Regularly maintaining your sealcoat machine will ensure it lasts 20-30 years and is ready to perform when you need it. But maintenance doesn’t have to be a drain on your uptime.
Minimize maintenance with these tips.
Daily: Clean the Filter Basket & Rinse the Pump
As a key component to sealcoat mix, sand can collect quickly in the filter basket, reducing the machine’s performance. If it goes long enough without being emptied, the machine may not even operate. This is why cleaning the filter basket once a day is imperative to the unit’s performance.
A unit with a diaphragm pump will need to be rinsed daily to avoid the risk of the sealcoat breaking down the rubber. Skipping this step can reduce a diaphragm pump’s life by 50 percent. Piston pumps, however, which are on all Neal Manufacturing units, just need to be rinsed out before long-term storage or freezing temperatures arrive.
Weekly: Agitate Materials
If you’re not using your equipment at least once per week, it’s important to agitate the materials to keep the solids from settling. The longer you wait to agitate materials, the more energy and time is required to blend them into an appropriate suspension.
Monthly: Check Grease and Fluids
Be sure hydraulic fluid is at the appropriate level. Also, grease bearings and agitators, if needed, to minimize wear as well as enhance performance and longevity.
Annually: Replace Filters
Replace the hydraulic fluid and filter once a year since, as you use the machine, hydraulic fluid builds up heat. When you turn the unit off, the cooling process creates condensation, which then combines with the hydraulic fluid. Even with proper filter changes and keeping the fluid clean, this water builds up over time and reduces the hydraulic fluid’s lubrication properties. This causes excessive wear on the components, including the hydraulic pump and hydraulic cylinder, which can cost as much $1,800 to $2,000 each to replace. Thirteen gallons of hydraulic fluid and a filter cost less than $100, so taking a moment to replace the fluid can save you quite a bit of time and money.
End of Sealcoating Season: Prep for Storage
If you live in an area with four distinct seasons, be sure to prep your sealcoat machine for storage. This includes thoroughly cleaning the tank. Because the tank is round, the agitator can only hit so many areas, which leaves some material that hardens over time and can chunk off and get into the mix when you’re ready to start the unit up again. Remove stuck-on material with a putty knife. This may be easiest during colder temperatures since the material will become more brittle.
Before temperatures dip below freezing, remove the drain plugs from the filters and allow any water to drain out. Be sure to rinse the pump out before long-term storage. It’s also a good idea to suck a bit of antifreeze or oil into the material pump, which will prevent rust while the machine is in storage.
When you’re ready to get the machine back up and running for the spring, lubricate bearings and agitators, check hoses, connections and fittings and ensuring nuts and bolts are tight.
As a sealcoating contractor, your machine is your lifeblood. Treat it well and it will be your best ally for success for many years to come.