You’ve probably heard enough about the importance of correct handwashing procedures this month, so we thought we’d focus on another cleaning procedure instead…
Cleaning concrete pumps and trucks!
Let’s talk about why clean concrete equipment is so important, some best practices for washouts, and common concrete pump washout systems for onsite and offsite cleaning.
The importance of clean concrete pumping equipment
Cleaning concrete pumps and trucks after use is a critical part of every concreting job. If the concrete isn’t cleaned out properly in between each use, the equipment can be damaged or the pump line blocked.
A blockage could cause problems like increased pump pulsations, which can make it harder to control the flow. Or if a damaged pump is used to pump concrete, it could cause a burst line during operation. That’s why it’s important to follow guidelines and best practices.
Concrete washout best practices
It’s not enough to hose your equipment down and get on with the job. There’s a right way and a wrong way to wash your concrete pump and truck.
If you don’t clean your equipment properly and follow safety procedures, you could risk damage to the equipment or potential injuries. And if you dispose of your concrete waste and slurry incorrectly, you could harm the environment (including surrounding land and waterways).
Here are some tips to help you correctly washout your concrete equipment:
Be extra cautious
If you need to clean your line onsite, you’ll need to be extra careful to ensure the high-pressure air or water doesn’t cause residue to shoot out suddenly and/or near people.
Secure your pipe
It’s important to secure your pipe and make sure it can’t move as it’s rinsed out.
Watch out for hose whip
Be aware of “hose whip”, which is where the rubber hose attached to the end of your concrete delivery line gets out of control and whips itself around. This can put yourself and others at risk. To avoid this, operators should remove the rubber hose and reducers from the end of the delivery line before cleaning.
Choose air over water
Generally, water is better for cleaning than air because it’s less likely to cause concrete to dislodge and projectile.
Avoid built-up pressure
Make sure your line has an exit point for the pressure to ensure it doesn’t build up inside the pump or line.
Limit wastewater runoff
Water that’s been used to wash concrete equipment will contain high chromium levels and is very alkaline (pH ~12). This could harm the surrounding soils and groundwater (as well as local aquatic life) if it’s not properly contained.
Contain solid waste
If the runoff solids find their way into drain pipes, they could block them and lead to flooding the next time it rains. Make sure you have a solution in place to capture solids and (ideally) recycle them.
Be extra cautious with air
If you need to clean pipelines with air, make sure you remove the rubber hose from the end and either fit the pipe with a ball catcher or container to contain any debris.
Make sure you have space onsite that’s set aside specifically for your washout OR get your equipment washed out at a nearby offsite facility.
Want more guidelines on what you can and can’t do? Worksafe QLD has a great factsheet you can download.
Cleaning concrete trucks and pumps onsite
There are a number of different concrete pump washout systems and methods you can use onsite, depending on the volume of concrete you’ll need to wash out. These include:
- A sealed skip washout system – A skip container holds all the washout materials (including water and solids) onsite until they can be properly disposed of
- Lined trap – An excavated hole in the ground lined with plastic sheeting holds any liquids from the washout
- Berm trap – A raised wall system (made of soil, lined barriers, sandbags, wood, or straw) contains all the washout materials (both liquids and solids) until they evaporate or can be removed from the site
- Bucket/pallet – If you only need to wash out a concrete chute, you could collect all the liquids and solids in a large bucket or a container on a pallet, before removing offsite
- Drop sheet – A plastic drop sheet may be used to catch runoff some cleaning smaller equipment parts
- Rinse bucket – Collects the concrete aggregates, while allowing the water to escape
All onsite methods all involve a degree of setup and pack up, and most require additional space on the worksite, which may be impractical. There may not be a dedicated area to wash your equipment without negatively impacting the people and environment around you.
Fortunately, there may be another option…
Offsite concrete pump washouts
If you’re looking for a better way to do your concrete pump washouts, check to see if you have an offsite concrete washout facility located nearby instead of doing all your cleanup onsite. That way, you can contain your slurry and clean your equipment without having to worry about water access, contamination, or proper disposal.
We recently set up our own concrete pump washout bay here at Moreton Bay Recycling. Here’s how it works:
Before dumping, trucks need to pull up and park in the designated parking bay and report to the office.
Operators run water through their lines, allowing the slurry and water to run into the reservoir. They’ll do this right away to ensure their equipment gets washed out before the concrete has time to set.
Once the water runs clear, they leave our facility with a clean truck – no mess to clean up!
We’ve set up our facility to ensure that runoff doesn’t impact drainpipes, soils, and groundwater. After our washout area is used, we recycle the concrete and water runoff so that nothing is wasted.
By the way, it’s not just concrete pump trucks that need washing out! Concrete mixer trucks can also stop in at our washout facility to hose out their barrel and chute.
Try our concrete pump washout bay!
Want to try our newly opened pump washout bay? We’re based in Narangba (north of Brisbane, just off the Bruce Highway) so we’re conveniently located for all your jobs between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
You’ll love the added convenience of being able to dump and clean at one location. Plus, you won’t have to worry about setting up (then packing up) a washout station at each of your jobs, which means you’ll save time and money!
– Hilary Dold, General Manager