• March 29, 2023
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10 Floor Scrubber Problems You Can Fix!

10 Floor Scrubber Problems You Can Fix!

Presented by Capital Equipment Hire

Here are 10 ways you can fix your floor scrubber machine without the assistance of a technician! Learn about ways you can maintain your scrubber to prevent technical issues.

Floor scrubber problems suck. No one wants to deal with them and certainly no one wants to go through the time of calling out a technician to help. That costs time and money.

The good news is that out of all the scrubber issues reported to Capital Equipment Hire’s office, about 50% of them can be resolved over the phone. That tells us two things. Firstly, there is a very high chance that you can solve the problem yourself. Secondly, it means not a lot of operators know the first steps to troubleshoot a floor scrubber issue if they come across it. 

That is where Capital Equipment Hire come in to highlight the most common problems they get calls about and ways to resolve them in no time at all. The following is from Capital Equipment Hire, and is in their own words.

Issue – Floor Scrubber Is Not Picking Up Water or Has Poor Suction Power

This is when your floor scrubbing machine is not picking up water from the ground. It could be leaving streaks or puddles on the surface.

Possibility #1 Worn Blades/Incorrect Blade Material

Either some or all of the squeegee blade rubbers have worn out to a point where water collection becomes ineffective. Another possibility is the wrong blade type has been fitted to the machine. For example, primothane/polyurethane material is suited for oil-based liquids. An indicator of worn blades are streaks left on the floor. 

The solution is to regularly check and either rotate your blade to a new, sharp edge or replace the squeegee rubbers with new blades. Contact your cleaning equipment professional for recommendations on the right rubber material for the application. 

Squeegee blade replacement
Squeegee blade replacement. Source: Supplied.

Possibility #2 Blocked Or Split Hose

Poor suction can be caused by a blocked hose. The floor scrubber could have sucked up a large piece of debris, plastic or sludge causing a blockage in the hose or recovery system. Otherwise hose damage, either a split or kink can reduce the vacuum performance and prohibit effective suction. 

The solution is to detach the squeegee hose from the squeegee tool and check hose for suction performance and blockages. Most squeegee tool assemblies can be removed quickly without tools, making it easy for the operator to remove, check and rinse clean the hose. Keep an eye out for yellow touch-points on the equipment, designed as maintenance indicators for the operator. Checking the hose should be carried out regularly or after use to reduce build-up.

Checking blocked drain hose.
Checking blocked drain hose. Source: Supplied.

Possibility #3 Recovery Tank is Full

The recovery tank (the tank that collects the dirty water from the floor) has reached its capacity and can no longer hold more water. This will inevitably affect the scrubber vacuum and recovery hose ability to collect more dirty water.

The solution is to empty and rinse the recovery tank before using the water suction setting again. Most commercial and industrial scrubbers have a drain hose that can be used to empty the recovery tank, otherwise detach the tank from the scrubber and empty it in a nearby drain (check the user manual first). Rinsing the tank at the same time will help reduce the occurrence of odours and blockages. Another good tip is to regularly check the recovery tank throughout the cleaning session so you can plan the best time to drain and rinse prior to reaching maximum capacity. Be sure to refill the solution tank after draining recovery waste to gain maximum productivity, reduce cleaning time.

Possibility #4 The Vacuum Filter or Debris Basket is Blocked

Most modern scrubbing machine models will contain a vacuum filter and/or debris basket to catch solids, reducing the risk of blocking the drain outlet. The debris basket can become full or clogged during the water recovery process if the area hasn’t been swept or vacuumed prior to scrubbing. Always empty and rinse clean the debris basket when draining the recovery tank.

The solution is to detach the vacuum filter or debris basket and dispose of the waste before reattaching to the scrubber. Try and test the water suction setting again to see if this makes a difference.

Blocked vacuum filter
Checking debris basket. Source: Supplied.

Issue – Floor Scrubber Is Not Scrubbing Well

When your floors are left looking washed-out or still dirty after a cleaning session. Dirt is still evidently on the floors’ surface.

Possibility #5 The Floors Have Not Been Swept Before Scrubbing

It is a golden rule that every floor needs to be swept of dry debris before scrubbing. This is because dry debris such as dust or dirt will turn into mud when water is applied and results in dirty water being scrubbed into the floors. It also increases the chances of your filter basket or suction hose becoming blocked. Removing dry debris before a wet scrub will ensure cleaner results and less machine complications.

The solution is to use a floor sweeper, vacuum cleaner or broom/dustpan to dry sweep the floors before scrubbing.

Possibility #6 The Incorrect Scrubbing Pad or Brush Is Being Used

Floor scrubbers have various scrub brush and pad accessory types to fit on the machine, significantly impacting the cleaning results of your surface. Brushes and pads alike come in a variety of abrasiveness to allow users to match the texture scale to the surface type. The incorrect accessory could lead to less thorough cleaning results or fast wear-out of the pad or brush. Smooth floors should use a scrubbing pad. Textured floors should use a scrubbing brush. The level of dirt build-up can also determine which type of pad or brush will provide the best cleaning result.

The solution is to pair the right scrubbing pad or brush to your floor type at hand. Assessing the floor texture and level of dirt will be important indicators when choosing the accessory. 

Possibility #7 Insufficient Water Flow

Most floor scrubbers have a water dosage setting and at times cleaners do not dispense the correct amount of water on the surface whilst scrubbing. The scrubbing motion is meant to lather the water and cleaning agent together, which is why the water dosage level is important. Not enough water can leave swirl marks after scrubbing, and too much water can drain the solution system quickly and reduce water pick up ability (especially on turns). It is also possible the solution filter could be blocked, restricting water flow to the scrub brush.

The solution: Firstly, check whether the solution filter is blocked and clean it out if so. If it is clear, be sure to use the correct dilution rate of the cleaning solution and adjust the water dosage accordingly. Experiment with the different water settings and see which combination returns the most effective scrubbing results. The general rule is to operate the scrubbing system without the vacuum on or squeegee lowered at first. The water flow should be adjusted to have a consistent amount of cleaning solution throughout the whole width of the scrubbing path without overflowing wider than this range. 

Possibility #8 You Are Walking or Driving Too Fast!

Walk behind scrubber in use.
Walk behind scrubber in use. Source: Supplied.

Believe it or not but the speed at which you operate will impact your scrubbing results. If your floors are very soiled or you have never used a professional cleaning machine on your surface, then it will take more time to agitate and clean the surface through the scrubbing motion of the machine. Brushes and pads require sufficient time to scrub the water and cleaning solution together to provide good cleaning performance on the surface.

The solution is to maintain a consistent pace when operating the machine. The slower you operate the machine the better the performance. You may also need to soak the area or double scrub by repeatedly scrubbing the floors to achieve the result you desire. 

Possibility #9 A Lesser Effective Cleaning Chemical Is Being Used

There is a large selection of cleaning chemical solutions available and you need to navigate which option is right for you and the surface you are cleaning. Cleaning chemicals all contain different ingredients and concentrations to suit different floor types. Chances are you need a commercial or industrial-strength cleaning chemical that will agitate the floors more vigorously than a domestic option. A good tip is to always leave the water and solution on the ground for at least 10 minutes to let the chemicals react with the dirt. Be sure not to allow the cleaning solution to dry before scrubbing and picking up the waste. 

The solution is to research different cleaning chemicals suitable for your floor type and dirt levels. If you are looking to shortcut this step, we sell a fantastic biodegradable degreaser that is industrial-strength and suited for the most demanding cleaning applications.

Capital Equipment Hire cleaning chemical.
Capital Equipment Hire cleaning degreaser. Source: Supplied.

Possibility #10 You Are Not Double-Scrubbing And You Need To Be

We have touched on the benefits of double-scrubbing in the past but to quickly summarise, double-scrubbing involves scrubbing the floors twice in a single cleaning session to more thoroughly clean the ground. If you are finding your scrubber is not removing all the dirt to the level you want, chances are you need to scrub twice. The first step is to clean the floor with the water, chemical and brush setting on, allow the cleaning solution to dwell on the floors without drying and finish with scrubbing again with the vacuum setting on and squeegee lowered. 

The solution is to experiment with double-scrubbing. If you have the time, leave the water resting on the floor for as long as you can for the best results.

Other General Maintenance Tips

  1. Clean squeegee blades and recovery tank daily

This will remove any stuck debris from the rubbers that may cause streaking and reduce odours from the tank.

  1. Always scrub with water

Floor scrubbers are wet cleaning machines. They must scrub with water in order to clean effectively. If you use a scrubber dryer without the use of water, you will find excessive dust being trapped in the recovery tank and may cause vacuum motor failure. It is important to vacuum or dry sweep the area to pick up solid debris prior to scrubbing for best results. Use a sweeper or vacuum prior to scrubbing.

  1. Overlap the scrub path

This follows a similar principle to mowing the lawn. When you are scrubbing in rows, allow the floor scrubber to overlap the previous row marginally for consistent and uniformed results. 

  1. Avoid storing a full solution tank

Leaving a floor scrubber constantly with a full solution tank puts pressure on the solenoid and may cause premature failures and other machine complications.

  1. Do not overdose on cleaning chemical

Putting too much cleaning chemical into the solution tank can cause a variety of issues. First of all, it will generate too much lather or foam that will fill your recovery tank quickly and allow excessive moisture into the vacuum motor causing early vacuum motor failure. Secondly, it will leave streaks on your floors even if your squeegee blade is clear and in good condition. Lastly,  your floors will be left sticky and will attract more dust or dirt.

  1. Avoid caustic chemicals in the machine if possible

The use of caustic cleaners will decrease the life of all machine components and your machine will require increased maintenance. Some examples of the impacts are:

  • Hoses – they will will dry out and crack prematurely
  • Valves – they will dry out the rubber valves inside the solenoid valve, causing a leak or blocking the solenoid, restricting water flow.
  • Vacuum Motor – the chemical can dry out/seize the bearings, causing premature motor failure.

The solution is to use other alternate, non-caustic chemicals in your floor scrubber machine.

  1. Always check the user/operator manual

Every brand manufactures their floor scrubbers differently and will have unique maintenance suggestions inside the user manual. Read and be comfortable with this document and always refer to it as your first point of reference. We keep copies of our equipment manuals on our website

  1. Experiment until you are satisfied!

It might take you various times to work out the most effective cleaning method, brush or pad accessories or cleaning chemical to get the results you desire. Continue experimenting and trying different routines or methods out until you find the combination that works for you. Normally we always suggest trying something new in an inconspicuous spot to ensure you are confident with proceeding. 


Coming across different floor scrubber issues is an inevitable part of operating a cleaning machine but it doesn’t need to be a time-consuming task. If all of the above ideas do not work, it is possible that a part failure could be the reason and will need replacement by your preferred technician team. In situations when you are still unable to resolve the issue, contact your cleaning equipment professional who will be able to provide more technical support to your issue. 

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