Concrete cleaning can be a lucrative business to start. Here are some tips which will help you do it right.
First and foremost there is one thing you need to understand when you are cleaning concrete and that is that concrete cannot always be restored to its virgin state after it has been stained. You can always get stains lighter or bleached but completely removing it is very difficult. So when talking to a customer explain this to them otherwise they will be asking for a job that just can’t be done unless the entire concrete slab is ripped up and re-poured. Now with that in mind let’s talk about equipment that is needed for this type of work. Remember safety is always important when working with a pressure washer. Some times there are chemicals involved in cleaning some stains. Thus, you should always use some type of eye protection. Also, when you are using chemicals you need to wear jeans to protect your legs.
Chemicals made for concrete are very strong and should not be toyed with. Would a person rather work with dry feet or wet? It is recommended that you get rubber waders or some type of rubber boot. They will keep your feet from getting wet and keep them from getting burned by the 250 degree water. Orange cones are also important to have for this job. These help make people visually aware that you are there if you are in a high traffic area or where there are a lot of contract workers at say a newly constructed house that needs the concrete cleaned. This makes everyone around you safe and you are helping prevent accidents. Of course you are going to need a Hydro-Twister for this job. You can technically do the job with a wand but it will take a lot more time and water, not to mention you can cause streaking if you are not using even strokes across the slab of concrete. Most of the new car wash trucks come with them now but if you don’t have one and or you need a second unit and go to buy one be sure to get the larger of the two. There my be only a 5 inch difference in surface coverage but it is well worth it when you are trying to save time without cutting corners.
Remember this business is all about time relevant to money. You want to be making at least a $1 a minute when doing concrete work at a minimum and aim for $100 to $200 per hour. If you are not achieving this income level then you work too slowly or you did not bid correctly on the accounts you are taking. You need to have a work order form. This form should have an area for time it took to do the job, how many people were on the job, gas to get to the site and mileage to get to the site. If you need a sheet like this the trainers (Jason & Rand) in Scottsdale will be more then happy to fax you one. Call them at 1-602-432-1308.
For your wand you need to use a green tip for steam and a yellow or 15-degree tip for breaking up dirt from an area or pushing the dirty water from an area. You need to have an extra one hundred feet of pressure hose with you on the truck. This extra hose needs to be available when you are at a job site where there are many contract workers and space is limited. More then two hundred feet of hose will be required to get to places like the back yards of houses. You will also need two hundred feet of garden hose. More often than not you will have a job that requires more than 200 gallons of water or multiple jobs on a single day that will use more than 200 gallons of water. You have to remember that hard water is not really all that important when doing concrete. Soft water is good for doing vehicles to help prevent hard water spots but is not necessary for concrete. Plus, it is not worth the time to refill your water tank just do concrete. If you have a regular concrete cleaning customer you may just want to tell them you will use their water and you will decrease their bill by about fifty dollars a month to help cover their water bill.
You need a push broom or hand brooms to help move lose dirt before starting the job. On larger jobs you may want to consider a blower, the type that are used for lawns. This will help move more dirt faster. You need a floor squeegee for helping push water out if you are in a garage or other area where water should not stand very long. The half-moon shaped floor squeegee works best. Plus it helps identify an area that you may need to go over again or chemically treat to get the stain out. A flat-ended shovel is important to have if you have concrete that has spilled on the flat slab already or small rocks that have accumulated on the concrete. If you spray the concrete when these little rocks are still on there and you hit them just right; they may catch a nearby window and cause damage. You could break up the excess concrete with the pressure wand but once again this is wasting time and money that you could be making at your next job. A very important item to have is some type of cover plate. This plate will be placed in front of doorways or floorboards when you are using the wands to get around the edges of the concrete. A lot of the competition does not make this additional effort when doing a job. This is what makes us the best because we care about the work that we do.
The truck should be set up so that you can use a garden hose and external water supply should we need one for concrete or other types of jobs. The trucks should come with quick releases between the tank and the intake tube to the pressure washer. There should also be a valve that is turned so the water is running from the black tank that now holds the external water that comes in. There needs to be a connection for a water hose that is on top of the black small tank. The inside of the tank can be fitted with a floater in it so water will not run over when you are not depressing the trigger and letting out water. When cleaning concrete always use 3000+ PSI and 250+ degree water. These two elements are key to cleaning concrete effectively and correctly. Now let’s talk about chemicals for a minute.
To clean rust there is a product made by Simonize (that can be ordered from Howard at AAA Pressure Washers)
that is called Concrete Cleaner and Etch. This chemical is an acid and can be very dangerous. To apply this chemical you can spray it with a metal hand held spray canister. If you use a sprayer that has plastic parts to it, the sprayer won’t last more then a one or two times before the parts melt and it is useless. The chemical should be mixed 50-50 with water. If you are using it on colored concrete try a test patch first because this stuff bleaches and lightens so it might make it lighter than the original concrete. For removing oil or grease stains Simonize SC-260 can be used. It is a granule type chemical that looks like kitty litter. To apply it you need to wet down the area to be treated first then spread a thin layer of it over the spot. Take a brush and agitate it to work it in. Let it set about fifteen to twenty minutes before removing it. Make sure you are very through in removing the granules. This next chemical should be used for emergencies if at all possible. This stuff is very thick and should be applied with a roller brush that is an adhesive type roller. Let it set for fifteen to twenty minutes and then remove it being very careful not to get it on you or any of the other chemicals for that matter. To develop the most efficient use of time at a concrete job site one person should be sweeping up loose debris from the work area while the other is setting up the equipment. Be sure all the corners are swept well because this is the area where most lose dirt seems to end up. Remember that when you hydro twist an area that you are simply lifting the dirt and stains.
You need to go back over the areas afterwards to move the dirt away from the concrete. After you have used the hydro twister on the area you then need to cover all siding up with your cover plate or what ever guard you find works best and proceed to hand wand any trouble spots and the outer edges of the concrete. Finally, when working where a lot of contractors are working be sure to be polite and try to work around them. You never know who they have contacts with. They may refer you to some one else. Concrete is a great “filler” account if it happens to be raining. You can always do concrete in any type of weather and it pays very well for what you to do for the job. So remember, concrete work is always good to have.
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