Top critical review
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Just finished my first use, which will also be my last.
on January 22, 2006
Well, it seems that people either love this floor scrubber or they hate it, there doesn't seem to be much in between. I have read every review and tip all over the internet about using this floor scrubber, and I thoroughly read the instructions before starting. I think I was pretty educated as to its flaws, which I thought I could live with. I bought this for my hard floors only, since I have a Bissell steam cleaner for the carpets.
It is fairly complicated to set up but if you take your time and follow along with the book, it's not bad, just takes about 20-30 minutes. I'm the least handy person on the face of the earth and I put everything together, including the tool caddy, by myself.
My hard floors are Pergo tile. Yep, that's right, tile. The quirk about them is they are coated with aluminum oxide, which makes them extremely durable and indestructible, but it also means the dirt gets trapped and is really tough to remove. With two dogs tracking in Washington mud and debris right through my kitchen, I could see the embedded mud trail from their little paws. I expected this to be a tough job, so I went directly to the grout scrubbing brushes, although there's no grout with Pergo tile floors. I vacuumed the floor first, not with the Hoover FloorMate, but with my usual cannister vacuum.
First of all, you should know the cleaning solution foams and bubbles up like crazy, so put the hot water into the small tank first, THEN add the cleaning solution, contrary to the manual's instructions (see, I told you, I read the book and followed it carefully!). I used the grout cleaning solution since my floors were too filthy for ordinary cleanser. I had planned to use Armstrong Once `n Done after I ran out of the supplied solutions. Okay, solution loaded, grout brushes attached, floor vacuumed, ready to go.
The first failure was the small floor swivel too, which attaches to the hose and telescoping wand and then into a convenient side opening. I thought I would clean the edges and corners first. WRONG. The cleaning solution didn't come out of the hose/floor tool, it came out of the main floor brush area and puddled there. The attachment I was trying to use was securely locked into place so that wasn't the problem. I quickly determined this was a waste of time and removed it, giving up on getting the edges and corners clean.
On to floor cleaning with the regular grout floor brush head. I had pre-sprayed the doggie mud tracks with Castrol Super Cleaner, which will eat through the worst dirt or grease you can imagine. The floor cleaning commenced, and this FloorMate did a good job. The appliance itself is darn loud, more so than vacuum cleaners, so be advised. I did the recommended very slow cleaning, about a 4x4' section each time, switched to the wet pickup for each section, and continued on. I did manage to get pretty close to the edges of my cabinets so I wasn't too concerned about the previous floor tool failure.
Another annoyance was every time I turned the unit off, it left little puddles. All parts were securely clicked into place, so I don't know if the dribbling and leaking is the nature of the beast or if I have a defective/leaking unit. I also encountered a bizarre high pitched sound at times, with no apparent cause or reason, I had not bumped the unit, I hadn't run out of solution, the recovery tank was never full, there was just this awful and inexplicable screaming noise. Each time it happened I turned off the unit, turned it back on, and it stopped for a while.
My floor is pretty small - maybe 8x15'. I had to fill up the cleaning solution tank three times - it's definitely not large enough for even small floors. I also emptied the recovery tank when it was about half full. I found out you have to be extremely careful when pulling the recovery tank away from the unit, since the top part, which acts as a cover for this dirty water recovery/collection tank, has no way of being secured. The top just sits on the recovery tank. Thus I almost spilled filthy water out, twice. That indicates very poor design. The top section of the recovery tank is also where the filter is, which can also get clogged with dirt, so you need to keep an eye on it.
The best part of the whole operation, which took about an hour of actual cleaning and pickup on my small floor, was the wet vacuum/pickup. It does a good job of that, and normally these Pergo tile floors take 6-8 hours to dry. I'm not exaggerating, it's true. The floors were dry by the time I finished this cleaning ordeal.
This thing is quite heavy for me, a tiny lady - it's almost 25 lb., then of course add the cleaning solution and dirty water to that weight. The products specs say the cleaning path is 15" and that's accurate. The unit is about 12" deep from front to back, and the clearance is about 4" high. That will give you an idea of how much floor space it requires when in actual use, and how much clearance it would require if you need get under low tables and cabinets. The whole apparatus with the regular floor scrubbing head is useless on stairs, of course, although I tried it on my somewhat wider and deeper three steps into the kitchen, to no avail. I had to scrub those myself, since I couldn't use the hose and brush attachment. If you buy one of these you might have better luck with the hose/wand/small brush attachment on stairs and such.
The on/off button is easy to find and use, as is the lever that is used to squeeze out the cleaning solution - both are on the handle. The handle tilts back nicely, but I also found out when the cleaning solution tank is half empty or less, the cleaning solution won't squirt out from the bottom properly unless the handle is in the fully upright position. That was quite an unpleasant surprise too, quite inconvenient to say the least. The 27' cord is plenty long but it also kept getting caught underneath the back rubber wheels. I did try to keep it in my other hand but there was too much other activity going on!
I do like the very handy tool caddy and all the extras fit perfectly on it. The caddy rests on the front of the unit when it's time to store it away. The two bottles of cleaning solution are only for starters, so don't expect anything more than one cleaning from them. You most assuredly don't have to use their expensive cleansers, on my third fill I used the Castrol Super Cleaner.
Like others have mentioned, you should take the unit apart, rinse everything thoroughly with hot water when done, including the brushes, and let it all dry before reassembling.
All in all, the unit has so many quirks, gotchas, and possible defects, plus is extremely heavy, that it wasn't worth the effort expended. I don't mind spending the money if it's easy to use, but this was a terrible and tiring ordeal. Yes, my floor is sparkling clean but I can't face doing this ever again. It's going back to the store and I'm getting a Hoover FloorMax instead, which I've owned before.