Earth moving and large equipment needs regular cleaning. As a landscaper, you may only have a few pieces of equipment that you own or lease, such as a small backhoe or a wood chipper, and cleaning is an important way to ensure the equipment remains in good working order. The following guide can help you with the process.
Reasons to clean the equipment
There are more reasons than just appearances to clean your heavy equipment. In some areas, it may be required to or advisable to clean earth moving equipment. For example, if you dig up a diseased tree root or are digging in soil contaminated with lead, you will want to clean the equipment so it doesn't transfer these items to another client's healthy soil. For a wood chipper, sap can literally gum up the works or ruin the finish. Clean equipment is less likely to suffer issues with the finish or jamming from dirt buildup.
Methods for equipment cleaning
There are two primary methods used to get equipment clean. The most common method uses an industrial level pressure washer. Water and detergent is applied to the equipment using pressure that is high enough to blast off the dirt without damaging the equipment.
Industrial steam cleaners are another option, and they are often used in conjunction with a pressure washer. A steam cleaner will loosen stubborn dirt, like the aforementioned tree sap. It also works well in areas with delicate machinery, where a pressure washer can't be used. Steam is applied to the equipment via a special pressure washer, but the level of pressure used in steaming can vary from very low to high.
Frequency of cleaning
There are no hard and fast rules for cleaning frequency. It goes without saying that you will need to clean the equipment before using it at another site if you are worried about contaminants, such as disease organisms or chemicals. Otherwise, set a regular cleaning schedule that reflects how often you use the equipment. For example, if your chipper is used several times a week and sap tends to build up, you may need to clean it once or twice monthly. If it's only used occasionally and generally on low-sap tree varieties, you may be able to go a couple of months between cleanings.
You can learn to use pressure washers and steam cleaners on your own. The equipment can be purchased or rented. Another option is to contract out to a company that specializes in heavy equipment cleaning. You can bring your equipment to them or they can come to your location each time you need a cleaning.