High Speed Burnisher

My First Experience With a High Speed Burnisher

It was late on a Friday and my boss at the time came to me with a request to burnish a hallway over the weekend. Not just any hallway, but the hallway in the executive office area. “Ok” I thought, I can do this.” So began my first experience with a high speed burnisher.

At the time, it was early in my cleaning career and I had been part of the janitorial crew for several months. While I had seen the normal floor crew high speed burnishing several times, I had never done it myself. They made it look easy enough. I had also recently learned to run the low speed floor machine, and was fairly comfortable with that skill. So, running the high speed burnisher shouldn’t be a big deal right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Set Up To Fail

I arrived on Saturday morning, bright and early. After punching the clock, I went to the equipment closet and got the cord electric, 1500 r.p.m. burnisher, made my way to the executive hallway and began setting up. As the dust mop slid along the floor, I went over the steps in my head. “Put a new pad on. Plug in the machine and squeeze the handle.”

As I finished the prep work, and installed the new pad, my mind was probably more focused on what was going on after work, rather than the task at hand. But even still, after several minutes of fumbling with it, I managed to figure out that the pad retainer was threaded backwards and the new pad was in place. I was ready!

The Wrong Way To Use A High Speed Burnisher

Here is where things went wrong. I squeezed the trigger. The machine lurched to the side in a violent motion and I let go of the handle enough to stop the pad from spinning but not enough to lose control of the machine. “That was weird?” I thought to myself. I knew that the high speed burnisher was just that, higher speed, but surely I would be able to control it. After all, I did master the slow speed machine.

So, I tried again. Firmly planting my feet on the floor, I grasped the handle and squeezed the handle for a second time. “Wham!” Into the wall it went. And when I say “into the wall” I mean the head of the machine went through the drywall!

The Right Way To Use A High Speed Burnisher

I was at a loss. I unplugged the machine, went to the phone and made the call that no one ever wants to make. The dreaded call to the boss. As it turned out, high speed burnishers DO NOT ride directly on the pad like a low speed scrubber. They are actually supported by the wheels and only the front of the pad is supposed to touch the floor.

I probably would have been in a lot more trouble had it not been for the fact that apparently my boss had made the same mistake his first time running the machine as well.  A little piece of information he had forgotten to include in his instructions to me.

Always Take Time To Teach

Luckily the wall was not too bad and easily fixed, the floor was shined. I did learned a couple of very valuable lessons.

First, high speed burnishers and low speed scrubbers are VERY different pieces of floor care equipment.

Second, was to never take it for granted that someone knows how to use anything. Education is the most important part of cleaning profession. Because what we do is so specialized, there really aren’t that many people out there that do what we do, on the level that we do it. If you are the one learning, take time to learn and ask questions! If you are the boss, make sure to take the time to actually teach what needs to be known.

Learn from my experience and take the time to learn for yourself and/or teach your staff the proper ways to use the products and tools that we use. It’s only fair to your business and your walls!

If you want to learn more about burnishing floors, here is a link that will explain how floor burnishing works.

9 replies
  1. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    Wow, it looks like some super cleaning device and I am sure it does an amazing job. However it is quite confusing when you get to use it for the very first time. I am impressed how you managed to handle it so easily. That’s very impressive. Also thank you for sharing the enlightening info.

  2. Briana
    Briana says:

    At the time it was probably just horrible, but it definitely made for a fantastic story! Sometimes I feel like there should be instructions right on machines that stay with them like a quick reference guide or something. Luckily most of us have smartphones these days and we can run a search on how to do something then and there, plus we even watch a tutorial on YouTube!

  3. DavidMSharpe
    DavidMSharpe says:

    One of my customers recently purchased a 1500 rpm electric burnisher to add to her cleaning services;This same thing happened to her on her first try,too;She promptly put it up for sale,saying it was dangerous.Even after showing her how to use it properly,she said no.Now I own it,and it works fine ! I am making a front wheel kit for it,though,as they do provide more control and consistency,as you mentioned.Love this site,and am bookmarking it for future reference;a must-have for any jan/san professional 🙂 !

  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    I made this mistake with a slow speed scrubber my first time 🙁 I didn’t realize you had to push up and down of the handle to move it side-to-side. I was trying to move it by pulling the machine sideways, only took 10 minutes before my back and legs were feeling the strain!

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      I must admit, that I had mastered the slow speed machine before I realized that it was the up and down motion that I was using to control it. When I did realize it though, it made it much easier to teach others to use them. Thanks for your comment!


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