Today, jet/vac combination units are used by municipalities, contractors and other businesses for a wide range of applications. Most notably, jet/vac units are used to clean out sewer and storm water pipes.

High-pressure water, together with powerful vacuum suction, mean these types of projects can be completed quickly. The trick, of course, is making sure that those jet/vac units are always in peak condition so that they can work up to their potential. Whether you’re operating in a small village in Ohio or in a large city in Georgia, the goal is always the same: complete a quality job, do it safely, do it quickly, and complete it on or under budget.

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One of the best ways to accomplish all of those goals is to make sure you properly maintain the unit. Here are some tips to help keep your jet/vac unit humming throughout the year.

1. Safety Is Job One
Each and every operator of a jet/vac unit should be thoroughly trained on how to use every facet of the machine. An operator should not only know all functions of the unit but should also be trained on all safety procedures related to operating the jet/vac unit. Remaining focused on safety will not only be beneficial to the operator(s), it will also help ensure that the equipment is used properly and effectively.

2. Inspect All Hoses Before Going Out on the Job
The operator should do a complete inspection of all hoses to make sure that there are no cuts, scrapes, gouges, etc. Using a compromised sewer hose can be extremely dangerous, and, of course, the ramifications for the jobsite could be significant. Any suspected issues with the hosing should be fixed before the jet/vac moves to the job site. Following NASSCO guidelines for this process will be beneficial.

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3. Inspect All Facets of the Truck/Chassis
Execute a complete DOT inspection before the unit leaves. This type of inspection includes testing the lights, brakes, tires, and fluids, to name just a few.

4. Use Gauges as your Guides
The gauges on your machine are not there to take up space on your dashboard. These gauges are critical and are your guide as to whether your machine is operating within the prescribed ranges for which it was designed. If these gauges are broken or not reading accurately, they need to be replaced promptly. Improperly working gauges means that you will not be able to tell if your unit is under or over performing. This can indicate a serious mechanical issue that needs to be addressed.

5. A Visual Inspection of your Machine Is a Must before you Leave for a Job
Visually inspecting the entire machine should not be an “every so often” event. This needs to happen daily.

  • Before operation, check all screens and filters to ensure they were cleaned and properly installed from the day prior. Also, make sure fluid levels are in the proper operating range. Check for any loose or missing hardware. Look for spots on the ground or the floor under the machine indicating leaks, and finally, make sure you have all tools and equipment needed to complete the day’s scheduled work.

  • During operation, again look for any drips that could indicate a leak. Listen for any unusual sounds that do not sound normal. Be on the lookout for smoke or dust discharging from your vacuum system, as these are definite indicators of a problem.

  • After operation, double-check and verify that you returned to the shop with everything you had with you. In other words, did you leave anything at the job site by accident? Inspect and clean all tools and equipment so the unit is ready to roll on the following day. Check for any damage or missing components. Finally, clean and empty all debris and check and clean all filters and screens recommended by the manufacturer.


6. Lubricate as Recommended
Like any vehicle, proper lubrication is critical. Failure to do so can cause premature failure of the jet/vac unit.

7. Service According to Recommended Service Intervals
All machines have recommended service intervals. Making sure that the machine is serviced at these recommended intervals will help assure that your unit is kept in peak working condition.

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8. Consult the Manufacturer’s Service and Operations Manual
Even if your operator has worked with a similar machine as the one you are going to have him or her operate, the operation of your machine will likely be different. This is not the time or place to play hero. Remember, if it doesn’t SOUND RIGHT, LOOK RIGHT, OR SMELL RIGHT, shut it down and investigate what the problem is. Do not leave the shop until you are sure the jet/vac unit is ready to go.

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Whether you’re operating in a small village in Ohio or in a large city in Georgia, the goal is always the same: complete a quality job, do it safely, do it quickly, and complete it on or under budget.



Naturally, a jet/vac manufacturer can always be contacted directly if you are running into consistent or complex problems. Contacting a local dealer who can come out and take a look is a great way to get some fresh eyes on your issues, and sometimes someone direct from the manufacturer may even come to evaluate the situation. You should also know how to access parts and other types of support from the jet/vac manufacturer.

No matter what the scenario, preventative maintenance always seems to inspire rolled eyes. Whether it’s our health, a jobsite, or a jet/vac unit, the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the first instinct. Almost always, however, regular maintenance can prevent costly delays, injuries, and more. These tactics may seem like a pain on a daily basis, but the time they save and the safety they help secure is well worth the investment.
Eric Johnson is service manager for Hi-Vac Corp., which manufactures AquaTech combination jet-vac systems.

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