By George Dziura

You’re in the water treatment business because it’s profitable and adding specialized POU equipment can increase those profits. First, however, you need to develop a business plan and sound operating procedures. Determine your target customer. Then, select equipment based on your customers and their specific geographic locations. Tightly grouped customers help keep cost down and reduce service response time. Get detailed information from equipment representatives that includes initial cost per unit, time allotted to install the units and the level of monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual service you’ll provide. Add in cost of possible parts that need to be exchanged, additional equipment to keep on hand and technician’s time. With that information, you can determine monthly equipment rental fees.

All states are different, so study all regulations and plumbing codes that cover installation and sales of POU coolers. Be selective about whom you hire. Potential employees should be knowledgeable in refrigeration, electrical and hopefully plumbing. Poor hiring decisions will come back to haunt you in large damage claims because of sloppy installation. Take advantage of organizations such as the Water Quality Association that provide specialized training in all aspects of water treatment methods, including classes in ethical sales methods. Develop relationships with your equipment suppliers. They are your single most important resource in providing online technical guidance, selection of product or in-house training.

Installation tips
Attention to detail is important when installing POU systems. Your installation practices are your company’s advertising billboard. Customers will watch and have plenty of questions. I recommend organizing fittings in a large tackle box, neatly labeled. Tools used most during an installation should be kept in a separate pouch for quick access. If the technician is organized, the job can be completed quickly.

  • Keep tubing neat and on the roll. Tubing comes with a plug. Once you’ve cut your tubing, place the plug back into the unused tubing to prevent foreign particles from entering.
  • When connecting the POU cooler to a potable water source, try to locate the cooler within 25 feet of the water source and within six feet of an outlet.

Check the amperage rating of the outlet and verify that all appliances on that particular circuit won’t throw the breaker once the POU cooler is added.

Maintenance issues to consider
If your company has just taken over an account, I would not recommend reusing a water line, since you have no idea of how long it’s been installed. Document previous damage with a camera and keep it on file.

  • I recommend a separate shutoff for the POU whenever possible. Identify the shutoff with a tag and inform the customer of its purpose.
  • Develop a plan in case a boil-water alert is issued. Instruct the customer to shut off the water and not use it until the boil-water alert is lifted. Depending on the severity, supply the customer with bottled water.
  • Reverse osmosis systems require a drain. Make sure you use quality drains and locate them on the correct side of the P trap.
  • When running water lines, use quality tubing and remember that heat and sunlight can contribute to tubing breakdown. You may want to use black tubing with UV protection.
  • Consider municipalities that add chloramines to drinking water. They can affect all parts of the POU system that’s installed. If you use the wrong filter, chloramines can rust stainless steel in hot tanks.

Most important, add a separate pressure regulator and some type of leak detection devise.

Some final tips
Once you’ve completed the installation, don’t forget to set your yearly inspection and filter exchange. Make sure you provide the customer with a written record of the filter exchanged and cooler wiped down. On older models, exchange the cooler and return it to your shop for cleaning and sanitation. Consider using coolers with built-in ozonation or UV (sanitization systems) to prevent biofilm formation.

All filtration coolers are equipped with some type of float mechanism. A thorough inspection of the float mechanism is a must. Shut the water off, put on latex gloves, pull out the float mechanism and inspect it. Check the water lines, clean off the condenser, exchange the drip tray and wipe down the cooler with a quality cleaner. Any parts that look warn, replace immediately to prevent service calls and water leaks.

Conclusion
By following the suggestions above, you’ll be better organized, prepared, profitable and your customers will be pleased with your reliable service and professionalism. When in doubt, seek out other professionals; combined expertise and wisdom are invaluable to become and remain successful in this endeavor.

About the author
George Dziura, Technical Service Director for MTN Products, started in the water industry in 1994. His career includes being an Equipment Service Supervisor (coolers, POU and coffee equipment) and a Production Supervisor at Crystal Springs Water in Atlanta, GA. Dziura is an IBWA Certified Plant Operator and WQA Certified Installer. He also operated his own service center for repair of Oasis, Sunroc, Cordley Temprite and other model coolers.

About the company
MTN Products designs and manufactures innovative beverage dispensers that combine stylish appearance with unique operating features to provide customers with many product choices to satisfy their beverage dispensing needs. Our new line of products include AquaCafé®, the water cooler with built in Single-Serve Coffee Brewer and the revolutionary Lavit™ single-serve cold beverage machine. To find out more, contact MTN Products at (909) 629-730, email sales@mtnproducts.com or visit www.mtnproducts.com

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