How to Maintain Your Screed
BY Sandy Lender
To pave a smooth mat, a number of variables must be managed, including the condition of the paver. Paving Consultant John Ball, the proprietor of Top Quality Paving and Training, Manchester, New Hampshire, shared that the most important part of the paver to keep in tip-top shape is its screed. If the screed is unable to heat correctly or in some other state of disrepair, your crew has a problem. Let’s look at how to maintain this vital component.
The eccentrics on the screed have a hydraulic hose that you shouldn’t have cause to worry about for the first two to three years of its life, but it can grow brittle with age. The vibration of the eccentrics could cause the hose to break and spill hydraulic fluid, so stay aware of its condition.
The slide-outs on the extensions have seals that you will want to keep an eye on. Those seals will leak hydraulic fluid if you allow a build-up of material to clump on the extensions and get dragged in and out of the main structure. The material will wear on the seals and compromise their integrity. After each shift, use a biodegradable release agent and soft rag to wipe down parts of the extensions. If necessary, use a putty knife to scrape material loose. Keep these sections clean and free of clumps.
One of the greatest innovations for screeds is the move to electric heat, but that means you want to keep an eye on the circuits. Don’t assume each band is heating the plates to their appropriate temperatures, and then take off down the lane. If one endgate won’t stay hot, it will drag down the mat, leaving a trail of trouble for your lute man and roller operator. Instead, begin each shift by checking each plate’s temperature with an infrared gun. If something—such as heavy, blowing rain or the vibration of the eccentrics wiggling wires loose—has caused a short circuit, have your electrician tend to it.
Ball said the most important part of the screed to keep an eye on is the plate. You want to check the screed itself to make sure it’s able to heat properly, all the way across. You also want it to be smooth and straight, not warped or gouged. Think of the screed plate—and the plates on the extensions—like an iron. If the iron has cold spots or divots, you won’t get a nicely ironed shirt. The same is true of the screed and the mat you wish to get paid to place.