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Narrow down my portable extractor search!

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  • Narrow down my portable extractor search!

    With over 500 models of machine to choose from, if you can answer some of these questions, we can really narrow down the search!

    Do you want gasoline powered or electric? (gas is used for companies that have or expect over $50,000 per year in sales, electric for high rise applications and just starting your company) The comments below are geared to electric machines.

    What size tank capacity are you looking for? (3-4 gallon, 6-7 gallon, 9 to 12 gallon, 15 to 17 gallon, 20+)

    Do you want a heater installed? Heated machines are twice as aggressive as non heated machines. Every 1750 watts of heat adds 25 degrees to cleaning temperature to carpet cleaning and 50 degrees to upholstery cleaning. Do you want to mount the heater on the inside of the machine? Or use an external mounted heater to lighten the weight of the extractor and make it easier to lift the equipment in and out of the truck? You can also have non-electric heat exchangers installed. These type of heaters heat water with the exhaust that is generated from the vacuum motors to heat the water or they just wrap copper coils under the hood of the extractor. You can have both exchanger and electric on the same machine, or just one. Electric heaters can be mounted inside the fresh water tank (before the pump), or 'in-line' (means after the pressure pump.) In line heaters can be mounted internally (under the hood of the extractor) or externally (parked next to the extractor or mounted on the exterior wall). External heaters are available in different power cord configurations, amp draw, watts, etc... We have customer use multiple electric heater in series. You can also consider outside style heaters (propane, kerosene, and diesel.) Propane, Kerosene, and diesel heater work so well that they can heat cold water but have to be left outside the building. Electric heater are designed to re-heat or boost the building hot water. Please do not think that electric heaters are going to heat cold 65 degree water to 165 or 200 degrees. This is unrealistic.

    Do you have a limit to the number of power cords you are willing to pug in? Are you 'OK' with using the customers electric 230 volt dryer plug? (Machines are made to operate on one, two, three, or four 120 volt power cords or have a 230 volt option <remember power consumption is a direct result of cleaning efficiency>) What are the breakers rated at on the buildings you clean? Does each power cord have to be able to operate on 15 amp breaker or do you usually have 20 amp breakers available? Remember: Power consumption is in direct response to cleaning efficiency. The more power the machine uses, the faster, cleaner you can get the carpet. If you compare a single cord 15 amp machine to a dual corded 20 amp machine (40 amps total), the 40 amp machine will easily clean 2.5 times faster and with 2.5 better results. If you don't want to make the day of it, be like "Tim the Tool Man Taylor"... More Power. The most prepared cleaner will be ready to plug into a customer's regular wall outlets (120 volts), the customer electric drier or stove outlet (230 volts) and have a back up generator on board. It is recommended to use the customer supplied electricity first and the generator is for back up situations only.

    Do you need a machine that is auto fill and auto dump? (Great for cleaning larger jobs, using power wands, tile and grout cleaning, and de-flooding, or just cleaning with more efficiency) With out auto fill and dump and you want to use a power wand or do tile cleaning, you will spend about 10 min cleaning and 10 min filling and emptying your machine. 50% of you time is spent not cleaning. Very frustrating.

    What is the maximum hose length you would like to run? (Do you want to: have the machine follow you around the house <dual 2 stage vacs- 50 ft>; leave the machine on the first floor and just run the hoses to the second floor for cleaning, using power wand, and air duct cleaning<dual 3 stage vacs or triple 2 stage - 75 ft>; or even leave the machine in you truck while you clean, using power wands, and air duct cleaning<Quad 2 stage vacuum -200 ft>?) To find out how much hose a carpet cleaning machine can operate, visit

    How much water pressure do you what? (More psi means being able to clean faster. With 100 psi machines, you have to prescrub and preclean the carpet and use the machine to just rinse the carpet, while 400 to 500 psi is preferred by most pros) If you purchase a machine that sucks water out of tank the cleaning pressure can be one half of what the machine is rated for. For example, depending on the size of the spray jets on the cleaning wand, a 500 psi machine might clean at 250 psi while you squeeze the trigger on the cleaning wand, a 250 psi machine migh only clean at 125 psi.... If you purchase a machine that is fresh water tank-less and uses the building pressure to boost the water pressure, squeezing the trigger on the cleaning tool causes minimal water pressure drop (Like the Goliath 500).

    Will you use the same machine to clean ceramic tile floors? (800 to 1000 psi capabilities) 1000+ psi machines have pressure regulators on them and you can clean at a true and full 500 psi cleaning pressue just like gasoline powered machines. (remember electric 500 psi machine only clean at 375 psi, 250 psi machines clean at 185 psi, 100 psi machines clean at about 65 psi.) If you purchase a 1500 psi machine will almost clean tile twice as fast as an 800 psi tile cleaning machine. Pressure = Speed. Heated machines clean twice as well as non heated machines but most (not all) high pressure electric machines are cold water units (they only use the supplied water temperature) Pumps that develop more pressure also weight more, so many 1200 psi systems use external pumps. One machine for sucking and the other for water pressure. This allows for the power cords on the suction machine to be dedicated to more suction. (internal pumps less suction - external pumps more suction)

    How heavy can the machine be? (What is the height of the floor of the service truck you have to lift to? Do you want to use a ramp to save your back? Are you going to have a helper and be able to team lift the machine? The maximim weight that most poeple can lift by themselves is 150 lbs.) The more power you place inside the machine the heavier it becomes. Add a tile cleaning 1000 + PSI water pump on the inside of a machine and you just added another 65+ lbs. Maybe you might be willing to roll in a vacuum unit and then roll in a pressure unit, OR maybe you want the two units together??

    Are you going to cleaning alot a vacant apartments where you are going up and down a lot of stairs? (Machines that have ten inch wheels or larger, or have balloon tires, or both) The taller the handle the easier it is to pull up starts. Maybe you might want to lighten the load by removing the water pump all together and clean with High Flow Cleaning by using the buildings water pressure??

    Do you want to be able to offer more than one method of cleaning? Do you want to be able to offer both steam cleaning, rotary shampooing, dry cleaning, guaranteed dry times, flood pumping? (Being able to diversify your company will help keep sales up. Do you want the same machine to clean tile floors and air duct cleaning too?)

    Do you want to run 1-1/2" ID vacuum hose or 2" ID vacuum hose? Some machines are ported with either hose as an option and some you have to use the 1-1/2" ID hose. 2" vacuum hose works better than 1-1/2" ID hose but us bulkier, stiffer, heavier, and dries the carpet better. Maybe you want to use both 2" and 1-1/2". In other words run 100 ft of 2" hose followed by a 15 ft 1-1/2" vacuum hose leader and the best of both worlds (my favorite).

    Do you want to run a power wand with this machine? Power wands use twice as much water as regular wands so you would need a machine that has more than the usual amount of vacuum (at least 6 stages) and auto fill and auto dump. To see examples of a power wand visit

    Do you want a Self Contained machine? Self Contained units are primarily used to clean low profile carpet in wide open spaces. This is a machine that spays and suck up the water without the use of any hoses to the cleaning tool. In other words the entire machine is either pushed or pulled over the carpet and the machine applies the water/cleaner >scrubbing might take place >then the vacuum shoe travels over the carpet to suck it up. Self contained extractors can have CFR (continues flow recirculation -CFR machines allow you to use the same water and chemicals up to 7 times before have to clean the machine. The dirty water is pick up, filtered and then used again and again for non stop production) or are self propelled (the pull themselves over the carpet - you just steer) Non of the self contrained machines are heated. Some clean both direction some only clean forward, and some only clean walking backwards. Some self contained machines agitate the carpet through increased water pressure, some agitate by rotating spray jets followed by rotating vacuum shoes, others agitate by use a brush similar to the way a vacuum clean agitates.