Soft Wash Pump Systems: 5 Features to Look For
Shawn Glover, VP of Sales, Jun 22, 2021
The soft wash industry provides cleaning services for the exteriors of residential and commercial properties. Whether cleaning stains off of a concrete driveway or removing mold and moss from siding, stucco, and roofs, soft wash technicians need the right equipment to get the job done thoroughly, efficiently, and safely.
Regular high-pressure washing systems rely heavily on mechanical removal of stains and can damage some surfaces or cause moisture penetration under siding or shingles. A soft wash system, as its name suggests, uses a gentler application, relying on surfactants to remove stains and debris and minimizing the potential for damage.
This contrast can present challenges for sprayer operators who struggle to find a pump that can produce proper flow and pressure, as well as stand up to soft wash chemicals. Here, we’ll cover what to look for in a soft wash system to help your business succeed in this competitive marketplace.
Proper GPM and PSI
One of the most critical aspects of a soft wash pressure washer is the pump’s GPM and PSI rating. Without the proper combination of both, a sprayer won’t have enough vertical and horizontal throw to reach surfaces, such as the height of a two- or three-story home. Granted, some pump sprayers can spray that high, but they often don’t have proper coverage at those distances.
The key is to produce enough flow and pressure to evenly reach from ground to eave, ideally without ever having to get on a ladder. Contrary to popular belief, simply increasing the pressure will not get the desired results; having proper flow is what’s needed.
The recommended flow and pressure for a soft wash system is approximately 6.5 GPM at 150 PSI. Paired with the right nozzle, this combination will be able to produce a vertical throw of around 35 feet. If you cut the flow in half to 3 GPM, you’d only get half the vertical throw.
A business owner of a soft wash company wants their operators to work a full day without waiting around for something to do. However, many residential neighborhoods have noise ordinances with a maximum decibel threshold during certain times of the day. Most gas-powered engines that run soft wash sprayers exceed those thresholds. If an ordinance indicates that loud noises can’t occur before 10 AM, for example, that’s a couple of hours of lost productivity and revenue while operators sit idle.
Using battery-powered electric pumps versus gas-powered engines results in whisper-quiet operation. If noise levels and minimizing disruption to area businesses and residents are a concern, consider using a 12V electric pump in your system. It can be recharged in between jobs without missing a beat.
Chemically Compatible Pump Materials
Perhaps the greatest frustration that soft wash operators experience is frequent pump failure resulting from chemical incompatibility. The most common chemical used in the soft wash industry is a commercial-grade sodium hydrochlorite compound, a form of bleach. These cleaning chemicals are highly corrosive and easily cause damage to traditional diaphragm pumps made with aluminum or stainless steel components.
Adding an anodized coating to a pump will significantly improve its performance, but if the coating becomes scratched, which could happen simply by threading fittings too tightly, the chemicals will penetrate and immediately begin deteriorating the pump.
Ideally, a pump should be engineered primarily out of PVC, which has an A rating for soft wash chemical compatibility. In addition to a PVC pump housing, care needs to be taken with other components. Using Viton seals vs. Buna is recommended, as are ceramic plungers, and valve bodies should be made of Alloy C-276, a highly corrosion-resistant metal alloy.
Unfortunately, because of poor chemical compatibility, it’s not uncommon for soft wash spray operators to replace their pumps multiple times throughout the year. In some soft wash businesses, cheaper pumps are practically treated as disposable because they are so unreliable, placing a strain on operations and the environment.
Soft wash pumps that are compatible with sodium hypochlorite will last significantly longer than traditional diaphragm pumps, reducing downtime and labor, and minimizing the need for repairs.
Soft Wash Pump Cost
Directly tied to longevity is the cost of soft wash pumps. However, a value comparison might be a better way to approach the topic. Although technicians will spend more for a true A-rated chemically compatible soft wash pump on the front end, the savings over the long term will far outweigh the cost difference. If an A-rated pump costs four times as much but lasts 10 times as long, it’s easy to envision the cost savings potential.
Business owners also need to factor in savings for operational costs. A pump with better performance and fewer breakdowns means that operators can get in and out of jobs faster. Instead of spending time replacing or repairing failing pumps, employees can spend time on more critical functions that bring in revenue. Likewise, a better performing pump will result in happier customers, leading to more repeat business and referrals. It’s also important to consider the risks to employees and any potential workers’ compensation claims that might result from them having to climb ladders and rooftops.
When considering a soft wash pump solution, it’s critical to factor in its long-term value. Here at Pumptec, we’ve engineered a powerful and reliable electric soft wash plunger pump system, the only A-rated system of its kind in the marketplace. Made of highly resistant materials and engineered to be durable and long-lasting, our soft wash system addresses the challenges of the industry head on.
Reach out to our pump experts to talk through your specific challenges and how our custom X-series soft wash pump can overcome them. Also, check out our comparison guide below to understand further differences between various pump types.