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DPF Cleaning Machine

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DPF Cleaning Machine 101

In this time of supply chain issues and rocketing maintenance costs, keeping your heavy-duty trucks running well is essential. Preventative and proactive maintenance are some of the best ways to make your equipment last. And since diesel particulate filters (DPFs) are such an expensive component of a diesel vehicle, what can owner-operators and fleets do to keep their DPFs in like-new condition?

Getting a regular diesel particulate filter, or DPF, cleanings can extend the life of not only your DPF, but the entire diesel engine. But finding a high-quality DPF filter cleaning shop, or choosing to clean your own DPFs, can be overwhelming. Understanding the different types of DPF cleaning machines is essential for owner-operators, technicians, and fleet managers alike. Keep reading to learn more about DPF cleaning needs and methods.

What are the Types of DPF Cleaning Machines?

dpf cleaning machine - DPF Parts Direct

There are two common types of diesel particulate filter cleaning machines: thermal and aqueous. These each have their benefits and drawbacks. While most heavy-duty DPFs can be cleaned by either method, there are some light- and medium-duty DPFs that are easier to clean with the aqueous method. 

How Does a Thermal DPF Cleaning Machine Work?

A thermal DPF cleaning machine uses the same principle that is used while in service on the truck: particulate matter breaks down (oxidizes) with high heat. While the regen cycle in your truck may last a few minutes, a thermal DPF oven sustains this high heat for much longer.

The thermal method of DPF cleaning consists of a long bake in a specialized oven. These ovens can get up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and stay there for as long as 12 hours. The long bake incinerates built-up soot and ash. The Filtertherm® Thermal DPF Oven can accommodate six to eight filters at a time, so your shop can help many customers at once. It also features pre-programmed settings for OEM, aftermarket, and retrofit filters, which are set with smart touchscreen controls. The best thermal DPF cleaning ovens keep the outside of the machine cool during operation, a temperature-controlled door lock, and auto-shutoff for safety.

Cooling down the DPF after a long bake must be done carefully, and this step eats up time for a busy shop. Filtertherm® offers a Cool-Down Cart that can accelerate the process by up to four hours. After the filter has cooled, the loosened debris and ash are removed by forcing air through the channels of the DPF. The Filtertherm® Pulse Cleaner completes this step in an enclosed machine that is pre-programmed for different types of filters. Finally, the DPF must be thoroughly inspected before being placed back on the vehicle. 

How Does an Aqueous DPF Cleaning Machine Work?

Aqueous DPF cleaning skips the long baking cycle in favor of using water. The Filtertherm® Aqueous DPF System includes a step in which the DPF is soaked in a special surfactant that loosens debris and buildup. Then, a computer-guided stream of continuous low-pressure/high-volume water flushes debris from within the cell wall structures of the DPF. While 600 gallons of recirculated filtered water are used per cleaning, this method is non-destructive and protects the precious metals within the DPF. 

The aqueous method is faster and gentler than using a thermal DPF oven, taking filters from dirty to clean in under 2 hours. To accelerate drying, the best systems include a specialized drying cabinet that can do the job in only 20 minutes. The now-clean DPFs are then thoroughly inspected and returned to service.

What is a DPF Inspection Table?

dpf cleaning system - DPF Parts Direct

A DPF Inspection cart is a vital part of the DPF thorough cleaning process. This specialized machinery takes precise measurements of the weight and flow rate of a DPF both before and after cleaning. Comparing the weights will tell you much ash and soot were removed. If you have a Redline Emissions Products® DPF that features Born-On-Weight™, you can also compare your post-cleaning filter to the weight when brand new, to see if there is permanent buildup present in your filter. Comparing the pre-cleaning flow rate and the post-cleaning flow rate will show improvement as well.

How is a DPF Cleaning Machine so Effective?

Thermal DPF cleaning machines are so effective because they are specifically designed to clean DPFs. They go through testing and calibration to ensure they are operating at the right temperature and give a thorough clean. While many DPF cleaning machines are just modified kilns, the thermal complete DPF cleaning system from Filtertherm® was specifically designed with smart features to make DPF cleaning easier, faster, and more profitable for shops like yours.

Aqueous DPF cleaning machines are so effective because they were designed to clean DPFs quickly, without long bake times. The combination of proprietary surfactants and continuous low-pressure/high-volume water is proven to return DPFs to like-new specifications. The combination of an aqueous cleaning machine with a quick-drying cabinet can allow your shop to clean more DPFs every day.

It is not recommended to try cleaning a DPF using other methods. There are plenty of YouTube videos – available to anyone, for free – instructing folks in methods that can permanently damage your DPF. Using fire, additives, or a power washer can seem like an easy, cost-saving measure to stretch the life of your DPF, but these can result in a useless DPF. It’s a much safer idea to leave DPF cleaning to the professionals with specialized equipment. 

Can a Fully Blocked DPF be Cleaned?

Yes, in many cases a fully blocked DPF can be cleaned. If the blockage is due to soot or ash, the DPF will usually respond well to either aqueous or thermal DPF cleaning methods. If necessary, the DPF will go through multiple cycles. However, if there is hardened ash blocking the chambers, this is unfortunately usually permanent, and no amount of cleaning cycles will remove it. Also, if the DPF has been contaminated with engine oil or another fluid, it may be time for a replacement DPF.

It’s important to remember that a properly maintained DPF won’t get fully blocked under normal conditions. A DPF should be cleaned about every 1,000 service hours, which usually works out to about every 6 months. Getting your DPF cleaned with either a thermal or aqueous DPF cleaning machine system will keep it running like new for hundreds of thousands of miles.

What are the Benefits of a DPF Cleaning Machine?

DPF cleaning machines have many benefits. As we mentioned above, using unapproved methods to try to clean your DPF can have unintended consequences, and even render your DPF unusable. Using specialized DPF cleaning equipment instead can be up to 98.5% effective in returning your DPF to like-new condition. This allows your DPF to last as long as possible, saving you money over time.

Fleets with many trucks may benefit from having their own DPF cleaning equipment in their shop, saving downtime and money overall. While it may seem like a big investment for a fleet to get its own DPF cleaning equipment, keep in mind that a new DPF can cost between $2,000 and $3,000, depending on the make and model. Deferring this cost by using their current DPFs for as long as possible can pay off quickly. In addition, fleets can plan their DPF maintenance on their own schedule, without worrying about transporting the DPFs elsewhere or service interruptions from relying on an external shop. Using a faster DPF method, like the Filtertherm® Aqueous System, within their own shop means fleets could even schedule their DPF maintenance without any downtime at all.

How Much Does a DPF Cleaning Machine Cost?

Costs vary among DPF cleaning machines and systems. The total cost depends on how many pieces of equipment are purchased – just the thermal oven or aqueous cleaning machine, or other equipment too. DPFPartsDirect.com carries Filtertherm® DPF cleaning equipment because their machines are custom developed for DPF cleaning and they have excellent ROI for DPF cleaning shops. 

A thermal DPF cleaning oven from Filtertherm® costs about $17,000 USD. Other components of a total thermal DPF cleaning package, such as a cool-down cart and pulse cleaner, range from $2,000 USD to $23,000 USD at the time of writing.

The Filtertherm® aqueous DPF cleaning equipment package, which includes the aqueous cleaning machine, drying cabinet, and inspection table, has an MSRP of about $82,000 USD. 

While the initial costs may seem high, DPF cleaning shops and large fleets can see significant savings. Want to see how much your fleet or shop could save with Filtertherm® DPF cleaning machines? There is a handy return-on-investment calculator at rep.direct/equipment

The DPF Cleaning Solution for You

If you are a vehicle owner, there are a few steps you can take to keep your DPF in great condition for hundreds of thousands of miles. It is essential to get your DPF regularly cleaned by a professional shop at an appropriate service interval. The interval depends on the duty cycle and environment of your vehicle, but it is usually about every six months. Contact your trusted DPF cleaning shop to find the best interval for your situation. Next, if you need replacement parts for your aftertreatment system, ensure that they are high-quality direct-fit replacements, like those from Redline Emissions Products®. You should also be aware that issues upstream in the engine can cause DPF damage or failure. Ensure that your mechanic checks your DPF whenever you are having another engine issue. Finally, ask your DPF cleaning shop which method and brand they use. If they use a trusted brand like Filtertherm® and provide you with a detailed inspection report after cleaning your DPF, you can be sure your DPF is in good hands.

If you represent a fleet, you should follow the steps above, but there is another consideration for fleets. Depending on the number of trucks in your fleet, it may be more effective to purchase your own DPF cleaning equipment. This can save your fleet money and time by controlling your own DPF cleaning schedule and reducing downtime. Our experts can help you decide if this is right for your fleet. You can also check out the return-on-investment tool at rep.direct/equipment to see how much your fleet can save.

complete dpf cleaning system - DPF Parts Direct

Where to Buy DPF Cleaning Machines

There are several options for where to buy DPF cleaning machines. When you’re choosing where to purchase from, there are a few things to look out for. First, your source should have a helpline with experts to help you choose which equipment option is right for your application. The seller should also offer a training session and helpline to make sure you know how to use your equipment successfully. Finally, your equipment should come with a one-year warranty included.

DPFPartsDirect.com is your direct source for high-quality DPF cleaning machines and equipment. We proudly carry the Filtertherm® line of DPF cleaning equipment. Order yours today or talk to our experts to determine which equipment is right for you. Call our experts at (844) 385-5409 or email us at sales@dpfpartsdirect.com.

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  • Steve Hoke