Warp and Wear

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Sun and heat affect equipment performance and lifespan. Get tips to keep heat-related breakdowns to a minimum.

July 1, 2022

If you’re working in a heat wave or where temperatures are always high, it’s important to take precautions to protect your equipment.

That’s because extreme heat can damage plastic and rubber components and cause machinery to fail.

Andrew Greess, president, Quality Equipment & Spray, a distributor and custom builder of spray equipment for the pest management industry, shared what can happen to equipment when it’s hot outside and how to prevent breakdowns.

FIGHTING PRESSURE. “The biggest impact you see from heat is related to pressure,” said Greess. Hand, backpack and power sprayers use pressure to evenly dispense pesticides.

But in high heat, the pressure in a tank builds up and “will definitely reduce the life of soft parts like O-rings and gaskets and hoses,” causing equipment to fail or leak.

He suggests relieving the pressure in tanks after each service visit instead of waiting to do this at the end of the day.

SUNBURNED HOSES. “Hoses can get sunburned,” said Greess. The ultraviolet rays break down the rubber of spray and supply hoses, making them hard, brittle and susceptible to cracks. Not only does sun and heat damage reduce the life of hoses, but they turn black on one side and “it looks terrible,” he said.

To help reduce sun damage, cover the hoses or keep rigs out of direct sunlight when not in use, and replace hoses with visible signs of sunburn, said Greess.

OIL-BASED PRODUCTS. In high heat, emulsifiable concentrate (EC) pesticide formulations can damage plastic components in pumps. ECs are oil-based, and the combination of heat and petroleum can warp or wear the plastic.

“Pumps are engineered to specific tolerances,” said Greess. “If it warps or changes, you’re going to have an issue. EC formulations in the summer are something you want to watch, especially if you are using a pump that has plastic parts.”

ALGAE GROWTH. Sunlight will penetrate the opaque white tanks of truck-, ATV- or trailer-mounted power sprayers, causing algae to grow in some products inside the tanks. “[Algae is] a pain in the neck because it stinks, and it can foul sprayers and tips,” said Greess.

The tanks are not easy to clean. He recommends using an algaecide from a pool supply store to do this. “You’ve got to deal with it because it just gets worse,” he said.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. High heat reduces battery life, which can cause battery-operated equipment to run hotter and fail.

Belts on gas-powered spray rigs will stretch and “you will need to adjust the pulleys,” said Greess.

It’s also important to remember that gas-powered engines run hotter in hotter weather, which can burn technicians and melt the plastic of other equipment if stored too close after use.

Also, be careful where you store items. “However hot it is outside, it’s hotter on your truck,” said Greess. “[Dark-colored toolboxes are] going to be really hot.”