Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

<i>ProTeam</i> Cleaning for Health<sup>®</sup> Tip of the Month

May 4, 2009

Factor in hidden costs when buying a vacuum.

By: Jessica Holmes

In commercial cleaning, a vacuum covers thousands of square feet each shift—encountering everything from packed-in dirt to paper clips. Most people measure the productivity of a vacuum in terms of ground covered per hour. That''s a great place to start, but when sizing up specs and price tags, take the time to think about hidden costs—like maintenance, downtime and lifespan—that can add up big in the long run.

The numbers game.

On the search for a vacuum? Start with the basics. What facilities do you clean, what challenges do they pose, and how quickly do you want to get through them? The International Sanitary Supply Association compares the average speed of different vacuums, rating the ProTeam backpack at up to 10,000 sq. ft. an hour, compared to 7,000 for a canister and 2,900 for an upright.

Dust capture and overall effectiveness are also extremely important. Why go over the same area twice? Look for a high-powered motor to achieve suction that uproots deep-seated particles, and a filtration system that traps and collects even microscopic dust. ProTeam vacuums include Four Level® Filtration that contains 99.9% of particles measuring 1 micron and larger. This includes mold, pet dander, pollen, heavy industrial dust, and other microscopic particles. ProTeam HEPA filters and models boost that capture rate to even higher levels, up to .3 microns.

A long lifespan.

ProTeam recently received a QuarterVac® in for repair with a surprising problem. It still worked fine, but, at 21-years old, the suction was no longer powerful.

In the commercial cleaning world, throwaway vacuums are a common problem. People spend several hundred dollars on a vacuum, just to encounter problem after problem, until it''s beyond repair. Then the cycle starts again.

Think of your vacuum purchase as a long-term investment in your business. Like you, it should tackle even the most difficult challenges with ease, and stay consistent day after day.

ProTeam vacuums have a track record for going the distance over the long term. IBS Services Group, a commercial cleaning operation based in Long Island and Manhattan, purchased a ProTeam backpack vacuum in 1988. It was one of the original lightweight backpack vacuums in production.

"I think we have vacuum number 13," says Owen O''Mahony, Vice President at IBS. "And we still use it on a daily basis. Sometimes, clients will ask us to use an upright vacuum with a beater bar because they think it will work better. I''ve never seen those vacuums last more than a year. You spend $200 or $250 dollars on a vacuum just to junk it a year later. We''ve never junked a ProTeam vacuum."

Maintenance and downtime.

Routine maintenance is a smart way to protect your investment, but when you need to go beyond the basics to keep your vacuum running, repair becomes a costly problem, especially when you factor in downtime.

Bob Bassett, the owner of the 21-year old vacuum mentioned above, had his QuarterVac for 15 years, and never saw it break down. He owns Executive Hardwood Floors in Boise, Idaho, and used the QuarterVac to clean up fine dust after installation.

"I knew the vacuum was old but I just didn''t think about it. The vacuum is just killer. It''s an excellent machine," says Bassett. "It took a lot of abuse, and it''s been through quite a bit, but it just kept going and going."

Bassett kept his vacuum in good shape by blowing out contacts with an air compressor after use, replacing brush heads when needed, and hanging it up during transport.

Using ProTeam backpack vacuums often reduces overall repair costs by up to 90%. There''s no beater bar or belts to worry about, and Four Level Filtration protects the motor from debris and dust.

IBS Services Group now owns 300 ProTeam vacuums, relying primarily on the Super CoachVac® and QuarterVac. The company performs routine in-house maintenance on the backpacks to keep them in working condition—usually checking the filter, brush heads and overall cleanliness. On average, they lose only one ProTeam vacuum a year, almost always due to theft.

"We tag them when they go in for repair," says O''Mahony. "I''ve seen them stay out for a year or two years before they come back, and usually it''s for something routine and easy to fix."


ProTeam manufactures a complete line of 19 lightweight ergonomic vacuums designed for all cleaning challenges. Learn more, and download our "Cleaning for Health and Productivity Guide" at www.Pro-Team.com.

Jessica Holmes is a freelance writer in Boise, Idaho focusing on the cleaning and facilities maintenance industry.