A vacuum truck is a multifunctional cleaning machine that can suction liquid, semi-solids, and even brick debris at up to 16,000 cubic feet per minute, storing collected debris in a holding tank just behind the cab before being transported to a disposal or treatment facility. Although a vehicle purchased from a vac truck for sale operates well during suctioning, removal of collected sludge is a different story. A mixture of liquid and solids in a holding tank can allow the solids to settle at the bottom of the tank which results in sludge build up, which can be quite challenging to remove without the right tools and the right approach.
Sludge can reduce tank volume capacity and even cause corrosion to develop which is why cleaning and removing build-up should be part of a vacuum truck’s maintenance program. Here are some of the best tested ways to remove such accumulation.
- Water Jet – Small amounts of sludge can be easily removed with a water jet. It is important to remove even small amounts of residue as leaving it inside a tank will expose the interior to corrosion and toxic gas accumulation. Water jets can be applied inside through the service portal.
- Vibration – If the sludge is thick and too hard for a water jet to remove, vibrations can also effectively remove it. Some holding tanks are equipped with vibrators to facilitate the loosening of the sludge. If it is not installed, this can be done by filling the tank with some water and driving it around long enough to let the sludge soften, loosen, and be more easily removed.
- Poke and Chop – For heavy, stubborn sludge, the poke and chop method can be used for removal. This requires workers to get inside and literally poke and chop the sludge with a shovel to manually loosen and remove it with a pail if necessary.
- Install Agitator – If a vehicle found at a tank truck for sale location is frequently used for thick sludge removal, it would be practical to install an agitator in the holding tank. This is a mechanical device that continuously swirls collected debris so it won’t settle at the bottom and comes out evenly mixed.
Removing sludge from a holding tank is a messy and dangerous job which makes it important to take safety precautions during the clean-up process.
- Open Tank in Ventilated Area – Gasses are emitted that can be toxic and even flammable. When a tank is empty, enough residue may still remain to emit dangerous levels of gas. To avoid suffocation and ignition, always open the manhole in a well ventilated area to safely release any fumes into the atmosphere.
- Wear Safety Boots and Mask – If the job requires entry into the tank, always wear protective equipment including safety boots, gloves, eye protection, and a mask. Entering the tank has serious risks including exposure to bio-hazardous substances and suffocation from toxic gas, which is why it is important to wear protective equipment when doing this task.
- Monitor Workers – Have someone monitor any worker inside the tank and be able to call for help in an emergency situation. Sludge can emit toxic fumes, causing dizziness or even suffocation. Constant communication should be maintained at all times.
Purchasing a tank truck for sale means that cleaning is a must. It is necessary to prevent damage to the holding tank to maintain the best working capacity. Cleaning a holding tank and following safety precautions at the same time is the best way to ensure a highly functional piece of equipment without preventable safety risks!
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