Improving one man efficiency on large commercial jobs

Hello everyone,

I’m relatively new in the business but have some large shopping center sidewalk jobs coming up. I’m a one man show at the moment and was looking for ways to increase efficiency. All suggestions welcome (besides hiring a help. I will eventually.) .

My setup:

  1. Rental hot water rig: briggs engine, 4.8GPM pump, 300 gallon tank, bypass into the tank.
  2. 22" surface cleaner with caster wheels
  3. 300’ of pressure hose
  4. 36" wand. Multiple tips, primarily 40 degrees

Current efficiency multipliers:

  1. Equipment: 6000PSI ball valve to swap between wand and surface cleaner without turning off machine. Water temp at 180 degrees to help remove gum fast
  2. Techniques:
    -work in sections to buff then sweeping with the wand to push dirt off the sidewalk and past the fire zone line(100’ for narrow sidewalks/50’ for large areas).
    -Laying out hose and working outside to inside away from the truck to avoid fighting the hose with the buffer and then sweeping the dirt from the buildings out toward the street. Cleaning overspray from the building as I work outward

I may be missing a few steps from my process at the time of writing but that’s generally how I operate. Just looking for tips on equipment and procedures to be faster and still do quality work.

Thanks in advance

I don’t get to do lots of ground surface but i’ve read a good tip about using a leaf blower to get the loose stuff first in a thread.

Your machine isn’t big enough to push a 22in surface cleaner. Get a 16inch. You lose 300psi per 100ft of hose. Cut back to 200ft. Get a Eagle Wash and get rid of the ball valve, especially if you are using hot water. It isn’t insulated and isn’t necessary. A 25degree low pressure tip and a 6 inch wand and a turbo nozzle for your 36 inch wand

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You just deleted all of his “efficiencies” :grimacing:

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They weren’t what he thought they were and I’d
rather hear the truth myself lol. My first meeting with my landa guy Diego set me back $20k and hurt my feelings but it was the best meeting I’ve had in this industry


for me, I need 8gpm and a 5.5gpm to be faster. AND, if you dont already have a reel for the supply hose, get one. and a downstream remote cutoff. yes, carry extra parts.
oh, and a mix tank if you can. mixing every stop is a time waster you can always make hotter in a pinch.

Are you cleaning center when open, or at night? Got pics?

Get you a 4’ lance - that 36" will get real old quick if a lot of gum. Don’t worry about the hose, do a row or 2 next to building, get hose behind you and work towards curb. Most commercial building, especially shopping centers, do a pretty good job of sloping concrete away from building. If you work towards building the hose is going to act as dam for all the dirty water. Clean an area, pop gum in same and then rinse. If you need to clean face of curbs, do while in that area. If you come back, than you’ll have to re-rinse a lot of the area you’ve already done because no matter how hard you try, you’ll blow some dirt back up on to walk. Also, assuming you’re doing curbs and gutters, use SC on gutter part, if they have, then when you get to top of curb make sure to let SC overhang about 3-4". Will help clean face, but more importantly will blow a lot of the crap at base of curb out of the way so that you can then just take your 40deg tip and walk along hitting face of curb in one pass. (another reason to have 48" wand).

What are you doing for door seal protection, to keep water from going under doors?

IBS is right, a 22" with under 5gpm is going to be crawling. 20" maybe, smaller better. With only that much flow you’re going to lose about 130psi per 100" of hose so make sure you have tips to adjust psi on surface cleaner down to 2800-3000 since it’s a rental unit and you don’t know what it’s really putting out. Would check with pressure gauge when you pick up to see…


All I have to say is @Innocentbystander suggested I ditch the ball valve for a pressure gun and a short 6" wand and it has been a huge time saver. Take the gun off your surface cleaner, screw on a 1/4" male connector and go to town.


I’m gonna try that, just because ever since getting covid, I dont seem to be as fast, its weird. maybe im taking too many little breathers.

Now that I’ve switched from 4gpm to 6.8gpm, I totally understand why you are not a fan the ball valve; especially with employees. I feel like I’ve traded a super soaker for a fire hose!

Go another 1.2 GPM and it gets even better

I was expecting a 70% increase but I’m totally convinced the output has doubled. Also, pulling the strongest mix I’ve ever had through a 2.3 injector. I’m totally thrilled with this setup but I have to say, you can’t possibly imagine a more well behaved unloader than the ZK1. The hose drags around like the machine is off until you hit the trigger. It’s a game changer.

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you need to be using a 2.1 or even a 1.8 if you want even stronger


I’ve got those handy, but I think the changes in my plumbing had more impact than expected… about a foot of 1/4 tubing & a 90 degree elbow were eliminated. Thanks for the ZK1 suggestion! This thing is fabulous.

Why ditch the ball valve? When I’m buffing sidewalks I have to switch to the wand to spray the dirt to the street. It also helps when cleaning large apartment breezeways so I can disconnect sections of hose to get them out of the way and set up on the next floor. However I am looking for a ported surface cleaner to clean the interior breezeways soon. Then I’ll only have to wand the stairwells.

I’m cleaning at night. When buffing the dirt doesn’t just flow down towards the street, it just kinda sits on the surface so I have to follow up with the wand and fan it out onto the street.

For the record I’ve been renting rigs until I can afford to buy one. However since business is picking up I’m going to get a loan soon and buy a rig. So far I own my surface cleaner and water recovery unit and a generator.

My rental place is a hotsy dealer so they build great rigs. They have 4.8gpm hotsy units and 5.2gpm ramtechs.

The 24" surface cleaner runs well enough at 5.2gpm even if it isn’t ideal. I will get a 5.5 or 7gpm unit eventually. I only rent the 4.8gpm units for apartments to keep water use to a minimum in interior breezeways so walls don’t leak. I use higher gpm units for shopping centers.

I only use 300’ of hose in large apartments. Surface cleaning I only pull out about 100-150’. Less hose management, especially around bollards and plant beds.

I’d upload pics but icloud is being difficult.

That’s not how that works. It’s gonna take X amount of water to clean something. It’s more effecient to use that amount quicker. You don’t need to be unhooking hose to clean breezeways. A ball valve really has no use in the washing world of you have your equipment set up correctly. I know a thing a two about apartments lol.

It doesn’t take much water to clean dog hair and dirt from the floors. The cleaning time is mostly limited by how fast I move vs the amount of water the wand is spraying out. I sweep quickly side to side down the halls towards my water recovery unit and spot treat any gum or stains (pretreated with degreaser).

The ball valve allows me to move a 100 foot or 50’ section of hose out of the way as I move down the hallway without having to go downstairs to the machine to turn it off and back upstairs to disconnect, reconnect and then down again to turn the machine on again.

I still don’t understand the hate for the ball valve. I’m not using it to clean. It’s purely a tool to remove hose/equipment without turning off the machine. It’s saved me a ton of time.

How do you approach interior apartment breezeways on a 3 story unit? I’m always happy to learn a better way. It’s why I’m here.

You need to figure out how to upload pics, because I don’t have a clue what you’re cleaning now. Not that hard.
How did we go from cleaning shopping center sidewalks to interior apartment walks? You’ve told about 3 different sized machines you rent and 2 different sized surface cleaners you own You need to figure out what you’re cleaning and with what.
What type of apartments are you cleaning, show a pic. Not sure why you would be adding and substracting hoses on a hallway. Don’t worry about ball valve except you have a different one than 99.9% of the washers that use, myself included, have.

Your wands and surface cleaner works plug into your gun. There is no need to turn a machine off to swap between them. Why are you using a recovery unit on breezeways? Isn’t there grass outside the building?