Cold weather and cool temperatures not only make fleet washing difficult but can permanently damage your equipment. That means it’s important you prepare your pressure washer and soaps correctly.
And believe us — being proactive and taking care of everything now, will save you the trouble of paying to replace broken items later.
If you don’t winterize your equipment, your pump and other fittings could begin to crack under the pressure. Those cracks might be small or barely visible from the outside, making it difficult to see the damage until you start your system up again in spring and you notice water leaking everywhere.
The good news is, winter maintenance is simple and easy.
In this blog, we’ll go over how to properly store your truck wash soaps and equipment when you aren’t using them, and show you how to properly winterize your pressure washer.
Storing Soaps in Winter
Before we look at the best ways to store your fleet washing equipment, it’s important to figure out how often you plan on washing your vehicles.
We know fleet washing in winter tends to be more difficult. But we suggest you continue to wash it regularly so you don’t leave your trucks vulnerable to rust, corrosion, and clogged fuel lines.
That means when your soaps, brighteners, and degreasers are not being used, it’s a good idea to store them inside. Find an area that will remain at, or slightly above, freezing and is protected from the rain, snow, or sleet.
That’s because most truck wash soaps and cleaning agents are water or liquid-based and will freeze if stored in temperatures below 32 degrees for a prolonged amount of time.
When soaps freeze, the materials used to create the soap can separate within the container. This is because different raw materials have different densities and freeze points. When liquids freeze, they can also expand meaning containers can rupture and cause a spill.
If your soaps do freeze, allow them to thaw naturally. Don’t use hot water to melt frozen soaps because you are diluting the product further. Once thawed, stir your soaps to ensure all materials are dissolved and can be drawn properly.
Storing Your Equipment
If you plan on washing your fleet throughout the winter, you will need to store your equipment safely when it’s not in use.
Depending on where you’re located, the type of weather you experience will have the greatest impact on where you place them.
If you’re somewhere that rains or snows a lot, you want to make sure to protect your pressure washer or automated wash from any exposure.
Keep your equipment dry and indoors. Freezing temperatures can cause operational issues with your equipment, but even if it’s not technically freezing, equipment left outside with strong winds can still suffer damage.
In situations where there is no snow, or you’re in a warm southern state, storing your fleet washing equipment under a tarp or near a building will suffice. It would be wise to elevate them from the ground slightly to protect them from any moisture that might build up due to rain.
Storing your fleet washing equipment properly will go a long way to ensuring you can use it for years to come.
Winterizing Your Pressure Washer System
Now that you know how to properly store your equipment, the final stage is winterizing your pressure washer. Any time there's a temperature drop close to or below freezing, you'll need to store or winterize your equipment to prevent damage.
The first step is flushing antifreeze through the whole system. We recommend an RV (or automotive) antifreeze rated for -50°F but a windshield washer fluid rated for -32°F also works.
But please make sure your antifreeze is not diluted at all. The temperature ratings aren’t accurate if you dilute the product with any water.
It’s easiest to use antifreeze if your system has a float tank. If you do not have a float tank, you can blow out the unit using an air compressor.
Remove any and all attachments and make sure they are free of water or have antifreeze in them as well.
You should also drain the hoses and blow compressed air through the rest of your equipment such as your water supply and recovery tanks. It’s easy to forget to winterize the trigger gun and hoses that are connected, so make a special note. In addition, make sure to pull the antifreeze through the soap injector.
That’s because the compressed air will not remove 100% of moisture and with additional condensation, water can build up in low, tight areas. Leaving any caps or closure off will help with any remaining moisture, giving it a place to expand if necessary.
Antifreeze helps to keep the seals in contact with a liquid, preventing them from drying out. This can help with long-term maintenance and reduce the replacement of small parts.
Just be sure to flush out ALL antifreeze before using your system again in the spring! Basically, just run water through it until it runs clear.
If you use a gas pressure washer, you should purchase a fuel stabilizer as well. Any leftover gas will go stale if left unused. This could lead to clogged fuel lines, rust, and corrosion.
We also recommend you refer to your owner’s manual for specific winterizing procedures and tips for your equipment’s make and model!
Once you’re done winterizing your fleet washing equipment, remember to store them in a warm, dry area.
Winterizing Automated Truck Wash Systems
Most automated systems can run throughout the winter, regardless of location.
That’s because the vast majority of automated systems are located inside a building.
The key factor is to make sure the wash bay stays heated, typically staying above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have a heated wash bay, try to close the doors in between trucks to help keep the heat inside on really cold days.
Many automated wash systems in the northern states have a thermostat that automatically shuts it down when the temperature outside reaches a set temperature. This can mean the wash is shut down for a few hours, overnight, or for multiple days, depending on the weather.
But if you don’t have a heated wash bay and struggle to it about 45 degrees, we would suggest not using your automated system when the outside temperature sits between 28-35 degrees.
In drastic temperature shifts, we recommend extra sources of heat within the wash bay and equipment room, paying close attention to the supply pipes to prevent them from bursting.