Winter washing maintenance tips to consider

By |  February 24, 2021
Sean O'Leary CDE


Equipment maintenance is an essential step toward a producer’s success. 

The winter season can, however, complicate maintenance, creating unexpected breakdowns or additional labor if equipment is not maintained properly.

Washing and classifying equipment, more specifically, is especially susceptible to winter complications, as water can freeze and, in turn, damage equipment in a number of ways.

Where to begin

While each producer’s operation is unique, varying in size and the seasons in which they operate, one panacea for producers everywhere is to start by removing all standing water from equipment before shutting down.

“The No. 1 thing, since you’re dealing with a water-based system, is you’re going to want to drain the water out of the lines,” says Sean O’Leary, North American CustomCare manager at CDE, who also is a certified maintenance reliability practicioner. “Drain the water, because we don’t want anything to freeze and crack.”

After all standing water is removed and can no longer gather or pool up, consider related components around your equipment.

Alan Bennetts McLanahan


“Make sure all of your electrical components and your wire leads are covered up,” says Alan Bennetts, global product manager at McLanahan Corp. “You don’t necessarily think about it, but water can get into those junctures, and it may not do any damage because of the water, but because of the freezing it can start breaking some of the fastenings in those situations. So always make sure your electrical components are going to be protected over the winters, or you come in the following spring and all of a sudden you’re replacing electrical components. They’re not cheap, and it’s definitely an ‘unexpected’ breakdown.”

Proactive planning

Beyond removing any standing water, maintenance solutions vary based on an operation’s specific needs or goals.

“It’s not a situation where I can go in and you can pick one of these three models and it will work,” O’Leary says. “What’s the constitution of the material, what are the unique challenges of it, etc. So, unfortunately, there’s no real cut-and-dry ‘just buy Package A and you’re good to go.’”

With no cookie-cutter solutions to solve every producer’s need, proactive maintenance and planning becomes even more essential. One area to keep an eye on, according to Eagle Iron Works’ Trevor Park, is the thickness of shafts.

Headshot: Trevor Park_EIW


“On a screw washer, I’d advise them when they shut down for the winter to check the thickness on the shafts and make sure they’re not getting too thin,” says Park, who serves as director of sales at Eagle Iron Works. “Once they get down to about 65 or 70 percent of wall thickness, that’s when we would advise them to get another shaft on order. That can be a major component that will shut them down for multiple weeks until they can get a new shaft there.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that any maintenance you do, or don’t do, will have a downstream affect for your operation at one point or another.

“The main thing when you’re shutting down is just making sure everything is prepared; that you have a checklist, take care of everything you need to do, because how you shut down is going to affect how you start up,” Bennetts says.

Featured photo: Pit & Quarry staff

Zach Mentz

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