Getting entry and exit doors ready for winter is critical, but often overlooked. Doors should be inspected and maintained regularly
What to inspect
Verity says that what is critical when preparing your winter checklist and your inspection regiment is to remember to focus on vulnerabilities that cold weather can exploit. One needs to focus on making sure to keep the cold out and keeping heat inside the facility. That will include:
1. Checking power and air systems to ensure they are operating properly.
2. Inspecting and lubricating all necessary components to keep them from seizing up during cold weather.
3. Preventing compressor damage by draining it before winter arrives.
4. Inspecting, testing and fixing heating systems.
5. Checking and replacing any worn or damaged weather stripping to both prevent cold from entering the washing bay or tunnel and to keep heat inside.
After that one should take a close look at the sprayers, brushes, hoses and other mechanicals. It is best to do this in the summer months and repair or replace anything that is worn or damaged.
Tim Walker, president and founding partner with Soapy Brushy in Hamilton, Ont., also recommends inspecting all electricals and connections to ensure they are in good working order.
Verity adds that when checking those wiring and hose connections and brushes “that you make sure that you are looking at them not when they are in their ‘home’ positions, but when they are at their furthest points because that is when they are going to be pulling on your electricals the most and on your hoses as well.”
To prevent your hoses or pipes carrying fluid from freezing or bursting during the cold of winter, one should consider such measures as:
1. Insulating pipes, pumps and other vulnerable components.
2. Installing freeze-resistant hosing seals that can withstand low and freezing temperatures.
3. Installing radiant or heat tracing systems in critical areas of the wash operations to ensure a consistent temperature is maintained and to protect equipment.
Travis Braithwaite, chief operating officer with ClearWater Car Wash, adds during the winter months it is important as well to keep an eye out for any potential problems that can happen during the car wash while it operates. He says it is important to have someone do regular checks on the systems to make sure everything is working correctly. This is especially important with self-service car wash operations, such as ones that operate at gas stations.
“Gas station car washes are often unattended,” he says. “You have someone in the office dealing with the convenience side of the business and the car wash is sometimes not within eyeshot of that person. What that means is that if there is a breakdown anywhere, say in the tunnel or in the equipment room, they will not know about it until a customer comes and tells them. So, when you are running your operations, you as a manager and your staff should be walking the site and operations often to catch anything that may have ‘gone off the rails.’”
Not doing so could mean you coming to your operation in the morning and discovering a system frozen in ice.
Everyone who OCTANE spoke with said one of the most critical, and sometimes overlooked, systems in a car wash are the doors. The doors at the entrance and exit need to be regularly inspected and maintained throughout the year, and well before winter to replace any worn parts so that they operate smoothly in winter. Most especially, one needs to make sure that the exit door is operating correctly, firstly to check that the mechanism to raise and lower it is timed correctly so that it minimizes the amount of cold air getting into the wash operation and minimizes heat loss. Another to make sure the door does not freeze to the ground.
“That is a typical problem one encounters in winter,” says Braithwaite. “Obviously, you are using lots of water and so the ground gets very wet. What happens is that when you close your roll-up doors at night, they are touching the ground, and that ground is wet so of course that water freezes overnight and the next morning you may find you cannot get your doors to open.”
All recommended working with your door supplier to have them come in and inspect all the door systems to make sure everything is ready for winter.