HOW IT WORKS: PRESSURE WASHERS

For a long time, I used a pressure washer without ever trying to understand what goes into making it tick. Honestly, do we even need to know how a pressure washer works to use it? Well, no you don’t need to understand the mechanism of pressure washing but having this knowledge will help in troubleshooting simple problems at home. Spark plug issues, drop in pressure, sudden loss of water flow and similar issues are difficult to diagnose if you have no idea about the workings of a pressure washer.

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WORKING PRINCIPAL - PASCALS LAW.

A Pressure washer works primarily on the basis of Pascal’s law, which states that “when pressure is applied at any point in a fluid stored in an enclosed container, the pressure is distributed equally in all directions and to all points of the fluid.” This law is also the root for all fluid dynamics (the term used to describe anything related with fluids in motion, which is what happens in a pressure washer).

When a fluid is compacted in a closed container and pressure is applied at any point, the pressure travels throughout the fluid and is felt equally by every single molecule. Naturally, when water is compressed like this, it will exert an outward pressure on the container holding it. Now assuming that a small opening is made on one side, it allows water to release some of the pressure by flowing out of this orifice at a high compression rate. Theoretically, pressure exerted on the orifice is inversely proportional to the diameter of the hole. Practically, smaller this hole, greater is the pressure with which water escapes.

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PRESSURE WASHERS - HOW DO THEY WORK?

A pressure washer consists of basically three parts—the pump, source of water and a high pressure nozzle. Controlling all these components is a toggle switch that allows you to release water or hold it within the tank.

Now, the engine or motor used to power the washer can either be electric or gasoline, as you already know. Regardless of its source of power, the working principle remains the same. The pump is run by a piston and cylinder set, which is driven by a pull chord that draws momentum from the engine. In fact, it has the same working principle of a piston engine. The crankshaft in the crankcase is connected to a set of plungers in the pump. These plungers have the same function as plungers in a syringe—to suck and eject water. The plunger works in connection with a cam. Each plunger is instrumental in sucking water from a temporary reservoir that momentarily stores water from the source and holds it until it is used up and makes space for new water to flow in. When the plunger moves up, the water is drawn into the containing cylinder through an input check valve and when the plunger moves down, the water is forced out through an output check valve into a un-loader. The un-loader is connected to a trigger type switch and pressing it releases the pressurized water out of a long narrow nozzle, thus producing pressurized water.

When the trigger is compressed, water flows out and when it is released, the water flow stops. When you release the trigger, a spring valve detects the stopped water flow and allows it to go return to the reservoir or inlet pipe. This keeps circulating until the trigger is pulled. The spring valve mechanism allows the motor to run even when the flow is stopped. During the circulation if the temperature of water increases beyond a particular level, a release valve flushes the hot water, making space for cooler water to flow in.

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TIPS AND PRECAUTIONS

Ok so now that you know how a pressure washer works, here are a few tips and precautions that you will appreciate even more. Well, most of these are written on the product or its packaging but who ever reads them!

  • Care should be taken to use the right fuel for the pump

  • Regular oiling of the pump is required to ensure that its piston and other moving components experience minimum heating.

  • Always flush air from the inlet pipe before starting it otherwise it can damage the valves causing leakage or drop in pressure.

  • The carburetor should be cleaned regularly for obstructions and should be replaced as and when necessary.

  • Use a mild detergent to clean the pressure washer and its components.

Original article posted by Pressure Washer Critics.

THE BENEFITS OF RENTING CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT

Ah, the lure of that shiny, new backhoe loader! But before you pay out hard cash for the privilege of being its proud owner, it may be worth thinking about renting rather than buying. Money is always a key consideration, but so are risk and opportunity. The rent-or-buy decision has an impact on all three. The market for renting construction equipment has increased in recent years. The list of advantages below explains why.

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THE NOTABLE BENEFITS OF RENTING CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT

  • Stop paying for your equipment when you are no longer using it. If your construction project needs specific equipment for a short duration only, that equipment is liable to stand idly afterward if you buy it. Let the rental company worry about finding other users.

  • Get up-to-date technology. The rental market is competitive and incites rental companies to offer recent-generation machines that get jobs done faster and more efficiently. Up-to-date equipment usually also means compliance with emissions regulations.

  • Avoid maintenance costs. Many rental contracts make provision for maintenance (including record-keeping), repairs and spare parts. Check the contract before signing to see what is included. Remember that you may also make further savings by not having to hire or train your own in-house specialists.

  • Stop storage costs. Construction equipment can only take so much idle time outside. Storage facilities to keep bigger pieces of equipment tucked away when they are out of use can be a major capital expense in themselves. But this is another worry you can simply hand off to the rental company.

  • Truncate transport costs. If your equipment is on the East Coast, but your project is on the West Coast, your costs to move your machines could make a sizable dent in your profitability. It may be smarter to rent the construction equipment you need from a rental company local to your project site and wave goodbye to transport costs.

  • Pursue new opportunities. Some projects require specialized equipment if they are to be done correctly and efficiently. Buying the equipment may not be economically viable. On the other hand, rental can let you expand your project horizons while staying profitable.

  • Cut opportunity costs. If you buy instead of renting, you tie up capital that is then no longer available for other projects. That can cost you opportunities you would have liked to pursue. You can keep your options open by renting instead of buying.

  • Make direct tax deductions. Rental costs are often immediately deductible as business expenses. Purchases of construction equipment on the other hand often need to be depreciated over the lifetime of the equipment.

  • Improve your balance sheet. This is another one to make bean-counters happy! Your finance department will appreciate the fact that rental expenses are not considered to be a balance sheet liability. Among other things, you preserve more of your company’s borrowing power.

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FROM RENT TO LEASE TO BUY

Renting construction equipment also lets you try before you buy. You avoid the risk of large investments if equipment turns out to be unsuitable. Under certain conditions such as a lease/purchase option, rental charges can be deducted from the purchase price if you decide buying is the way to go.

WHEN IT MAKES SENSE TO BUY INSTEAD OF RENTING

With all of the advantages above, you may wonder if buying is ever the right decision. If you are sure that you’ll be using equipment every working day of the year, then buying may still be the better option. As a rule of thumb, the cross-over zone between rental and purchase is the usage of the equipment 60 to 70 percent of the time.

You can fire up your PC spreadsheet or, better still, use purpose-built construction management software to calculate and figure out whether buying or renting construction equipment is best for you. Different rent-or-buy decisions work for different companies. Where is the cross-over zone between buying or renting construction equipment for your company? We’d love to hear about it from you in the Comments section below!

Original article written by Rachel Burger.

7 COMMON GRINDING AND POLISHING MISTAKES YOU COULD BE MAKING

Surface Preparation is a competitive industry and the ability to achieve quality outcomes are essential for getting noticed. This blog will touch on the 7 most common grinding and polishing mistakes and why it’s important to correct them.

MISTAKE 1: SELECTING THE INCORRECT BOND FOR THE CONCRETE YOU’RE WORKING WITH.

Once you understand how metal bond diamond tooling works, you can use the general rule of thumb when selecting the tooling for your job.

The “rule of thumb” is:  soft concrete requires hard bond diamonds and hard concrete needs soft bond diamonds;

  1. Soft Concrete = Hard Bond Diamonds

  2. Medium Concrete = Medium Bond Diamonds

  3. Hard Concrete = Soft Bond Diamonds

  4. Very Hard Concrete = Extra Soft Diamonds

A major mistake contractors make, is selecting the incorrect bond for the concrete hardness and doing so will result in two outcomes…

  1. The diamonds do not cut- often due to heating up and glazing over. (This happens mostly on hard concrete.)

  2. You will wear out your tooling prematurely

Either way you end up wasting your time, and money, and your results will suffer.

MISTAKE 2: RUNNING THE GRINDER UNNECESSARILY FAST

A common mistake an operator can make when feeling under pressure, is running the grinder at an unnecessarily fast speed. We tend to see this happening when an operator wants a faster production rate and will turn up the speed of the grinder in efforts to accomplish more in less time. However, this increased speed can overheat and “glaze over” your diamonds (especially on hard concrete) which prevents them from cutting properly, or at all (as mentioned earlier).

To give you an example, our Predator grinder/polishers run a maxim drum speed of 1,200 rpm when dial set at 10 (full power). Although it can go 1,200 rpm if need be, generally it’s recommended to set the dial around 4.5-5.5 which runs the drum at approximately 600rpm. An operator can then adjust up a little or down a little to get the best performance.

Finding the right speed is important but speed alone doesn't necessarily equate to better production rates. Ultimately, greater downward pressure = faster grinding

There are two ways of achieving this: A heavier machine will obviously give more head pressure but, so do different diamond options;

  1. Single Round

  2. Double Round

  3. Single Rectangle

  4. Double Rectangle

If you are operating a smaller machine (like the P-1800 & P-2400 for example) a Single Rectangle or single round will give more down pressure because you have double the square inch pressure, compared to a double round or rectangle; allowing it to cut faster. Opposite is true of the larger machines where a double segment will offer a better performance because it is grinding a larger space at one time.

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MISTAKE 3: GOING FOR THE LOWEST PRICE DIAMONDS… SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE PRICE

Although sometimes price isn’t always an indicator of quality (or lack thereof) when it comes to diamond tooling, it’s important to make sure that price isn't your only criteria of consideration for purchase. Poor quality diamonds wear faster, and inconsistently. They can scratch floors, and generally perform poorly, usually with limited or no support from the vendor. Buy from a trusted vendor willing to stand behind their products. This will save you time and money in the long run.

MISTAKE 4: NOT INSPECTING YOUR FLOOR BEFORE STARTING

A metal bond diamond will grind and polish almost anything from steel, brass, glass, etc. AS LONG AS, the material is not “above grade” (raised above the floor surface). Make sure you inspect the floors for anything above grade and either cut off, hand grind to level, or smack with a hammer to knock below grade. Once you’ve eliminated the above grade issues, you can grind it along with the concrete resulting an interesting detail that adds to the personality of the floor. If you DO NOT inspect the floor and deal with the parts above grade before you begin grinding, you will most likely knock your diamond segment off and can do a lot of damage to your machine. 

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MISTAKE 5: NOT UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS NEEDED FOR THE DESIRED OUTCOME

Here are a couple questions and cautions for determining what your starting diamond will be…

  • What finish am I trying to achieve? i.e.  Cream Polish? Salt & Pepper Finish? Heavy Aggregate exposure?

  • What is on the floor now that must be removed before the polishing process can begin? Like epoxy coatings, VCT, Ceramic Tile etc.

Here are some important things to be aware of…

  1. Most polishing will start with a 40G metal bond diamond to expose the salt & Pepper or aggregate.

    1. If doing a cream polish you will almost NEVER start with a metal bond diamond as it will remove the cream, and once it’s gone… it’s gone forever.

    2. If removing material like an epoxy flooring before the polishing process do not succumb to the temptation to use a more aggressive diamond like a PCD as it will make deep scratches that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

    3. When you’re not sure what diamond to start with, err on the side of caution and start with a less aggressive diamond, because you can always drop back to a more aggressive diamond, if need be.

MISTAKE 6: NOT REMOVING STUBBORN SCRATCHES IMMEDIATELY

When polishing a floor, you must keep an eye on the finish you’re producing as you go. If you see faint scratches starting to appear you must remove them immediately, rather than “hope” the problem will cure itself… because it won’t - it will only continue to manifest as you polish up the floor.

For instance, if you are running a 100G resin bond diamond and you start to see scratches, do not think your next step, with 200G resins, will remove them. You must remove them with the 100G or if necessary fall back to a more aggressive diamond like a 50G or 30G resin before you move onto the next step.

To reiterate: Remove the problem scratches as soon as you see them. Do NOT leave them and hope they go away… because they won’t and your results will suffer because of it.

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MISTAKE 7: NOT PROPERLY MANAGING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

This may not seem like something that is overly important but in reality it’s incredibly important. Every customer has a vision of how they want the floor to look upon completion- sometimes it’s achievable but not always, so it is important to effectively manage customer expectations. This is often what contractors new to polishing and grinding find most difficult.

It is so important to properly educate your customer on what is a reasonable expectation for their floor, because every floor is different and has its own “personality” so to speak.

Here are some potential topics that should be covered before work begins…

  1. If removing VCT before polishing, you will most likely see a “ghost shadow” of the VCT that will NEVER go away no matter how much grinding you do- and you won’t see it until the polishing part of the job.

  2. Be aware of hidden imperfections like spalling, trenches etc.

  3. Never promise a consistent monolithic floor (all salt & pepper or all cream finish) promise the opposite, because you will have inconsistencies, cracks, spalling and the like. It is simply the personality of the floor and that is what polished concrete is. If the end user wants a more consistent floor finish, then possibly an overlayment will be required to get the floor to the desired finish..

Again, if you're ever uncertain and need some clarification it is important to reach out to the dealer or manufacturer and get their advice on how to move forward. 

Original article written by Randy Wheelis.

KEY COMPACTION TIPS

In any type of construction, it’s often your base or foundation that determines the long-lasting success of your project. The more compact and dense your building base is, the more likely it will be stable and secure in the future. Compaction is the process of compressing various ground materials to reach a certain level of hardness and density. Two of the most common machines used in construction for compaction are Rammers and Plate Compactors.

Rammers compress the ground materials by striking the surface with weight and force while Plate Compactors use consistent weight and vibration to compress the base material. Both of these machines achieve the same results but use different methods to achieve it.

Regardless of the machine you chose to get the job done there are two important factors to consider to ensure the job is done right….

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UNDERSTAND AND ADHERE TO THE CORRECT COMPACTION SPECIFICATIONS TO THE PROJECT.

All projects have a specific ground compaction requirement based on the project being built over the base surface. It’s important to know what the compaction specifications you are trying to achieve as directed by the project engineer or project manager. All engineers will have a specification of compaction based on the project they are building.

To determine the required compaction specification a Standard Proctor Density Testis often requested by the engineer. This process is done in the lab to test the site soil density by applying various moisture content amounts to the soil and applying a controlled compaction method to determine the optimum compaction specification.  When the optimum compaction rate is determined a nuclear gauge is used on the site after compaction to confirm the soil base meets specifications.

A key factor in compaction is to remember that not all soil types are the same and can vary greatly from jobsite to jobsite. Soil differences like clay, sand, silt and gravel (or any combination thereof) has an impact on achieving the desired specification. If you fail to achieve your required compaction specification, or if you compact beyond the optimum compaction rate, you can decrease compaction and increase project risk on the site. A standard Protor Density Test provides the engineer the required compaction information, and the nuclear gage measures the results on the site to ensure the compaction meets specifications.

For projects that don’t require a specific engineer specification, a general ‘rule of thumb’ spec. for compaction will often require a base of 1,000 lbs of compaction for every inch of material. This number will vary depending on the project being built over the surface, and the base mixture. If you are going to ensure a successful and long lasting project always know your base mixture and follow the required compaction specification for the project.

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USE THE CORRECT TOOL TO GET THE JOB DONE EFFICIENTLY 

Generally speaking either a rammer or plate compactor are capable of compacting the same types of material, but typically Rammers work better on cohesive material (materials that compress like clay) and Plate compactors are more effective on granular materials (like crushed stone). Both of these types of materials compact well, but have different ways of compacting. Granular materials ‘interlock’ as they compact, cohesive materials compress as they compact.

Another factor in choosing the right tool often has to do with ease of use and accessibility. Rammers by nature are smaller and more light weight and achieve compaction by repeatedly ‘hitting’ the surface with the ‘shoe’ of the machine to compact. They are easy to get into tight areas like trenches and easy to transport onto jobsites using simple pickup trucks or small transport vehicles. Plate compactors are often used for larger wide open areas that can be accessed a little more easier. These units (depending on their size) are heavier and are often transported on equipment style trailers or trucks.

Compaction is a simple procedure but its important to know what compaction specification you are trying to achieve – testing for optimum compaction and pairing the right type of compaction equipment with the project job site to make sure things go smoothly, easily and to spec.

Original Article Written by Mike Huggins.

HOW TO PROPERLY USE A POWER TROWEL
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If you place concrete, or work around construction sites that do, then you are likely familiar with power trowel machines. They are the machines that look like upside down fans that sit on top of concrete and are used to trowel and finish a concrete slab. 

Most power trowels are usually used on mid to large sized projects and can be a walk behind or ride-on design. Using a power trowel isn’t very difficult to do from a beginner’s standpoint – but it does take hours of experience to master them and use them like an artisan (which is how many experienced operators use them). 

But for those of us who may not be so familiar with them - this blog gives you the basics you need to understand and properly operate a power trowel.

THE WALK BEHIND TROWEL : BREAKING-IT-DOWN…

Let's start at the beginning…. Power trowels are fairly simple in their design and operation, but as an operator of any type of equipment, it’s important to know the key components, how they work, and why. 

There are 6 general components that make up a typical walk behind trowel: the handle, the engine, the gearbox, the spider assembly, the trowel blades and finally the safety ring. 

The Handle is how the operator steers the unit and operates the controls mounted on the handle. The engine is the main driving force behind the machine which drives the shaft that enters the gearbox. The gearbox is the ‘heart’ of the unit which makes it critical to faithful operation and performance. The gearbox connects to and powers the spider assembly. That’s why having a reliable, well engineered gearbox is critical to any power trowel. The gearbox drives the spider assembly. Connected to the spider assembly are the trowel blades which spin in a fan-like motion when powered by the engine. Finally there is the safety ring which encompasses the spider assembly and protects the spinning blades.

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STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM UP – THE TROWEL BASE

The base of the power trowel is “where the rubber meets the road” or in this case where the machine meets the concrete. The general purpose of any power trowel is to make lighter work of troweling and finishing concrete.

In any concrete pour there is the important step of troweling the concrete to continue the process of consolidating the concrete and to aid in the process of squeezing out the excess water and laitance. The process of troweling also aids in bringing the ‘cream’ of the concrete to the surface of the slab. Troweling also plays a key role in the final finish, as it helps hardens the concrete and improves the appearance of the finished slab.

POWER TROWEL ATTACHMENTS - BLADES AND PANS

When you are ready to start troweling it’s important to choose the right attachments/blades. The power trowels use blades and other plate-like attachments that are mounted on the spider assembly arms in order to accomplish the desired result in the process. 

Float pans are large metal discs (pans) that attach to the bottom of the unit by clipping onto the trowel blades. Float pans are used in the early stages of troweling and are often used when the contractor wants to get on the slab as early as possible to start the process of troweling. Because float pans are essentially large discs that fasten to the bottom of the trowel, the large flat surface helps to distribute the weight of the machine evenly over a larger area allowing it to ‘float’ on top of the concrete instead sinking or digging in which could happen if you use typical trowel blades too early in the process.

Float blades are wide flexible blades that typically clip onto your finishing blades and provide a similar results to a float pans. The float blades also aid in distributing the weight of the machine over a larger surface area allowing the operator to start early with the troweling process. These blades provide flex when pitched and minimize mud-slinging and gouging of the concrete in the early stages.

Combo Blades are a hybrid type blade – they are wider and more flexible blades than finishing blades and are also used so that the contractor can get on the concrete faster and start the troweling process sooner. The blades are made of a wider flexible metal that distributes the weight of the machine and allows the machine to distribute its weight evenly over the concrete surface as the operator trowels. There is a little more ‘flex’ in the blade which allows for a more gradual contact between blade surface and concrete when pitched. Again – similar to float blades this avoids the aggressive edging that you would typically get from a finishing blade when it is pitched at a higher degree.

Finishing Blades are more narrow than combo blades and are typically more ridged. The stiffer more ridged blade allows the operator to put a more aggressive edge on the blades when it is pitched.

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PITCHING THE BLADES OF A POWER TROWEL

The operator of a power trowel uses pitch to control how much edge of the blade he wants to put into contact with the concrete in order to accomplish three things:

  1. continue the process of burning out the water from the slab (removing excess or trapped water)

  2. bring the cream of the cement to the surface

  3. finishing to the smoothness and hardness to the degree desired

Pans are usually attached to the bottom of the blades with the blades set at zero pitch. Float blades are attached to finishing blades and are started with a zero to slight pitch. Combo blades are usually started with zero or a very slight pitch and then the blade pitch is gradually increased as the slab hardens and sets. Finishing blades are usually used once the concrete has hardened a little more and the pitch can be set higher to a more acute angle so that the blades ‘burn’ and squeeze the excess water out of the pour.

When pitching you want to avoid pitching the angle too fast to avoid ‘cutting’ into the concrete or slinging mud from the top surface. As a rule of thumb, always start off with a slight angle and increase slowly as required.

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STEERING THE WALK-BEHIND POWER TROWEL

Walk behind power trowels have a very simple method for steering the unit – similar to a floor buffer. Pulling up on the handle moves the unit to the left, pushing down on the handle move the unit to the right. An alternative steering method for a walk behind trowel would be to palm down on right handle and palm up on left handle with slight down pressure on the right handle will move the unit right. Palm down on the left handle and palm up on the right handle, with slight down pressure on the left handle will move the unit left. These two simple methods give the operator total control and ease of steering when operating the unit.

STEERING THE RIDE-ON TROWEL

When using ride-on trowels, steering is also a simple process but can take a little time to learn the subtle movements and behaviors of the machine. On a ride-on trowel the operator sits on a chair straddled between two spider assemblies fitted with trowel blades. The operator has two steering control levers to move the machine. One on the right side of his chair and one on their left. The left lever moves in a forward and backward motion which allows the operator to move the unit forward and backward on the left side of the unit. The right handle moves in a ‘cross’ type motion (forward, backward and left and right) this allows the operator to move the unit forward and backward plus move the unit to the left or right.

Moving both handles into the forward potion allows the machine to move forward. Moving both levers into the back position allows the power trowel to move backwards. Moving the right handle to the left moves the machine to the left, and moving the right handle to the right moves the unit to the right. Because the right and left levers can be used simultaneously the range of movement the operator can produce is unique and specific. These types of control handles provide a tremendous range of flexibility in movement. In fact, an experienced power trowel operator can expertly maneuver the power trowel easily around a large surface to ensure full coverage, as well as navigate pillars and obstacles in their path.

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GOOD TO GO WITH OPERATING YOUR POWER TROWEL – EMPHASIS ON SAFETY, FINENESS, AND EXPERIENCE.

As discussed, understanding and operating the basic features of a power trowel is quite easy and logical. Following the operations of the machine in the methods described above and operating the machine according to it’s safety specifications will produce great results for all projects.

The critical component of operating a trowel is WHEN to use it and how much to use it on your concrete project. Understanding the nuances of troweling takes experience and finesse. Most contractors have their own methods for determining timing and have preferences and specific specifications for “how much and how long”. By following the simple techniques above and becoming familiar with how your machine operates and behaves on a concrete surface, you will become one of the many artisans who can finish quality concrete.

Original article written by Mike Huggins.

MAXIMIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT PURCHASING POWER - SECTION 179
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What is the Section 179 Deduction

Most people think the Section 179 deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn’t, as you will see below.

 

Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.

 

Several years ago, Section 179 was often referred to as the “SUV Tax Loophole” or the “Hummer Deduction” because many businesses have used this tax code to write-off the purchase of qualifying vehicles at the time (like SUV’s and Hummers). But that particular benefit of Section 179 has been severely reduced in recent years (see ‘Vehicles & Section 179‘ for current limits on business vehicles.)

 

However, despite the SUV deduction lessened, Section 179 is more beneficial to small businesses than ever. Today, Section 179 is one of the few government incentives available to small businesses, and has been included in many of the recent Stimulus Acts and Congressional Tax Bills. Although large businesses also benefit from Section 179 or Bonus Depreciation, the original target of this legislation was much needed tax relief for small businesses – and millions of small businesses are actually taking action and getting real benefits.

Here’s How Section 179 works:

In years past, when your business bought qualifying equipment, it typically wrote it off a little at a time through depreciation. In other words, if your company spends $50,000 on a machine, it gets to write off (say) $10,000 a year for five years (these numbers are only meant to give you an example).

 

Now, while it’s true that this is better than no write-off at all, most business owners would really prefer to write off the entire equipment purchase price for the year they buy it.

 

And that’s exactly what Section 179 does – it allows your business to write off the entire purchase price of qualifying equipment for the current tax year.

 

This has made a big difference for many companies (and the economy in general.) Businesses have used Section 179 to purchase needed equipment right now, instead of waiting. For most small businesses, the entire cost of qualifying equipment can be written-off on the 2018 tax return (up to $1,000,000).

Limits of Section 179

Section 179 does come with limits – there are caps to the total amount written off ($1,000,000 for 2018), and limits to the total amount of the equipment purchased ($2,500,000 in 2018). The deduction begins to phase out on a dollar-for-dollar basis after $2,500,000 is spent by a given business (thus, the entire deduction goes away once $3,500,000 in purchases is reached), so this makes it a true small and medium-sized business deduction.

Who Qualifies for Section 179?

All businesses that purchase, finance, and/or lease new or used business equipment during tax year 2018 should qualify for the Section 179 Deduction (assuming they spend less than $3,500,000).

 

Most tangible goods used by American businesses, including “off-the-shelf” software and business-use vehicles (restrictions apply) qualify for the Section 179 Deduction.

 

For basic guidelines on what property is covered under the Section 179 tax code, please refer to this list of qualifying equipment. Also, to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction, the equipment and/or software purchased or financed must be placed into service between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.

What’s the difference between Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation?

Bonus depreciation is offered some years, and some years it isn’t. Right now in 2018, it’s being offered at 100%.

 

The most important difference is both new and used equipment qualify for the Section 179 Deduction (as long as the used equipment is “new to you”), while Bonus Depreciation has only covered new equipment only until the most recent tax law passed. In a switch from recent years, the bonus depreciation now includes used equipment.

 

Bonus Depreciation is useful to very large businesses spending more than the Section 179 Spending Cap (currently $2,500,000) on new capital equipment. Also, businesses with a net loss are still qualified to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry-forward the loss.

 

When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by Bonus Depreciation – unless the business had no taxable profit, because the unprofitable business is allowed to carry the loss forward to future years.

Section 179’s “More Than 50 Percent Business-Use” Requirement

The equipment, vehicle(s), and/or software must be used for business purposes more than 50% of the time to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction. Simply multiply the cost of the equipment, vehicle(s), and/or software by the percentage of business-use to arrive at the monetary amount eligible for Section 179.

QUICK BEGINNER TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CONCRETE FLOOR GRINDING

If you're new to concrete grinding, I'm sure you've realized that it can be a lot more complicated that it appears. There are so many variables that can affect the final outcome so being prepared and having a few tricks up your sleeve can be incredibly beneficial. 

We've compiled a short list of tips that address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding effective grinding. These tips will help you, as you continue to grow your floor grinding business.

QUICK TIPS TO HELP:

  1. First, make sure you are using the correct diamond tooling with the appropriate bond hardness, for the floor you’re grinding. This can make or break the efficiency of your grinding job. Using the wrong tooling will end up in your tooling glazing over, or prematurely wearing out. You’ll end up having to spend a lot more on tooling than you should, and it will take up a lot more of your time.
     
  2. Throw a bit of sand onto the slab before grinding- especially if there is leftover sticky residue on the surface. The extra grit will help open the diamonds segments on your tooling and act as an additional abrasive. 
     
  3. If you are using a ‘Multi-directional’ grinder, reverse the spinning direction of your heads from time to time to re-open your diamond tooling. This will help you to get as much out of your tooling as you can. This will also help to prevent scratches and inconsistent wear patterns.
     
  4. If your tooling has glazed over or become ineffective, bring it to a new part of the concrete and begin grinding to re-open the diamonds. This can be especially effective when removing adhesives or coatings. (If this fails to work- see Tip #1)
     
  5. Pre-soaking the slab will help maintain a lower surface temperature of the concrete and tooling. Doing this will help to keep the diamond tools working effectively. This is especially true in hotter climates or when the slab may be subject to warm working environments. 
     
  6. Initially, leave your dust collector on a lower power setting so that the dust can accumulate a little under the machine. That will allow some of the particles to help open your diamond tooling. This tip can also be very useful when removing a very ‘sticky’ adhesive, because the dust mixes with the adhesive residue so it’s not as sticky. This helps to keep your tooling cleaner and performing their best. 
     
  7. In some difficult grinding jobs, using other equipment along with your grinder can be very beneficial. Using a Shot Blaster or a Ride-On Floor Scraper are a great way to remove some leftover glue on the slab prior to grinding. Scraping off that excess glue beforehand will help you save time and improve the performance of your tooling and grinder. This can improve your production rates quite a bit.

Whether you’ve been grinding concrete for years or it’s your first day on the job, there’s always room to improve your skills so that when unexpected issues arise, you are prepared to deal with them effectively and efficiently.

HOW TO BEST REMOVE TILE FROM A CONCRETE FLOOR

Removing tile from a concrete floor can be a huge task for any flooring contractor. Often retail or commercial projects will have a large amount of square footage of tile to be removed, with a very tight timeline.

There are a few ways to remove tile from concrete floors. In this blog, we will touch on a few of the main ones and go over the pro's and con's of each to help you find the best tile removal method for you and your job. Some methods will be easier and faster than others, but at the end of the day all methods will get the job done. Finding what works best for you and your job specs is keys.

WITH SMALL HAND-HELD EQUIPMENT

There are a lot of quality, small hand-held equipment options in the market that can remove tile from concrete surfaces. Typically, hand-held equipment is best for smaller removal jobs because of the time it takes to remove the tile, and the effort needed by the operator. Below is a brief list of the Pro's and Con's

PRO'S

  • Less expensive
  • Easier to use without previous experience
  • Easy to maintain
  • Great for tight spaces, by walls, and corners

CON'S

  • Lower production rates- especially for larger removal jobs
  • Labor intensive
  • Less effective on older tiles because the adhesive tends to have a stronger bond over time

When using any piece of equipment, it is important to know what it can, and cannot do. If a hand-help piece of equipment is the only tool you're bringing to a floor removal job, make sure your expectations are realistic. A hand-held unit is sometimes useful as a second removal tool to get into the tight spaces. These units are more suited for occasional tile removal jobs, or smaller residential projects.

WITH A WALK BEHIND FLOOR SCRAPER

A Walk Behind Floor Scraper is the next step up from a hand-held unit. One thing to keep in mind is that not all Walk Behind Floor Scrapers are made the same. There are only a few on the market that can effectively removal tile from concrete floors because of the power needed to do so.

If you would like some more info on how to compare Walk Behind Floor Scrapers, check out this blog.

Here are some of the Pro's and Con's of using a Walk Behind Floor Scraper:

PRO'S

  • Easy to use
  • Depending on the unit, less labor intensive
  • Effective removal
  • Easy to use in smaller areas and rooms

CON'S

  • Still a little small for larger jobs – make sure to check production rates
  • Although stronger than a hand-held unit, it can struggle on very tough removals
  • Higher price point than a hand-held unit

Walk Behind Scrapers are a great option for removing tile from concrete in many ways. Just make sure that if this is all you have at your disposal to not take on huge jobs with tight timelines. Even though they are much more productive than a hand-held unit, reality is, they still have limitations because of their smaller size.

WITH A RIDE ON FLOOR SCRAPER

A Ride-On Floor Scraper is one of the most productive ways to remove tile from concrete floors. These machines can remove a large amount of square footage much quicker than the hand-held or walk behind options we talked about above.

There are different types of Ride-On Floor Scraper on the market and some can remove tile better than others.

Here are some Pro's and Con's of a Ride-On Floor Scraper

PRO'S

  • High production rates
  • Easier to operate
  • Effectively removes the toughest flooring, quickly and efficiently
  • Drastically reduces labor needs and operator fatigue

CON'S

  • Highest price point of all three options
  • Requires some operator training

Ride-On Floor Scrapers are one of the best machines for removing tile from concrete. Removing tile can be a difficult and labor intensive task, but using the right equipment will ensure the process goes much smoother.

At the end of the day, the best way to remove tile from concrete is going to be based on the size of job and the timeframe for completion.

If you’re not sure what is best for you, we suggest renting a few different types of units first to see how they work for you and your business. If you’re unsure, renting will give you the best understanding of what you need going forward, without having to make a large investment upfront.

3 THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN BUYING A USED WALK-BEHIND POWER TROWEL

Buying a used piece of equipment can be a great way to save money if you know what to look out for. Otherwise, it could end up turning into a waste of your money and time. Buying used Walk-Behind Power Trowels are no different, so how do you make sure that you’re on the winning side of this transaction?

There are 3 simple things to look out for when looking at used Power Trowels to help you weed out the quality pieces from the lemons. Because the nature of equipment can be unpredictable, it can be hard to tell what may or may not be wrong. The tips that we highlight are not a 100% fool proof, and are only meant to help you identify some red flags. Remember that whenever you buy something used without a warranty, you are taking a bit of a risk.

TIP # 1: CHECK FOR OIL & GREASE

One of the things that will help to keep Walk-Behind Trowels running smoothly for years, is proper oil and grease maintenance. If you are looking at a Power Trowel and there are no signs that those two things have been properly maintained, you could run into some problems down the road. The main areas to check for oil are:

  • Gearbox (There should be a place to see where the level currently is)
  • Engine

If either of these look dry or under-oiled, take some caution. Lack of oil in these areas can result in your engine having major issues, and the internal components of the gearbox compromised.

When looking for grease, check around the spiders. Those are the main grease points on a Trowel.

Checking for proper oil and grease maintenance will help you to asses the mechanical state of the unit, but also tells you a lot about how the owners have probably cared for the equipment. A lack of proper care and maintenance is something you want to stay away from, if possible.

TIP #2: PAY ATTENTION TO WEAR & TEAR

The way an operator has used the Power Trowel over the years is one of the most important things to try and asses and pay attention to. If the Power Trowel was treated poorly and not cared for effectively, it can drastically shorten the life and efficiency of the Trowel. As you inspect the Walk-Behind, pay close attention to any dents or bends on the spider arms as this may indicate that the unit has been dropped, or damaged during use.

Although you can't really know how someone used their Walk-Behind Trowel over the years, one of the tell tale signs is the overall state of the machine. If the unit looks like it has been beaten up and not cared for, it's most likely true.

This can indicate the owner has not been diligent with many important upkeep items, which could come back to bite you in the future.

TIP #3: LOOK FOR BRANDS THAT HAVE A GOOD REPUTATION

Not saying that this is the main criteria to use when looking for a used Walk-Behind Power Trowel, but knowing which brands have a good reputation for manufacturing trowels that last, are good ones to look for when buying used. If you're unsure of where to start, do some online and industry research before you begin looking.

Another great thing about buying a used Trowel from a known brand, is parts and product support.Depending on the age of the Trowel, they will be more able to assist you as issues come up since they will always have parts stocked for their older units in the market still being used.

Buying used equipment can be a good option as long as you know what you are getting into. Before you buy used, you may want to check out what new Walk-Behind Trowel prices are, because you may find out that the "deal" you are getting with a use machine isn't really that good.

Hopefully after reading this blog you will be able to find a unit that fits your price point and is in a good enough state to accomplish what you need it to.

WHICH PLATE COMPACTOR SHOULD YOU USE?

Compaction is one of the most important processes in many applications. Whether you are laying pavers, asphalt, or concrete, using a plate compactor is vital to the longevity of the material. With all the different types of plate compactors on the market, it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for your application.

There are a few different ways to figure out which compactor you should be using that we will go over in this blog. This is a very important part of your job to get right because the consequences of having improper compaction can be really bad. When the base shifts you can run into many big issues that cost time and money down the road.

Let's get into some of the ways you can figure out which Plate Compactor is right for you job.

HOW MUCH COMPACTION FORCE DO YOU NEED

This is probably one of the most important aspects to pay attention to when you are selecting a compactor to use. Depending on the base material that you are putting down and how is down will determine the compaction force that you need for proper compaction.

Make sure that you know what compaction force is needed for you job. Under-compacting can cause some serious problems down the road and although it may feel like you are saving some money by purchasing a smaller plate compactor, the issues it can cause in the future will eat those savings.

WHAT SIZE IS THE AREA YOU ARE COMPACTING?

The size of the area is a large factor as well when selecting which compactor you should use. A bigger plate obviously covers more ground per pass, but travel speed also comes in the equation. Different compactors with have different travel speeds that are measure in ft/min.

This is an important thing to pay attention to along side the size of the plate. If you have a slightly bigger footprint, but the travel speed of the plate compactor is much slower than another unit, the bigger footprint may not be doing you any favors. You should be able to simply calculate what the difference in production is.

One important thing to remember is to buy a plate compactor that suits well with the average size of job that you normally do. If you purchase a unit that is based off a one-time need, you may end up with something that does not fit well for the other parts of your business.

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT?

Most plate compactors are fairly basic machines that have very similar features. The main differences are between forward and reversible options. As you may think, the main difference between those plates is that a forward only goes in a forward direction and a reversible plate can go in both directions.

Depending on the type of compaction that you are doing and the layout of the job site will determine which features may be more helpful for you. Generally reversible plates will be better in tighter areas as you don't have to turn the machine around, but you can just walk backwards.

Another features to pay attention to is the shape of the plate. The shape of the plate can help you manever around different obsticles and move around in tighter spaces easier. 

There are some limitations with the different types of plate compactors, mainly the compaction force. Forward plates only offer so much compaction force, while reversibles can offer much more force with larger units.

After you evaluate what you really want and need out of your compactor, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what unit will help you our best.

STANDARD PITCH VS. EASY-PITCH - WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU USE ON YOUR WALK BEHIND TROWEL?

When talking about Walk Behind Power Trowels, the term"pitch" is referring to the angle that the trowel blades sit against the floor. The pitch of the blades should change as the finishing process progresses, and the concrete changes. In the past, there was a standard way that you pitched trowel blades, but over the years other ways have been developed. Depending who you talk to will determine which answer you get on what ways are the best. At the end of the day it comes down to preference.

So, how do you know which pitch option is right for you? In this blog, we will highlight a few things to ask yourself that will help steer you in the direction best for you.

DO YOU LIKE A LOT OF CONTROL OVER THE PITCH OF YOUR BLADES?

Standard or Fine Pitch, as it is sometimes referred to, generally offers more fine tune adjustment than the Easy-Pitch. A lot of concrete finishers that have been in the industry for a long time still tend to prefer the standard pitch for this vary reason. They feel that it gives them more control over the pitch of the blades, giving them the result that they want.

This isn't to say that an Easy-Pitch doesn't offer enough control over the blades, just not as much as the Standard Pitch. The reason that there is more control with a Standard Pitch is because of the technology that it uses. The Standard Pitch uses a knob that doesn't have set positions, where the Easy-Pitch has set positions that the blades will be set at.

If you have been finishing concrete for many years and are use to the adjustments that Standard Pitch offers, then I would recommend you stick with it unless your looking for a change. The Easy-Pitch will be easier overall to pitch the blades with, but you will sacrifice some fine adjustments that may be important to you. If you are newer to using Walk Behind Power Trowels, the Easy-Pitch may be a good option. This is where a lot of the industry is going and it is an option many people love.

EASE OF USE

Both type of pitch options are quite simple to use. Easy-Pitches would be considered easier to use because the process is quicker. All you need to do is depress the handle and then move the handle to the desired position. When using Standard Pitch, it can take a while to turn the knob to get the blades from being not pitch to being fully pitched.

This is not a huge element, but when you are troweling for long periods of time, it can be helpful to have something that is easier to use.

PRICE

Different pitch options normally will change the cost of the trowel you are buying. Depending on how much this option means to you, will determine whether you think that it is worth it. The option to have an Easy-Pitch will normally cost a few hundred dollars extra.

Some power trowel manufactures make you buy a whole new handle in order to incorporate an Easy-Pitch, while others have a bolt on kit to an existing handle. This will also drastically change the cost of this option.

The different pitch options available both get the job done at the end of the day. It really comes down to your preference and what you are used to.

Credit for this article goes to Chris Windsor.

3 FEATURES YOU NEED TO HAVE ON YOUR FORWARD PLATE COMPACTOR

Forward Plate Compactors are used for compacting many different kinds of base materials when prepping for concrete, pavers, and many other types of applications. Compaction is one of the most important parts in the construction process. Poor compaction can lead to the base shifting over time which can ruin an entire project.

In this blog, we are going to highlight 3 features that are extremely helpful to have on a forward compactor. The following features will make using the compactor much easier, and help when moving it around jobs.

WHEEL KIT

Wheel kits are an add-on that is often overlooked when comparing units. Although the wheels only work well in some applications, they are fantastic for moving plate compactors around the shop, showroom, and even many job sites. Depending on the type of units that you are looking at buying or renting, you may notice some come with a wheel kit included and others are available at an extra upgrade cost.

Whatever unit you decide to go with, getting it equipped with a wheel kit is a great option that will make moving the plate compactor around much easier and save you time over the long run.

HANDLE MOUNTED THROTTLE CONTROL

Most Forward Plate Compactors have the throttle control located on the actual engine. This is an awkward position, especially when you are needing to stop the unit after you are finished compacting. Also, having to bend down and stop the unit while it is still moving forward can be a safety hazard. We suggest using a forward compactor that has the throttle control mounted on the handle. Even though this is a simple feature, it eliminates the need to bend down and trying to stop the unit while it's still moving. A handle mounted throttle control makes the overall operation of forward plate compactor much easier and safer.

BUILT IN HOIST HOOK

A secure and trustworthy lifting point on a plate compactor that wont slip, is a necessity. This is usually a standard feature offered on most plate compactors, but sometimes it is an upgrade and extra cost. Make sure to keep an eye out to see if it come's standard or if you'll need to purchase the upgrade.

These features may seem small, but they will add to the overall experience and benefit of your forward plate compactor. Make sure you compare these key features when you are researching what unit may be good for you.

Credit for this article goes to Chris Windsor.