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Laundry Maintenance and Repairs: Are You Equipped? (Part 2)

Basic service tips for today’s common equipment

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: With an understanding that not all machines are alike, what are some basic service tips you can offer for the following:

WASHER

Nick Koukourakis Senior Product Development Manager Maytag® Commercial Laundry

It’s important to follow the recommended maintenance schedule provided in the machine’s installation guide to help prevent unnecessary repairs and downtime. Be sure to leave the loading door open during extended periods of non-use to allow the wash drum to dry out. It is also helpful to check washer hose attachments for leaks and loose connections, and to clean out soap dispensers on a regular basis to help prevent buildup.

Shannon Rose Commercial Technical Service Manager Continental Girbau

Top-load washers sometimes like to move out of position, referred to as “walking.” They need to be re-leveled, which is accomplished by adjusting the front legs and tightening the lock nuts. Then reset the back self-leveling legs by momentarily tilting the washer forward and off the rear legs and then tilting it back. To completely eliminate walking, install a floor track channel for the rear legs to sit in.

Fill times should be observed every three months to determine if the fill rate is acceptable and confirm that the water fill screens are not plugged.

Remove the front panel once a year and inspect the condition of the drive belt.

As for front loaders, the same “walking” issue that affects top loaders can occur, and the same procedure I described can be done to ensure the machine doesn’t walk.

The top dispensers should be cleaned regularly.

Cleaning the front seal with a mild soap and water solution will reduce any potential odors and ensure the front door seal makes proper contact with the front of the machine. This will reduce the likelihood of door leaks.

Tony Berton Field Service Manager Alliance Laundry Systems

A top loader and front loader are generally the same items. Check that fill valve screens are in place and clean. Check for leaks and cracks on hoses. On the front-load washers, inspect and clean the door seal area.

Clean the machines and edges properly, and remove dirt buildup (presentation to the customer is key for customer retention). Check the cylinder for debris or excessive dirt from prior use.

I also suggest that owners/staff listen to washers, especially when the equipment is new. All equipment generates some noise, of course, and if you’re a seasoned laundry owner, you become accustomed to the hum of equipment working. But even with all the kids running and yelling in the laundry, you can tune in on listening to your equipment, which might provide some valuable insight:

“When the washer was filling, the water used to be strong and the machine would fill within two minutes, but now it’s slow and takes forever to fill.” At this point, check your screens at the fill valve.

“I hear a thumping noise during spin on my top load.” It’s time to pull the front panel and see what’s happening on the belt against the idler. Or is the main pulley loose?

Russ Cooper Manager of Technical Support Dexter Laundry

For front loaders, there should be daily cleaning of cabinet and door glass gaskets; annual cleaning of drain valves and pressure switch tubes; annual cleaning of water inlet screens; and annual vacuuming of areas inside of the washer to remove lint and debris, including the cleaning of inverter drive cooling fins and/or fans.

DRYER

Rose: If your clothes are not drying properly or if the laundry is really dusty, you might have a ventilation issue. To dry any linen, you need airflow and heat. Many times laundries associate the improper drying of linen to lack of heat, when actually it is an airflow problem. If there is a ventilation concern, refer to the equipment’s installation manual for the proper ducting and/or static pressure reading.

Berton: Be sure (the exhaust is) clean and maintained properly. Make sure the cylinders are clean. Clean the air filters; damaged ones should be replaced. Same as the top loader and front loader, keep an ear open for the hum.

Cooper: There is daily cleaning of the cabinet and lint screen; replacing any screens that are torn or permanently clogged; monthly vacuuming of lint from the surfaces and areas behind the dryer; and annual cleaning and lint removal of the internal ducting of the dryer, dampers, and burner chambers.

Koukourakis: Conduct standard checks on wearable items such as belts and seals. Make sure seals on panels and doors are in good condition. Test the machine to ensure that it is performing and working as designed. Cleaning both the interior and exterior of the equipment is also important, from the lint screens to the tumblers.

Work with an authorized service representative to regularly clean the dryer or tumbler every year. Cleaning schedules, including that of lint screens, may vary depending on machine use and are up to an owner to establish, but should be regular.

MONEY-HANDLING EQUIPMENT

Cooper: Coin drops should be blown out with compressed air on a monthly basis to dislodge lint and debris, especially on dryers. More intensive cleaning may be required if the drop stops functioning.

Rose: Dust is the usual culprit for issues related to money handling. Use only a light soap-and-water mixture to clean non-electronic money-handling equipment. Never use any lubrication on these devices, as doing so will cause more problems.

SOAP VENDER

Rose: It is important to follow the pump and chemical manufacturers’ PM program/suggestions. Many chemical pumps are systolic pumps. These pumps apply pressure to squeeze tubes that pushes the chemical from the dispenser to the washing machine. They also prevent excess chemical from dripping into the machine when not in use. Over time, those squeeze tubes can become hardened and may not pinch as they were designed to. As a result, chemical will drip into the washer. This undiluted chemical can cause premature failure of components. Using drip loops and installing the pumps/reservoirs below the distributor manifold will reduce this likelihood.

Q: What kind of regular maintenance do today’s advanced equipment controls require, if any?

Berton: Advanced equipment actually does not require maintenance. One clear benefit with advanced controls is the integration of equipment maintenance tips and suggestions right on the screen. There’s no need to look up manuals—it’s all there.

Cooper: The controls themselves should not require maintenance other than general lint removal once a year. The most important factor is to set the machines up properly at installation. This includes measuring voltage at the location and setting the control transformers accordingly. It is also recommended that surge suppression and transient voltage suppression is used at the main power panels to protect all the downline electronics at your location. This can be one of the best insurance policies that you can buy.

Rose: We recommend that any owners or service technicians know how to perform the test mode on our equipment; all Girbau-built equipment has a test mode that will help you troubleshoot 95% of the problems that you might encounter on your piece of equipment. Videos explaining this mode can be found on our company website and YouTube page.

In Thursday’s conclusion: Can you tell when a store doesn’t have a good preventative maintenance program in place?