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Laundry Maintenance and Repairs: Are You Equipped? (Part 1)

Most general upkeep requires no training but leave electronics, heavy-duty jobs to professionals

CHICAGO — Not every equipment matter may require a service call, so it’s important that a store owner/operator understands what they’re able to maintain and repair on their own and what tasks they should leave to a professional. American Coin-Op asked some equipment manufacturer reps to weigh in on equipment maintenance and repairs.

Q: What equipment maintenance tasks should a laundry’s personnel be able to do without contacting a distributor or repair service for assistance?

Tony Berton Field Service Manager Alliance Laundry Systems

That’s relative to a person’s mechanical experience and laundry experience. Alliance Laundry Systems offers troubleshooting guides on equipment to assist with repairs.

Russ Cooper Manager of Technical Support Dexter Laundry

General maintenance such as cleaning, vacuuming and basic lubrication can all be accomplished by untrained personnel. There are also a number of easy service items that can be handled by the owner or someone else at the store. Service on drain valves, pressure switch hoses, water valves, and even some smaller “no heat” issues on dryers can all be accomplished with very little technical knowledge and basic tools.

We include service videos on our website to walk owners through most of these basic procedures as well as offer lifetime technical support to those that want to tackle these items themselves. I would estimate these simple repairs comprise 75% or more of service work needed in the average store.

Nick Koukourakis Senior Product Development Manager Maytag® Commercial Laundry

Following the equipment’s recommended maintenance schedule and checklist of items outlined in the machine’s manual is the most important consideration for all maintenance tasks. Typically, the manual’s checklist will include items that do not require special tools or knowledge in order to complete, along with items that will help keep the machine running as designed.

Shannon Rose Commercial Technical Service Manager Continental Girbau

Most laundry personnel should be able to handle general and preventative maintenance. General maintenance covers the replacement of components, such as water valves, drain valves, door locks, etc. Anything related to the inverter drive or microprocessor should be left to a trained technician.

Also, laundries should adhere to a preventative maintenance program. For washers, staff should clean the area around and under washers, cabinet area, soap compartment/drawer, gravity pump drain and the door seal. For dryers, staff should clean the area around the dryer and the cylinder/drum plus remove lint from the lint compartment and screen.

Q: What maintenance or repair work is generally too advanced for the average store owner and should be left to factory-trained or qualified personnel?

Cooper: For some owners, anything involving the electrical circuits is where they start to feel uncomfortable and draw the line as to what they can service themselves. Additionally, bearing jobs, trunnion replacements and a thorough cleaning of the exhaust runs on dryers are jobs that most owners see as too labor-intensive or needing specialty tools and expertise that they may not have. These jobs are usually best left to the professionals.

Koukourakis: Some equipment and maintenance issues may require special expertise. It’s best to contact a licensed professional for electrical and gas components, for areas that require a special tool, or for a complete part replacement. It is also a good idea to consult with the authorized distributor and their factory-trained technicians anytime an owner is not sure about a maintenance or repair procedure.

Rose: The level of maintenance laundry personnel can perform is based on both their electrical and mechanical skills. These tasks can include:

  • Washers — Clean pump; remove and clean soap box; check for leaks and noise; check electro valve filters and fill hoses; clean inverter drive; check belt condition and tension; check mounting bolts (if hard-mount); tighten all cabinet bolts and screws; check for structural damage; check and clean main drain system; and verify all component operations via test program.
  • Dryers — Remove lint and debris from inside exhaust duct; check lint screen for tears and blockage; clean all limit thermostats and thermistor; clean blower fan, motor grills, and lint from all thermostats; check air flow, exhaust and belt condition; check cabinet bolts and screws; check gas and electric supply connections; remove all panels and clean dryer of lint buildup; check cylinder and panel seals, and inner panel insulation; clean burner tubes and orifices; remove cylinder and clean around rear seal and trunnion; and remove and clean burner tubes.

Generally speaking, when they get into anything electrical or mechanical, they should contact their local dealer.

Berton: Experience and knowledge play a factor on this issue. A seasoned laundry owner can possibly do many repairs by themselves. For larger projects like a complete breakdown of a washer-extractor for bearing and seal replacement, owners tend to lean on distributors for assistance.

In Part 2 coming Tuesday: Basic service tips for today's laundry equipment