How to Maintain a Texture Sprayer
I know that most people consider cleaning and maintaining their texture sprayer a non-value added task. However, if regularly done in a proper manner, the machine can last years and reduce your overall maintenance and repair costs. I’ve seen machines out in the field that are decades old and still perform at the same level they did out of the box. If you ask those users, they will tell you that the proper cleaning and a diligent maintenance program will keep your sprayer running and your operators happy and effective at spraying rather than maintaining equipment. Here are some tips and suggestions that should help keep you up and running and making money. As in all cases consulting the specific operational manual of the sprayer that comes with the unit should be the first and most detailed description of what to do in each case.
Cleaning the Pump
Be sure to flush and clean the pump and system regularly. Texture material can easily build up in the various pockets and cracks effect your machines performance. Don’t assume that because you flushed water through that the pump is 100% clean. Take the time to remove the foot inlet valve, inspect the lower pump ball check for debris and clean out any texture debris. I’ve found that a simple bottle brush works very effective for cleaning out areas of the pump.
Some airless texture sprayers are equipped with Graco’s Fast Flush ™ using this helps speed up the process of cleaning out the system. However, if you don’t have a sprayer with that feature you still can do a great job of cleaning if you follow these simple steps. Start with the prime hose and cycle until the material is removed. Continue to the hose and flush until the system is clean. Don’t forget to clean the fittings as well.
If cleaning with water make sure that you either flush with a mineral spirits or Pump Armour to help leave a protective coating to prevent freezing or corrosion.
Cleaning the Hose
Keeping the hose clean both inside and out is extremely important and in many cases the cause of a plugged system is a poorly cleaned hose.
Wiping down the exterior of the hose with water or mineral spirits daily will help keep the hose flexible and more pliable longer term.
Make sure that you clean out the inside of the hose by flushing with water or a mineral spirits. This may require several flushes dependent upon the type of texture material sprayed.
If your hose is packed out as a result of either poor cleaning or just the type of material sprayed then this is a much bigger task to get this hose clean. Dependent upon the type of pack-out and where the pack-out is located in the length of the hose will determine your best course of action. If the pack-out is located at the beginning or end of the hose then your most effective solution is probably to flush the end of the hose out with a smaller diameter hose connected to a water supply. If the pack-out is located in the middle of the hose then the problem is much bigger. I’ve observed some users pounding on the hose to break up the pack-out and then will flush the hose. Of course always be sure that the hose is depressurised and after you remove the pack-out, inspect the hose for any damage or leaks.
Cleaning The Spray Gun
Spray gun cleaning is probably one of the most critical elements in the whole spraying system that you should clean. Its performance will definitely affect your spray patterns on the wall as well as lead to user frustrations due to tip clogs, needles clogs, etc. Here are some simple suggestions for ensuring that your spray gun will work for the job and many jobs to come.
Clean it throughout the day to help reduce material build-up
Clean the tip and guard at the end of the day
Use a solvent soaked brush to clean the tip but never soak the entire gun in solvent
Clean the overall gun body. I like to use a good stiff brush and clean the entire gun from the tip down to the hose connections.
Cleaning The Overall Machine
Everyone loves to show off their Graco texture spray equipment and keeping the overall appearance of the machine clean will do that as well as reap other benefits. Everyone who has sprayed texture knows that the sprayer usually will get covered in material overspray throughout the workday. So taking the time at the end of the day and cleaning the entire machine will keep the machine performing at it intended level. Wipe the entire machine down with either water or mineral spirits will help keep debris out of the bucket or hopper as well as allow easier maintenance if needed. Graco texture sprayers are designed to be cleaned with brushes and rags. I wouldn’t recommend spraying it with a water hose though.
Maintaining The Sprayer
Regular inspection of the pump is critical to keeping the machine operating at 100%. Along with good cleaning practices, a good preventative maintenance program will ensure that you are always ready to do the job at hand.
Litres pumped are a great way to understand how your machine is operating. Like the oil life indicator on most cars today, most of the Graco sprayers have a litres pumped on the display. If you don’t have a sprayer with a display then you should keep track manually. Litres pumped are a great way to monitor when to check/replace packings, seals, pump balls and general rod and sleeve wear.
Regularly check the hose for cracks, leaks or severe kinks. Doing this before a job will certainly save you a lot of time cleaning up a mess due to a bad hose.
Keeping the hose coiled up in a fairly neat roll will help you out in more ways than just looking good. Proper hose management of coiling and uncoiling will help prevent severe kinking or damage to your hose. If your machine has a Graco Hose Reel, then you’ll understand what I’m saying about the benefits of hose management. If not, then you’ll have to pay closer attention to that hose.
Keeping the hose out of the sun and/or cool. Most texture material start drying out due to heat. If your hose is laying on a hot surface (asphalt) or laying out in the sun, you should consider keeping the hose cool. Do this by placing it in the shade or laying it on a cooler surface. Doing this will help reduce the possibility of hose pack-out on some texture materials.
Make sure that the components on the gun are all operational. Once again checking before you start a job will save you a lot of time cleaning up a texture mess on a wall because of a stuck trigger or defective tip.
Review the overall machine before starting a major job. Check the tires for air. Make sure that all of the moving components actually move. If your machine has a belt drive, make sure that there are no cracks before starting the job.
Storing The Sprayer
At the end of the season and your ready to put the machine into the back of the shop for a couple of months, there are a few things that you should consider if you want to ensure that the unit starts up next time. If you are storing it for any length of time, be sure to use appropriate lubrications and pump protectants after a thorough cleaning to prevent freezing and corrosion of components. If you are planning on storing the unit for an extended duration in addition to the lubrication and cleaning of the unit, it is important you take the time on a couple others.
If storing the machine for extended periods of time in conditions that can dip below the freezing point, it is critical that all water is completely drained from the pump, drain hoses and primary material hoses. Make sure that the pump and its components are drained as well. Not a bad idea at this time to remove the pump and inspect for any wear that will need to be addressed next time you want to use it. It is imperative that the water is removed from the machine Not doing this could potential destroy components as ice forms and expands and cracks components.
Some of comments about cleaning, maintaining and storing your Graco Texture sprayer may seem trivial to most operators. However, as many experienced users will tell you, keeping the sprayer in good shape and taking the time to do it will pay dividends tenfold over in downtime, rework and maintenance costs.