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cleaning fog machines?

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by AndyPandy, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. AndyPandy

    AndyPandy Member

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    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Did a quick search and nothing came up, but sorry if this has been covered before.

    I pulled our cheap fog machine out of storage the other day to make sure it fitted in the space left for it in the set. it did, thank god.

    however, it doesnt appear to be very healthy. when its heated up, and "ready", it produces little fog. I can hear the pump straining, but its output is far less than it used to be.

    It has been some time since it was last used (months i think) and I always use the correct, manufacturer recommended fluid.

    I thought that perhaps some cleaning might be required, but wanted to seek advice on how best to go about this. I've read about people using distilled water and vinegar, but wanted to ask has anyone done this?

    so, any advice on cleaning fog machines?

    edit: forgot to say that it also makes a loud knocking sound when it runs. any ideas?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have not done the vinegar thing, but I have ran just distilied water through it, and it helps.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Follow the manufacturer's instructions. I would not use vinegar, but distilled water shouldn't be harmful for a glycol-based machine. Perhaps this site might help: Rosco US : Technotes : Fog : FAQ.
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    Pure distilled water is the best, a little vinegar won't hurt it however. Essentially we are talking about an espresso machine that uses anti-freeze and water instead of water and coffee, and that's how you clean a coffee maker, 'course the vinegar you put in a coffee maker it to eat up the lime deposits, which there shouldn't be any of, if you've been using maufacturers reccomended solution.
    If the thing is making a knocking noise it's quite possible the impellor on the pump is broken. There are several kinds of pumps used on fog machines, a lot of the cheaper ones use a peice of hose held inside a semi-circlular plastic wall. There is a cam < a rod with a sticky outy knob on the side> which rotates inside the semi circle, as it turns it , essentially, pushes a bulge in the tube around, this bulge brings with it fog fluid. These kind of impeller typr fog macines and bubble machines are very prone to two types of failure. The first kind is the tube simply cracking and breaking which is icky and messy, but can be fixed. The second type of problem is the impeller breaking, coming off the motor shaft, or losing it's splines that keep it connected to the motor shaft.
    If you are qualified < read know better than to open up a plugged in powered up fog machine > open up the case and track the hose from where it enters the case to the first thing it runs into, this is typically the pump. You should be able to tell mighty quickly from that point what the issue is.

    There is another possibility, that is is simply a clogged line, in which case you don't want to do anything which will force the clog deeper into the machine so no blowing air, forcing water or wire up the fluid hose, all of those things are no no's and usually result in having to replace the heater unit. Instead you can use gentle air pressure < canned air> blown into the outlet of the fog machine being careful not to freeze your fingers, or explode the supply lines on the pump side of the heater element.

    Hope something in this helped.
     
  5. AndyPandy

    AndyPandy Member

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    Location:
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    This did indeed help.

    turned out the pump was full of gunk and grime. Cleaned it out and the output is a million times better, but its still making the knocking sound. I suspect that this might just be the fact its a cheap pump, but I'm not sure.
     

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