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Tech Tech - Cleaning and Storage .:

Water blasters can perform well for many years if proper care is taken of their parts. The following page summarized various procedures and recommendations used here at iSoaker.com to care for the blasters in this collection. Tips and suggestions can be adapted to one's own needs and requirements as desired.

Cleaning .:

After Every Battle

No matter what the water blaster is or what pressurization method it uses, blasters should have their reservoir(s), pressure chamber(s), and internal tubing drained and flushed with some clean water, followed by draining and pumped a few times with air.Blasters should never be left pressurized for extended periods of time (i.e. longer than a few hours).

  • Pump-action blasters should be dry-pumped a couple of times with their nozzle facing downwards to reduce the amount of lingering water in the pump chamber
  • Pressurized reservoir blasters should be depressurized, then opened to completely drain the reservoir of any unusable water. After, the empty reservoir should be repressurized and the blaster should be dry-fired a couple of times to flush the tubing of water. Lastly, the reservoir should be left open to dry.
  • Separate firing chamber blasters shoud be depressurized with their reservoir opened and emptied. Air should be pumped into the pressure chamber and the water blaster should be dry-fired a few times with the pressure chamber's opening pointing downwards (Note: for blasters like the XP 150, the blaster should be held level to the ground when dry-firing whereas for blasters like the CPS 1000, its nozzle should be pointed downwards as its CPS pressure chamber is mounted with its opening pointing forwards). Lastly, the reservoir should be left open to dry

If one is participating in a multiple-day war where attacks can occur at any time of the day or night, clean water can be kept in the reservoir of the blaster, but soakers should not be kept pressurized. Pump-action blasters are better used for long-term quick-response blasters.

Spot Cleaning

If dirty and/or debris is noticed on any part of the blaster, particularly moving parts, some time should be taken to clean off the dirt to prevent dirt from entering the internals, potentially reducing flow rates or jamming up internal working parts. A damp cloth, sponge, or papertowel can be used to wipe and remove most forms of typical dirt from a soaker. It is not recommendable to submerge any water blaster completely in water as some internal parts can end up developing rust more quickly.

For smaller crevices, use of a cotton-tip swab (i.e. Q-Tip) or toothbrush can be useful. As well, paper towel can be rolled around a small stick or toothpick for removing dirt from tight spaces.

Areas that should be inspected regularly include the moving part of the reservoir cap/contact point, trigger, the nozzle opening(s), the pump rod, and the pump-track (if the blaster has a tracked pump).

If water, alone, is not enough to remove the dirt, a mild soap or detergent solution can be used. Avoid putting on excessive amounts of detergent as this can get to other parts of the soaker and strip away lubricants needed on those parts. As well, ensure the area is thoroughly flushed with water after the dirt has been removed.

Various concentrations of ethanol solutions can also be used if needed. Be cautious if using ethanol as higher percentages are flammable; keep away from open flames or any other potential ignition sources. Do not use other alcohols such as isopropanol as these are more likely able to dissolve/damage the plastic most soakers are made from. If using ethanol, use sparingly and flush with lots of water after the dirt has been removed.

Decontamination

If a water blaster had been filled with less-than-optimal water, it should have its internals flushed a few times with clean water to reduce the likelihood of bacteria and/or other micro-organisms from growing. However, sometimes some still manage to take hold. The most common sign that a blaster is contaminated with fungus and/or bacteria is if the reservoir presents a sour or vile odor not previously present. If life appears present, blaster decontamination is strongly recommended. It should be noted that proper decontamination can take several days, but should not be rushed as one neither wishes to damage one's water blaster nor injure another if a blaster is not properly flushed after decontamination.

Decontaminating the Reservoir

For typical plastic reservoirs or soft plastic reservoirs, if the amount of buggies growing is not visible, a mild soap solution can be used to clean the reservoir's interior. Filling the reservoir 10-20% full with mild soap, then shaking the reservoir to generate a lot of froth, is the best means to kill the majority of micro-organisms. Do NOT pump the soap solution into the remainder of the blaster. After coating the inside of the reservoir, allow it to stand for half an hour, then empty. Rinse the reservoir multiple times with water until no detectable soap bubbles remain in the drained solution, the fill the reservoir completely with warm water and let it stand at least an hour. Discard the water and rinse the reservoir two more times with cold water.

For hard plastic reservoirs that have visible bacterial or fungal growth, a stronger decontaminating solution is needed. A mixture of 5% bleach mixed with water should be enough to kill any contaminating buggies, but the problem is that bleach can also damage the plastic, thus should only be used if absolutely necessary. A solution of 70% ethanol (dangerous/flammable) is also very effective at killing micro-organisms, but can damage O-rings. If used, these stronger cleaning solutions should only be left in contact with the reservoir temporarily (for a few minutes at most), after which the reservoir should be flushed several times (at least 10 full rinses, inverting the reservoir to mix) with full volumes of water. After rinsing with water, a detergent/soap washing as explained in the previous paragraph should be performed to remove any trace of bleach or ethanol from the reservoir. If, after all the washes, any lingering scent of bleach or ethanol remains, a soap wash followed by extensive water washing should be performed again.

Decontaminating Firing Chambers

Decontaminating firing chambers is a difficult and less effective process than reservoir decontamination. It is best if one never needs to clean out a separate firing chamber; however, sometimes it is needed even if blasters were cared for to the best of a user's ability. For either plastic or elastic pressure chambers, use of any bleach or harsher cleaning solution is NOT recommended as both can and will damage internal tubings, joints, and seals. Also, both are extremely difficult to fully flush from the internal parts and may pose a hazard to other players if this blaster is to be used in a water fight after cleaning is completed. Ethanol, while easier to rinse out than bleach, is also NOT recommended due to its flammability and potential to damage seals and O-rings in stock water blaster internals.

For plastic air-pressure firing chambers, a mild soapy solution can be used to flush inner tubings and the chambers, themselves. To clean out a chamber, fill a pressure chamber only 10% to 25% full of the cleaning solution, then shake the blaster to create froth within the chamber. Allow it to stand and settle for 5 minutes, the blast out the soap solution. Flush the reservoir after with water such that no more soapy water will be entering the inner tubing, then pump up the pressure chamber ~50% full and shake the blaster again, rinsing the pressure chamber. Blast out the soapy water and repeat upwards of 15 to 30 times until no detectable soap/froth can be seen or smelled coming forth from the nozzle. Once no more noticable detectable soap is being expelled from the nozzle, depressurize the blaster and allow the blaster to sit overnight. The following morning, pressurize and drain the pressure chamber another 10 times to be safe, verifying that all traces of soap have been removed from the pressure chambers.

For elastic/rubber-based firing chambers, only a rather dilute soap solution is recommended (i.e. one to two drops of typical liquid dishwashing soap in 600mL/20oz. of water). Before pumping the cleansing solution into the pressure chamber, the blaster should be air pumped a few times to push some air into the bladder if possible. The pressure chamber should be filled 25%-50% with the cleansing solution, then shaken to create froth. Allow the solution to work for 1 minute, then blast it out of the nozzle. Flush the reservoir such that no more soap will be entering the tubing, the pump up the pressure chamber ~50% full and shake the blaster again, rinsing the bulk of the soap off the pressure chamber lining. Blast out the soapy water and repeat upwards of 15 to 30 times until no detectable soap/froth can be seen or smelled coming forth from the nozzle. Once no more noticable soap is being expelled from the nozzle, depressurize the blatser and allow the blaster to sit overnight. The following morning, pressurize and drain the pressure chamber another 10 times to be safe, verifying that no detectable detergent is found in the stream water.

The limitation to all the above decontaomination procedures is that while they may reduce mold/mildew growth, swishing cleaning solutions around containers is not a particular effective way to remove built-in growth. However, a thorough decontamination is only possible if one is willing and able to properly disassemble a water blaster and physically scrub the problem areas, but this is both difficult to do and the water blaster has a greater chance of being broken in the process. In short, it is best to do regular cleaning and avoid needing to decontaminate.

Long Term Storage

If a blaster is going to be stored for extended periods of time (i.e. longer than a few weeks), a thorough cleaning and drying procedure is recommended for better blaster care. As is done after every battle, blasters should be depressurized and their reservoir drained. If the general water sources used contain a lot of dissolved minerals (i.e. hard water, chlorinated water, etc.), a blaster should be filled and rinsed with clear, distilled water a couple of times to reduce the chance of mineral build up in any of the internals.

  • Pump action blasters should be kept overnight in a safe place with their pump extended and nozzle pointing downwards. The next day, the blaster should be slowly pumped to expell the residual water from the firing chamber. Optimally, pump-action blasters should be stored with their pumps just slightly extended by 0.5-1.0cm. This reduces the likelihood of the pump sealing itself closed.
  • Pressurized reservoir blasters should be kept overnight with their reservoirs open and nozzles pointing downwards. The next day, the reservoir should be closed and the blaster partially pressurized while keeping the nozzle pointing downwards, then any remaining water expelled by pulling the trigger. Pressurized reservoir blasters should be allowed to dry at least one more day before being stored. Optimally, pumps should be left partially extended (0.5-1.0cm) when storing. This reduces the likelihood of the pump sealing itself closed.
  • Separate firing chamber blasters should be pumped a couple of times upsidedown with trigger pulled to push residual water from the pump into the firing chamber and out the nozzle. After, blasters should be kept overnight with their firing chamber opening pointed downwards and with reservoir open. The next day, the blaster should be partially pressurized while keeping the firing chamber opening pointed downwards, then any remaining water expelled by pulling the trigger. The blaster should be turned upsidedown again and pumped with trigger depressed. The blaster should be kept again overnight with pressure chamber opening pointed downwards, then air-fired the next day to further dry the pressure chamber. These steps should be repeated until virtually no water is being expelled during the air-shot step; this may take 2 to 3 attempts. Once the blaster is adequately dried, it can be put into storage. Optimally, pumps should be left partially extended (0.5-1.0cm) when storing. This reduces the likelihood of the pump sticking, sealing itself.
  • In the event some bacteria/fungus is noticed, the blaster should be properly decontaminated before long term storage (See Decontamination section above). Mildew and other microorganisms can end up eating into seals and other parts if left untreated, damaging water blasters further.

For storing water blasters, a cool, dark, dry, dust-free location is the best choice. Optimally, water blasters can be placed into separate plastic bags contained within large, plastic storage bins with some padded packing material to keep the soakers from rubbing against each other, providing protection again damage when boxes are moved. If one has multiple containers, be wary not to stack containers too high, potentially crushing soakers in lower containers. Storage bins should be opaque to prevent light damage; it is best to label the outside of the boxes for easy identification of the contents.


 


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