How To Keep Your Spray Booth Running in Optimum Form
Replacing filters is only the beginning when it comes to keeping your booth – and your shop – up and running.
There is no bigger investment in an auto body shop than the paint booth-its price usually runs well into five figures. And the booth is where the final, most visible step in the repair process takes place. This is where vehicles are painted, dried and, essentially, are made acceptable or unacceptable to the customer.
The Difference Between Success and Failure
A properly maintained paint booth can mean the difference between success and failure for a repair facility. More importantly, it can mean the difference between business as usual and total disaster. That’s why safety, not just performance, should be a primary consideration when it comes to paint booth maintenance.
An improperly maintained spray booth is a fire hazard: Inside the spray booth the paint technician becomes a chemist of sorts, creating a fine spray from a flammable liquid. This means that the potential for fire is always present.
Don’t Overlook the Obvious!
Most manufacturers agree that an overlooked filter can ruin a repair, resulting in it loading up and getting dirt on the job that is being painted. Manufacturers typically recommend that paint arrestor filters be changed at least once a month, but this schedule can vary with several factors, including:
- Volume of material sprayed each day.
- Type of spray system (high-volume, low-pressure, airless, higher or lower air pressure).
- Outside atmosphere (the presence of pollen, road dust, etc.)
- Materials sprayed (high-density materials produce less overspray).
Most manufacturers base filter replacement recommendations on the number of hours the filters are in use. To determine your shop’s schedule, record spraying hours on a weekly basis over a one- or two-month period. Next, determine the weekly average.
Check with the booth manufacturer before choosing another type of filter. Your distributor may recommend an alternative type of pre-filter or exit filter because it offers longer life or greater efficiency. Filters must meet designed airflow levels to operate the spray booth properly.
While filters may be the most important aspect of paint booth maintenance, the fan motor is sometimes the most overlooked. Fan motor belts can glaze, harden and slip, resulting in a loss of airflow. Manufacturers typically recommend an inspection of the belts every three or six months and a replacement once per year. Be sure to replace the belt with the proper one, not a substitute such as an automotive belt.
In a heated air makeup booth, combustion blowers and burners are also often overlooked. One of the major causes of a problem blower or burner is body plastic dust in the motor. Get it serviced regularly and take it apart to clean it.
Maintenance must be done only when the booth is shut down-and make sure it can’t be turned back on. The main switch on the control panel should be off and locked. Also, the equipment in the booth (especially the generator) can make the booth very hot. It’s best to let the equipment cool down before beginning any maintenance. A very basic, yet important detail to keep in mind about booth maintenance is that it is designed for applying paint finishes and curing those finishes, not for prepping or sanding.
For Painters Only
Limit access to the booth. Only the painter should be in the booth, and painters should change into their painting clothes inside the booth. Also, do not open both doors unless the booth is operating.
Proper Maintenance For Maximim ROI
Some shops take maintenance extremely seriously. Booths can be customized to facilitate maintenance. Walls are painted with polyurethane enamel, whose surface resists dirt and is easy to clean. They are washed down once a month. The floors are ceramic tile. “You can clean ceramic, you can’t clean cement”. You can use Scotchbrite and lacquer thinner to clean the floors once a month. The outside should be wiped down once a month, and filters (depending on use) are changed every two to four weeks”
If your paint booth has windows that means using that means using steel wool on booth windows regularly. “Hey, they get overspray on them.”
In general, cleanliness is next to godliness when it comes to booth maintenance. And because of the environment in which the booth is located, it takes constant vigilance.