While a car spray booth can help you get amazing paint finishes, you will also find that they require some maintenance. The spray booth extractors are particularly prone to problems if not maintained. As an integral part of the system, you’ll need to check them frequently.
Spray booths are not just simple tents. They actually protect the interior and the exterior from contaminants. This is done via a basic ventilation system that may or may not have multiple filters set into it.
How a Commercial Spray Booth Works
First, you have the intake fans. These pull air into the booth from outside and may be located at the front of the booth where the doors are, or in the ceiling, depending on the type of airflow desired. The incoming air has to go through intake filters in order to prevent dirt and particles from getting into the fresh paint.
At the other end of the spectrum, the outtake vents remove the air from the booth and vent it outside the body shop. This creates a current of air that moves over the vehicle and helps pull the spray particles out of the booth. The outtake vents are usually located at the back or sides of the booth.
The exhaust vents include fans to pull the air out and at least one set of filters to remove chemicals from the air before it is sent outside. This part is very important, since all the paint chemicals and contaminants need to be caught before being exhausted. However, if the filter gets too full, you’ll end up with poor air flow and contaminants swirling around inside the booth.
Spray Paint Booth Exhaust Types
There are two main types of spray paint booth exhausts. One is dry and one is wet. They each have their pros and cons and can be cleaned in different ways.
Water wash filters require exhausted air to pass through water. The liquid collects any particles from the paint overspray and takes it down to a hazardous waste container. This ends up being like sludge and must be eliminated in a very specific way. The water is also specially treated so that it will bond with the particles of paint and create two types of waste. Some waste will be found on the surface, while other waste will sink to the bottom of the container.
The main advantages of this method is that you don’t need to clean or change out filters, so you can save money and time. You are also able to install a centrifuge that will eliminate the need to skim sludge off the tank. Finally, there is no slowing of air when the filter is full, so you can paint all day without stopping if need be.
Remember that the sludge created from the collection of paint particles is a toxic substance and must be disposed of as hazardous waste. You also need to use chemicals to treat the water and the initial installation is pricy, making this a better option for an industrial spray booth that will process high quantities of paint each day. The initial price makes it less popular for smaller shops.
The dry exhaust filters are a more common option and require filters to be replaced on a regular basis. The dry filters fill up with paint particles as the air is forced through them and once the porous material is blocked, the air flow will change. This can affect the ventilation throughout the booth and you will find it difficult to exhaust fumes.
While dry filters do need to be maintained and changed out regularly, they are more than adequate for the average body shop with low to medium paint volume. They’re also ideal for the occasional paint job and considerably cheaper overall, though you do have ongoing costs for the filters. They are also cheaper to install in the first place.
One of the biggest benefits of using the dry filtration system is that you could feasibly collect powder coating finishes and reuse them. This method of recycling allows you to save money and reuse what would otherwise be wasted powder and resources. Dry systems can also be designed to expand in order to fit your car body shop needs.
Spray Booth Maintenance Made Easy
The absolute simplest way to maintain everything and ensure that your spray booth is always in working order is to hire a service that can come and service it for you. This should be done a minimum of once a year. However, throughout the year, you’ll need to clear out your extractors and ensure that they are functioning correctly. How often this is done will depend on the type of system you are using and the frequency of use.
After each use, you’ll need to make sure there are no leftover paint particles inside the booth. It’s a good idea to leave the exhaust system running for a while after you finish painting, just to completely flush the air out and ensure there are no tiny bits of colour floating around. This prevents colours from one paint job marring the next one. You really don’t want to have unexpected bits of colour getting onto another vehicle.
Risks of Poor Maintenance
If your ventilation system isn’t working very well, then your paint booth could easily end up being a danger zone, both to you and to the environment.
First, without proper air flow, your paint job won’t turn out well. Dust particles and other types of contaminants will be free to get into the booth if you don’t have properly functioning filters and fans working. The end result is a poor paint finish. It will come out spotty and could have irregularities due to the particles landing on the fresh paint. You never realize just how much stuff is in the air until you have a mirror finish on a vehicle and notice all the dust that lands on it.
While a poor paint job can affect your bottom line, it’s still not the end of the world. In fact, if you are very careful, you can still make money with a poorly functioning paint booth. The big problem is that there are more dangerous issues that can crop up when the booth is not properly ventilated.
Your risk for fire increases significantly, for example. The fumes from the paint used in painting cars can be quite dangerous. Not only is it bad to breathe it in, but your space will be filled with highly flammable particles that are in the air. Without correct ventilation, you can’t eliminate these particles. A single spark or even a combination of volatile chemicals and you’ll have a fire in your booth. It can be a very explosive fire, as well, since the entire air will literally burn.
You can add fire suppression systems, but the truth is, once the air explodes, you have bigger issues on your hands and a suppression system won’t be able to prevent serious injury. It’s far better to maintain your ventilation system and ensure that those potentially dangerous chemicals are being flushed out of the space immediately, with fresh air being pumped in.
Of course, simply being in a space where there are so many chemicals in the air can be very bad for the human body. You may notice that you have lung problems over time and if the booth is not properly designed and built, those chemicals can leach out of the booth and cause issues throughout the body shop. You should be wearing some sort of protection anyway, in case of overspray, but it’s always a good idea to ensure that the air is flowing properly, as well.
Regular inspections, careful use and maintenance, as well as filter changes whenever necessary will help you finish the paint job without breathing in too many toxins. A paint booth can be useful, but it exists for a good reason and that is entirely to protect the paint finish and the environment. As long as you keep it in good working order, you can enjoy the benefits that having a paint booth can bring you.
Are you ready to add a whole new aspect to your body shop? With an industrial spray booth, you can ensure beautiful finishes for your clients. Talk to us at Haltec today to find out which booth would be perfect for you.