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Using Extension Cords with Cleaning Machines

The short answer: Don't do it!  But we know you will, so listen up!

Here is the deal.  Manufacturers rate the wire gauge of the machine's power cord to the length of the cord and the amp draw the unit will be using.  If you increase the length of the power cord without lowering the amp draw (and I don't know how you could do that without a hammer) then you will be slowly starving the motor and killing it.  Without giving you all the math behind why this is, you have to increase the power cord's ability to deliver power as the length of the electrical run increases.  Typically commercial buildings are wired to the plug with 12 AWG wire capable of 20 amps to that point.  Most cleaning equipment drops to 16 or 18 AWG for 50' and is rated for the load from the plug to the machine.  If you increase the length of the run by adding wire, you need to step one AWG rating lower, IE from a 16 to a 14 AWG for the first section of cord from the wall plug to the machine's plug start for every 50' of additional length added.  In our example an increase of 100' from a 14 AWG would require the cord's AWG to increase in gauge from 14 to 10 AWG (10  AWG first 50' and 12 AWG for 51-100', or 10 AWG for the entire 100')

What happens if you don't do this?  The best way of describing it is to make you run a marathon while breathing through a scuba snorkel and every time you slow down a drill sergeant yells at you to pickup the pace.  You start out just fine, but as you go along you slowly can't get enough air and will die if you don't slow down or stop.  How does this happen to a motor?  It needs more power because the voltage drops with length and amp load, so it "pulls" harder on the electrical source and the wires heat up reducing the ability of the wire to deliver the load even further (as wires heat up they become less effective at delivering power).  This continues throughout the electrical system of the machine, at the interface between the carbon brushes and the armature, windings, contact switch, switches, plugs, etc.  Eventually something will fail and burn out.  Heat is your enemy.

This is ESPECIALLY true of buffer's and burnishers that max out the power of a wall plug.  If your power cord is getting hot, you are in trouble of burning out the machine.  Heat damage is easy to detect, and is never covered under anyone's warranty policies.

So don't add extension cords unless properly sized unless you want repair bill early.