Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on September 12th, 2019

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How to Repair the Most Common Floor Burnisher Issues [VIDEO]

All janitorial cleaning equipment, including your floor burnishers, will break down at some point or another. 

Some problems you will be able to fix yourself, while others will require expert help. If you can solve the problem yourself, you will save time and money, not only on the cost of repair but also on the added labor costs that is required to still get the job done while the broken equipment is being repaired.  

Depending on the floor burnisher power source, you may experience different problems. 

Learn more about the different types of floor burnishers here.

In this article, we will cover the most common problems for each type of burnisher.   

How To Troubleshoot A Floor Burnisher

To jump to a specific section, click on your machine type below. 

Common Problems For All Floor Burnisher Types 

Problem 1: Streaks In The Floor Finish 

The most common complaint about a floor burnisher is that it is causing streaks on the floor. Streaks are happening for one of two reasons, either you are using the wrong floor pad or the floor pad has been installed incorrectly. 

Possible Cause: Wrong Floor Burnisher Pad

Wrong PadYour floor burnisher is likely leaving streaks on the floor because the wrong floor pad is installed on the machine. 

Floor pads for burnishers are not the same floor pads to be used with buffers. Floor pads for both machines are often confused and used interchangeably, but this is not best practice.

Floor burnishers and floor buffers are two different pieces of janitorial cleaning equipment that require different types of floor pads to complete various cleaning procedures. 

Burnishers operate at higher speeds than buffers. Burnishers create a friction between the floor pad and floor to heat the floor finish and produce a “wet-look” shine. Floor pads for burnishers are typically lighter in color to avoid color transfer. The combination of heat and the wrong floor pad, such as dark-colored floor buffer pads, will cause streaks or colored spots on your floor. 

Solution: Make sure you are using the appropriate floor pad for your floor burnisher. To learn more about the best floor pad for your burnisher, read our article: “What is the Best Floor Pad for your Buffer or Burnisher?[Video]”

Possible Cause: Floor Pad Is Installed Incorrectly

If you are not using a dark colored floor pad, it may be because the floor pad is not installed correctly. 

If the pad is installed incorrectly, you can experience pad vibrations or see hazing on your floor. 

When attaching a floor pad to your burnisher, first center the pad on the pad driver and then secure the pad onto the driver using a pad retainer. The pad retainer is a plastic part that tightens the floor pad to the pad driver. If the pad retainer is not screwed in all the way, the pad retainer will hit the floor and leave colored swirl marks. 

Solution: Tighten the pad retainer so that it does not extend beyond the pad. The pad is tight enough when the pad has a slight bevel and extends beyond the retainer. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

Download your Ultimate Guide to Floor Burnishers Now

Problem 2: Excessive Floor Burnisher Vibration 

Shaking or vibrating more than normal is probably due to the floor pad.

Possible Cause: Floor Pad Is Off-Center 

The floor pad must be centered on the machine. If the pad is not centered on the pad driver, it will not be balanced and will cause the machine to shake or vibrate on the floor. 

Misaligned PadSolution: Remove the floor pad and recenter the pad, then attach the pad retainer. 

Possible Cause: Floor Pad Is Damaged Or Worn 

Floor pads which are damaged or worn will be uneven. Uneven floor pads will cause the machine to be unbalanced, creating the excessive shaking. 

Pro Tip: Pads should always be at least ⅓  of an inch thick.

Solution: Replace damaged or worn floor pads. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Battery Operated Floor Burnisher

Problem 1: Battery Burnisher Will Not Turn On

Possible Cause: The Batteries Are Not Charged 

The most common reason a battery burnisher will not turn on is because the batteries are dead. 

The previous operator may have failed to charge the battery in between uses. 

Solution: Plug the battery in to charge. 

Possible Cause: The Batteries Are Not Connected 

Batteries must be properly connected. 

Solution: Check the wires to make sure they are properly and securely attached to the appropriate connectors. Use the operators manual for guidance. 

Possible Cause: On-Board Battery Charger Still Connected 

Walk-behind and ride-on battery operated burnishers typically come equipped with on-board battery chargers. The machine will not operate if the batteries are plugged into the charger. 

Solution: Check to see if the on-board charger is still connected to the wall. If it is connected, unplug the machine to operate.

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Problem 2: Battery Burnisher Starts And Then Stops  

Possible Cause: Loose Battery Connection 

When a burnisher is turning on and then stopping or only operating for a short amount of time before quitting unexpectedly, the battery and wires may have a loose connection. 

Solution: Check for any loose connections. Tighten any connections between the battery, wires, and clamps.

Possible Cause: Worn Or Old Batteries 

As batteries are used they wear out and have less and less run time. 

Solution: You will need to contact a certified service technician for battery testing and replacement. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Cord-Electric Floor Burnisher

Problem 1: Floor Burnisher Will Not Turn On 

Possible Cause: Floor Burnisher Is Not Plugged In 

The most common reason that a cord-electric floor burnisher won’t turn on is because it is not plugged into an outlet or it has been plugged into a faulty outlet. 

Although this may seem obvious, check to make sure the plug hasn’t fallen out of the outlet and that the outlet isn’t faulty. 

Solution: Test for a faulty outlet. Plug in another device to see if it is getting any power. If the device is not getting any power, reset the circuit breaker for the wall outlet. If the device is getting power, the problem is not with the wall outlet. The problem may be with the electric cord or buffer circuit.

Possible Cause: Damaged Or Frayed Power Cords

Electric power cords for floor burnishers can become damaged or frayed from improper use and storage. When cords are damaged they can prevent the burnisher from extracting power from the wall. 

Abraded WireSolution: Inspect the cord for damage to the protective cover or for exposed wires. If the cord is damaged do not operate the machine. The cord will need to be replaced by a professional. 

Possible Cause: You’re Using An Extension Cord 

If you are trying to use an extension cord with your floor burnisher it may not be able to draw enough power to run the machine. 

Solution: Remove any extension cords and connect the floor burnisher directly to the wall. If the machine does not turn on, the problem is likely with the machine or the outlet. Check the wall circuit and buffer circuit to make sure they didn’t pop. If the floor burnisher powers on, the electric cord may have been too small. 

Pro Tip: If you must use an extension cord, the electrical cord should be one size bigger than the cord on the machine. For example, many burnishers have a 14 gauge cord and will require a 12 gauge electrical extension cord. The 12 gauge will allow the electricity to flow freely for longer distances. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Problem 2: Floor Burnisher Starts, Suddenly Stops, And Won’t Restart  

Cord-electric floor burnishers can trip the circuit breaker for either the wall outlet or machine itself. 

Possible Cause: Tripped Wall Outlet Circuit Breaker

A wall outlet can be tripped when there is a temporary overload on the circuit or a short circuit in the device plugged into the circuit. 

Solution: Test to see if the wall circuit is producing any power by plugging in another device. If the second device does not work, the wall outlet is not working. You will need to reset the wall circuit breaker. If the second device does work, the outlet is working and you should check the machine circuit breaker.

Possible Cause: Tripped Floor Burnisher Circuit

A circuit breaker on the machine is used to protect the motor from power surges. If the motor draws too much power, the circuit breaker will stop the motor to help prevent motor damage. 

Burnisher circuits can trip when some of the cord is not unwrapped from the machine’s cord hook. When the cord is not fully unwrapped, the cord will not receive enough power and will cause strain on the machine or outlet, ultimately tripping the burnisher’s circuit.

Solution: If some cord is still wrapped around the cord hook, unwrap the remaining cord and reset the burnisher circuit breaker.  

Possible Cause: Weak Burnisher Circuit Breaker 

A burnisher’s circuit breaker can be weak from previous short-circuits. The more times that a floor burnisher’s circuit is tripped, the weaker the circuit breaker will become and the easier it will be to trip. 

Solution: If you think this is the case, the burnisher circuit breaker will need to be replaced. Machine service and maintenance should only be performed by a certified technician. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Propane Floor Burnisher

Problem 1: Propane Floor Burnisher Engine Doesn’t Start 

Possible Cause: Overfilled Propane Tank 

Overfilling the propane tank is the number one cause of problems with a propane floor burnisher.  

Pro Tip: Propane tanks should only be 80% filled. 80% is considered a full tank.  

Solution: If you think your tank is too full, vent the excess propane before reconnecting to the burnisher. To do this, using protective gloves, take the tank outdoors and slowly open the valve. Lower the propane amount to the specified level on the gauge. Do not do this near an open flame. 

Possible Cause: The Engine Overheated 

The machine may shut off intermittently if the engine overheats. The most common reasons the engine overheats is because the oil is too high or too low, the carbon deposit in the combustion chamber is too dirty, or the cooling fan is damaged. 

Solution: First, check to see that the oil is at the correct level. Then, clean out the carbon deposit. If the engine is still overheating, check the filter of the cooling fan. If you notice that the filter is dirty, clean the filter. If it is not the filter, check the cooling fan for damage. If there is noticeable wear or damage, contact a certified technician for replacement. 

Possible Cause: Spark Plug

Spark plugs create a spark of electricity that emits across a small gap in the engine. It creates the ignition for the combustion to run the burnisher. If your machine is not starting, the wrong spark plug may be installed or the spark plug may be damaged or worn. 

Solution: Inspect the burnisher’s spark plug. Spark plugs should be light tan or gray. If the spark plug is black or has noticeable damage, it is a sign that the engine is not running properly. Contact a certified technician for maintenance and service. If the spark plug appears fine, the problem is probably not with the spark plug. 

Possible Cause: Low Or No Oil 

Low or no oil may cause the burnisher not to start. 

Solution: Check the engine oil level. If the oil is low, fill to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Pro Tip: Engine oil should be changed every 20 hours of operation to obtain maximum life of the engine. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to get your burnisher up and running, contact a authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

Final Thoughts 

Identifying the cause of your out-of-service equipment can help you fix the problem without having to bring it in for professional maintenance.  When you can identify and solve your burnisher problem without having to bring it in for maintenance you will save time and money.

If none of these common causes and solutions were able to help you fix your floor burnisher, don’t worry. Sometimes, the issue is more complicated than switching out the floor pad or resetting the breaker, and it will require professional repair. 

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, EBP and other Imperial Dade locations can provide preventative service as well as ongoing service and repair to prevent surprise breakdowns and keep your equipment operating in peak condition. 

EBP has a team of factory-trained service technicians that is gold certified, which is the highest level of factory training available. They are expertly trained to troubleshoot your floor burnisher problems.

Visit our equipment repair page to request additional help troubleshooting your floor scrubber or to schedule routine and preventative maintenance. 

Download your Ultimate Guide to Floor Burnishers Now

For more information on floor burnishers, read some of our other articles:

About Dan Carr

Dan Carr is the Equipment Program Manager for EBP Supply Solutions and a Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified and other training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He holds the ISSA CMI Basic certification and has over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.