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In the last business article I wrote about the basic core requirements to get an edge in the current market. In this article we’ll be looking at tool maintenance and why it can also be a selling tool or a negative view from an end user or other professionals in the floor covering industry. Photo 1 shows a tool tray with loose blades; I know I have addressed this in a past article but it is still a common occurrence. Did you know that this is an Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) violation, for which you can be fined? Proper disposal of blades is much easier nowadays with products on the market that allow for used blades to be placed in the same container that the new blades are in (Photo 2). Photo 3 shows a seam iron with an aftermarket plug. OSHA regulations state that all cords must have a molded plug; this means a cord and plug that is manufactured together. 

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If you have ever taken a tool in for repair, and when you received the tool back, there was a new molded plug even though the problem was not in the plug, by OSHA regulations, the individual doing the repairs must replace any aftermarket plug with a factory molded cord and plug prior to working on the tool. So this is not just another reason to charge the installer more money by the company performing the repairs; they are required by law to replace any frayed, damaged, or altered cords. (Photo 4) Here you have a number of concerns.

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The installer uses seam sealer, which is great, but build up of excess seam sealer can create a number of concerns. The thermostat on the iron does not regulate properly, making the heating element work harder because it turns on and off more frequently, and the seam sealer residue can actually pull out tufts of carpet when the iron is being moved. The cord is frayed, the plug has been wired to the existing cord and then wrapped with electrical tape, and there is no ground plug.  (Photo 5) An iron tray with hot melt adhesive build up and used blades, one of my pet peeves. Ever have a customer pick up the tray thinking that the tray and the hot melt are melting or burning the carpet?

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So what are some of the routine items of tool maintenance?

Pneumatic tools

•         Drain compressor each day when finished to avoid moisture build up in the tank, which can cause the inside of the tank to rust.

•         Lubricate tools as recommended by manufacturer.

•         Make sure safety devices are operating properly on the tool.

Electrical tools

•         Make sure cords are properly grounded.

•         Cords must not have cuts or repairs.

•         Plug tools into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFC); this will protect your tools as well as the building’s electrical systems.

•         If using a saw, maintain sharp blades and have safety guards in place where required.

•         Seam Irons- A clean tray does not attract the attention of the consumer like a tray with built up hot melt adhesive. If you have black carbon build up on the sides and bottom of the seam iron, you are running your iron too hot. Clean off the carbon build up with something that won’t scratch the bottom of the heat plate.

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Hand Tools

•         Knee kicker- make sure the teeth are not bent or broken. Make sure the small “nap” teeth are clean with no fibers embedded, preventing them from grabbing when using the knee kicker to position carpet.

•         Power-stretcher and poles- Stretcher teeth or pins need to be straight and sharp so they don’t tear carpet, make sure to use the adjustment bars or screws on different thickness of carpet to prevent the stretcher pins from being ground down on concrete substrates. If the pins get dull, use a file to re-shape and sharpen. Many installers use a silicone spray to lubricate the stretcher poles. Furniture polish spray also works well. Spray a light mist on the poles and then wipe down with a white cotton towel removing any excess overspray.

Photo 6 shows what you don’t want your tools and truck to look like. Remember, your tools make you a living; the better you take care of them the longer they will last and enable you to generate more income.