Maintaining Your Sweeper

Maintaining Your SweeperJust like maintenance on your car, maintenance on your sweeper can save you money in the long run and keep your truck running longer.

“Maintenance is extremely important on any kind of street sweeper, whether vacuum or mechanical,” says Tripp Amick with A&H Equipment. “If you think about it, sweepers are doing the same thing a bulldozer does (moving dirt) but they’re in an even worse environment. Mechanical sweepers are using dozens of moving parts to move it, and vacuum sweepers are moving it at 100 miles an hour!”

“Due to the nature of Sweepers, and their environment, daily cleaning is required as a dose of prevention,” says Joe Hendrickson, national sales manager for Schwarze Industries Inc. “Start by keeping a clean cab. A clean cab is just as important as keeping a clean desk. While cleaning the hopper, brooms, screens, etc., check for hydraulic leaks, engine leaks, excessive wear on tires, rubbers, and seals. Making sure that your sweeper is thoroughly cleaned every day is very important in having the required uptime to maintain a successful sweeping operation.”

Hendrickson says that maintenance times are defined by hours of operation with eight hours defining a day for Schwarze. Other manufacturers may have different times, but should be defined in your sweeper manual.

The following items should be reviewed daily for reliable operation to prolong the life of your truck:
• Follow the lubrication schedule in the manual
• Check your broom pattern
• Clean the broom from tangled debris
• Check for loose bolts, and tighten
• Check for leaks and repair
• Check the water filter for cleanliness and leaks
• Check engine fluids
• Check hydraulic fluids
• Check tire pressure
• Check vehicle lights, horn, and safety lights
• Check the fan blades
• Check belts, hoses, and safety equipment
• Thoroughly clean the sweeper

To increase the longevity of any sweeper, Amick says that lubrication and cleaning are the two most important items. “Because of the complexity of a street sweeper, it is key that the unit be lubricated much more frequently than other pieces of equipment,” says Amick. “Sweepers unavoidably create dust. Users need to understand that dirty grease is abrasive grease. Thus, greasing not only lubricates the component, it pushes the dirty grease out of the mechanism and helps to prevent excessive wear.”

“Automatic Lubrication Systems are pricey, but they can be worth it particularly on mechanical sweepers,” says Amick. “Auto-Lubes generally use a thinner grease, but points are greased frequently as the equipment operates. Just don’t forget that you still have to physically check your grease points to make sure that the fitting is taking grease and that it hasn’t been knocked off.”

“Vacuum sweepers have fewer moving parts, but those that do still have grease points, many of which are critical,” says Amick. “Fan bearings often require a high temperature grease. Using regular grease on these fittings may actually do more harm than good.”

Generally, either type of sweeper uses water. “While the water is mainly for dust suppression, vacuum sweepers rely on it to lubricate the suction hoses as well,” says Amick. “Running a vacuum sweeper without water can wear out hoses in a surprisingly short amount of time, and with the replacement cost of these items being what they are, no amount of “extra time on the job” is worth it. Use of water also cuts down on the amount of abrasion within the hopper area and helps prevent “Blow-By” of material out of the hopper and through the fan, which is also very expensive to replace.”

On a Schwarze A7000, they recommend that you lubricate the dump door hinges monthly, gutter broom U-joints at 120 hours of operation, and fan shaft bearings every 250 hours of operation using the proper grease for the component that is detailed in the manual.

“For many of the same reasons for lubrication, keeping the internal workings of the unit clean reduces repairs and increases longevity,” adds Amick. “Street sweepings contain a lot of different things, many of which can be corrosive. If they are left to sit in the unit, then damage can occur to key working components. Dirt left caked in the corners of a hopper will eventually allow it to rust through in a fraction of its useable life. The half hour you spend at the end of the shift can save you thousands of dollars and gain you years of additional use.”

“There are typically daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance intervals for most components such as brooms, filters, oil changes, etc.,” adds Hendrickson. “Larger components like fans could be years based on how the equipment is maintained.”

Operational Maintenance

Amick says that another way to reduce costs is by ensuring that the unit is adjusted properly. Correct broom patterns and pressures are critical. “A bad curb broom adjustment will place the material it throws out of the reach of the suction hood or pick up broom, requiring additional passes to complete the job. Similarly, too little down pressure on either curb or main brooms will result in a poor sweeping job. Too much down pressure will result in premature broom wear, and will also result in poorer performance. Take the time to learn how to properly set your brooms, and do it before every shift. As brooms wear, so do the patterns!”

“Don’t think you’re really saving money by buying cheap brooms!” adds Amick. “I find it strange that people will spend thousands of dollars to buy a high quality piece of equipment and then do everything they can to put the cheapest replacements that they can for a critical working part! Brooms come in various weights, densities and are made of different types and qualities of materials. Don’t be fooled that a ‘broom is just a broom’.”

It is also important to make sure you maintain your key sweeping components, such as fans on a regenerative air and vacuum sweeper, or your elevator on a mechanical sweeper. “If a fan is worn out, and becomes out of balance, it can cause severe damage to the engine assembly, and be very costly to repair,” says Hendrickson. “Daily inspections on the fan blades can help catch this small repair before it becomes a big problem. Fans, sweeping heads, elevator assemblies, scissor lifts, screens, and water systems are some of the major areas that could be very costly, or could create a safety hazard for the operator if they aren’t taken care of properly.”

Regenerative Air Pick-Up Head

“Several areas will require inspection, adjustment, and service on a regular basis,” says Jimmy Broyles, CBT supervisor for Elgin Sweeper. “Occasionally, the pick-up head should be removed to perform a thorough inspection of the pick-up head curtains. Once the head is out from under the sweeper, turn it over and take note of the condition of the curtains. Any rips, tears, holes, missing sections or deformations will require replacement. Curtains are vital to the sweeper’s ability to seal the pick-up head to the sweeping surface, ensuring the debris under the head will remain there to be conveyed to the hopper. Any discrepancies in the curtaining will allow the blast air from a pressure slot to blow material out from under the head, creating a dust cloud as the sweeper travels down the road sweeping.”

“The pick-up head is built in two pieces,” says Broyles. “One side receives the pressurized air flow from an air pump of some kind, commonly an impeller. This pressurized air flow must be metered and directed to create the optimum discharge into the vacuum side of the pick-up head to dislodge stubborn debris that has adhered to the sweeping surface. The discharge is commonly controlled and metered through a pressure slot with specific dimensions to best utilize this airflow, stream or blast, or what
we like to call a full-width air knife.”

Check with your sweeper manufacturer to get the specifications regarding your adjustments. “Factory specifications provide general setup for “most” applications,” says Broyles. “If the pick-up head is still lacking in the desired performance, the pressure slot openings can be manipulated as a trial-and-error process to maximize the blast air’s performance. If this step does not enhance the performance of the head, return all adjustments to the factory recommendations (normally a ³/8-inch pressure slot opening).”

Owner Manual

Everything you need to know about maintaining your sweeper will most likely be found in your units’ operator’s manual or by sitting down with your local dealer.

“To help keep your Schwarze Sweeper in top operating condition, our sweeper manuals provide maintenance logs (for weekly and occasional maintenance) to compliment the daily “Start-Up Checklist” that is used by the operator to inspect the unit prior to each use,” says Hendrickson. “We suggest that you make multiple copies of the maintenance logs that can be kept in a binder, accessible to the operator or service personnel.”

You complete each log form by:
• Recording the Sweeper Identification Number
• Recording the date
• Checking off inspection, or maintenance tasks
• Sign your name

Additionally, each form has a comments section for noting the following information:
• Providing detailed information on a problem found
• Noting information about items not found on the log form
• Noting additional concerns
• Specifying a needed replacement part
• Recording the date a replacement part is ordered

Daily maintenance, and some common maintenance tasks can be performed by in-house mechanics. Schwarze typically recommends that chassis or auxiliary engine repairs be conducted by a certified dealer.

Paving Equipment Maintenance

Parking lot maintenance is very important to the property manager. If they let the asphalt deteriorate, they will have some major expenses to look at in the line of repairing his or her lots. Bad cracking in the asphalt, gas and oil spots, trip hazards, low spots or bird baths, speed bumps, pot holes, sidewalk problems, and just about any other asphalt related problem needs to be addressed.

These problems and many other asphalt issues are now being restored and repaired with the infrared systems. This is a cost effective way to get added life out of their parking lots at a fraction of the cost and with the least amount of down time to traffic.

Most Infrared equipment requires very basic maintenance.

1 – Make sure the batteries are fully charged and check the water in
the batteries.

2 – Inspect the lights on your machine to be sure that they are all working properly.

3 – Keep your infrared system clean from loose asphalt. The appearance of your equipment means a lot.

4 – Blowers and motor impellers on the infrared system should also be inspected and cleaned weekly.

5 – Check gas lines and fittings with soapy water for leaks.

6 – Check all fluids on infrared system as well as the truck itself.

7 – Be sure your propane tanks have enough fuel in them for a full days work.

8 – Test your chamber and your reclaimer before leaving to ensure a productive day.

Story by Jennifer Taylor


■ To find a Schwarze Authorized Dealer, go to or call 800-879-7933

■ To find an Elgin Authorized Dealer, go to

■ For more information on A&H Equipment, go to