Setting Up Ground Game When Doing Roof Work

Written by Tim Simpson, Quality Assurance and Quality Control Manager, Maintenance Coatings Inspector


When preparing to set up airless spray equipment and pump from a trailer or staging area at ground level, here are a few pointers to create a winning ground game and maintain production:


  • Establish good communications with the groundworker and pot tender. They are there to make sure the equipment is operating smoothly, clear intake clogging, switch between containers, prevent vacuums from forming in bulk totes and barrels as materials are pumped, keep fuel levels up in gas-powered airless equipment, and stage materials into lift buckets as needed for the rooftop crew.
  • It is wise to have two-way radio communication and earbuds on the groundworker as they are typically standing next to noisy equipment and can’t hear most of what is being communicated from the rooftop.
  • Your groundworker can enhance the performance of the process by properly preparing the pump station area. Keep the bulk materials covered to avoid overheating in hot weather, have standby water available in the event of a spill.
  • Ground personnel should be well versed in maintaining the pump, re-priming when necessary, and the symptoms when a pump is not functioning well.
  • If not pumping out of barrels or bulk totes, consider setting up a small horse trough and dump 5 gal pails of material into the trough, then pump material out of the trough through an airless stinger set inside the trough. This method is a low budget way to get the job done if handling drums or bulk totes is not a good option.
  • There are some downsides of pumping out of a large open trough which can be mitigated. A dry coating skin can form over the top of the material, it can get mixed into the material during the refilling of the trough and ultimately get drawn onto the stinger rock screen stalling out the pump’s ability to pull material in. If this happens, you incur a time-losing process of scooping out gobs of half-dried material from the trough. This is easily avoided by either floating a piece of tarp on the top of the material which one peels back just enough to dump more material in the trough. It will be in direct contact with the contents of the trough and will raise and lower with the material. There is also the option to sprinkle some water on the top of this plastic tarp which further prevents skinning and clogging. This can also serve as a night seal for the contents of the trough to avoid having to clean out the trough. 
  • Another option is to make the pump area cooler and more comfortable by installing a cheap pop up canopy over the pump. This puts both the pot tender and the pump in the shade.
  • If the setup is in a trailer, the canopy legs can be mounted to the sides of the trailer instead of sitting on the ground. Be sure to tie down the canopy legs to avoid the disruption of a wind gust.
  • Reduce the effect of a line blowout by following this procedure: 
    • Find a large bore flex hose that the line will fit through or use 20’ sections of conduit or PVC to create a secondary blowout guard along the line where it comes off the roof and down the finished wall of the building. 
    • Put a 90-degree elbow at the bottom of the conduit near the pump to avoid line rub as the pump cycles and a 45 or 90-degree angle at the top of the roofline so the airless line will not kink at either the top or bottom. 
    • If there is a blowout of a fitting or line rupture in the line hanging down along the finished building exterior, avoid a major mess on the building exterior while impressing your client with your concern for his facility. 
    • Do not ask me how I learned to use this technique. Just remember that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention!” 
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy next to the gas engine-powered equipment to avoid fire-related issues.
  • Never attempt to fill a running gas airless with gasoline. A running airless vibrates a lot and spatters gas right back out of the gas tank while it’s running. The vibration can also dislodge a funnel splattering gas on a very hot exhaust manifold. 


Click here for Chapter 13: Timing Work Schedules for Maximum Production