If you’re serious about spray painting and you actually care about your device(s), you probably already know that paint sprayers need constant maintenance even when not in use, especially during the wintertime.
I know that it doesn’t sound like fun, but everything comes at a price, right?
Sure some people buy a cheap paint sprayer just for a job or two. If you’re one of them, you probably won’t care much and you may even throw the paint sprayer away after you get the job done.
Me, personally, when I buy a paint sprayer, I consider it as an investment and I plan on using it for years to come.
However, who am I to judge?
Below we’ll be explaining one of the most important parts of a paint sprayer’s maintenance that does indeed extend the lifespan and improve its performance.
We decided to take as an example a product from Graco, called Pump Armor, as it is one of the most popular on the market.
What is Graco Pump Armor?
If you don’t know what Pump Armor is, you’re not alone. Many people seem to be confused and don’t really know what it does and if it is necessary or not, so let’s clear that out.
Pump Armor is a storage protection liquid, meant to be used when the paint sprayer is not in operation.
It is made and approved by Graco for use in all airless pumps. It is available in two sizes: 1-quart and 1-gallon bottle sizes.
What does Graco Pump Armor do?
Graco Pump Armor helps your paint sprayer in so many ways, so let’s list the most important ones:
- Protects the pump when not in use
- Keeps everything lubricated
- Protects paint sprayers from corrosion and premature deterioration
- Stops the seals from drying out
- Stops any leftover paint from drying
- Protects paint sprayers from freezing
How to use Graco Pump Armor?
Below we will be sharing some instructions on how to properly use Pump Armor.
Before starting the process, you have to make sure that the device is as clean as possible, removing as much leftover paint as you can while it’s still in its fluid form.
The process itself is relatively easy. The gun and the hose aren’t really needed here, because what we want to achieve, is to fill the pump with liquid, not the other parts of the paint sprayer.
Start by removing the filter from the suction tube. Open the prime valve, check if the pressure is all the way down, and only then you can turn the machine on.
Get the Graco Pump Armor and insert the suction tube directly into the bottle. Take the return tube and put it into an empty cup.
For the above step, while you can insert the return tube into the bottle of Pump Armor together with the suction tube, I don’t recommend it, because some leftover paint or whatever material you’ve been using the last time can end up inside.
Slowly increase the pressure, and as soon as you see the fluid coming through the return tube, decrease the pressure, turn the device off, and shut the prime valve.
Carefully remove the suction tube from the Graco Pump Armor bottle, making sure to draw all the remaining fluid inside the suction tube into the bottle. Put the filter back on, so you don’t lose it.
Take a look at the fluid that was pumped out of the return tube. If the device was cleaned thoroughly and the liquid is free of any impurities, you can put it back in the bottle to reuse it.
That’s pretty much it. Your paint sprayer is ready to be stored.
How to flush out the Graco Pump Armor fluid?
Before reusing your device, you have to clear out all the fluid that’s inside the pump.
To start, put the suction tube inside a cup filled with water and the return tube into an empty cup. This is done to push the Pump Armor fluid out of the pump with the help of clean water.
If you want to reuse the fluid that’s inside the pump, you have to be really quick here, because you don’t want it to be mixed and diluted with water.
Turn on the device, open the prime valve, and slowly increase the pressure. Get ready to stop the device before the water starts making its way into the cup.
Again, if the fluid is clean, you can pour it back into the bottle for future use. If not, dispose of it.
As the last step, flush the paint sprayer, empty the water, and you’re ready to spray again.
Simple as that!
It seems there are some common misconceptions regarding Graco’s Pump Armor and storage protection liquids in general, so let’s answer some of the most common ones.
What are the main ingredients of Pump Armor?
Graco Pump Armor is mostly made of Ethylene Glycol, at around 40-60%. Other ingredients are water (40-49%) and proprietary additives, such as Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Nitrate, and Denatonium Benzoate.
When to use Pump Armor?
According to Graco, the Pump Armor must be used for “extended storage” of your device. Now, what do they mean by “extended”?
It can be a week of no use, a month, or even more. In my opinion, it mostly depends on the weather conditions.
In order to rule out all the exterior factors, I suggest using Graco Pump Armor whenever you plan on storing your pump for more than a day.
It may sound like a lot, but trust me, you won’t be very happy if you pay a bill that you could have easily avoided if you used Pump Armor.
Can you dilute Graco Pump Armor?
If you have to store your unit for a long period of time, you should use it undiluted, straight out of the bottle. If it is for daily cleaning though, you can dilute it for up to 20%.
Don’t forget that one of the main uses of Pump Armor is to protect the paint sprayer from corrosion, so diluting it with water makes no sense if you plan on storing your device for a long period.
Can you reuse Pump Armor?
Because Pump Armor is relatively cheap, most people do not reuse it. You can, though. I do reuse it most of the time.
If the Pump Armor fluid you flushed out of your device is clean and free of any impurities, you can reuse it.
Read above the how to flush out the fluid section to learn how to collect it the proper way to be as clean as possible.
Do I need to use Pump Armor if I plan on storing my device indoors?
Yes, you should use Pump Armor even if you plan on storing your device indoors, because it also prevents corrosion build-up from moisture, not just from freezing.
What can I use as a Pump Armor substitute?
There aren’t any real alternatives to Graco’s Pump Armor or any other paint sprayer storage protection liquids for that matter.
Because Pump Armor is very similar to antifreeze, people have been using it as a substitute and even some mineral spirits. There is no evidence that these products work the same way.
Is Pump Armor just antifreeze?
No, it’s not. Pump Armor is specifically designed to be used for anti-corrosion and helping lubricate paint-sprayers, so we do not recommend using antifreeze.
To sum everything up, Graco Pump Armor is absolutely needed if you care about your paint sprayer. Think of it as an accessory that without it, your paint sprayer won’t do its job.
We tried to explain in detail what it is, what it does, and how to use it. We also tried to answer some of the most common questions. If there is something we haven’t covered, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
Graco Pump Armor (affiliate link)