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Does your sweeper suck? “I hope so.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

After all it is the heart of every rider sweeper. From Nilfisk-Advance, PowerBoss, Tennant, and so on. Without a good vacuum system and system design your machine will be left behind in the competition.

Every system, no matter what machine, the vacuum actually does not start in the hopper. It begins with all the rubbers and flaps that surround the main broom. So, without a good vacuum around the main broom your vacuum will be diminished exponentially.

When I receive e-mails that states that their sweeper is not what it once was, there are (or maybe) a lot of items to correct. Items that wore over time have consequences that affect your sweeper’s ability to properly perform its duties.

Let’s go over these item-by-item. In particular I am going to discuss this in reference to a Tennant 6550 and 6600 Mid-Sized rider sweeper. However, one could choose another make because the basic design is very similar.

The problem is that the sweeper lacks the vacuum it once had. It is leaving debris on the surface such as dirt and sand.

  1. Start with the main brush area. Around the main brush there are rubber skirts. These skirts get fatigued. Look for wear. They should almost meet the surface, perhaps 1/8” from the surface. This is just enough to allow airflow to the hopper. You also want to look for tears or cuts in these flaps. They need to be replaced immediately if this occurs. On the brush doors there are foam seals to help insure a proper seal. Check these as well.
  2. At the area where the hopper accepts debris from the main broom is another one of these areas that must maintain a good seal. To do this, raise the hopper all the way in the up position. Lock the hopper arm. Please read your owner’s manual as well to understand the safety issues once that hopper is in the up position. Examine the hoppers flap around the opening. Again, you are looking for tears and cuts and fatigued rubber that look worn. Replace these as well. There are usually five flaps on the bottom of the opening that extends the width of the hopper. There will be one on each side and one over the top. If your machine has a hopper dump door, there will be more seals and skirts. Refer to your owner’s manual for this information or you can e-mail me. I should be able to help you.

Can you see where I am going with this? I am following the flow of the air in the vacuum system. So where are we going next? Yes, inside the hopper. Once inside the hopper, we are at the bottom. This is where all of the large debris is deposited. No seals are here so let’s move on. Starting to go up through the hopper, we are entering the panel filter. Usually around this filter there is foam rubber on top and bottom to ensure no air leakage. This, again, helps the cause of a good vacuum. The vacuumed air now travels through the hopper filter. This is where the fine dust particles are deposited. In theory, this is where the last debris is trapped, and from that point only clean air travels through the vacuum fan and then exits the machine.

Sometimes the hopper filter is not sealed properly and dusts travels beyond that point. When this happens, it creates quite a dust storm. I have seen it so bad where debris such as paper clogged the vacuum fan. How the debris got pass the hopper filter is anybody’s guess. In the last 35 years I’ve seen just about everything. If you would like to share on an event you think I haven’t see you can e-mail me.

Let’s continue, the hopper filter should also be inspected at the end of every eight hours of operation. Cleaning the hopper filter is not too difficult. You can simply remove it and gently tap it on the floor, keeping in mind not to damage the housing. Using direct air hose will destroy your filter. Water will also destroy your filter. If you decide to use a synthetic filter, this can be washed with water. You may want to consider this avenue if your filters are not holding up.

The operator should also frequently push the shaker motor button. When this button is pushed it actuates the motor that shakes the hopper filter. By shaking it this allows much of the dust particles to fall into the bottom of the hopper where it can be dumped with the large debris.

Good luck in your examination of your sweeper. I am here to help, so use me. Contact me at or call at 800/346-2319. Happy Sweeping.

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