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Diesel engines are tough and today’s engines are no less durable than before. But due to changes in exhaust emissions technology, they require extremely clean fuel and air to function properly.

Today’s Tier 4 engines turbocharge high volumes of air to help with emissions control. These turbochargers are precision components, and failure can present you with some expensive repair bills.

Schwarze sweepers have a two-stage filter system. A smaller or inner element that’s called the safety element. It protects the engine in case of a catastrophic breach of the second larger outer filter (primary filter).

This safety element is more open (as a filter) than the primary filter and only needs to be changed once every three or four changes of the primary filter. But don’t take it out to examine it. There is far more dust introduced when you take the filter out than during regular operation.

When your filter reaches its maximum restriction, a visual indicator will pop up on the filter housing, or you will get a fault code on your sweeper console. Once you receive an indication, you should replace the filter right away. If you do not replace your air filter on time, you may not notice a performance change at first, but your engine will eventually start to derate and eventually shut down. The engine does this to protect itself from further damage.

Clean the outside of the filter housing first. Remove the primary filter and clean the inside surfaces and the seal tubes gently (don’t damage the safety filter) with a cloth. Do this before you put in the new primary filter so dust or debris is not pushed back into the filter housing. Also make sure you do this before you change the safety filter, you want to extract all the dust or debris that’s in there before you open up the engine. While you remove the safety filter, make sure to cover the opening until the new safety filter is in place.

Don’t believe the big misconception that today’s air filters need to be replaced on a regular, hourly-bases, like oil filters. This is simply not the case. Air filters work better the more they are used. A dirty air filter is a good air filter, they say. When filters are new, the openings in the filter fabric are large. And as dust cakes onto the surface of the filter, these openings get smaller, and the filter can sift out the fine particles better.

Years ago it was common practice for technicians to remove the air filters and clean them. Some used compressed air; some would simply bang the filter against a hard surface to knock the dirt out. Today this is not recommended. When you do this, you reduce the effective future life of that filter by 20 to 40 percent every time you clean it, and you also increase the likelihood that you’re going to open up holes in the filter material. This would give dust a direct line to the engine or the safety filter and put a major component of your sweeper at risk.

Most Schwarze sweepers also have additional pre-cleaners installed. Pre-cleaners work by spinning the incoming dust like a cyclone. Dust particles migrate outward and are ejected from the intake air. Precleaners remove between 70 and 96 percent of the incoming dust and will increase your filter life up to 20 times. These pre-cleaners are truly the workhorse of the air intake system, especially for sweepers.

Today’s air filters are designed with improved performance over old style filters. Older filters used an axial seal with a foam gasket, and this foam had to be pressed against the housing to make an air-tight seal. Modern air filters use a radial seal made from polyurethane that creates multiple seal surfaces and does a much better job in high-vibration applications. Most engine manufacturers even sell kits you can buy to convert older style filter mounts to the new design if you need that extra level of protection.

The filter material itself is also evolving with more use of synthetic blends and thicker for greater capacity. Larger dust is trapped high in the nap, and smaller dust goes deeper to progressively smaller openings. This gives modern filters the ability to hold a whole lot more contaminant.

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