[Book Excerpt] New Manual Explains Proper Use and Maintenance of Pest Control Equipment

Features - Technician Training

Bill Robinson’s Application and Equipment Manual is a must-have, keep-in-the-truck resource for anyone who uses any type of pesticide application equipment.

October 19, 2015
Lisa Lupo

Whether you have well-worn copies of the two previous Service Technician’s manuals or you are hearing about them for the first time, the newest book in the series, “The Service Technician’s Application and Equipment Manual,” is a must-have, keep-in-the-truck resource for everyone in the pest control industry who uses any type of application equipment.

Like Author William H Robinson’s other books in the popular series, “The Service Technician’s Field Manual” and “The Service Technician’s Inspection and Identification Manual,” “The Service Technician’s Application and Equipment Manual” is a practical guide to the service technician’s daily activities — in this case, the use and maintenance of standard pest control equipment. For technicians just starting their careers, it provides a foundation of basic equipment knowledge; for experienced technicians, it will change what they know about pesticide application and equipment.

For both veteran and newly hired technicians, dramatic changes made to modern insecticides have brought challenges of selectively matching the products — which have become more effective at lower concentrations — with the most efficient application methods and tools. As Robinson describes in the book’s preface, “Insecticide application and equipment must be managed to have a successful business, but you can’t manage what you don’t understand. The next generation of professional pest control will know the methods and the tools of application, and use that knowledge to manage the costs of using them.”

The objective of Robinson’s newest manual is to help service technicians understand the connection of insecticides, application methods and equipment, and to provide illustrated instruction on use and maintenance of the equipment for the greatest possible efficacy. Many of the topics covered are related to information in the first two manuals of the Service Technician series, with cross-referencing included for the topics of each chapter. The first half of the manual is a review of application methods for liquids, gels, dusts, granules and foam. The second half is a review of pest control equipment: how it works, how to use it and how to maintain it.

Application Methods.

Application of an insecticide may seem to be a simple process, but there is a lot to consider if the treatment is to be effective and cost efficient. Following is an example of this — an excerpt of the introduction from Chapter 3: Structural Wood Treatment. The chapter goes on to detail the characteristics and application recommendations for wood surfaces, penetration below the surface, use of water- or oil-based formulations, old wood and application runoff.

Structural Wood Treatment. The objective of applying insecticide to floor joists, wall studs and other pieces of structural wood is to establish a lethal residue at or below the surface. The target pests are the larvae of wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees and termites. Insecticide penetration of wood is limited to the outer layer, but liquid can be injected into ant and termite galleries below the surface. Injection into wood surrounding active galleries creates a chemical fence to stop the spread of the infestation by killing or repelling larvae that tunnel to the barrier.

Basics of Structural-Wood Treatment. An insecticide for structural-wood protection can be applied as a water- or solvent-based dilution to bare wood surfaces. Liquid applied to the surface has only limited penetration and may not provide immediate control of beetle larvae that are feeding deep in the wood.

Larvae that tunnel into the treated layer will be controlled, and adult beetles emerging through and walking on treated wood will be killed. Residual activity of the active ingredient below the surface provides protection against re-infestation.

Injection of liquid or foam insecticide into infested galleries of ants and termites provides immediate control and leaves a residue for continued protection.

Application Characteristics. The long-term protection of structural wood from insects depends on the penetration and permanence of liquid insecticide applied to the surface and below it. Applicators have to consider the external surface and the internal structure of wood. The surface of seasoned timber is dry and usually planed smooth; these features limit the penetration of liquids to the outer 1/8 inch. But liquids will move through the internal matrix of wood, and this allows direct treatment to the site of infestations.

Pest Control Equipment.

The second half of the manual is a review of pest control equipment. Although the examples of equipment are primarily B&G products, the basic mechanics and operation of sprayers and foggers are similar, regardless of the manufacturer. Thus, the intent is to help service technicians better understand and use their equipment.

An example of this is Chapter 10: Compressed-Air Sprayers. The chapter focuses on the operation, maintenance and repair/restoration instruction for common field sprayers, including the 1-gallon sprayer, 5-liter sprayer, compact sprayer and backpack sprayer. Following is an excerpt of the chapter introduction and instructions for repair of Extenda-ban valve sprayers.

Compressed-Air Sprayers. Stainless steel and plastic sprayers use concentrated air pressure to move liquid to the nozzle. It is a simple system; the important components are the tank, valve, hose and nozzle. Because of their rugged construction, these sprayers are expected to perform every day with little maintenance. However, the service life of the average sprayer will be reduced significantly without careful handling, cleaning and monthly maintenance. Most of the working parts of a professional sprayer can be cleaned, repaired or replaced by a trained technician.

Precautions. Spray drift. Product labels for indoor-use insecticides require the use of a coarse spray. With normal tank pressure, the droplets in this spray pattern do not remain airborne for a long time or drift to non-target surfaces. A fine-fan spray poses risks of drifting of the small droplets in the spray, but over-pressurizing the tank can produce unwanted small droplets in any spray pattern. Crack-and-crevice application with the pin-stream spray also presents risks of getting insecticide where it was not intended. The straw reduces misapplication and delivers the insecticide into the harborage.

Generic insecticides. Solvents and other ingredients in some insecticides, especially generic insecticide formulations, can damage sprayer gaskets (through swelling and breakdown), check valves and other components. When using generic products, regularly inspect and replace these parts to prevent failure during service.

Transportation and Storage. Sprayers can fall over and be damaged in crowded service vehicles. Long extensions can become bent, as they can be difficult to protect, and nozzles can become dirty and clogged. Sprayers kept pressurized in a service vehicle between accounts are a safety risk because the trigger can be accidentally depressed when tanks tip over. To prevent this, close the valve safety lock.

Compressed-air sprayers should not remain pressurized overnight. At the end of the service day, release air from the tank by slowly unscrewing the cap, then raising the valve and depressing the trigger to drain liquid from the hose and extension back into the tank.

Maintenance and Repair. Cleaning and replacing key parts of a sprayer before they fail will prevent breakdowns and costly delays. Monthly cleaning can prevent build-up of insecticide residue in the tank, the valve, and extension.

Do not use chlorine- or ammonia-based cleaners on stainless-steel tanks; these cleaners will permanently damage the brass and stainless steel. Nozzles wear with normal use, and can be damaged when cleaned with metal objects. Replace nozzles when 350 gallons have been sprayed.

Manufacturer repair kits provide the parts to maintain and replace those of the pump mechanism, valve and nozzle. The valve washers, extension cables and gaskets wear with normal use, but can be replaced with a few simple tools.

Handling & Abuse. The stainless-steel and brass construction of professional sprayers can create an “unbreakable” image for technicians using them. These tools are designed to be durable but not to be mishandled. Compressed-air systems operate within specific limits or tolerances. If even just one of the components of a sprayer — tank, hose, valve or nozzle — is damaged, the entire system can fail. Equipment maintenance schedules and repair costs are based on normal wear; careless abuse can result in costly repairs or complete replacement.


During normal sprayer operation, liquid is under pressure from the tank to the nozzle. A break anywhere in the system can result in an insecticide spill. This can be prevented by careful inspection of the path of liquid from the tank to the nozzle for damage to gaskets, hose connections, valve mechanisms or nozzles.

A small leak in the valve can put insecticide onto the hands or clothing of a service technician, and drips from a nozzle with a missing gasket can put insecticide on carpet or floors. Sprayers are intended to apply insecticide only where directed; leaks and drips should be corrected.

Repair and Restoration Kits.

The GD-124 repair kit for Extenda-ban valve sprayers provides the components to repair one B&G tank sprayer and Extenda-ban valve. After long-term use, the plunger cup will wear and the spreader plate may become damaged. Replacing these components is crucial to maintaining optimal pressure in the tank.

As shown in the graphic (below), the GD-124 repair kit includes:

  • Pump tube and handle. The short spring is the lock spring for the pump handle; the pump tube gasket, plunger cup and spreader, and check valve are used to rebuild the pump mechanism. A small packet of grease (not shown) can be applied to the replacement plunger cup.
  • Valve. The long spring, three packing washers, and brass soft-seat gasket will repair the Extenda-ban valve. The soft-seat gasket is located directly behind the nozzle assembly.
  • Hose and nozzle. The small nylon gasket seals the hose and siphon-tube connection, the thin nylon gasket seals behind the screen filter. The small, black gasket is located in the nozzle, and it seals the nozzle spray openings, especially the crack-and-crevice straw. Without this gasket, the nozzle will leak.


Many of the topics covered in both sections of the manual are related to information in the first two manuals of the Service Technician series. To aid the reader, the related chapters of each manual are identified in the “Additional Information” sections at the end of each chapter in this book.