliver the volume of water necessary to remove mud and other debris from a large machine at a low enough pressure, so be sure to use a unit designed for industrial applications.

Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
Anyone cleaning machines should always wear safety glasses, full length coveralls to protect their torso, arms, and legs, protective footwear, and gloves as protection from sharp edges on machines. Pressure washers can cause rocks, chunks of soil, or wood to fly off equipment and potentially cause injuries. If you are washing the machine from above with a boom lift, check your local safety regulations for working at heights. Ensure your footwear is both protective and has adequate traction, as boom platforms and other surfaces may be slippery when wet.

Watch out for electrical components
Electricity and water don't work well with one another. Electrical connections and wiring can also be damaged by high pressure water. For these reasons, it is best to not allow direct pressure water spray to come into contact with fuse boxes, electrical connectors, electronic components, wiring harnesses, or the alternator.

Radiators and coolers
Cleaning dirt and mud out of your machine's cooling system is necessary to maintain the efficient transfer and removal of heat from the radiator. However, using a sprayer that has too much pressure or a stream that is too focused could damage radiator fins or cause a coolant or oil leak. You should first preclean the system with compressed air to clear major debris, then use a low pressure setting to clean any dirt and mud from the fins and radiator.

How to clean the engine compartment
Keeping the engine compartment clear of dirt and debris is important, but you need to take certain steps to minimize the risk of damage. To avoid cracking the engine block or other components, give the engine sufficient time to cool down before washing. Because there are so many sensitive components that might be damaged, a low pressure garden hose should be used instead of a pressure washer or steam cleaner. Avoid spraying components such as the air ducts/filters, the Electronic Control Unit (ECU), alternator, and fuse boxes.?

Washing equipment between jobs keeps your crew safe and helps to ensure that costly downtime is minimized.

For further guidance on keeping your machines clean, talk to our experts today.

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