I almost just bought a new one from Amazon, but decided to see if I could figure this machine out.
For someone with a big house and hard floors, the FloorMate is a great invention. When mine works, it leaves my tile and hard wood floors positively sparkling. When it doesn't work, it just pushes dirty water around.
From searching the Internet, the knowledge to make a FloorMate work and keep it working is scattered all over the place. It is my intention to put most of this knowledge into one convenient place.
How It Works
The FloorMate works by spraying cleaning solution from the clean tank at the top of the unit to the floor. As you the user make the mopping motions with it, the scrub brushes (which do not spin -at least mine don't) scrub the floor. So it's you, the user, who are doing the scrubbing.
The other half what the FloorMate does is pick up that dirty water and put it in the lower tank. So basically it just puts down clean water and picks up dirty water. This is unlike a normal mop which mostly just moves the dirty water around.
..but after a while, it will stop working. You WILL lose suction.
When It Doesn't Work
Search the internet for "FloorMate losing suction" and you will find lots of frustrated people. The real problem is that most people these days are just not used to having a high maintenance anything. So if something quits working, most people just buy a new one.
I used to just buy a new one myself. In this case, I read the reviews and discovered people were complaining about the new ones losing suction too! That's when it hit me that there was something deeper going on here. Not having one of these isn't an option, and I don't want to buy a new one every few months. So, I decided to learn how this thing works, and to share that knowledge.
All About the Suction
For better or worse, the FloorMate has a very precise design. It was designed by engineers to do a task well, within s (very narrow) set of parameters. And if you stray from those parameters, the machine stops working.
The Achilles' heel of the design is that it has to pull the dirty water farther than is ideal, using a squeegee which wears out quickly, through an intake which could be clogged, through a tube which could crack, and using several seals which could be gummed up or damaged.
There's so many points of potential failure that it's pretty much guaranteed that it will lose suction without proper maintenance and care. But once you learn how to maintain and troubleshoot it, there's no reason it won't stand up to heavy use.
Step One: Clean the Machine
Most of the time my FloorMate loses suction, it's because the machine is clogged or dirty. The best way to clean and inspect it is from the bottom up.
1. Start with the nozzle assembly. There are two thumb-latches you have to move and the whole thing comes right off. This gives you access to the squeegee, brushes and intake. Unclog the intake if necessary and then look at the squeegee. It should be firm, and there should be no dirt and debris on it. Next look at the brushes. Clean any hair, dirt and debris out of it. I usually run this whole assembly under hot water until the entire thing is spotless. Put the clean nozzle assembly back on.
|The nozzle assembly detached from the unit|
|The squeegee should be nice and firm. This one is brand new|
|The two places where the tank is most likely to leak|
|Make sure to clean under the filter|
|Make sure to get all the debris out of the filter|
|Make sure to clean the underside of this little grate too|
3. Before you put the tank back into the unit, look closely at where the dirty water tank sits. Behind the tank is a semi-transparent hose and assembly. You can see if there is any debris inside the hose, running up all the way to to the tank. If you seen any debris at all inside the hose, you will need to take it apart and clean it. It may not look like a lot of debris, and you may be tempted to leave it there, but this machine needs every last bit of suction it can get. Finally, check the top seal where it meets the back of the tank. Make sure there is no debris on this seal. Now, put the tank back on. Make sure it sits firmly against the top seal and has no play.
|The recovery channel, connecting to the recovery hose on the right|
|Don't forget to clean the little lip where the tank goes together|
|The recovery hose at its connection point|
|Gunk on the seal, and it's only been a week since I cleaned it all out!|
Now put some cleaning solution in and take it for a spin. Well, does it work? It probably does. It seems like I need to go through this routine about every 6 or 7 uses. I have lots of little dogs, so I am really tough on my cleaning equipment. I've settled into a happy routine that involves my floors being clean.
Still doesn't work? You'll want to troubleshoot the problem, starting again at the bottom of the unit.
Step Two: Squeegee
Remove the nozzle assembly with the two thumb latches. Now flip the assembly upside-down and look at the squeegee. It should stand straight out and be nice and firm all the way around. Does it waver in one or more places? Does any part of it lie flat or is any of it missing? When I replaced mine, most of it was flat and it was ripped in several places. If the squeegee isn't perfect, then you need a new one. Parts for your FloorMate are easy to find on the Internet.
If your squeegee is pristine, then power the unit on and check for suction without the nozzle assembly. You should be able to fit your hand over the square hole and feel a nice, solid suction against your hand.
|Block the intake to check for suction. Make sure to check the seal|
Still no love? You'll want to move to the recovery hose next.
Step Three: Recovery Channel and Hose
The recovery hoses have a repuation for cracking and losing suction, though the hose on mine has held up well over time. With the dirty water tank taken off, you can see the recovery channel (that long white thing the tank plugs into) with the recovery hose connected to the bottom of it. You'll want to take that hose off and inspect it for cracks. You should be able to make a basic seal on it with your mouth and hand plugging the other end. It should be pretty obvious if the hose is cracked. If the hose is fine, take off the recovery channel and do the same to it. Make sure it has no cracks or leaks in it. Now check the rubber seal. Make sure it sits right on the channel and isn't cracked or damaged.
Still no suction huh? If you did everything right, then your problem is somewhere in the tank. At this point, with the tank taken out, power on the unit and first make sure there's suction to the top of the tank by putting your hand over the hole where the top of the tank meets the unit. You should feel strong suction there. If not, your motor is damaged.
Step Four: Recovery (Dirty Water) Tank
This tank has 3 different seals, and you need to check all three. First, check where the two halves of the tank meet. Make sure the two halves are seated right, and the seals (one on each half) look right. Double check again for debris and make sure the seals themselves are seated right. Next, look how the filter is seated on the tank. The filter cover should be seated right, and the filter should be clean. If the filter is too dirty, or damaged, it'll hurt the suction and basically act like a clog. Finally, check where the tank meets the seal on the recover channel. Make sure there's no debris and also make sure the tank itself isn't cracked or damaged. You should be able to put your mouth over the filter hole with your hand blocking the side port. Even with a working tank there will be a little air loss, but it shouldn't be excessive.
STILL no suction? Assuming you didn't miss anything up to this point, it's probably not good news, but it's still worth continuing.
Step Five: Motor Assembly
With the tank off, make sure the top seal that meets the tank is in good shape. With the unit turned on, you should feel a strong suction by putting your hand over that seal. Take the seal off and inspect it to make sure it isn't dirty, cracked or damaged.
Now is time for a reality check: If you're still not getting good suction, you probably need to replace or rebuild the motor. If you are getting good suction with your hand on the seal, your problem is not the motor. You missed something - try again from the squeegee up. The goal is to check every point of possible failure from the floor right up to the motor.
I hope this post has helped you better understand your FloorMate. With a little bit of care and maintenance, this is a great machine that saves a ton of time mopping. Since my wife is disabled, I'm the one that does the mopping at our house. When I first assumed the duty, I found the FloorMate buried in a closet with a comment of "that doesn't work anymore." Now that I have done the research and understand the thing, I use it twice a week and the floors have never been cleaner.