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**IMPORTANT NOTE, We do not tie down our Vacuum system with reduced Pipe and Fitting diameters or Post Heat Exchangers that drastically reduce your Vacuum's CFM, like other Manufacturers.
We at Blue Baron, do it right!
Suction Power: CFM vs. Lift
Lets breakdown a carpet cleaning machine. Basically, it is a machine that sprays water onto the carpet and sucks the water & dirt back up. There are other features that make carpet cleaning machines more dynamic, such as: heaters, pressure regulators, and auto features. However, when it comes down to it.... the more suction power you have, the more dirty water you will remove from the carpet. This sounds pretty basic, however, many carpet cleaners forget the basics when searching for a new carpet cleaning machine. It is easy to get caught up in unnecessary "features" that lead you astray from the main thing: Suction Power. Remember, you can put all the water, chemical, heat, and agitation you want down onto a carpet, but if you can't suck it out... you are left with hot, wet, dirty carpet !!
Now that we have focused our attention to suction power, lets define terminology: CFM vs. Lift. Many professional carpet cleaners do not know the difference between the two factors. However, a little knowledge in this area can help you choose the right carpet cleaning machine for your business.
CFM: Cubic Feet per Minute of airflow. This is a measurement of airflow.
Lift: This is a measurement of vacuum "Pull." Commonly measured in Water Lift or Mercury Lift. (To convert between the two, just multiple or divide by 14. Remember, High School Chemistry Class??? Mercury is about 14 times heavier than water. Example: 15" Mercury Lift = 210" Water Lift).
Both CFM and Lift have their purpose in carpet cleaning. However, the measurement that correlates with "Water Pickup" is Lift. The more Lift you have, the more water you can potentially pull out of the carpet. CFM does not pull water out of the carpet. CFM is the measurement of "wind" or "air" sucking into the vacuum motor. Try to think of it this way: When you turn on your vacuum, air is sucked into the vacuum hose. The blower or vacuum motor is trying to create a vacuum (the ultimate vacuum being an absence of air). When you place a wand onto a wet carpet, you create a seal. The vacuum motor continues to suck the air out of the vacuum hose to try to create a true vacuum (absence of air). When air is removed from the vacuum hose, the only thing that can now be "pulled" is the water in the carpet. The measurement of this "pull" is Lift. Thus, Lift pulls the dirty water out of the carpet, not CFM.
Now the obvious question: Why do truck mounts advertise their CFM so heavily? CFM is important on a truck mount, because you are probably going to be using hundreds of feet of vacuum hose. You need a great deal of CFM to remove the air out of hundreds of feet of vacuum hose, so the Lift can take over for your water pull. Most truck mounts have close to the same Lift. Thus, truck mount manufactures do not advertise their Lift as heavily, because how does their truck mount differentiate themselves from their competitors in this area? Truck mount manufacturers will advertise their CFM, because bigger blowers will produce more CFM.
So, how about portable extractors? Again, Lift is the important factor. Too many portable manufacturers advertise their CFM. Many manufacturers even produce so called "High Powered Portables" with tons of CFM (200, 250, even 300 CFM). However, this can be quite deceiving. Look at the Lift on these machines. Many of these high CFM machines have low Lift. They need to sacrifice the Lift in order to produce that much CFM. What good is a portable machine that can run hundreds of feet of vacuum hose (because of the high CFM), but cannot pull the water out of the carpet (because of the low Lift)? Many of these manufactures rely on the fact that most professional carpet cleaners do not know the difference between CFM and Lift. When shopping for a new portable extractor, look at the Lift. Remember, the more Lift, the more dirty water you will pull out of the carpet: producing cleaner & drier results.
Common mistaken statement: Many people will say, doesn't air dry carpet? So, shouldn't more CFM dry the carpet during cleaning? In reality, this is not being used in the right context. Sure, airflow dries carpet. However, airflow after cleaning (not during) dries carpet. Example: an air mover or fan blowing air onto the carpet after you are done cleaning dries the carpet faster. However, airflow moving through your wand does not dry carpet faster. Think about it: the wand is being moved back and forth over a small section of carpet only for a few seconds. The airflow coming through the wand for those few seconds will not do anything to dry carpet. The only thing you can do to dry carpet quicker in the actual hot water extraction cleaning process itself is to remove more water from the carpet while cleaning, hence, more Lift.