Okay so a question I get asked a lot: What tank should I get for my oven cleaning business. A gas one or an electric one?
In this post I am going to walk through the two and why you might want to consider either. You may be that man who wants to use gas.
Oh there is another system - that doesn't use gas or electricity - it does the same thing - keeps solution hot in dip tank to dip oven bits in. I'll give you a heads up on that too.
Well as you probably know I use an electric oven cleaning dip tank. I've been using one since I started the business in 2004. It has worked fine with no major problems. I had a standard tank that I purchased from the company that I trained with. They had been using this tank for six years and had come up with a design that didn't leak. I used this tank design and then developed my own. My new tank design is in the video below.
So benefits of an electric tank:
1. Saves you a lot of time in the daytime, as once it's heated up you don't need to do anything else to the tank during the day. You don't have to spend time checking, for example, checking, or worrying, that your gas supply is shut off.
2. Saves time on each job as you don't need to stay with the van or have someone working with you who looks after the tank whilst you are in the house cleaning the oven.
And with gas a lot of the time further work is required when things are taken out of the dip tank.
But I'm not sure if I'd still be oven cleaning if I'd ended up with a gas system. And I say ended up with as when I started looking at oven cleaning as a business to add on to my Home Cleaning Agency I didn' t have a clue about the process. That's probably where you are now. Are you?
When I went to see the training company before doing the course they didn't mention what tank they were using. I never thought to ask. I didn't even know about dip tanks. The thought didn't even cross my mind. I didn't know the benefits or why you needed a tank etc. I didn't even though you needed a dip tank!
So it wasn't until I went on the course that I saw the tank and I took the system they trained me on and used that. It's kinda like having driving lessons and buying the exact same car that you passed your test in.
So it took me a while to realise that other people were using another dip tank or system to heat up their solution to dip oven bits in.
I think it was the comments on this blog by other business owners asking how i did my cleans so fast. Or franchisees of well know franchises turning up in our office to find out how we did it. LOL!
I don't think I would have coped that well with a gas system. Or if I had seen it before even starting an oven cleaning business I think it I probably wouldn't have gone any further with the idea. Why?
1. I would have said that you NEED this system if you want to use a Bio or Eco product in your tank solution which means you can be that Pure Eco person. But a couple of things have changed my view on this: I know of an oven cleaning business using bio products successfully in their plastic electric dip tank. And I've heard that franchises and independents that use the gas system are using caustic cleaning chemicals in the house, so that doesn't really fit in with an eco system.
1. Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
2. Potential danger from escaping gas igniting.
3. Slow, hard graft to use the system.
4. Heating up at every job makes each job a lot longer, your day longer.
Well I all too familiar with the effects, or should I say potential lethal effects, of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Because back in 1992, I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. (The gas produced from something burning).
I was still in the Royal Air Force, I was living in North Wales in a cottage. That cottage had a coal fire boiler to heat the central heating. I noticed that it was smoking a lot on start up. That is I used coal to start it, and then I put on smokeless anthracite to burn. It smoked a lot but I didn't take any notice. BIG MISTAKE.
My girlfriend stayed one night. I put the fire on to heat the house. I woke up in the morning with the worst headache ever. I walked down the stairs into the kitchen and then collapsed. Lucky for me my girlfriend dragged me by the feet outside. Lucky that she was there and was able to drag me outside - I'm a big bloke!
We both spent 24 hours in hospital. I got the bird nest which was blocking the chimney removed. We both lived.
So how is carbon monoxide produced from a gas system in an oven cleaning van? Well the gas burner is open. It burns oxygen and produces carbon monoxide.
The van fills up with carbon monoxide. It needs to escape, and you need oxygen to breath. So you either open the windows - if you are in the van. Or open the back doors. But this leaves the burner to the elements and is unsafe. Of course you can have an extraction fan in the roof of the van. But I know of a well known franchise where the cleaning operative stays in the van with the windows open whilst the oven stuff is in the tank.
So the potential leaking gas igniting problem. You can say that this doesn't happen or else you'd hear about it a lot. Well if you had an oven cleaning company would you want people to know that the van had exploded because of igniting gas and that this was caused by badly maintained equipment? Err No!
There have been two oven cleaning van explosions in the news in the last six months with one last week in Swindon, and one last August in Essex. Both independent oven cleaning companies. The one in Essex blew as the operator was driving it down the road. The one in Swindon when it was outside a house - it damaged other cars and injured the operator (not seriously - they lived).
There is a video of the one in Essex oven cleaning van exploding whilst it is being driven. The cleaner gets out safe. Google 'Oven Cleaning Explosion Essex'.
This is the aftermath of the one in Swindon. It looks like the gas had been leaking and as it's heavier than air seeped down into the body of the van. Then the operator went to light the burner...
The only way to judge issues with gas bottle systems in general is to search Google for 'Caravan Explosions' or 'BBQ explosions'. Not all are related to gas leaks but a lot are.
Leaks happen when the tank has been left for a while and the gas escapes from the gas pipework and lays - as it is heavier than air below the tank at the back of the van. When you go to ignite the gas burner it ignites the escaped gas and explodes. Or some electrical circuit in the van, when switched, causes it to explode.
So how do you prevent this from happening? You'd have some regime, procedure, or habit, of checking your pipework for escaping gas. And/Or a shut off value to ensure that gas can't escape at all from the gas canister. Also you'd have everything checked by a third party on a regular basis.
I'm sure all suppliers of gas tanks in the UK or franchises using gas dip tanks have these in hand. So ask them. What servicing and checks are necessary?
An example of gas bottle system checks, as part of the Annual Caravan Check. The gas systems are checked in the following way:
- A manometer checks for leaks in the gas supply system. All gas appliances, such as the oven, fridge, heating system and water heater, are turned on in order to check that they are working properly. All vents will be checked to see if they are clear. Then all appliances are turned off at the gas isolator taps. The Flame Failure Device (FFD) should then cut in, meaning that the check has passed. The CO (carbon monoxide) Room Test requires all gas appliances to be turned on. At the same time, a Flue Gas Analyser runs for a minimum of 15 minutes with all doors and windows closed.
So my recommendation is to use an electric oven cleaning dip tank system. I personally wouldn't use a gas burner with bottled gas system, and with the potential safety issues I wouldn't recommend them. For us safety is paramount. Our electric system and process is easier to use and we can can get more jobs done in a day if we need to in a safe way.
Re the other system. That's is the system that doesn't use a gas burner with bottled gas or electric heating element. What about that? I've run out of time. 🙂 So look out for another post