Winterize Your Car Wash: Why, When, What & How

You’ve arrived at a remote tropical beach for a three month stay, with provisions coming only monthly. You discover you forgot to pack sun block, lip balm, hat, bathing suit and sufficient water. Think it wouldn’t happen?

Expect the Best. Prepare for the Worst.

How about this: It’s been a great year. Your car wash traffic is insanely prosperous, with not one hiccup in operations or equipment performance. All systems go! Then, when the season really starts cranking, your system “suddenly” stalls and fails. How many hours, days are you willing to be “out of business”?

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken. WRONG.

Despite predictions for a severe winter, many car wash operators neglect to take the time to check their systems, before there is a problem. Deferred maintenance leads to higher repair and replacement costs, including the expense of lost income due to longer down time.

Preparing for Cold Weather Must Happen During Hot Weather

Boilers, water heaters, floor heat systems and components all need to be checked, fired and cycled to ensure proper operation. Avoid waiting to start up these systems until the onset of winter and finding out they don’t work. Here’s a handy checklist to get you off to a good start on winter.

 Winter Prep Checklist

• Inspect and test all units and water heaters
• Check fluid levels
• Check glycol – change if needed
• Check system pressure – pressure test
• Check for leaks and valve functionality
• Inspect boilers and burners
• Make sure burners are clean and clear
• Check heat exchangers and scale build-up in tubing
• Do a combustion analysis
• Check all piping and exhaust emissions
• Look over your control system, electronics and connections
• Check de-icing system and set points
• Make sure manifolds are functioning properly
• Check your zone pumps for efficient operation
• Evaluate your gas and electric output/costs

 How to Get the Best Electric and Gas Rates Available

Evaluate previous years of winter-season bills and come up with an average usage. Use these numbers to determine if it makes sense to lock in a rate, prepay, go with the standard month-to-month billing, or shop for better gas rates. If you’ve never considered these options before, contact your local utility suppliers and ask them for a list of pricing options.

 If You’re Not Sure What You’re Doing, Get Professional Help

We may be able to walk you through certain steps, and can help you find the right professional to assist you.

Chris Rojas, owner of Carwash Boilers, Inc,, is known for helping car wash operators become more profitable by offering high efficiency products and services specifically designed to save on maintenance and energy costs. His knowledge and experience are employed by architects, owners and systems engineers for new build and retrofitting operations. 888.316.8514.

This article appeared in Professional Car Washing & Detailing, November 2014 Cover Story, page 40