Here is Pete's Top 6 List of the things we wish customers would not do to machines, and how to avoid doing them.
The lion's share of staff time in the store is spent taking care of the equipment we rent. On any given day we get 20-30 machines returned. All thirty of them must be cleaned, inspected, tested, and often repaired before they can be returned to service. Because the machines arrive back at Pete's dusty from the jobsite, all the cleaning happens outdoors, even when it's 15° below zero in Minnesota!
But sometimes there is more than dust in the machines. Here's how to avoid ending up on the list.
1. Wheel abuse
Wood dust is usually dry and doesn't stick to sander wheels. But if you have an older home with an old, thick finish that melts when heated by sanding, that molten finish can coat your wheels. Once your wheels are sticky, wood dust will adhere to them. Repeat this cycle even just a few times, and that dust-finish amalgam with cake onto your wheels and take away their smooth roll; it's like a thin layer of particle board wrapped around your wheel! This leaves a floor with more peaks and valleys than a roller coaster. So take a metal scraper and get that gunk off your wheels before you continue to sand. If the wheels are still gunking up, put a layer of painter's tape on the wheel face until you've sanded the finish off. Then just peel off the tape and continue.
2. Edger wheel abuse
If your floor has a layer of that black, tarry cutback adhesive, stop. First, it may contain asbestos so get it tested before you spread it all over your house. Second, don't grind your edger wheels through it - the adhesive will work its way into the wheel bearings almost immediately and the wheel will seize. Once your wheels stop rolling, your edger is kaput. Before you even start, wrap the whole wheel yoke assembly in electrical tape (NOT duct tape). Yes, this will temporarily stop the wheels from rolling, but once you get through the worst of the adhesive, the tape will peel off easily and your wheel will be like new and ready to roll.
3. Not changing your sandpaper enough
If you are sanding an older floor with the drum sander, once the drum paper gets completely glazed with old, melty finish, it starts flinging it around and most it gets flung onto the inside of the sander chassis. It cools and rehardens there, but sometimes in such quantity that it can prevent the sandpaper belts from spinning freely. This can lead to chatter and can cause belts to rip off the machine! So, if you know you have one of these problem finishes, stop your machine every 50 square feet and take a peek at your drum. On some bad floors, the belts may load every 100 square feet, until you get the worst of it off . But it's still cheaper than scraping it off with stripper on hands and knees!
4. Empty your dust bag!
Whoeve was renting this drum sander did not empty their dust bag! The fuller your dust bag, the more it blocks the internal vacuum suction of the machine. Once the air stops moving your dust, it just gets stuck in the impeller fan, and then it blocks up the area where the drum is spinning. And you start spreading dust, rather than collecting it, not to mention creating an enormous spontaneous combustion hazard inside your very full dust bag. Check your dust bag at least once per room per grit and emtpy it when it gets half full. Or before. You cannot empty your dust bag too often!
5. Running over power cords
Cords that have been hit by the sander and cut to copper are one of the greatest dangers of floor sanding. The wires in the cords are insulated and separated for a reason: is is how fires start, people! Do not try to MacGyver your way out of it with painter's tape or masking tape! Duct tape? Nope. Just stop using that cord. All cords for the drum sander and edger are interchangeable, so you should still have at least one cord to carry on with. Call the store or text the after-hours number you were given and we can arrange to get you more cords. But don't just return a cut cord without warning us because it could harm the next person who uses it.
6. Pressing on the edger to make it "dig".
Please don't lift the wheels of the edger off the ground so you can push harder on its leading edge. This grinds the ever-living daylights out of the edger pad. As you can see in the photo, new edger pads are nicely angled so you can clean the floor all the way to the baseboard, without ramming the metal chassis into the baseboard itself. The edger pad on the right is chewed all the way down to metal. Keep your edger, both the pad and the wheels, on the floor and keep it moving. Switch to a coarser git if necessary, but don't