Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on October 31st, 2019

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Causes of the 6 Most Common Auto Floor Scrubber Problems & How to Solve

When working properly, auto floor scrubbers effectively scrub and dry floors in one pass, reducing labor and other costs. But, like any janitorial cleaning equipment they can experience issues that will cause them to break or stop working. 

Broken equipment is frustrating, and can be time consuming as well as costly to fix. Sometimes the most common auto scrubber problems can be easily fixed by you, so you can avoid having to bring the machine in for professional repair. Understanding the cause of a problem and how to fix it will shorten repair times and help keep your costs to a minimum.

In this article and video, we will go over some of the causes of the most common auto floor scrubber problems and how to solve them.

Click on the issue you are experiencing below to see the most common causes of that problem and how to resolve it: 

  1. Poor Water Pick Up
  2. Poor Scrubbing Results
  3. Brush Deck Will Not Scrub 
  4. Not Releasing Water 
  5. Will Not Turn On 
  6. Poor Run Time

1. Problem: Poor Water Pick Up

Auto floor scrubbers are designed to leave less water behind than the traditional mop and bucket, helping to create a cleaner and safer environment. 

If your floor machine isn't working properly and is leaving too much water behind, it is no longer effectively doing its job. Your automatic floor scrubber may be leaving water behind for a few reasons. 

Possible Cause: Damaged or Worn Squeegee Blades 

Autoscrubber SqueegeeSqueegee blades are responsible for gathering solution into the vacuum hose. Blades can become damaged by uneven flooring or chemicals. They may also become worn from repeated use. 

Damaged or worn blades will cause the scrubber to leave streaks or patches of water where the blade isn’t level with the floor. 

The Fix: Check the squeegee blade for damage or wear. If there is noticeable damage flip the squeegee blade over, or replace the blade. 

Sometimes the blade will not be damaged, but it can have shifted from use. Adjust the squeegee blade to be level and then test the machine’s water recovery. 

If water is not recovered after replacing the squeegee blade, the vacuum system or recovery tank may be the cause. 

Possible Cause: Recovery Tank Is Full 

Recovery TankIf the solution recovery tank is full, the machine will not be able to retain any more dirty solution. 

The Fix: Empty the recovery tank. 

Pro Tip: On some machines, there will be a float to indicate whether the tank is full or not. The float should be able to move freely. 

Test the water pickup after emptying the tank. 

If the floor scrubber is still leaving water and solution behind, try unclogging the vacuum hose or emptying the debris tray.

Possible Cause: Vacuum System 

Auto floor scrubbers have vacuum recovery systems to suck the dirty water and detergent off of the floor. 

Most machines will require the operator to turn on the vacuum system. 

The Fix: Make sure that the vacuum system has been switched on and the hose is clear of any debris. If the system is not on, turn the switch to on. For build-up in the hose, detach the hose and empty the debris. 

If the vacuum system is on and free of debris, check to make sure all the connections are tight and sealed. All caps and hoses must be tightly secured for the vacuuming system to operate properly. Loose connections will not enable the machine to pick up all of the liquid. 

You should also inspect the vacuum hose for any small holes, kinks, or cracks. Cracks or holes will decrease the amount of suction in the hose and will not allow the scrubber to properly remove liquid from the floor. The vacuum hose will need to be replaced if there is damage. 

Contact an equipment sales representative authorized repair technician if there are any cracks or holes in the vacuum hose. 

Warning: Floor scrubbers that come with a warranty may require that machine maintenance and service only be performed by certified technicians or the warranty will be voided. Check the manufacturer’s warranty before performing any service or maintenance.

Possible Cause: Full Debris Tray  

Almost all automatic floor scrubbers will have a collection tray to pick up large debris such as rocks, bottles caps, and other garbage that the machine ran over. 

Pro Tip: Debris trays are more common on cylindrical auto scrubbers then disc scrubbers. 

Debris TrayThe Fix: Empty the debris tray. If your machine does not have a debris tray, your scrubber may be clogged. Contact an authorized repair technician to identify and remove the blockage.

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to increase the amount of dirty water and solution your autoscrubber is picking up, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

2. Problem: Poor Scrubbing Results 

Possible Cause: Pad or Brush

Auto floor scrubbers use brushes or pads to scrub floors clean.  Poor scrubbing results can be caused by the wrong pad or a damaged pad. 

There are several different types of brushes and pads. The right one for your facility will depend on the floor finish and desired results. Floor Pads

Pro Tip:  If you are dealing with harder floors like concrete, you will likely need to use harder, more aggressive floor pads.  

Floor pads and brushes have a limited life expectancy. Before completing floor procedures, the pad should be inspected for any damage or excessive wear. 

The Fix: Some floor types will require an aggressive pad while others will need a softer pad. Check with an authorized technician to ensure you are using the appropriate floor pad for your floor and floor finish. 

Replace the floor pad or brush if it is damaged or excessively worn. If you are using the correct brush or pad, and it is not damaged, poor scrubbing results may be caused by the wrong pad pressure settings or improper chemical usage. 

Possible Cause: Wrong Pad Pressure Settings

Some automatic floor scrubbers have different pad/brush pressure settings. 

Different pad/brush pressures are important for dealing with different floor types and for performing aggressive restorative procedures. 

The Fix: If you are not getting the desired results from your scrubber, check the pad pressure settings. 

For facilities that are experiencing scratched floors or a loss of finish after scrubbing, your automatic floor scrubber may be using a combination of too much pressure and the wrong pad/brush. Reduce the pad pressure setting. 

For facilities that do not feel their auto floor scrubber is adequately removing dirt and stains, you may need to increase the brush pressure settings. 

If you are utilizing the correct pressure settings, you may have to adjust the chemical dilution and dispensing.  

Possible Cause: Improper Chemical Usage

If your floors aren’t reaching the desired outcome, you may be using the wrong cleaning chemical with your floor pad or brush. Cleaning chemicals emulsify soil and allow the scrubber to easily squeegee the floor, removing dirt and water.

Selecting the right floor cleaner for your floor type and cleaning procedure is critical to achieving the desired results. 

The Fix: Confirm that the chemical you are using is compatible with your floor type. Concrete floors will require an alkaline floor cleaner. Waxed surfaces will require a neutral floor cleaner. If you are not sure you are using the appropriate floor cleaning supplies, contact your sales specialist. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to improve the results from your autoscrubber, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

3. Problem: Brush Deck Will Not Scrub 

Possible Cause: Low or Dead Battery 

Low BatteryBattery operated floor scrubbers will restrict use to certain features when the equipment senses that its battery is low. One feature it will restrict when the machine does not have enough battery is the ability to lower the brush deck to perform scrubbing procedures. 

The Fix: Check the battery. If the battery is low or dead, charge the battery. If the battery is adequately charged, the brush deck may be jammed or damaged. 

Consult an authorized service technician for help. 

4. Problem: Not Releasing Water 

Possible Cause: No Water In Tank 

Water Tank LevelTo scrub floors, automatic floor scrubbers release water to help remove dirt. If your floor scrubber is not releasing water you will likely not be able to effectively perform scrubbing procedures. 

The Fix: An easy fix may be that your machine was never filled with water or it does not have enough water. Fill the tank to the fill line. Test to see if the scrubber will release water. 

If it is still not releasing any water, there is probably a clogged hose or valve. Check the water tank valves and hoses for any blockages. 

Possible Cause: Clogged Solution Tank Filter

Solution filters are commonly forgotten and never get cleaned, allowing them to get easily clogged. A clogged filter will not allow any water to be released. 

The Fix: Remove and inspect the filter for a blockage. If the filter is dirty, remove any buildup and reconnect to the floor scrubber. Once free of debris, the machine should begin to distribute water again.  

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to solve why your floor scrubber isn’t releasing water, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

5. Problem: Will Not Turn On 

Possible Cause: Not Plugged In or Dead Battery 

Upright floor scrubbers are typically cord-electric, while larger scrubbers above 24-inches are battery-powered. A common reason your floor scrubber will not turn on is that it is either not plugged in or the batteries are dead. 

The Fix: For a cord-electric machine, check to make sure the plug hasn’t fallen out of the outlet and that the outlet isn’t faulty. If the device is plugged in, test for a faulty outlet. Plug another device into the same outlet to see if it is getting any power. If the device is not getting any power, the outlet is likely faulty. Try resetting the circuit breaker for the wall outlet. 

Battery DisconnectedIf the device is getting power, the problem is not with the wall outlet. The power cord may have damage or a loose wire and may need to be replaced. Contact a service technician to troubleshoot your cord-electric scrubber. 

For a battery-powered auto floor scrubber, test the batteries to make sure they are charged. If the batteries are charged, the problem should be reviewed by an authorized service technician.

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your floor scrubber won’t turn on, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

6. Problem: Poor Run Time 

Specific to battery operated floor scrubbers, you can experience shorter than normal run time. When your floor scrubber isn't operating for the optimal length of time it is reducing worker productivity and costing you more money. 

Possible Cause: Batteries Are Not Charged 

For maximum run time and machine performance, you should begin every floor scrubbing procedure with fully charged batteries. Operating the machine when the batteries are low will likely cause the machine to stop some features, like the scrub deck, or will cause the machine to stop running. 

The Fix: Charge the batteries. If the batteries are charged and your machine is still not operating for the recommended length of time, there may be a loose connection. Check the wires on the battery before contacting certified technician.  

Pro Tip: You should always charge machine batteries to 100% before using it. Do not opportunity charge, or charge the battery whenever you get the chance. Using the battery before reaching a full charge, will shorten the life of the battery, causing you to have to invest in new batteries more frequently. 

Possible Cause: Pad Pressure Is Too High

Auto floor scrubbers are equipped with different pad pressures to help the machine tackle different jobs on different floor types. Hard or uneven floors may require added weight (pressure). This added pressure can result in increased power needed from the machine. The extra power needed to produce the pressure will shorten the length of time the floor scrubber will run for. 

The Fix: Lower the pad or brush pressure on floors that do not require the extra pressure. 

For floors that do require the added pressure, expect to experience reduced battery life.

Possible Cause: Old Battery

Bad BatteryOver time batteries will experience wear and tear and will have a reduced life. The older a battery, the less charge it will be able to maintain. 

The Fix: Consider replacing your battery for increased run time. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to increase the run time of your autoscrubber, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Final Thoughts 

Identifying the problem and cause of your automatic floor scrubber’s issue will help you determine if you can quickly repair the machine or if you will need to bring it in for professional repair. 

Many times, automatic floor scrubbers will be plagued by simple maintenance issues like a clogged hose or a dead battery that could have been avoided with regular servicing and maintenance. 

Preventative maintenance and scheduled servicing will help reduce the chance of these and other common problems from occurring in the future. You will also experience less unplanned equipment downtime and increased worker productivity. 

If you were unable to make a quick fix using our tips above, EBP staffs highly trained equipment service technicians to troubleshoot and diagnose your janitorial cleaning equipment issues regardless of the brand. EBP operates three distribution centers servicing customers all along the east coast from Maine down to Virginia.

Our team of factory-trained service technicians is gold certified, which is the highest level of factory training available. They are expertly trained to troubleshoot your auto floor scrubber problems, and quickly get your equipment back to operating at peak performance.  

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

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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.