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Does your vacuum motor suck?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Of the many components of the industrial scrubber, the vacuum motor is one of the more necessary items to the system. You have the rear squeegee, the vacuum hose and the recovery tank. The rear squeegee does what it does, which is to collect the dirty water. The squeegee hose does what it does by allowing the dirty water to flow to the recovery tank. And, the recovery tank does what it does and that is to hold the dirty water until the cleaning process is complete. But, only the vacuum motor brings all of the other parts together to create to vacuum system. And I don’t have to tell you, the vacuum system is the heart of the industrial scrubber, so you may say that the vac motor is the heart of the scrubber so it is necessary to understand and to maintain it properly.

Some of the many well known names and models in the industry are Tennant Co. Model 5700, Nilfisk-Advance Model 4530, Minuteman-PowerBoss, American-Lincoln, Hako and Karcher only to mention a few. All of these manufactures use some kind of vac motor in their system. They include rider scrubbers, sweeper/scrubbers as well as walk-behind scrubbers. There are many types of vac motors being the horn style and the heavy-duty option. Some systems even have a dual vac motor system for the heavy duty vac system.

The main role of the vacuum motor is to create a suction at the rear squeegee hose. The dirty water is then vacuumed through the hose into the recovery tank. The recovery tank by the way is also known as the dirty water tank. The vac motor is typically designed with armature, commutator, motor (carbon)brushes, motor fields, rotating fan and the shell. Vac motors are presently being designed without brushes (brushless vac motors), however, they haven’t been perfected as yet. Because the brushes do need to be checked on a regular basis and/or replaced. Testing the vac motor after replacing the brushes is quite simple. Just connect the battery to the jumper leads and the motor should turn on.

Troubleshooting guide: The vac motor needs to be replaced when the machine no longer picks up the dirty water. However, there are other reasons that may cause this effect. The vacuum hose may be clogged with debris such as paper and string. The squeegees may not be directly on the surface to be able to suck the dirty water. So these are some of the things that need to be checked.

Installation of the vacuum motor or dual vac motors is different from manufacturer to manufacturer, however there are some basics rules to follow. One is very important and that is to always disconnect the batteries before performing this service. Open the recovery tank lid or door and the vac motor will be mounted in this area. Disconnect the main harness to the motor. Usually there are brackets of some type to hold the motor in place. Loosen these or remove if necessary. In some cases, the new vac motor requires a new seal to be installed on the bottom of the motor fan shell. This should be obvious if you look. At this point just reverse the instructions I laid out to install the motor. Installation should be complete. At this point, turn on the machine and get to work scrubbing. Of course, always refer to the specific manufacturer’s service instructions before you proceed with any service to ensure completeness of the process. Sometimes computers need to be reset before using your particular machine.

I hope this gives you a new insight to the scrubber vacuum system. If you have a vacuum motor issue please e-mail me. As always, thanks for reading.

Creamer’s Corner is a monthly conversation with Hi-Gear’s Mike Creamer giving you advise, technical assistance, brand comparisons and on the job stories on repairing, maintaining or replacing your sweeper/scrubber. For your comments or questions, please e-mail Mike at

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