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Full text of "The custodian at work"

THECUSTODIfln 






n. E. VILES 




From the collection of the 

z n 
z m 

o Prelinger 

1 1 a 

v Uibrary 



San Francisco, California 
2006 



THE 

CUSTODIAN 

AT 

WORK 



By 

NELSON E. VILES 

Director of School Building Service, Missouri State 

Department of Education. Instructor in Educational 

Administration , University of Missouri. Director of 

Missouri Janitorial Training Schools. 




THE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING COMPANY 

LINCOLN KANSAS CITY NEW YORK DALLAS 



Ackno wledgem ents 

FOR COURTEOUS PERMISSION to use indicated material, grateful ac- 
knowledgement and thanks are extended to the following authors, 
publishers and periodicals. 

U. S. Department of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

Missouri Inspection Bureau, Fire Insurance Bldg., St. Louis, Mo. 
Mr. L. W. Mahone, Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa. 
The American School Board Journal, The Bruce Publishing Co., Mil- 
waukee, Wisconsin. 

Floorcrajt, Continental College of Floor Efficiency, Brazil, Indiana. 
Handboo^ for School Custodians, The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 
Nebraska. 

Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries, Chicago, Illinois. 
Standards for Public School Janitorial Engineering Service, by Engel- 
hardt, Reeves, and Womrath, Teachers College, Columbia University. 
National Education Association of the United States, 1201 Sixteenth 
Street, N. W., Washington, D. C. 

Efficient Business Administration of Public Schools, by Womrath, The 
Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 




PUBLISHED AND COPYRIGHTED IN 1941 BY THE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING COM- 
PANY WHICH RESERVES ALL RIGHTS. SET UP, ELECTROTYPED, AND PRINTED IN 
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
K. B. 



Foreword 

THE IMPORTANCE OF adequate school housing facilities to the 
welfare of the child and to the work of the school merits 
the attention of all school officials. Suitable operating and main- 
tenance practices are essential to efficient modern school pro- 
grams. Teachers and administrators have complained of poor 
service but have made no concerted effort to improve this serv- 
ice. The lack of acceptable standards and of basic information 
on methods, materials, and procedures available to janitors and 
administrators has delayed progress. 

The material contained in this volume was developed to pro- 
vide information on general methods and procedures for all 
who have any duties or obligations in school plant manage- 
ment. While this information was prepared primarily for the 
school janitor, it should be of value to superintendents, prin- 
cipals, or to teachers in rural schools, all of whom are interested 
in housekeeping, sanitation, safety, heating, and ventilation. 
It was assembled over a period of years in directing custodial 
training schools and in supervising the maintenance program. 
It is hoped that it may be of value to the administrators in 
supervising their maintenance programs, to janitors now em- 
ployed, or to those prospective janitors who are training for a 
position. It should also serve as a general source or textbook 
for janitorial training schools. In order to provide the needed 
information and to insure its relation to various situations and 
conditions, certain basic facts and procedure outlines are re- 
peated in more than one section. 

Hi 



iv FOREWORD 

The complicated task of school plant maintenance makes it 
essential that a competent janitor be employed. He should be 
able to plan his work in an intelligent manner. He should be 
interested in learning more about his job. The capable janitor 
should not need regulations outlining in detail each task to be 
done. To this end the information provided here is presented 
on an instructional basis rather than as a set of rules and regu- 
lations on a "do" and "don't" basis. 

In presenting this volume, credit must be given to the school 
plant specialists in the National Council on Schoolhouse Con- 
struction under whose direction this study was started, and to 
the many janitor-engineers who have spent much time in the 
study of school plant care. Credit is also due the progressive 
janitorial supply and floor maintenance firms who have con- 
tributed much to the improvement of school plant maintenance. 

Special credit is also due L. W. Mahone, Assistant Professor, 
Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Ames, 
Iowa; Dr. K. O. Broady, Teachers College, University of 
Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Dr. I. J. Montgomery, Uni- 
versity of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, for careful reading and 
valuable suggestions. 

NELSON E. VILES 



Table of Contents 

CHAPTER PAOE 

1. THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND A MODERN EDUCA- 
TIONAL PROGRAM . . . , 1 

Housekeeping in the School 6 

2. THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND His JOB 9 

Janitorial Qualifications . . 10 

Responsibilities and Obligations 17 

Public Relations 20 

3. ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 23 

Employment, Tenure and Salary Schedules .... 25 

Rules and Regulations 30 

Janitorial Cooperation 37 

"Code of Ethics for the Columbia, Missouri, Public 

School Custodians" * 39 

Control of Supplies . . 40 

4. HOUSEKEEPING * 42 

Cleaning Tools 

Brooms . . ' . . . . . 43 

Brushes . ' 44 

Mops . * , - : i l > . - -'"- ' 47 

Dusters 48 

Pans and Pails 49 

Scrubbing Machine 51 

Miscellaneous Cleaning Tools 51 

Tool Selection, Purchase and Care 54 

Cleaning Supplies 
Abrasives . . 

V 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Soap 57 

Drain Pipe Cleaner 59 

Acids 59 

Caustic Cleaners 60 

Disinfectants . . . . ' .. . . . . . 62 

Deodorants 65 

Concrete Floor Hardener 65 

Floor Seals ' .\ .'.'.. . . . 66 

Terrazzo Seal . . . . . -..-,,., . . . 67 

Floor Wax . . , . . .< .' . . v ... 67 

Dance Floor Preparations 67 

Miscellaneous Preparations '. . . ' ." . . . . 68 

Purchase and Storage of Materials 71 

5. DAILY FLOOR CLEANING . . '. . . . . ... 74 

Tools for Cleaning . . ..-. v 75 

Vacuum Cleaning . . . . . . . '.- . . . 77 

Sweeping Compound ..... . . . . . . 79 

Frequency of Cleaning . . .. ; , . . . . . 79 

Time of Cleaning . .-. .... ...:... 80 

Methods Vary with Type of Floor . SI 

Methods Vary with Tools Used . . . , . . . 82 

Methods Vary with Room Use and Equipment . . . 84 

6. OTHER CLEANING DUTIES . . . ; . . 97 

Care of Toilet, Shower and Locker Rooms .... 97 

Cleaning of Glass . .. . .. . . . . .. /"; . . 104 

Blackboard Cleaning . . ... . " .. .\ . . 110 

Cleaning Erasers . . .. . .^. *.:... * . . 114 

Dusting . ... '- ;:-* . -. & ^ . . . .. 115 

Cleaning Classroom Walls and Ceilings . ., . . . 119 

7. GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT . . ; ' . . 123 

Care of Walks, Lawns and Play Areas 123 



CONTENTS ^ 

CHAPTER pACE 

Care of Trees, Shrubs and Lawns 128 

Care of Light and Electric Service 132 

Electric Lighting Service 136 

Care of Window Shades 140 

Care of the Flag . . . ......... 142 

8. SAFETY IN SCHOOLS . 144 

Prevention of Accidents 144 

Fire Prevention in School Buildings 151 

Fire Prevention and the Janitor 153 

Hazards in Special Units 158 

Careless Housekeeping Practices 160 

Getting Pupils Out of the Building 161 

Classes of Fires . . ^ 162 

Fire Extinguishment 163 

Characteristics of Hand Fire Extinguishers .... 168 
Check Lists of Fire Hazards and Exit Facilities in 

Schools ..'...... 171 

9. DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM .... 175 

Making a Work Schedule 176 

Janitorial Records and Reports 187 

10. SCHOOL FLOORS . 202 

Types and Cleaning 202 

Wood Floors 203 

Masonry Floors ._._.. 205 

Composition Floors . . . 209 

Rugs and Carpets 213 

Cleaning School Floors 214 

Scrubbing and Mopping 216 

11. SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 227 

Conditioning and Reconditioning Floors 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Oiling 231 

Sealing Floors 233 

Waxing Floors ...... V 235 

Maintenance Practices and Standards . . . . . . 240 

Maintaining Masonry Floors 242 

Maintaining Composition Floors . . . . . . . 246 

12. HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS . ... ... 250 

Principles of Heating . , > .... ^- : ;>' ; 252 

Types of Heating Systems . . . ..,..;# . 255 

Steam Generating Boilers ....... .V * . . ,, .*$ . 260 

Hot Water Heating Systems . , .: . ..> . 262 

Hot Air Heating Systems . . . . . . . .. . - ^ . 263 

Factors in Heating Efficiency ........ 264 

Ventilating Systems . . . . ,. ,;. . ... , . 270 

13. FUELS AND COMBUSTION ..-.*. . . . . t . 275 

Coals . W(.,.^:.. ... .. ,?| ;. '. .:. ; : .&& . .. 275 

Other Fuels . . . . . . / . . . .- -.." . . . 280 

Combustion ...... ... ^ . . . . . 282 

Some Heating and Ventilating Terms Defined . . . 288 

14. FIRING THE FURNACE , . ;;..,... . .,, ; .. . 294 

Firing with Coal . ... . . . . . .... 296 

Hand Firing Methods ....... . . . . 297 

Stoker Firing . . . . 304 

Damper Control . . . , . . ..'... . 308 

Ash Removal . . . ; . . . 310 

Smoke Control .... .*' . . ."%.i. . 312 

Starting Fires . ...... . '.- ?. "* '^^. . : 313 

Banking Fires . . . . i ; ; . . y . .... 314 

Firing with Other Fuels . * 315 

15. CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS . . . 317 

Temperature Control 318 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAPTE* PACE 

Ventilation Controls 319 

Furnace Drafts 321 

Furnace Grates 322 

The Steam Heating System 324 

Boiler Water 326 

Radiator Care 330 

Summer Care 331 

Care of Hot Air Systems 333 

Miscellaneous Operating Problems 334 

16. MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 336 

Care of Furniture 336 

Termites and Termite Control 341 

Miscellaneous Helps 345 

17. SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR ... 348 

Typical Maintenance Problems 353 

18. IMPROVING JANITORIAL SERVICE 367 

Training for Janitorial Service 368 

Evaluating the Work of the Janitor 371 

Check List of Janitorial Service 373 

\ 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . 383 



Chapter 1 



The School Building and a Modern 
Educational Program 



MANY DECADES much attention has been given to the im- 
provement of educational practice, but only during recent 
years has much attention been given to the improvement of 
the school building facilities and to the methods of maintaining 
these facilities. 

Much tradition and some sentiment has grown up around 
the mythical "little red school house." Tradition does not tell 
us of the lack of comfort existing in these buildings where 
pupils froze on one side while they baked on the other; where 
they sat in uncomfortable seats and were subjected to eye 
strain and other discomforts. It is true that many a boy has 
left his mark deeply carved on such buildings. It is even more 
easy to believe that such school houses have left lasting marks 
in depreciated vitality and physical defects upon the boys and 
girls who attended them. 

No longer do we depend upon or expect to see many of the 
old cast iron box stoves. The old Smede or burn-out toilet 
systems and the slate urinals are being superseded by modern 
equipment. Modern buildings being erected today do not con- 
tain winding wood stairways to become fire traps for children. 
Neither are modern school buildings equipped with flat grain 
pine floors which splinter and become difficult to maintain. 

i 



2 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

The old water bucket with the common dipper is in most places 
only a memory or a relic. The increasing complexity of the 
modern educational program has made it necessary to provide 
a greater variety of facilities in the present day school buildings. 
The dark old schoolroom lighted by a few windows covered 
by stringy window shades, effectively shutting out much of 
the light is now being replaced by modern rooms with windows 
reaching to the ceiling. Likewise, the old single drop fifty-watt 
light bulb is being replaced with modern electric fixtures of 
the semi-direct or indirect type, using as much as 1200 to 2000 
watts of light for the ordinary classroom. 

The old flat grain pine floors, covered by accumulations of 
grease and oil, are being replaced with hard maple or beech 
wood floors or with some of the newer linoleum or mastic types 
of surfacing. Stairs and corridor floors are surfaced with tile, 
terrazzo, or some other non-combustible material. Tile or lino- 
wall wainscots are now provided to protect the walls from 
heel marks and fingerprints. Acoustical tile board and acousti- 
cal plaster have been applied to reduce reverberation and noise 
in the building. Large playroom areas and assembly units have 
been provided for the group activities of the school and com- 
munity. 

With these changes in housing methods have also come many 
changes in the mechanical systems and facilities. Electric clocks, 
electric bells and motors call for a different type of maintenance 
than did the old kerosene lamp and the hand bell. Central 
heating plants with a battery of boilers or furnaces distribute 
heat some distance from the source. This heat is regulated to a 
range of two or three degrees with automatic control. These 
plants have delicately adjusted machinery and appliances which 
must be properly installed and protected in order to deliver 
the type of services desired. School officials have found open 



THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM 3 

window ventilation is not always effective, for on cold days all 
windows are closed. Present day systems are planned to change 
the air in the classrooms at fixed intervals and to do it without 
a noticeable change of temperature or air movement. Vacuum 
cleaners have been installed to replace the corn broom and 
shovel. Controlled humidity is provided to help regulate the 
temperature in the schoolroom. Modern plumbing facilities 
provide sanitary features for all school pupils. 

With the newer buildings and with the improvements in the 
older buildings have come demands for a better type of house- 
keeping. This demand came first from those responsible for 
installing the modern machinery and service features in the 
school building. As the patrons learned of the improvements 
that were being made, the demand became equally imperative 
from the public that the school buildings be maintained in a 
manner which would provide more adequate heating facilities, 
improved ventilation, automatic temperature control, and sani- 
tary facilities. 

One of the major purposes of school maintenance is to pre- 
serve the district investment in school property. This may seem 
to be a small factor when we consider only one school janitor 
at a time. It becomes far more important when we recognize 
the fact that the elementary and high school districts of the 
public schools in the United States have an investment of ap- 
proximately six billion dollars in school plants and equipment. 
Lack of proper care may cause this property to deteriorate 
rapidly. It is often stated that the life of a school building is ap- 
proximately fifty years. If we accept this figure as a basis, it 
seems evident that any program of maintenance that prolongs 
the life of this property by as much as three or five years will 
effect substantial savings to the school districts in the United 
States. School maintenance involves more than the saving and 



4 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

protection of property. It also involves the protection of mate- 
rials and supplies brought to the building for use. 

A second and more important purpose in school housekeep- 
ing is to provide facilities for the protection of the children. 
With groups of children collected in a school building, we may 
expect to find some disarrangement and some disorganization. 
In short, we may expect the building to show the effects of 
being used. While pupils should aid in protecting the school 
building, the nature of the work done in the building will cause 
some wear. The maintenance program should be developed to 
provide the facilities needed, with the least possible building 
deterioration. 

One of the essentials of a school building is that it shall pre- 
serve the health and safety of the pupils by providing suitable 
and adequate conditions. Every building should provide fire 
resistive exits, non-slip stair treads and other features designed 
to provide safety for the children. In housekeeping, it is essential 
that no obstructions be permitted in corridors and exits, and 
that exits be unlocked when the pupils are in the building. It 
is also important that safety from explosions or from flying 
glass in doors or windows be provided. A second phase in safety 
is that of health protection. To protect the health of pupils, it 
is essential that the building have properly regulated tempera- 
ture, suitable air movement, and adequate sanitation. It is also es- 
sential that the pupils work in classrooms which are free from 
draft. The light should be of proper intensity to prevent eye 
strain, thus preventing eye fatigue and later sight defects. The 
school is the home of many children throughout the day. Here 
they may be exposed to contagious diseases and many other 
common ailments. It is essential that these hazards be reduced 
to a minimum by proper care of the building. 

A third effect of proper school housekeeping is on the con- 



THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM 5 

duct of the students. A dull, uninteresting room or building in- 
vites marking and marring much more than does a clean, at- 
tractive, well lighted building. Children have energies that must 
have outlet. Under conditions where this energy is directed into 
proper channels, there will be less tendency on the children's 
part to display it in non-sanctioned school activities. Pupils 
who are proud of their school and who feel it is theirs want to 
support the school and to be on their best behavior when in 
the building. Pride in a building can be developed if the build- 
ing is worthy of appreciation. Few of us had any real pride in 
the older schoolrooms. The scarred desks, the torn window 
blinds, the unattractive and unsanitary toilet rooms are not 
cherished memories. Too often the school building and grounds 
were an eye sore on the landscape. 

The fourth purpose of school housekeeping is to keep the 
building in such condition that effective and economical work 
may be done. In order to do good school work, the pupil should 
be alert and active mentally. Children are more likely to be 
receptive to mental improvement when the schoolroom and 
conditions are conducive to mental activity. Listlessness, men- 
tal lethargy and a slowing of the learning processes are to be 
expected in rooms that are not properly heated or ventilated. 
It seems apparent that poor housekeeping methods may cost 
the school system many times more each day than the amount 
paid for housekeeping services. 

Pupils learn more readily when in a happy mood. A happy 
mood is associated with comfort and cheerful surroundings. 
School housekeeping is of even greater importance when we 
realize the value of the school building as a teaching device. 
One of the major purposes of education is to teach the boys 
and girls to want the better things in life and to help them, 
insofar as possible, in developing the necessary skills to satisfy 



6 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

these wants. For many boys and girls, the school building is the 
finest building that they will ever call home. For many of them 
it is the best appointed, the most comfortable, the most sanitary 
and the most convenient building in which they will ever live. 
Many of the boys and girls set up their ideals of conveniences 
and of comfort, as well as of housekeeping practices, by the 
conditions they find in the school building. 

Housekeeping in the School 

The housekeeping program for a school system is a coopera- 
tive enterprise in which each member of the system participates 
to some extent. A lack of understanding of the importance of 
school housekeeping by any one group will nullify the work 
done by others. 

I. The first responsibility rests with the school administrator. Many 
of the school administrators are well versed in teaching methods 
but have not had an opportunity to secure training in school plant 
management with all its varied factors. While it does not seem 
feasible to request these men to become specialists in building care, 
it is essential that they know something of the principles involved. 
It is also essential that they have the ability to organize and super- 
vise the work of the people directly responsible for the care of the 
building. Care in planning is needed that there may be a proper 
balance between utility and ease in cleaning. It is obviously impos- 
sible for the administrator to supervise closely all the activities 
necessary in building care and it is essential that he delegate power 
and hold responsible those to whom authority is delegated. 
II. It naturally follows that the administrator should have authority 
to recommend for employment men. for the janitorial and mainte- 
nance force. He should also be expected to have authority to recom- 
mend for promotion. He should be able to organize this force of 
men by appointing certain men as supervisors or directors. He 
should assist in setting up and should pass on a program of work to 
be set up by these men. Since many of the school janitors are not 
trained for their jobs, the superintendent or administrator in charge 
should aid these men in securing adequate training. However, 



THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM 7 

the responsibility of the administrator does not end here. He should 
supervise the training of teachers in the principles of building care. 
Finally, he should directly or through his assistants to whom he 
has delegated authority judge the results obtained. He should be 
able to sense weaknesses or defects in the organization before they 
are obvious to the casual observer. He should be able to instill en- 
thusiasm and to secure cooperation of all concerned in the use and 
care of the school plant. 

III. The teacher also has a definite responsibility in building care. She 
should not be expected to dust erasers or to clean windows, but 
she must accept the responsibility if pupils fail to assist in main- 
taining buildings in a satisfactory manner. She is the leader of the 
pupils and by her actions and teaching sets up the housekeeping 
standards for the pupils. It is she who can do most to teach pupils 
to appreciate suitable surroundings and to develop a pride in their 
buildings. It is often difficult for the teacher to overcome some of 
the handicaps of a poorly planned room, a lack of storage space, 
and poor surroundings. However, the ingenious teacher will be 
able to improve conditions now found in many buildings. She 
should never forget that proper ideals and practices in housekeep- 
ing may be as essential to the child as the development of skills in 
some of the class subjects. One of the first steps in schoolroom 
housekeeping is to develop a system for storing equipment and 
supplies needed in the room. Spaces should be provided for globes, 
maps, books, and other teaching devices. The children should be 
taught to store these materials in the space assigned. The teacher 
should teach the pupils responsibility in the care of individual 
wraps and supplies. Her work in housekeeping does not end at 
the door of her room. She can teach pupils never to enter the 
school building with mud on their shoes. The teacher is expected 
to train the pupils to refrain from marking on the walls. She 
should teach them to conserve toilet room supplies and to protect 
the shrubbery on the grounds. The teacher may also supervise 
the hanging of pictures and the development of many of the dec- 
orative features that aid in making the school building a fitting 
school home for the children. She should also learn to cooperate 
with the janitor in his work and to encourage him in his efforts to 
maintain a clean, spotless building. In order to have a check on 
her work in school housekeeping, the teacher might set up some 
guiding principles similar to the following: 



8 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

1. Know the principles of heating and ventilation. Use a ther- 
mometer. Have ventilation, but avoid drafts. 

2. Provide a sample of housekeeping in my end of the room 
that I am willing to have the pupils copy. 

3. Teach pupils not to carry dirt into the building on their shoes. 

4. Teach use of the wastebasket. Do not permit pupils to leave 
paper on the floor. 

5. Have a place for everything. See that supplies are kept in their 
proper places. 

6. Leave desk tops clean that they may be dusted. 

7. Teach a sense of fitness. Do not use desk tops for storage pur- 
poses. 

8. Teach children to use the walks and not to destroy the shrub- 
bery. 

9. Do not permit pupils to throw paper on the ground. 

10. Teach pupils to erase blackboard when through with it. 

11. Teach pupils to hang wraps in space provided. 

12. Visit toilets frequently. Teach pupils that these rooms should 
be kept in a sanitary condition. 

13. Do not drive nails in plaster or trim. 

14. Do not paste stickers on windows or blackboards. 

15. Lock cases and doors if same are to be locked. Lend keys only 
on order of superior officers. 

16. Cultivate the good will of the janitor. 1 He may become a 
friend in need. 

The teacher as the leader of the pupils may assume a double 
responsibility. Many of the pupils are young and have had 
little training in housekeeping. Unless the teacher can aid them 
in developing a pride in their building, she cannot expect them 
to assist in maintaining a schoolhouse of which she and they 
will be proud. 

1 As used in this and later chapters, the terms "janitor" and "custodian" have the 
same meaning. As used they apply to those men whose chief duties are school house- 
keeping. The term, "janitor-engineer," as used will apply to those men whose chief 
duties are the care of heating and ventilating systems, but who may also have some 
housekeeping duties. 



Chapter 2 

The School Janitor and His Job 



THE NEW AND improved school building facilities that have 
been provided will not render the service for which they 
were intended if the men employed for building maintenance 
service fail in their duties. The modern school janitor fills an 
important place in the school program. He reaches the building 
first in the morning to prepare it for the activities of the day. 
He takes charge of the building after the teachers and pupils 
have completed their duties for the day. He is the caretaker, 
the engineer and the person having direct responsibility for 
the comfort of the occupants of the building. The janitor who 
does his work well contributes much to the efficiency of the 
school system. The best janitor is the janitor who does his work 
quietly and thoroughly. 

He should be considered an integral part of the school system 
and should be consulted when making plans for the schools. 
Many schools have found it desirable to have him attend an oc- 
casional faculty meeting. This relationship typifies the growing 
conception of the importance of the school janitor. School 
officials are beginning to realize that the modern janitor is bet- 
ter qualified and that he is better trained than was the janitor of 
a few years ago. The old type of janitor received his position 
through pull or friendship and often knew little of building 
care. He is being replaced by well trained men who are willing 



10 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to put forth some effort to give adequate service. The janitor 
who sees in his job only the tasks of firing the furnace and an 
occasional sweeping of schoolrooms has no place in our modern 
school buildings. Not until a majority of our school building 
maintenance departments are manned by alert, capable, well 
trained janitors and janitor-engineers may we expect the build- 
ings to render the service for which they were intended. 

Janitorial Qualifications 

It is difficult to set up qualifications in terms of age, ex- 
perience, and specific training for janitors. In a building or 
system where many men are employed the work may be so 
organized that each man does the tasks for which he is best 
trained. In the smaller systems or even in the smaller buildings 
of any school system one man may be required to do all tasks 
connected with the maintenance of a building. In such cases 
it is essential that the janitor in charge have a wide range of 
abilities. Womrath 1 stated that the janitor should be an econo- 
mist in the use of supplies, a sanitarian, a moralist, a first-class 
housekeeper, a sociologist, a diplomat, a maintenance engineer, 
and an expert mechanical engineer. 

Age ana* Physical Condition 

Many school boards will not employ a new janitor who is 
less than twenty-five or more than fifty years of age. Physical 
ability is usually considered more important than age for the 
men already employed. Many boards do not set up a definite 
age limit for the retirement of janitors from active service. 
If no retirement age has been set up some boards permit the 
janitor to remain in service until he is physically unable to do 



1 Womrath, G. R, Efficient Business Administration of Public Schools. 1932, pp. 
279-81. 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 11 

the work in an adequate manner. Litle 2 found from a sampling 
of Missouri school janitors that the average age of the men 
now in service is 49.16 years. He also found that the average 
janitor had 5.22 years of experience. 

Lack of good vision and partial deafness are handicaps which 
may make it difficult for the janitor to perform his work in a 
satisfactory manner. The work of the janitor in firing the 
furnace, in cleaning windows, and in making repairs, coupled 
with the long hours that many of the men work, require a 
man with some agility and a good physique. Many of the tasks 
involve much risk for a janitor who is not sure of his footing on 
ladders and on window ledges. Other tasks require lifting of 
tables and other heavy objects. The school boards that select 
janitors physically unable to do the necessary tasks around a 
school building may expect patrons to complain of the type of 
service rendered. In addition to physical ability, the janitor must 
be free from contagious diseases. He should be required to con- 
form to the same health regulations as the teachers. 

Character and Personal Qualities 

The janitor has an important influence on the lives of the 
school children. In the elementary schools, he is often the only 
male employee of the school system with whom the children 
have intimate contact. Some of them go to him for advice and 
many model their actions on his. The influence he exerts makes 
it important that he be clean in body, mind, and habits. He 
should be the type of person with whom the parents are willing 
to have their children associate. His character and reputation 
should be above reproach. He should never forget that he is a 
representative of the school system. Mothers realize that his 

2 Litlc,Roy K, "A Study of Missouri School Janitors," 1937, an unpublished manu- 
script, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. 



12 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

work may directly or indirectly affect the physical and moral 
welfare of their children. It is essential that he cultivate habits 
that merit the respect of teachers and patrons. He should not 
be addicted to the use of liquor or narcotics. Surliness, excessive 
familiarity, vulgarity, the use of profanity, laziness, or the chew- 
ing of tobacco around the school building, will bring criticism 
from parents and will undoubtedly result in the loss of position 
for the janitor. In general, the ideal janitor is a citizen of the 
United States, married, courteous, dependable, industrious, 
truthful, honest, and respectful. 

General Education 

There are no definite qualifications in terms of years of 
schooling for janitors. There are several different types of 
janitorial positions and some require more general training 
than do others. Most boards require that the janitor have the 
equivalent of an eighth grade education. He should be able to 
read and write reports and records. He should be able to read 
and understand written and printed instructions relative to his 
work, his tools, and the supplies that he uses. It is also desirable 
that he have a background that enables him to understand the 
organization, purpose and function of the school system. He 
should be able to speak the English language. In addition to 
his general education, he needs certain specific training which 
will be discussed under another heading. 

Dress and Appearance 

The janitor is the maintenance engineer and the school house- 
keeper. Cleanliness and neatness begin with him. It is difficult 
for a janitor who is not clean in person and in dress, or who 
does not know what cleanliness means, to maintain an attrac- 
tive, sanitary school building. Children are sent to school to 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 13 

develop habits and ideals. Remember that not all the learning 
takes place in the schoolroom. Pupils develop ideals of house- 
keeping, or cleanliness, and of sanitation from their surround- 
ings in the school building. In spite of the tasks that the janitor 
has to perform, he should give attention to his personal ap- 
pearance. He should shave each day and should have his hair 
cut every two or three weeks. He should bathe every day. Dirty 
fingernails, uncombed hair, tobacco stain on his teeth, and a 
dirty face or clothes are to be avoided. 

The janitor is often the first person visitors meet when they 
enter the school building. His dress and appearance should be 
in keeping with the dignity of the school. It is understood that 
he has many dirty tasks to perform. For this work he should 
provide overalls or coveralls that may be removed before he 
comes before the teachers and pupils in classrooms or corridors. 
Dilapidated shoes run over at the heels, bibbed overalls, a vest 
without a coat, exposed suspenders, baggy trousers, shirt open 
over the throat and upper chest, all detract from the personal 
appearance and show a lack of self respect. The janitor should 
be proud of his appearance. 

Many schools require the janitors to wear a uniform con- 
sisting of trousers and shirt to match, shoes, tie, and a belt. Most 
janitors welcome this change. The colors perferred seem to be 
gray trousers with or without a light stripe and a gray shirt. 
However, some schools have adopted a khaki color with satisfy- 
ing results. These are accompanied by black shoes or oxfords, 
black hose, a black belt, and a black bow tie. Many janitors have 
been able to secure black leather (semi-leather) neckties that 
look well, wear well, and do not require laundering. A head 
covering is not recommended for indoor work, but if one is 
desired it should be a cap to match the uniform. Dress caps or 
old hats should not be worn in the corridors or schoolrooms. 



14 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

These uniforms may be obtained at the regular clothing 
counters in light weights for summer and heavier weights for 
winter wear. The clothing should fit snugly but should allow 
freedom of movement. It should be of a material that will wear 
well and that may be cleaned easily. It is essential that each 
janitor have more than one uniform that he may have clean 
clothing as needed. The cost of this clothing is no more than 
that of any other good outfit that the janitor may assemble. 
The belt should be fitted with a leather tool kit that will hold 
a small screw driver, a putty knife, and a small pair of pliers. 
The janitor should avoid wearing a flowing tie or loose clothing 
that may be caught in fans or other moving machinery. 

Skills and Abilities 

In a school system where a chief engineer, a repair crew, and 
other specialized workers are employed, there is opportunity 
for each man to perform the tasks for which he is best fitted. 
In such systems each man may train for a specific type of 
service. In other school systems or buildings where these special 
service men are not available, each man in charge of a building 
should be able to do most of the essential tasks necessary for 
building care and maintenance. The skills discussed in the fol- 
lowing paragraphs are those essential for complete building 
care. In the smaller systems it may be necessary for each janitor 
to possess most or all of the skills listed. 

With the introduction of vacuum cleaning systems, vacuum 
pumps, motors, automatic temperature control, humidifying 
systems, as well as several types of floor finish, public address 
systems, and rheostat control for stage lighting, the building 
maintenance tasks have become varied and complex. It is 
anticipated that there will be some tasks for which a skilled 
mechanic from outside the school system should be employed. 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 15 

These instances are becoming less frequent as the janitors im- 
prove in their ability to care for school buildings. Where the 
men employed by the district have the skill to do minor repair 
jobs in a satisfactory manner, these repairs may be made when 
needed and usually at less cost than if outside mechanics are 
employed. The janitor who does not have the skill or ability to 
do minor repair jobs is being taught to do them or is being re- 
placed by men with greater ability. Many school systems now 
find it unnecessary to employ any outside help unless new con- 
struction is contemplated. 

As a Housekeeper 

The janitor must be a good housekeeper. He should know 
the best methods of cleaning and preserving the various types 
of floors found in school buildings. He should know the compo- 
sition of and the effects of various types of cleaning agents on 
different surfaces. It is essential that he know the best methods 
of cleaning glass, wall surfaces, furniture, building hardware, 
and blackboards. He is responsible for maintaining sanitary 
conditions in the building. He must know the value and use 
of water traps to prevent seepage of sewer gas into the building. 
It is essential that he know modern methods of cleaning foun- 
tains, urinals, lavatories, toilet stools, toilet rooms, and shower 
stalls of all waste accumulations or water deposits that might 
mar their appearance or aid in creating unsanitary conditions. 
His sense of order and arrangement should be apparent in the 
manner in which he leaves each classroom with each article 
of furniture properly located and with the erasers in place, or 
in his own quarters where all supplies are properly stored, tools 
in place, and where all rubbish has been eliminated. The good 
janitor knows and practices modern methods of building main- 
tenance, knows how to eliminate dirt, and is eternally vigilant 



16 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

for marks or dirty spots that might mar the appearance of his 
building. 

The janitor of yesterday whose experience as an engineer was 
confined to having fired a boiler for a sawmill or even to a 
short period as a locomotive fireman is not necessarily qualified 
to care for the heating and ventilating systems for a modern 
school system. The janitor in charge of the heating and ventila- 
tion should have a knowledge of the principles involved and 
some experience either as an apprentice or in other capacities 
in similar systems. He should know the principles of fuel 
combustion, the value of various fuels and the proper methods 
of firing. He should know the proper temperature range for 
the various school units and the importance of humidification. 
The well trained heating engineer will know the principles of 
heating and ventilation and the importance of securing this 
ventilation economically and without noticeable drafts. He will 
know how to clean the boilers, to care for radiator traps, motors, 
and fans so that the whole system may render the service for 
which it was intended. 

In addition to his routine operating tasks the janitor has a 
definite duty to preserve the building from too rapid deteriora- 
tion. He must possess many skills that enable him to repair 
breaks and to replace pieces which are too badly worn to give 
adequate service. The janitor should have sufficient skill in the 
use of woodworking tools to make shelves and window boxes. 
He should be able to make roof repairs, to tighten loose win- 
dows, to replace broken window cords, and to replace broken 
glass. He should be able to adjust door closers or panic exit 
devices, and to repair lockers. He should be able to use a 
sanding machine, to repair desks, and to replace broken pieces 
with those salvaged from discarded desks. There are times 
when the ability of the janitor to make minor plumbing re- 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 17 

pairs such as opening clogged pipes or stools or the adjusting of 
leaking valves, will maintain all fixtures ready for use, prevent 
a waste of water, and save a plumber's bill. While it is not 
essential that the janitor be a licensed electrician, he should 
know how to replace blown fuses with fuses having the proper 
resistance. He should know how to care for motors, lamps, and 
electrical appliances. In practice the well balanced and well 
trained janitorial force does not need to call a boiler maker to 
replace boiler flues or to replace a broken water glass. 

The janitor should know how to care for and to trim hedges 
and shrubbery, to care for flower beds, and to maintain lawns. 
It is generally understood by school officials that public support 
of the system is closely related to public appreciation of the 
schools. To a large number of citizens the exterior appearance 
of the building, yards, and playgrounds is a measure of the 
efficiency of the school system. It is much easier for patrons to 
appreciate and to develop a pride in a well-kept, attractive 
school yard and building than in a poorly kept yard and a 
dilapidated, unpainted building. Hence, the ability of the jani- 
tor to maintain an attractive building may be an important 
factor in public approval of the schools. Although the janitor 
may possess many skills, we may perhaps best summarize by 
stating that he must be an expert housekeeper. 

Responsibilities and Obligations 

The janitor has many responsibilities in the care, preservation, 
and protection of school property. It is his duty to maintain a 
sanitary building. It is also his duty to provide the heat and 
ventilation needed to protect the health of the children in the 
building. His work in maintaining the building in such condi- 
tion that the pupils may work in comfort may add materially 
to the efficiency of the school system. In addition to the regular 



18 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

duties, the janitor may be called on to care for the building for 
many evening activities. It is desirable that he be given as- 
sistance for evening duties, but if not, in spite of long hours of 
service, he feels obligated to be present when his building is 
open for use. 

The janitor should attempt to prevent property loss that may 
be caused by freezing, neglect, or careless usage. He may find 
it necessary to drain pipes or to maintain fires over week-ends 
or during holidays in extremely cold weather. He should con- 
serve the supplies and equipment used in the building. He 
should watch for breaks or weak spots in the building and, if 
he cannot make the needed repairs, should report them to his 
superior officer. Negligence on the part of the janitor may be 
responsible for losses of various sorts. He is the "keeper of the 
keys." These, he should not let out of his possession except on 
the order of his superior officer. Before leaving the building 
each evening, he should check to see if doors are locked and 
windows latched as per his (written) instructions. It is advisable 
that he make a circuit of the building each morning to de- 
termine any loss during the night. 

Responsible for Safety 

In his position as caretaker, the janitor is responsible for many 
factors that add to the safety of the children in the building. He 
is obligated to see that snow is removed from walks and door- 
ways, and that sand, sawdust, or cinders are scattered over icy 
spots on steps or walks when needed. He should see that exit 
lanes are unobstructed by cases, tools, or furniture, and that all 
exits may be opened easily when pupils are in the building. He 
should be alert to the dangers of fire escape doors that do not 
operate freely, ice on fire escapes, hanging icicles, loose hand 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 19 

rails, and loose stair nosings. He should install and make use of 
temperature control valves on hot water lines to lavatories and 
showers. Door closers should be adjusted to prevent a too rapid 
slamming of heavy exit doors during windy weather. 

The janitor in charge of each building is responsible for 
preventing and eliminating many fire hazards. There may be 
certain structural defects which create fire hazards, but which 
the janitor cannot eliminate. He should report these in writing 
to his superior officer. There are many fire hazards which he 
may remove. He should keep fire extinguishers filled as per 
the schedule of instructions for each type and ready for use. 
Inflammable materials should not be stored in the building un- 
less in a fireproof vault. A recent disastrous school fire origi- 
nated when a janitor, after having applied too much floor oil 
to a floor that was already fully soaked, decided to dry up the 
excess oil by building a big fire in the furnace, which had little 
clearance or protection between it and the oil soaked joists 
and floor boards above it. A janitor should avoid storing paper, 
oils, or other combustibles under stairs, stair landings, or exits. 
He should know the hazards of the careless use of the electric 
service. Before leaving each evening, the janitor should make a 
circuit of the building to look for fire hazards. He should make 
frequent detailed inspections of the building from the attic to 
the basement to look for any loose wires, accumulations of 
waste, or other fire hazards. Frequent inspections should be 
made in "hot spots" such as the furnace room, home economics 
department, science rooms, and shop units for any possible fire 
hazards. When a fire does occur, the janitor should aid first 
by sounding the alarm. His second and most important duty is 
to aid in getting the pupils out of the building safely and with- 
out panic, and his third duty is to protect property values. 



20 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Public Relations 

The janitor should understand that the purpose of all his 
work in the building is to provide an adequate place for the 
activities of the pupils and teachers. Personal desires or personal 
opinions should not be permitted to interfere with the activities 
necessary to promote the work of the school or the welfare of 
the pupils. The practice of employing janitors directly by board 
members on the basis of friendship, sympathy, or any basis 
other than efficiency is passing. 

Few janitors now find it necessary to apply to board members 
for a position or to make any reports directly to the board. The 
janitor should understand that he is under the supervision of 
and responsible to his superior officer. In some cases he is re- 
sponsible to the superintendent of buildings and grounds or in 
the smaller systems to the superintendent of schools for the 
general care of the building, and to the principal of the build- 
ing for his daily housekeeping activities. 

Relation with Teachers 

The janitors and teachers have a joint responsibility in main- 
taining clean, attractive, comfortable buildings. The tactful 
janitor should be able to secure the cooperation of the teachers 
in teaching pupils not to bring dirt into the building, to avoid 
scattering paper on the floor or grounds, and in preventing the 
marking and marring of the walls of the building. Teachers 
often request janitors to erect shelves or to make some other 
improvements in their rooms. In some cases they may request 
him to run errands or to perform some task which may inter- 
fere with his regular duties. The janitor should expect to give 
assistance when it will promote the work of the school, but the 
thoughtful teacher will understand that the janitor has a regular 



THE SCHOOL JANITOR AND HIS JOB 21 

schedule of work and that she should not expect too much of 
his time. The diplomatic janitor does not refuse to perform tasks 
outside his assigned duties, but may request the teachers to get 
the approval of the principal of the building if the janitor is 
to vary his schedule in doing non-routine tasks. Teachers 
should know what periods of the day the janitor is available 
for other than routine tasks and the type of service he is able to 
render. Conflicts between teachers and janitors over the time 
for cleaning rooms and over the conditions of the rooms may be 
avoided by developing a mutual understanding of the duties 
and obligations of each in relation to the school. The trained 
janitor will study the desires and the schoolroom habits of each 
teacher and attempt to make her his friend. 

Pupil Relations 

The janitor is thrown into direct contact with many pupils. 
Some of them go to him for advice and many of them copy 
his ideals and habits. The janitor who does not like children 
nor have the ability to get along with them should secure an- 
other job where he will not come into contact with children. 
The janitor who is fair but firm in his dealings with children 
is usually able to secure their respect and cooperation. A janitor 
who is domineering or one who caters to children of influential 
parents may find his path difficult and his future in that build- 
ing uncertain. It does not seem desirable to have the janitor 
punish children, but since he is charged with the conservation 
of supplies and oftentimes with the general management of 
the toilet rooms, pupils should understand that he is in charge 
of and responsible for certain parts of the school property. He 
may advise students in regard to the care of school property 
and is obligated to report to the principal infractions of certain 
fixed school regulations. The tactful janitor will be able to 



22 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

secure the cooperation of the teachers and pupils in maintain- 
ing a clean, scarless building, not marred by pencil or heel 
marks, and a yard with a protected lawn free from paper and 
other rubbish. He should be able to secure the cooperation of 
the teachers in preventing the accumulation of waste paper on 
the floor, in teaching pupils to flush toilets, in checking waste of 
sanitary supplies in the toilet room, and in developing in and 
with the pupils a pride in the building and grounds. 

The Janitor and the Public 

The janitor is the most intimate contact between the school 
and a portion of the public. He often contacts certain groups 
that no other representative of the school has reached. He 
should understand that it is his duty to promote understanding 
of and good will for the school system. Many friends and 
patrons will come to him for information about the school. 
Knowing he is not the authorized information bureau for the 
school, the wise janitor will not, by implication or by word, 
cast any reflection on the management of the school or the 
work of the teachers. 

The janitor may be an important contact agent between the 
school and a portion of the public. He often contacts certain 
groups that no other representative of the school has reached. 
Many friends and patrons and even some inquisitive board 
members may come to him for information about the school. 
Some janitors having the best intentions are flattered by this 
attention and give out information that may be misinterpreted 
by those who do not have all of the facts. The diplomatic janitor 
can aid his friends in developing an appreciation of the school 
system without resorting to cheap gossip. 



Chapter 3 



Organization for Janitorial Service 



IN MOST SYSTEMS the superintendent of buildings and grounds 
is recommended by and is responsible to the superintendent 
of schools. The line of authority, as it relates to janitorial 
service usually found in these schools, is illustrated in the 
diagram shown here. 

Board of Education 



Superintendent of Schools 



Superintendent 
of Buildings 



Supervisors of 
Custodial Service 



Head Janitor Engineer 



Supervisors 



Engineers Janitors 



Principals 



Teachers 



Assistants 
Apprentices 

The board of education or the board of trustees is in nearly 
all cases designated by law as the control body for the local 



23 



24 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

school system. The members of these boards are usually laymen 
who are not trained in school administration, and who do not 
have time to give attention to the details of school management. 
Therefore, a school head or manager is necessary. These boards 
select a superintendent of schools to serve as a leader and an 
executive officer. He is responsible to the board for the school 
system. He delegates to various other officials, principals, super- 
visors, and the superintendent of buildings and grounds certain 
duties and obligations. 

This type of organization may vary in the different school 
systems. In some systems the superintendent of buildings and 
grounds may also be the business manager. If no special super- 
visors are employed there may be one or more head janitors 
or engineers who are to do their work under the direction of 
the superintendent of buildings and grounds. In some of the 
smaller school systems the superintendent of schools may also 
be superintendent of buildings and grounds. In such cases he 
usually finds it desirable to select a head janitor or a head en- 
gineer and to grant him some authority in directing the work of 
building maintenance. If the school systems are such that only 
two or three janitors are employed, these men are usually re- 
sponsible directly to the superintendent of schools. Each janitor 
should understand thoroughly the line of authority in that 
particular school system. He should know his relationship to 
other janitors and to whom he should look for directions for 
the technical phases of his work. 

In a few school systems, building maintenance work is done 
by a contractor who agrees to care for the buildings for a speci- 
fied sum of money each year. This system has not proved popu- 
lar and will not be considered or recommended in this dis- 
cussion. It will be noted from the diagram that the janitors and 
head janitors also receive some direction from the principal of 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 25 

the building. From the nature and organization of the school 
system this dual responsibility seems inevitable. The work in 
each school building is for the purpose of promoting the edu- 
cational program in that building. It is understood that the 
principal is in charge of this program. It is generally found 
desirable for the janitor to receive instructions for all tasks that 
immediately affect the educational program from the principal 
of the building. He receives instructions for the technique of 
his work from, and is responsible to, the superintendent of 
buildings and grounds for the general condition of his plant. 
He also works under the superintendent of buildings and 
grounds in making repairs and in the use of fuel and certain 
supplies. In theory all requests from teachers for janitorial as- 
sistance should come through the principal. In practice, par- 
ticularly in the smaller buildings where the teachers and jani- 
tors are more intimately associated, the teachers often make 
their requests directly to the janitor. This seems to be a satis- 
factory procedure in caring for minor tasks if the doing of these 
tasks does not interfere with the routine work of the janitor. 
Many janitors state that small favors done for teachers may aid 
in securing their cooperation in preventing an accumulation of 
waste and dirt in the rooms. 

Employment, Tenure and Salary Schedules 

In former years the employment of janitors and the control 
of janitorial service was under the direct supervision of the 
board. In some cases each board member was responsible for 
the appointment, retention, and promotion of the school jani- 
tors working in his ward. Although this type of control has 
proved inefficient and although it is condemned by students 
of school administration, certain phases of the system still pre- 
vail in some of the smaller school districts. 



26 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 



Selection and Promotion 

It is generally agreed that the janitor should be selected on 
the basis of his ability to do a particular job. Up to this time no 
one seems to have determined the best method of evaluating the 
merits and abilities of prospective janitors. Many school officials 
accept new men without investigation, hoping that the new 
man will be better than the old one. In some cases the janitor 
is required to pass a civil service examination before becoming 
eligible for appointment. In other school districts, janitors who 
have charge of heating plants must pass an examination set up 
locally for engineers and firemen. During the last few years an 
increasing number of school systems require each new janitor 
to pass an examination outlined for that particular district. 
Each of these systems has some merit in eliminating untrained 
men. On the other hand, no examination system seems to be by 
and of itself an adequate basis for selecting new janitors. The 
best system seems to be an examination prepared by school 
officials preceded or followed by an investigation of the ap- 
plicant's character, ability, and habits. 

The best practice seems to be for the supervising officer, 
superintendent, or superintendent of buildings and grounds, 
after giving all examinations desired and after making proper 
investigations, to recommend new men for employment. This 
supervising officer should keep a file showing the standing and 
availability of each applicant. It is understood that the final au- 
thority rests with the board of education and that all contracts 
which call for a payment of district funds must be passed on by 
the board. However, it should not and generally would not 
be necessary or wise for individual janitors to appeal to board 
members for positions or for promotions. Authority for pro- 
motion should go with the power of selection. When a new 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 27 

janitor is employed he should be put on probation for six 
months or one year. During this time it is desirable to have 
him work as an assistant to a well trained janitor. At the end 
of the probation period he may be promoted to regular assist- 
ant or placed in charge of a small building. Regular promotions 
should come only upon recommendation of the principal of 
the building in which he works and the supervisor under 
whose direction he has worked. 

Tenure 

After a janitor has passed his period of probation he should 
be able to feel secure in his position as long as work, habits, 
and attitudes' warrant retention in the system. In school systems 
where teachers and other employees must be elected each year, 
the competent janitor should be re-employed without having to 
apply for the position. Unfortunately this practice is not always 
followed. Many experienced and well qualified janitors have to 
compete with untrained men on a price basis each year in seek- 
ing re-employment. This lack of stability is demoralizing to 
the janitorial force, leads to less efficient service, and fails to 
encourage janitors to secure additional training for their jobs. 
Records that are available seem to indicate that janitorial tenure 
in the larger school systems is more secure than in the smaller 
schools. They also indicate that trained men have a decided 
advantage over the untrained men in holding their positions. 
Litle * found that of 400 Missouri school janitors, fifty per cent 
had been in their present positions four or more years. In spite 
of recent movements toward permanent tenure, there is still 
some question of the value of any tenure system that is not 
coupled with a program of evaluating services rendered, in 



1 Litlc, Roy F. 



28 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

order that merit rather than seniority may be a determining 
factor in retention and promotion. 

Salary Schedules 

Information provided by the Research Division of the Na- 
tional Education Association 2 indicates that the average an- 
nual salary for school janitors in 1936-37 was: 

IN CITIES WITH A POPULATION OF 

100,000 or more $1,297 

30,000 to 100,000 1,298 

10,000 to 30,000 1,231 

5,000 to 10,000 1,068 

2,500 to 5,000 1,023 

Litle found that during the same year the average annual salary 
for Missouri school janitors in school districts with a population 
range of from 100,000 to 1,000 was $807.50. These salaries are 
below the average salary generally recommended for skilled 
workmen in other lines of activity. A study of the situation 
seems to indicate that several factors contribute to the main- 
tenance of the present low wage scale: 

1. The hiring of men not trained in building maintenance principles 
and practices. 

2. Custom, coupled with an old feeling that anyone can take care of a 
school building. 

3. The hiring of men physically unfit for strenuous work. 

4. Poor standards of housekeeping demanded by school officials. 

5. Small buildings which require the presence of a janitor but not the 
full time labor of a capable man. School boards may try to econo- 
mize here by selecting the type of man that may be hired at a small 
annual salary. 

There are many factors involved in establishing a satisfactory 
wage scale for the janitor in any school system. Some of these 

2 National Education Association, Research Bulletin, Vol. XV, No. 2, March 1937, 
P. 62, 63, 64, 65. 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 29 

factors are: the prevailing wage scale in other lines of work 
of similar difficulty and importance, the hours of labor, the 
amount of evening work required, the number of months for 
which a salary is paid, the security of tenure, living costs, pay 
for overtime, vacations with or without pay, holidays granted, 
time off for illness, the responsibility, the repair work done, 
experience, training, ability, and the amount of work assigned 
to each janitor. One of the irksome features of janitorial work 
as now planned in many school systems is the time that the 
janitor is expected to remain on duty. Where two or more men 
are employed in each building, this difficulty can be overcome 
by alternating the hours of labor. A few school systems have at 
least partially solved this difficulty in one-janitor-buildings by 
the use of a flying squadron of night men who have the build- 
ings warm when the regular man reports for duty, and by 
employing special men for duty when the building is open at 
night. School officials can and should, in so far as possible, em- 
ploy and pay on a twelve months basis all janitors who render 
real service in maintenance and repair work during the sum- 
mer months. 
A satisfactory work program and wage scale should include: 

1. A living wage if employed full time, regardless of the size of the 
building. 

2. Decent working conditions. 

3. Fair treatment with promotion and retention based on merit and 
the services rendered. 

4. A salary scale based on responsibility, labor involved, and ability to 
do the job. 

5. Hours of labor limited to acceptable standards. 

6. Employment during summer months. 

7. Security of position. 

8. Extra pay for overtime. 

9. Vacation and sick leave permits similar to those granted teachers. 
10. A retirement plan. 



30 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

It is understood that many of these standards are not met, 
particularly in some of the smaller school systems. These repre- 
sent ideals which should be kept in mind by school officials and 
janitors. Until some of these conditions prevail we cannot hope 
to have adequate maintenance service in our schools. In general 
the schools are paying for the type of service they are receiving. 
Janitors should not feel discouraged over the lack of some of 
these advantages. As training programs are developed and the 
janitors become more proficient, working conditions and sal- 
aries will be brought into line with the services rendered. Re- 
gardless of the salaries paid and of other conditions under 
which he must work, the school janitor should expect to do 
in a proper manner the work assigned without grumbling or 
fault finding. It is entirely proper for him to consult his fellow 
workers about salaries and working conditions, but he should re- 
member that the school is operated not for his benefit but for 
the benefit of the children. If he cannot improve conditions 
peacefully or receive what he thinks a desirable wage for the 
services rendered, he should seek employment elsewhere. 

Rules and Regulations 

A study of the organization for janitorial service indicates 
that in a majority of the smaller school systems all directions 
are given orally and that few of them have a typed or printed 
list of rules and regulations. On the other hand, many of the 
larger systems have detailed codes or rules and regulations cov- 
ering each and every activity of the janitors. Each of these ex- 
tremes may be subject to some criticism. Regardless of the size 
of the system it is desirable to have an outline setting forth 
the general status, duties, obligations, and responsibilities of the 
janitors. The extent to which the rules and regulations should 
be detailed will depend on the type of men employed and the 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 31 

degree of freedom granted these men in planning the work in 
their buildings. 

In keeping with the modern trend toward cooperative plan- 
ning and greater participation by school employees in the gen- 
eral management of the system, many schools now invite mem- 
bers of the janitorial staff to aid in setting up a proposed set of 
regulations and approved practices of building care and main- 
tenance. This trend is worthy of commendation. School ad- 
ministrators hope to develop a janitorial staff of skilled men 
each of whom is vitally interested in the schools and in the job 
he is doing. In fact, certain principals occasionally invite the 
janitor to sit in conference meetings with a part of the faculty 
to discuss school and building policies. An examination of the 
available rules and regulations leads to the belief that many of 
these were prepared by school administrators. Few of them 
gave consideration to the rights, privileges, or position of the 
janitor in the school system. Little attention is given to tech- 
nique or methods of work. However, much attention is given 
to such problems as: eligibility, dress, line of authority, habits, 
salaries, cooperation, hours of work, care of supplies, duties and 
responsibilities. The following list of rules and regulations is 
not offered as a model list, but as a sampling of some that are 
now used. 

I. Organization and administration 

1. The general line of authority shall be: 
Superintendent of buildings and grounds 
Supervisors and chief engineers 

Head janitors and engineers 
Assistant janitors and engineers 
Apprentices and substitutes. 

2. Directly and through his supervisors the superintendent of 
buildings and grounds shall have charge of the care of the 
physical plant. Each janitor shall be responsible to him for the 



32 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

general condition of the building and the technique of his work. 

3. The principal in each building shall have general control of the 
building and the activities therein. Janitors should confer with, 
and take orders from the principal on the care of the building 
and on all tasks necessary to promote the work of the school 
and the welfare of the pupils. 

4. Where more than one janitor is employed in a building the 
assistant janitor shall work under the supervision of the head 
janitor. 

II. Eligibility, qualifications, promotions 

1. Janitor shall be twenty-one years of age, physically able to do 
the work, free from contagious diseases, and should, if possible, 
reside within easy walking distance of the building. 

2. After the janitor has passed the physical and technical examina- 
tions he may be selected for apprenticeship training. Each 
janitor shall serve first as an apprentice and then as an assistant 
janitor before being placed in charge of a building. 

3. A janitor shall pass the required examinations and have the 
approval of the head janitor and the principal before being 
promoted. 

III. Personal habits 

1. The janitor shall wear the uniform approved by the school. 

2. He shall be neat and clean in appearance. 

3. He shall refrain from profane and indecent language. 

4. He shall not be addicted to the use of liquor or narcotics. Smok- 
ing in the building other than in the janitor's quarters is for- 
bidden. 

IV. Duties and responsibilities 

1. He shall maintain the building in a proper condition for the 
work to be done therein. 

2. In so far as possible he shall protect the building from damage 
and loss through fire, theft, and too rapid deterioration. 

3. He shall leave the building during the hours of his employment 
only when he has the permission of the principal. He shall so 
plan his work that he may employ his time to the best advan- 
tage. 

4. He shall have the building open, clean, and with the tempera- 
ture properly regulated, at least thirty minutes before school 
opens in the morning. 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 33 

5. He shall make the required records and reports on time and 
on the proper forms. 

6. One or more janitors shall be on duty at all times when the 
building is in use. 

V. Care of tools and supplies 

1. The janitor shall keep his tools properly stored and in a usable 
condition. 

2. He shall be responsible for the economical use of the supplies 
allotted to the building. 

3. He shall keep a record of gas, electricity, water, and coal used 
in the building. 

VI. Salaries and hours of labor 

1. Salaries shall depend on the rating of the janitor, the hours on 
duty, the type and size of the building. 

2. Hours of service shall be from to each day school 

is in session with a hour period of service on Saturday. 

3. Time off for illness shall be the same as that allowed teachers 
in the system. 

4. The janitor shall accept no pay from non-school organizations 
using the building. The board will collect all fees and the 

janitor will be paid at the rate of times his hourly wage 

for such overtime. For occasional school activities held during 
the evening the janitor will receive no extra pay. If evening 
school work calls for frequent use of the building a night man 
will be assigned to the building. 

Other special regulations relate to the frequency of cleaning, 
care of keys, etc. 

In a school system where the buildings are large enough to 
require the services of several men in each building it is not 
difficult to plan the work so that each man will have what may 
be termed a normal load of work. In many other systems where 
the buildings are smaller, part time and night men may relieve 
the men in the one man buildings by taking over a part of his 
work of cleaning or by having the building warm each morn- 
ing when he reports for duty. In many of the smaller school 
systems little attempt is made to develop equitable work sched- 



34 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

ules. On the other hand, many of these schools vary the salary 
according to the size of the building. One result is that the pay 
in the smaller buildings is insufficient to attract and hold skilled 
men. It naturally follows that many of these buildings are cared 
for by men untrained and physically unable to render the type 
of service needed. The development of reasonable work sched- 
ules should make it possible to pay adequate salaries for each 
man, should aid in securing the type of man needed, and 
in improving the quality of the janitorial service. 

The Work Load 

School boards and school administrators find it difficult to 
determine the desirable work load in developing a work sched- 
ule for each janitor. General information provided in the fol- 
lowing paragraphs is developed as an aid to administrators in 
studying the work load. (A more detailed outline of the work 
of the janitor in developing a work program will be discussed 
in Chapter 9.) Several standards such as the number of class- 
rooms, floor area, and the number of pupils enrolled, have been 
used to measure the work load of each janitor. All of these 
taken together do not constitute an adequate measure of the 
work to be done. They do not even provide a reasonable basis 
for comparison unless many other factors are recognized. In 
studying the work load of each janitor the administrator should 
consider the importance of the following factors and condi- 
tions. 

1. Where only one man is employed, hours of service are not easily 
alternated. 

2. If special men are employed for repair work, night service, or for 
early morning firing, the work of the regular janitor is made easier. 

3. Buildings in smoky areas are harder to maintain in a satisfactory 
manner. 

4. Old buildings usually present problems not found in modern plants. 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 35 

5. The lack of scrubbing machines, brushes, mops, etc., and of the 
proper cleaning materials, increases the time required for cleaning. 

6. Old wood, or pitted concrete floors, require more cleaning time than 
do smooth surfaces. 

7. Small glass panes, although having other advantages, require more 
time for cleaning than do large panes. 

8. More time is spent in temperature control in an area where the 
temperature is below freezing for many days during the year. 

9. There is usually more night work in junior and senior high school 
than in elementary school buildings. 

10. Ash hoists, automatic temperature control, and stokers, now do many 
of the tasks once done by janitors. 

11. Gas and oil fuels require less labor and cause less dirt than does soft 
coal. 

12. Old enamel ware plumbing fixtures check and require more atten- 
tion than does the smooth surface of porcelain. 

13. The large areas now recommended for playgrounds with their 
ornamental planting require care and attention. 

14. Muddy grounds or surfaces covered with gravel or cinders permit 
the tracking in of material injurious to schoolroom floors. 

15. The use of the building at night, particularly by non-school organi- 
zations, calls for extra care and attention on the part of the custo- 
dian. 

16. Work shops, science rooms, and rooms where cooking is done, are 
usually difficult to maintain. 

17. Small fixed seats with multiple legs are factors in the time required 
for daily cleaning. 

18. Smooth glazed wainscots absorb little dirt and require less cleaning 
time than do rough surfaces. 

19. In some areas the water is impregnated with minerals that accumu- 
late on plumbing fixtures and in heating systems, thus involving 
more work on the part of the janitor. 

20. It is necessary to know the amount of assistance that the janitor will 
give in toilet room supervision or in other non-cleaning jobs. 

In computing the work load and the amount of work to be 
assigned to each janitor, it is desirable to list the tasks and to 
determine the time that should be allotted to each task in that 
building. It is also necessary to know how often these tasks 



36 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

must be done. The supervisor or administrator should aid and 
encourage the janitor in an analysis of his job and in develop- 
ing a schedule of work. An excellent analysis of this type has 
been made by officials of the Minneapolis Public Schools. 3 

A Plan of Work Essential 

There are many duties and tasks to perform in caring for a 
school building and if the janitor is not taught how to plan his 
work he may neglect some of these duties. If the janitor is to 
do his work in an efficient manner and to make the best use 
of his time, the work must be so planned that certain tasks may 
be done at a time when routine activities are demanding less 
of the janitor's attention. Some of his tasks must be done daily, 
and some several times daily. Certain other tasks should be 
done weekly and some need to be cared for only after longer 
intervals of time ranging from two weeks or a month to a year. 
A systematic schedule or work program will enable the janitor 
to do more work and to avoid to some extent peak loads of 
work during certain hours of the day. 

In developing a work program it is not possible entirely to 
separate operation and maintenance activities. Certain repairs 
and replacements must be made as the need arises. However, 
aside from the problem of financial accounting, there seems 
to be little need to distinguish between the maintenance task 
of replacing broken glass and the adjustment of seats which 
may be termed an operation task. No complete schedule can 
be developed that would apply alike to all classes and types of 
buildings. In order to develop a suitable work schedule, it is 
necessary to analyze the work load as outlined in previous para- 
graphs. In the larger buildings where several men are em- 

3 Pykaski, Conrad. Methods of Calculating Public School Janitorial-Engineering 
Man-Power. Board of Education, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 1935. 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 37 

ployed, the hours of service may be alternated and the work 
divided so that each man will have certain tasks to perform. 
Even in smaller buildings where a special man is employed to 
care for the building during night meetings a schedule may be 
arranged permitting him to do certain cleaning tasks while 
he is in the building. In school systems having several small 
buildings one man may be employed to give part time assist- 
ance in two or more buildings. Any work schedule developed 
should allow some time for repair and other non-routine tasks. 
In a few two-janitor-buildings the work is so outlined that 
janitor "A" comes on duty in time to heat the building before 
school opens. He remains on duty until noon. He is then off 
duty until about three o'clock when he returns to assist in the 
daily cleaning. Janitor "B" comes on duty at noon and works 
until about five o'clock. He then returns to the building at 
about seven P.M. for night service and to complete all cleaning. 
The work schedule for each building should represent the 
combined thinking and planning of the principal, the superin- 
tendent of buildings and grounds, and the janitor in charge. 
The development and use of a schedule calls for some records 
and reports. These should be simple for the clerical work of the 
janitor should be reduced to the minimum. Schedules should be 
typed or mimeographed. It probably will not be necessary for 
the janitor to check his daily chart after he has become accus- 
tomed to the routine. He may check the weekly, monthly, or 
yearly charts as a reminder to himself and as a report of tasks 
done. For these charts a dating as (2/12) may serve as a 
check. 

Janitorial Cooperation 

Any man who must work alone, and who is denied the in- 
spiration obtained from talking with and exchanging ideas 



38 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

with others interested in the things in which he is interested, 
may easily become self centered and is sure to miss hearing 
about some of the newer methods or supplies used by others in 
the same line of work. It is natural for each janitor to crave 
companionship and friendly relations with other men having 
similar interests. In many school systems the janitors, particu- 
larly those in the smaller buildings where only one or two men 
are employed, have had little opportunity to associate with 
other janitors. A lack of cooperation and oftentimes a feeling 
of rivalry and jealousy have aided in preventing progress or the 
improvement of morale in the janitorial force. The thought- 
ful supervisor or administrator encourages and makes an op- 
portunity for his men to get together that they may discuss 
problems of common interest. 

There has been an attempt in certain cities to unionize school 
custodians and engineers. The fact that school custodians are 
public employees and thus restricted from some activities has 
prevented this movement from becoming popular. There is 
a National Association of Engineers and Custodians which has 
attracted some interest. However, this organization is too re- 
mote from the average janitor to have much direct influence 
or appeal. The janitors see more immediate profit from local 
organizations where the men have frequent personal contact 
with other members. Such organizations have been in existence 
in some city school districts for a number of years. Since the 
development of janitorial training schools in Minnesota, 
Colorado, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and else- 
where, many local janitorial clubs or associations have been 
organized. In most cases these men meet monthly to discuss 
their work and to exchange ideas. School administrators often 
cooperate with the janitors by setting aside one evening each 
month for janitorial meetings. All buildings are closed on these 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 39 

evenings and no other public meetings calling for janitorial 
service are scheduled for this time. In many of these organiza- 
tions the men prepare their own refreshments and a few of the 
more ambitious ones serve an annual banquet to which the 
school board and other school officials are invited. The school 
boards and other school officials in a few districts sometimes 
reverse the order by serving a dinner in a school cafeteria for 
all local and visiting janitors. School administrators generally 
report that these janitorial organizations have aided in im- 
proving the morale of the men, reducing discontent, and in 
developing a cooperative spirit among the men. In some school 
systems the janitors have developed for themselves a code of 
ethics for their use. A sample code developed by and for the 
custodial force at Columbia, Missouri, is given below. 

"Code of Ethics for the Columbia, Missouri, Public School Custodians" * 

The following Code of Ethics was adopted by the janitors of the 
Columbia Public Schools December 15, 1936: 

That we may ever have our thoughts directed toward the proper care 
of the school plants, and that custodians' work may truly be a profession, 
we proclaim this code of ethics: 

We Believe That 

First: Our profession stands for ideals and efficient service. 

Second: Our highest obligation to the boys and girls is keeping the 
schools in a sanitary condition. 

Third: Custodians should be selected or appointed upon the basis of 
professional merit. 

Fourth: The custodians should apply for a position to or through the 
superintendent of schools. 

Fifth: No custodian should be elected unless recommended by the super- 
intendent of schools. 

Sixth: The custodian should be physically sound and in good health. 
For his own happiness and for the well-being of the pupils, the cus- 
todian must guard his health at all times. 

* The word custodian includes engineers. 



40 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Seventh: A worthy custodian will possess a pleasing personality and a 
love for children. 

Eighth: A worthy custodian will possess a desire for knowledge o and 
training in operation and maintenance of the school plant. 

Ninth: It is perfectly proper at all times for custodians to seek prefer- 
ment and promotion by legitimate means. 

Tenth: It is the duty of the custodian to inform the administration as 
soon as possible of a definite decision to resign. 

Eleventh: It is unprofessional for a custodian to violate a contract. Unless 
the consent of the Board of Education is obtained, releasing the obliga- 
tion, the contract should be filled. 

Twelfth: Whenever the work of any custodian is unsatisfactory, the ad- 
ministration should notify the custodian and give him a chance to 
make the correction before dismissal is recommended. 

Thirteenth: If a custodian is not re-elected he is entitled to know the 
cause of non-election, if it is in the power of the administration to 
report the same. 

Fourteenth: It is unprofessional for a custodian to offer a destructive 
criticism to the administration; to other custodians, teachers, pupils, 
or to patrons about a fellow custodian, teacher, pupil, or about the 
management of the school in general. All criticism should be construc- 
tive in character and voiced to the proper authority and only for the 
purpose of remedying the existing evil. It becomes equally unprofes- 
sional not to report to the administration, therefore, matters that in- 
volve the best interests and well being of the school. 

Fifteenth: The custodian should consistently refrain from becoming a 
partisan upon issues which divide the community. 

Sixteenth: We believe that our Code of Professional Standards and Ethics 
is a statement of conscientious practice. 

Control of Supplies 

While a more detailed discussion of supplies will be given 
later, it seems advisable to state that the control and use of 
supplies plays an important part in the administration of the 
janitorial service. Without proper supplies the janitor in charge 
cannot hope to do an efficient job in an economical manner. It 
is futile and wasteful to attempt to clean rough oily floors with- 
out the proper cleansing agents. On the other hand, the use of 



ORGANIZATION FOR JANITORIAL SERVICE 41 

a strong soap or cleansing powders may mar the finish of floors 
or woodwork. Each janitor should be encouraged to study the 
use and composition of various cleaning compounds. In the 
larger schools, the supplies will be kept in a central storehouse 
and delivered to each building upon request. Each janitor 
should be taught how to estimate his needs, to make out his 
requisition forms, and to check on supplies used. 

In a well planned school system the janitor will feel that he 
has a definite place in the school organization. He will under- 
stand something of the duties and obligations of his fellow 
workers. The alert janitor will know enough about the school 
system to enable him to adapt his program to the needs of the 
school. He will know how to plan his work, without waiting 
for detailed instructions for each activity. He will be proud of 
his school and his school will be proud of him. 



Chapter 4 

Housekeeping 

Cleaning Tools 

MANY JANITORS FAIL to realize full value for the energy ex- 
pended in school building care because they do not have 
the proper tools and supplies for the work they are to do. On 
the other hand, some of the men do not know how to secure 
best results from the tools and supplies available. 

The janitor is responsible for the operation, protection, and 
maintenance of the school building. Hence, it is essential that 
he have the proper tools and that he know how to care for 
them. In many cases, the poor quality of the work found in 
the building may be attributed partly to the lack of proper 
tools and partly to the condition of the tools that are used. It 
is important that the janitor know the composition and use 
of cleaning agents. He should know that certain agents clean 
through a chemical action, that others clean through an 
abrasive action, and that some agents combine both actions. 
Some abrasives may scratch and mar polished surfaces. On 
the other hand, certain agents may contain chemicals that 
attack the surface to be cleaned. The alert janitor will know 
that strong alkaline preparations may bleach wood floors, and 
that acid cleaners will attack enameled iron. One janitor states 
that, when in doubt, he uses water. While this is generally a 



42 



HOUSEKEEPING 43 

safe practice, it is true that water may be harmful to certain 
fabrics or to fiber board ceilings and tack panels. 

In many cases, one tool or implement may be adapted to use 
in more than one location or for more than one purpose. The 
use of the proper tools and materials will effect a saving in time 
and will bring more satisfying results. In his daily housekeep- 
ing and maintenance duties, the janitor will need a number of 
cleaning tools, tools for yard work, and special small hand tools 
for a handy repair kit. Other tools which are necessary for the 
heating engineer may also be of some value to the maintenance 
and repair man. Wherever possible, the tools should be stand- 
ardized to a sufficient extent that the men in the various build- 
ings may use similar tools for like activities. This will permit 
greater possibility in the exchange of tools and will facilitate 
the purchase of tools for all of the men at one time. It will also 
make it easier to provide repair and replacement parts. 

The cleaning tools will include brooms, brushes, mops, dust- 
ers, pans, pails, squeegees, chamois skins, cheese cloth, and 
many others which will be used by the custodian in his care of 
the building. 

Brooms 

The old corn broom, long the chief tool of the school cus- 
todian, is now practically out of use in modern school plant 
maintenance. A few of these brooms have been retained for 
cleaning up around boiler rooms and coal rooms, and for the 
sweeping of walks. In some places, the corn broom is still used 
by pupils as an aid in cleaning mud from overshoes. When a 
corn broom is purchased for the purposes outlined above, it 
should be one having stiff straws bound securely to the handle. 
There is another broom known as the palmetto broom which 



44 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

has been used for rough cleaning and for the sweeping of 
leaves. This has not found general favor in schools. 

Brushes 

Many types of brushes are used in school plant cleaning. 
Some of these are of fiber construction, some of bristles, some 
of horse hair, and some of a combination of these. Each of 
these types of brushes probably has use in a school building 
and each may be adapted to several uses. The use of a brush 
not adapted to the work to be done may result in a waste of 
time and effort. 

Floor Brushes 

Several years ago there was a decided swing away from the 
use of the corn broom to the use of floor brushes. At the present 
time, the floor brush is being replaced by sweeping or dust 
mops. There is still some need for floor brushes in school build- 
ings where the concrete floors are old and pitted or on certain 
wood floors that are rough and can not be cleaned easily with 
a sweeping mop. In some cases, the janitor finds it necessary 
to use a floor brush, even in buildings having good floors, if 
the playground and soil conditions outside contribute to the 
carrying in of excessive amounts of dirt on the feet of the 
pupils. In these cases, the janitors often use the floor brush to 
remove the heavy dirt and follow up with the dust mop. The 
size of the floor brush best fitted for a particular job will de- 
pend upon the area to be cleaned. In schoolrooms with fixed 
seats it probably is not possible or desirable to use a block over 
16" in length. On large areas, such as corridor units, the janitor 
can use a 36" block or head with a saving of time to himself 
and with satisfying results. The best floor brush commonly 
found in school buildings is that of Russian or Chinese bristles. 



HOUSEKEEPING 45 

The cost of a pure bristle brush is high and most schools find 
it desirable to purchase a brush composed of about sixty-five 
or seventy per cent bristles with fifteen to twenty per cent horse 
hair and some fiber. The fiber aids in holding the bristles in 
an erect position when sweeping. Most janitors prefer a brush 
with bristles about 4" in length with these bristles extending 
out at the end and to each side in a sort of flare. The use of 
rubber bumpers at the ends of the brush will be unnecessary 
if the bristles of the brush have the proper flare at the end. 
With the general abandonment of heavy floor oils, the problem 
of using a wire set instead of a glue set brush seems less impor- 
tant. One feature that the janitor demands in a floor brush is 
that it have "kick." When the janitor lifts the brush at the end 
of his stroke, the bristles should have resiliency enough to kick 
out and throw the dirt slightly ahead, freeing the brush of 
particles of dirt. This prevents the carrying back of dirt on the 
brush, to be dropped at the beginning of the next stroke. These 
brushes usually come with holes bored on two sides of the block 
to permit changing the handle that the brush may wear evenly 
from both sides. In general, the smooth handle treated with 
oil is preferable to the painted one in that it moves more easily 
through the hand. Most janitors do not prefer the handle at- 
tached to the brush with a spring. While the handles come in 
various lengths, it is desirable to reduce the handle length so 
that when the brush is standing on the floor, the top of the 
handle comes approximately to the eyes of the one using the 
brush. If the bristles become matted or filled with lint, they 
may be cleaned by combing. 

Scrub Brushes 

Under modern methods of floor maintenance not much 
scrubbing is done. Scrubbing, as used in this connection, refers 



46 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to a scouring process to release dirt and grime from the floor. 
A considerable part of the scrubbing is done by machine but 
some must be done by hand. For this purpose, the hard fiber 
brush of palmetto or similar material is desirable. These 
brushes should be purchased in pairs, one for the hand and one 
on a handle. The fiber should be comparatively short, prefer- 
ably not over 3". The block should be of a type of wood that 
resists deterioration from frequent immersions in water and 
scrubbing solution. These brushes should be rectangular in 
shape with square corners so that they may be used to reach 
corners in the building. No specific care is necessary other than 
that of cleaning the caustics and other scrubbing compounds 
from the brush after it has been used. 

Toilet Brushes 

The janitor finds frequent use for a stiff fiber brush mounted 
on a short handle for the purpose of cleaning toilet stools, 
urinals, and other fixtures. Some janitors prefer to have two 
or three brushes of different shapes in order to reach into all 
of the corners. Some of the brushes have a wood handle with 
a wire set fiber. Others have a wire head with fiber twisted into 
it. Each type seems to work satisfactorily. At least one brush 
used for this purpose should be so designed that it may be used 
to reach otherwise inaccessible corners and crevices in the fix- 
tures. One of these brushes with stiff %" to 1" fibers may be 
used to scrub heavy incrustations from fixtures. 

Radiator Brushes and Counter Brushes 

The janitor will need a radiator brush of horse hair which 
may be used in cleaning between the sections of the radiator 
and which may be used to clean back of or under the radiators. 
Most brushes of this type are on wire handles and are cylindric 



HOUSEKEEPING 47 

or oval in shape that they may be inserted between the sections 
of the radiators. The counter brush is usually a small hand 
brush like that used in the home to brush crumbs from tables. 

Mops 

Mops may generally be grouped into two classes commonly 
known as dry mops and wet mops. 

Dry Mops 

The dry mops, commonly known as dust mops, are used for 
dry cleaning or for sweeping. Three types of dust or dry mops 
are found in the various school buildings. The first is the short 
string mop with strings 4" to 6" in length attached to a mop 
head. In some cases these mops are made in the form of a 
pull-on or mitten type which may be slipped over a head of 
heavy wire or wood. These mops are composed of short strings 
attached to or through a heavy canvas cloth. The mop head 
used for sweeping or cleaning the rooms with fixed seats is 
usually not over about 16" in length. Those used for cleaning 
large areas may be as much as 36" to 42" in length. There is 
another type known as the dry dust mop with a straight head 
18" to 30" long and with strings of about 9" to 12" in length. 
These mops are generally used as push mops in cleaning large 
areas. In using this type the strings may be piled up in front 
of the mop as it is pushed down the corridor over the floor 
surface. Another dry mop has strings 12" to 15" in length at- 
tached to a round head. This long string mop is generally used 
in a sort of circular motion for picking up dust and light 
particles of dirt. All the dust mops need to be cleaned fre- 
quently, hence should be detachable. These mops should be 
washed in warm water with a neutral soap preparation. When 
they are partly dry they may be sprayed with a light applica- 



48 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

tion of a suitable polish or wax preparation. The mop is then 
ready for use and will pick up and retain dirt better than will 
an untreated mop. Heavy applications of oil should be avoided. 

Wef Mops 

The wet mops are used for damp cleaning, particularly on 
tile, linoleum, and asphalt floors. In certain cases they are also 
used on wood floors. These mops usually have a string from 
15" to 20" in length and are rigidly attached to the mop head. 
There is not complete agreement among janitors relative to 
the comparative merit of linen and cotton strands for these 
mops. The cotton strand does seem to pick up and hold dirt 
more readily than the linen. There is some tendency for the 
cotton strand to ravel and to catch on projections more than does 
the linen strand, and the linen strand usually wears better. Wet 
mops should be washed out frequently. It is a waste of time 
to attempt to clean a floor with a dirty mop. These mops are 
not scrub mops and should not be used as such. The mops of 
unbleached material are cheaper and more durable. The loosely 
twisted (4 to 8 ply) mops do not wear as long as the denser 
twists but are more absorbent. For the skilled janitor a 24 to 
32 ounce mop is desirable. For less skilled moppers, a 16 to 24 
ounce head is satisfactory. Full length strands with several rows 
of head stitching are best. All mops or dusters should be 
washed in clean warm water using a neutral soap. 

Dusters 

The old feather duster gave way to the dust cloth which has 
in turn been generally superseded by the string-mop duster. 
The use of old rags for dusting is generally objectionable. In 
many cases the rags have heavy seams and sometimes buttons 
and catches which may mar surfaces to be dusted. Although 



HOUSEKEEPING 49 

some janitors do use cheesecloth, experience seems to indicate 
that the string-mop dusters do the work as efficiently and more 
rapidly. 

The string-mop duster is usually composed of cotton strands, 
2" to 4" in length, attached to the canvas back which is made 
into the form of a mitten to be used on the hand or as a slip-on 
head to be pulled over a wire form fitted into a handle. The 
most desirable length for the duster head seems to be 8" to 12" 
of dusting surface. The longer head seems cumbersome. The 
shorter heads do not cover enough area. For most janitors the 
handle should be approximately 10" to 14" in length. Special 
dusters are made with forked heads to be used on chair rounds 
or Venetian blinds. Several dusting heads should be provided 
so that a fresh supply will be on hand while others are drying. 
When these dusters become soiled they should be washed with 
a warm water and neutral soap solution and then dried. They 
may be treated with a light application of furniture polish after 
washing. Special duster head mops of the floor mop type may 
be used for dusting walls. The handle of the duster may be re- 
versed so that it may be used to remove the dust from the tops 
of the ledges, picture moldings, and railings above the normal 
reach of the janitor. 

Pans and Pails 

In building maintenance and in cleaning operations, the 
janitor should have an ample supply of pans and pails. 

Dusf Pan 

It is desirable to have a dust pan about 16" wide to pick 
up dust and dirt while cleaning the building. These may be 
obtained with either a short or a long handle. The short 
handled one is less expensive and less cumbersome than the 



50 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

one with the long handle. The dust pan with a hump to hold 
back the dirt has not been favored by many janitors. If the long 
handled dust pan is used, it should be weighted or balanced 
so that the dirt collects at the back end when the pan is lifted. 

Pick-up Pan 

The janitor also needs a pick-up pan for water. These are 
usually made with a hump so that the water may be shoved 
into the pan by the use of the squeegee. It is necessary that the 
lip extending to the floor be on the long side of the pan to per- 
mit use of a long squeegee. The pans of heavy galvanized ma- 
terials do not rust out as quickly as do the lighter weight pans. 

PO//S and Wringers 

It is desirable that the janitor have a tight pail of large di- 
mensions or a fiber board case for the collection of waste paper. 
This should be tight enough that it will also hold dust. It 
should be equipped with a bail or strap for ease in carrying. 
The janitor should have several ten or twelve quart pails for. 
the transfer of water and other liquids. He will also need one* 
or two mop pails of sixteen to twenty quart capacity. He 
should have a mop wringer which may or may not be attached 
to the pail. Some wringers are equipped with cranks, but most 
janitors prefer wringers that press the water out of the mop. 
The press wringer may be either a foot pedal or a hand lever 
type. In either case, the wringer side should be perforated so 
that water pressed out of the wringer may fall back into the 
pail. If the hand lever wringer or press is used, it may be de- 
sirable to have a pedal on the mop pail that the janitor may 
steady the pail with his foot. In many cases it is found desirable 
to have the pail on casters so that it may be moved while mop- 
ping without leaving marks on the floor. A heavy screen or a 



HOUSEKEEPING 5 , 

grill should be provided for the bottom of the mop pail in 
order that the sediment settling to the bottom of the pail 
will not be picked up by the mop each time it is dipped. Some 
janitors like to use a mop pail truck. This has some advantages 
in ease of moving but presents difficulties in transferring from 
floor to floor unless the building has elevators. The janitor will 
also need one-half pint, pint, quart, and gallon measures. 

Scrubbing Machine 

While the scrubbing machine will not eliminate wet mopping 
in daily floor cleaning, it is a valuable tool for use in removing 
heavy accumulations of floor dirt. 

There are various types and makes of scrubbing machines 
on the market. Prices vary and the scrubbing machine pur- 
chased should be the one best adapted to the task to be done. 

Miscellaneous Cleaning Tools 

It is essential that the janitor have available a number of 
towels for use in cleaning. He should also have a lambs-wool 
applicator for use in applying wax. This may consist of one 
head with several pads. The janitor will also need a number of 
chamois skins for the various cleaning jobs. The good chamois 
absorbs water readily and does not harden when dried. The 
best chamois skins are imported. Some of the cheaper native 
skins may feel clammy when wrung out. After use, chamois 
skins should be rinsed and then dried slowly. These skins are 
not scrub cloths but are to be used for drying and polishing 
smooth washed surfaces. 

To//ef Tools 

It is essential that the janitor have available a plunger, known 
as "the plumber's friend," for aid in freeing the passage of 



52 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

choked stools. It is also desirable that he have a flexible worm 
or snake equipped with a handle for use in opening closed 
stools and drains. 

Pocket Tool Kit 

No janitor should feel fully equipped for work who does 
not have a pocket kit containing one small putty knife, one 
small screw driver, and a pair of small pliers. These can be 
carried easily if put into a pocket case which may be attached 
to the belt or carried in a pocket. These tools are invaluable in 
making minor repairs, removing gum from the floor, and re- 
pairing seats as the janitor works about the building. 

Yard Tools 

The importance of yard maintenance to the appearance of 
the school and to the public and pupil appreciation makes it 
essential that the janitor be provided with the necessary tools 
for maintaining the premises in a suitable manner. He will 
need a common rake that may be used around flower beds. If 
there are many trees on or near the yard he will need a heavy 
leaf rake that can be used to collect leaves. He should have one 
or two hoes for use in cultivating shrubs and flower beds; a 
spade, shovels, sprinkler, and an ample length of water hose. 
Probably the water hose should be arranged on a reel and 
should be accompanied by a sprinkler head. The janitor should 
be provided with hedge shears, a hand ax, and the necessary 
tools for maintaining the lawns. A lawn mower is indis- 
pensable. If the area to be mowed is large, this lawn mower 
should be a power driven machine. A step ladder for use in 
and out of the building is essential, and for roof and gutter 
cleaning a long extension ladder will be needed. 



HOUSEKEEPING 53 

Window Jack 

The janitor will also find it necessary to have the tools needed 
for window cleaning. For this purpose, he will need a window 
jack that may be attached to the various windows in the build- 
ing. This jack should be one which is secure so that when he 
risks himself on it he may be assured that it will not give way. 
A home-made jack may be made from assorted lengths of 
2 x 4's with 1 x 6's for the platform. It is also desirable that the 
janitor have a suitable belt and strap for window washing. The 
window strap is of more value if adequate loops or hooks are 
fastened to the walls at each side of the window so that the 
straps may be snapped into these loops. The window belt 
should consist of a heavy body belt with straps running from 
this belt to the wall loops. This should be reinforced with a 
second set of ropes or straps which will catch the body in case 
one of the first straps gives way. This belt and strap should 
support a weight of 800 to 1000 pounds. 

There are many pieces of equipment which are so vital to 
the cleaning program that the janitor often thinks of them 
as cleaning tools. Some equipment items that play an impor- 
tant part in cleaning are the foot scrapers and the door mats. 
Foot scrapers are of many types. The common bar type at- 
tached to the edge of the sidewalk may present a hazard to 
pupils who play in this area. This hazard can be in part re- 
moved by placing a gas pipe shield two or three feet above the 
foot scraper. Some janitors make the scrapers portable by at- 
taching to a small frame platform. Another plan is to install 
scrapers along the walk but parallel to and near the building. 
All foot scrapers should be far enough off the ground to permit 
the dirt to collect below the scraper. It is often desirable to 



54 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

provide a brush rack where the pupils may complete the shoe 
cleaning process. The janitor can make these brush racks by 
attaching stiff fiber brushes to a rack. One of these brushes 
should be placed at the bottom of the rack with the fibers up. 
Two other brushes may be attached to the side of the rack with 
the fibers pointing toward the center. The door mats are 
usually placed near the entrance. There are about three types 
of door mats in common use. Many janitors place a steel mesh 
mat outside the entrance doors. If the grounds are quite muddy 
they place a cut rubber mat just inside the door. A fiber mat 
may then be placed in the entrance or corridor. The use of 
several mats may aid in eliminating much of the dirt and grit 
that might be carried into the classrooms. 

Tool Selection, Purchase and Care 

The janitor should make a study of the tasks he must per- 
form and of the tools best adapted for his work. He should be- 
come acquainted with new tools that are being developed by 
other janitors and by the various supply houses. While he may 
not have authority to order his own tools, he should be able 
to recommend and to back with suitable proof his recom- 
mendations for tools of a certain type and quality. 

After tools are purchased proper attention should be given 
to their care. Some tools need to be conditioned or broken in 
before being put into regular use. Mops, brushes, dust pans, and 
other tools should not be left in corridors, alcoves, or corners 
open to public view. Mops and brushes should be stored in 
suitable racks or hung on hangers designed for that purpose. 
Pails and pans should be stored where they will be out of the 
way yet accessible when needed. Bench tools should be stored 
in cases or racks near the work bench. Each tool should be so 
maintained that it is ready for use when taken from its case or 



HOUSEKEEPING 55 

place of storage. It is difficult to keep tools in good condition 
if used by various unskilled workers. For this reason, it has 
been found desirable to keep a separate set of tools to be used 
by teachers and pupils in occasional project activities. 

Cleaning Supplies 

Modern building maintenance requires many types of sup- 
plies for cleaning and general use in the building. In the clean- 
ing of a building, the chief cleaning agent is water. In some 
cases water is the carrier for the cleansing agent, but in nearly 
all cases water is the chief cleaning agent. Dirty water is of 
little value in cleaning and the water should be changed fre- 
quently so that only clean water will be used. 

Abrasives 

For many years, people have realized that certain abrasive 
substances may be used to remove dirt. Some of the abrasives 
used today are tripoli, talc, chalk, and coarser abrasives such 
as fine sand. Some of these abrasives are combined with soap 
in order to reduce their cutting effect. The janitor should be 
careful to use a type of abrasive that is fine enough not to mar 
the surface to be cleaned. Most of the floor scouring powders 
contain abrasives. These are generally more effective when ap- 
plied to damp surfaces in powder form than when suspended 
in water. 

Bow/ Scouring Powder 

There are a number of bowl scouring powders which are 
used in school buildings. In general, these have a slight amount 
of abrasive action with some cleaning or soap action. Tripoli 
with tri-sodium phosphate (commonly known as T.S.P.) is 
often used as a basis for these powders. In some cases a small 



56 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

amount of muriatic acid is added, particularly for use in toilet 
bowls. This powder is usually not coarse enough to scar the 
surface of the fixtures. Powder used on toilet bowls, lavatories, 
or fountains, should contain no iron. 

Floor Scouring Powder 

The term scouring powders refers to those used on bowls 
and floors. Scouring powders are often used on dirty or greasy 
floors. Most scouring powders have an abrasive in the form 
of tripoli, volcanic ash, or lava. Some abrasives have bone meal 
in them, but bone meal tends to dissolve and become gummy 
on the floor. Most good floor scouring powders do not have 
much alkali but consist primarily of abrasive materials with 
a small amount of soap to give a smooth action effect and to 
reduce the sharp cutting of the abrasive. 

Steel Wool 

Steel wool as an abrasive material has gained in popularity 
with janitors during recent years. It is used for buffing floors 
and for the purpose of removing accumulations of grease and 
even patches of varnish. Steel wool with a rather coarse tex- 
ture is used on the floor to smooth the rough surface and after 
the surface becomes smoother, a finer texture is used. The 
steel wool may be used as a hand tool, in pads on brushes, or 
on rotating drums. 

Whiting with Oxalic Acid 

One abrasive that is used by a number of janitors is a combi- 
nation of whiting with oxalic acid. If one is careful where this 
is used and if it is rinsed off afterwards, it makes a rather satis- 
factory abrasive. Another abrasive used by many janitors is a 
combination of whiting and T.S.P. In this mixture the T.S.P. 



HOUSEKEEPING 57 

may act as a chemical in dissolving some of the oils on dirty 
surfaces. 

A janitor can test the coarseness of an abrasive and determine 
the possible effect in scratching the finish by grinding some of 
the powder between two pieces of glass. 

Soap 

Soap is one of the cleaning agents most often found in school 
buildings. Soap is generally made from caustics such as caustic 
potash or caustic soda (lye) in combination with fats or oils. 
Soaps are of two types, according to composition. These are 
known as alkaline soaps and neutral soaps. The alkaline soaps 
contain more "builder" than the neutral soaps. The builder 
is usually some material like tri-sodium phosphate or some 
similar substance. The alkaline soaps are more harsh in effect 
than the neutral soaps. The heavier alkaline soaps usually have 
from seven to eleven per cent builder. The neutral soaps usually 
contain about one per cent builder. 

The janitor may use soap chips or dry soap mixed with water 
to make up the soap for use. The liquid soap may contain 
seventy to seventy-five per cent water. If he desires a soap with 
an alkaline content, he should add some builder like tri- 
sodium phosphate. Some of the milder soaps are used as clean- 
ers and some of them are used for toilet purposes. There has 
been much contention relative to the comparative merit of 
liquid and powdered soap for cleaning purposes. It is true that 
soap action is effective only when water is present, but it is not 
difficult for the janitor to add the water. Powdered or chip 
soaps are usually cheaper than liquid soaps. Pleasing aromas 
and brilliant colors may make the soaps more attractive but 
add nothing to their cleaning qualities. 

For toilet purposes it is desirable to have a mild soap, free 



58 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

from caustics. However, there seems to be little reason to pay 
high prices for highly scented soaps. It is estimated that the 
germicidal effect of the so-called chemical soap is slight. Most 
toilet soaps are made with a coconut or olive oil base. This is 
usually purchased in a forty per cent base and reduced to about 
ten per cent by dilution. In using this soap it is desirable to see 
that the dispensers are kept clean and that the holes are open 
so that action may be free. There are many other soaps used 
for heavier cleaning. Some of these will be discussed as special 
cleaners under the section on floor scrubbing. A majority of 
these heavy duty cleaners are made up of soap and an alkaline 
substance like T.S.P. with or without an abrasive, depending 
on the anticipated use. There seems to be no one best soap for 
all uses. The many types of surfaces make it desirable to use 
several types of soap. For heavy cleaning where oils and dirt 
accumulations require a strong cleaner, an alkaline soap may 
be used on surfaces not affected by the alkalies. On most fabrics 
and finishes found in school buildings, it is advisable to use only 
neutral soaps. 

However, a majority of the cleaning compounds have some 
soap content. The janitor should understand that the detergent 
value of the soap depends to a great extent upon its saponifica- 
tion. In other words, if the soap does not make the water "slick" 
it is of little value as a cleaner. After the soap makes the water 
slick, the soapy water tends to form a film around the dirt 
particles so that they may be more easily floated off in the 
cleaning process. Soap that is slow to dissolve in the water 
forms this film slowly. The water may be so hard that it takes 
a lot of soap to get results. In many cases this saponification can 
be speeded up and more economical results obtained by the 
addition of some substance which will break down the hard- 
ness, thus making it possible to obtain the results desired. Fail- 



HOUSEKEEPING 59 

ure to soften the water means the use of more of the costly soap 
materials. 

Drain Pipe Cleaner 

There are a number of drain pipe cleaners on the market. 
Most of these are composed of lye or sodium hydroxide with 
zinc or some other metal to speed the action. If the drain pipe 
is only slightly choked and if this material does reach an open- 
ing, it is valuable in removing grease and other things that 
often choke drain lines. However, if the pipe is sufficiently 
choked that the material does not go on through, it may unite 
with the grease in the pipe and form a jelly-like soap which 
may be more difficult to remove than the original obstruction. 
For this reason, many janitors prefer to use a pump or worm 
to remove obstacles in drain pipes. Some janitors have all of 
their drain lines equipped with plugs or a "T" at each bend so 
that they may get at them more easily for cleaning purposes. 

Acids 

School janitors should beware of the use of strong acids. 
Practically all of the acids will affect any material containing 
lime or calcium and are particularly hard on marble finish or 
on limestone which is used in concrete. They may also affect 
iron and may burn wood. The janitor can usually detect the 
acid by its sour taste. However, it is not advised that he attempt 
to test the stronger acids in this manner. There are three princi- 
pal acids used in school building cleaning. 

Muriatic 

Muriatic acid (which is commercial hydrochloric acid) is 
much used to clean mortar off brick. It is also used in toilet 
bowls to remove rust and iron stains. It acts as a corrosive and 
should be diluted before being used. This acid is often used as 



$0 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

a basis for various commercial bowl cleaners. An acid or cleaner 
of this type is not needed if the bowl is already clean. This 
acid should not be used on enameled iron or on other surfaces 
where the effect may be harmful. When it is used, the surface 
should be rinsed thoroughly to remove all the acid. Adding 
one spoonful of formaldehyde to dilute muriatic solution may 
reduce its effect on iron. 

Sulphuric Acid 

This acid is not often used in school building cleaning. It 
has an effect similar to that of muriatic acid. 

OXQ//C Acid 

This is a milder form of acid than the muriatic. It is often 
used to remove ink stains from the floors and may be used to 
remove a number of other stains. This acid deteriorates when 
kept in an open container so many schools purchase the acid 
in a crystal form. In some instances, this powder form is put 
on the floor to take out certain discolorations. It seems to have 
more effect if moistened and scattered lightly on the spots to 
be removed. The fumes from this acid are harmful and the 
janitor should be careful not to breathe them. Floors or other 
surfaces should be rinsed well after the use of oxalic acid. All 
of these acids are used in chemical laboratories, and if poured 
in sinks may affect the pipes. If spilled on masonry floors or 
window stools, they may cause partial disintegration. The jani- 
tor should provide earthenware jars for acid wastes in chemical 
laboratories. These jars should not be emptied into enameled 
sinks. 

Caustic Cleaners 

The school janitor should also be careful in the use of any 
strong caustic solution in cleaning the building. The strong 



HOUSEKEEPING 6 , 

caustic solution may cause a discoloration of the floor and is 
harmful to the finish. It may discolor wood, leaving it some- 
what red in appearance. It will remove varnish and paint. It 
will discolor certain metal and masonry finishes and may 
take the sheen off marble. Strong caustic solutions will burn 
the hands. 

Caustic Soda 

One of the principal caustics used in school buildings is 
sodium hydroxide or caustic soda (NaOH) commonly known 
as lye. This is often used as the basis of a drain cleaner. It is 
also used as a basis for certain soaps. Like most caustics, it 
has a slippery feeling when wet. 

Caustic Potash 

Caustic potash (KOH) is also used in soaps. It has an effect 
much similar to that of sodium hydroxide. 

Tri-sodium Phosphate 

During recent years, there has been an increase in the use of 
tri-sodium phosphate (commonly known as T.S.P.), both as 
a water softener and as a cleaning agent. The T.S.P. is some- 
times used alone in water as a cleaner and sometimes in combi- 
nation with other compounds. It is one of the basic ingredients 
of several cleaners sold in packages; however, the local school 
can purchase it in the natural state or powdered form at ap- 
proximately one-third the cost of most commercial prepara- 
tions. The T.S.P. is somewhat like sugar in appearance and 
has a bitter taste. It has a tendency to precipitate and thus to 
remove sulphates and lime from a water solution. It serves as 
a water softener and thus assists in reducing the surface tension 
of the water. It also has a slight tendency to break down greases 



62 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

and certain other organic compounds and thus becomes an 
active cleaning agent. When the T.S.P. is used in strong solu- 
tions, it may be harmful to many surfaces. It may even remove 
paint. When the T.S.P. is used as a water softener, only 
enough should be used to give the water a slick feeling. If 
added to water used in washing glass, it aids in cleaning with- 
out giving the slippery effect often obtained when washing 
with soap. 

Ammonia 

Ammonia was once used extensively in cleaning. It has a 
somewhat caustic effect. However, the ammonia fumes were 
hard on the eyes and for this reason it has been generally dis- 
carded in building cleaning. It may cause discoloration of 
marble. 

Sodium Bi-sulphate 

Sodium bi-sulphate is still used in some schools to remove 
iron stains in toilet stools. This is sometimes known as niter 
cake. This material is not good for use on enameled iron but is 
satisfactory for vitreous china. As with the other cleaners, this 
material is not needed in bowl cleaning if the bowls are main- 
tained in a satisfactory condition. 

Disinfectants 

Much money is spent for disinfectants in school buildings. 
In many cases disinfectants have been used to smother odors, 
when it would have been more desirable to remove the cause 
of odors. The use of disinfectants is not a satisfactory substi- 
tute for cleanliness and in many cases the presence of strong 
odors from disinfectants or deodorants leads one to question 
the cleaning practices in that particular building. Since cleanli- 



HOUSEKEEPING 63 

ness is the basis of sanitation, the best disinfectant is a combi- 
nation of soap, water, and labor. 

It has been contended that drinking fountains may spread 
disease from one mouth to another; that toilet stools may con- 
tribute to the spread of venereal diseases, and that shower room 
floors may spread athletes foot. There may be some basis for 
this contention, but even in these places cleanliness is the best 
preventive. At one time there was a common practice of spray- 
ing disinfectants on walls, floors, and ceilings of classrooms to 
kill disease germs. This practice is of questionable value in the 
elimination of the hazards of contagious diseases. 1 It seems more 
desirable to remove the person carrying the disease germ than 
to attempt to control the hazard through disinfectants. There 
are a number of disinfecting agents on the market. 

Carbolic Add 

One of the most common disinfectants is carbolic acid, which 
is made from coal tar. This acid, or its derivatives, forms the 
basis of many of the disinfectants. In fact, disinfecting stand- 
ards of various compounds are usually rated on the basis of the 
phenol coefficient. (Phenol is a strong antiseptic or disinfectant, 
often called carbolic acid.) The phenol disinfectants have 
obnoxious odors. 

Chlorine 

Chlorine is another basic disinfectant. Chlorine is a pungent 
gas and comes to the school in many forms; one of these forms 
is known as chloride of lime or bleaching powder. The chlorine 
disinfectants, like those from the carbolic acid, are contact dis- 
infectants. However, the chlorine disinfectants have an odor 
that is pleasing to many people. 

1 Adapted, "Journal of American Medical Research." March 28, 1931. Page 1098. 



64 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Sodium Hypochlorite 

Shower rooms and locker rooms where pupils walk in their 
bare feet may contribute to the spread of a disease known as 
"athletes foot." One of the best preventives for this disease is 
sodium hypochlorite. This may be used in scrub water for these 
rooms with some effect. Best results seem to be obtained when 
a solution of water and sodium hypochlorite is placed in a 
shallow pan where pupils may immerse the feet when leaving 
the showers. This vat or pan should not be located directly in 
front of the showers where the solution may be diluted until 
it has no effect. Sodium hypochlorite deteriorates rapidly and 
it is necessary to add to that in the pan frequently. A solution 
of one per cent seems to be effective. If the stock solution of 
sodium hypochlorite is left open to the air it loses some of its 
value. There is now on the market a powdered form of sodium 
hypochlorite which may be mixed with the water in the foot 
bath to make an effective solution. The powdered form does 
not deteriorate as rapidly as does the liquid form. 

Another chlorine disinfectant is known as javel water which 
is a combination of chloride of lime and sodium hypochlorite. 
This is often used to remove fruit stains. 

Of the many commercial forms of disinfectants on the mar- 
ket, most are based on one of the two basic disinfectants 
listed here. Much money could be saved and better results ob- 
tained by removing the cause of foul odors and by using a 
simple disinfectant when one is needed. The use of T.S.P. and 
certain other mild caustics is an example. These mild caustics 
will dissolve the fats that may accumulate in and around toilet 
fixtures. These fats may then be washed off, thus eliminating 
the cause of many foul odors. The disinfectants listed here 
should kill disease germs on contact. The older practice of at- 



HOUSEKEEPING 65 

tempting to kill disease germs by scaring them away with 
obnoxious odors does not seem to have been effective. Fumi- 
gants and air sprays are seldom used in modern schools. 

Deodorants 

The deodorants leave a fragrant odor in the air. They gen- 
erally have little or no disinfecting value. Some of the deodor- 
ants have a pine oil base with an attractive odor added. Others 
are a combination of formaldehyde and perfume diluted with 
water. If it is felt desirable that these should be used in school 
buildings in order to provide a pleasing odor, the janitor can 
at a small cost prepare a deodorant by using a small amount of 
formaldehyde, adding some perfume and then diluting. He 
can also prepare the pine oil deodorant if desired. The pine oil 
is a good cleansing agent and in that respect has some disinfect- 
ing value. Many janitors use a machine containing pine oil and 
some other preparation to allay toilet fixture odors. Others 
throw a quantity of deodorant blocks in the toilet stools or 
urinals to keep down odors. These have little more value than 
do other deodorants. If the cause of the odor is removed there 
will be no need for deodorant blocks. 

Concrete Floor Hardener 

As stated previously, strong acids and strong alkalines are 
harmful to concrete floors. However, many concrete floors are 
inclined to dust and some type of surfacing is desirable. Of the 
effective concrete floor hardeners on the market, sodium silicate 
is one of the cheapest and most easily applied. This material is 
also used to some extent for crack filling in terrazzo and 
cement floors. When purchased for this purpose, it is probably 
desirable to get the heavier combination with about thirty-five 
to thirty-six per cent silicate and about thirteen per cent alkali. 



66 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

This is mixed with water and diluted to the ratio of about one to 
four. 

A second simple concrete floor hardener is known as mag- 
nesium silico fluoride crystals. This is applied in two or three 
coats, making the first coat rather thin and the next coat some- 
what thicker. This is usually prepared by using about five 
pounds of crystals to two gallons of water. It serves as a stock 
solution and is mixed in the ratio of about one-two with water 
for the first coating in using as a floor hardener. The U. S. 
Bureau of Standards, L. C. No. 139, outlines some of these ma- 
terials in more detail. 

Floor Seals 

The newer practices of floor maintenance have called for a 
different type of floor treatment. Hence there has been a grow- 
ing demand for floor seals. At one time there was an extensive 
use of linseed oil as a floor seal. This has been used less during 
recent years, partly because of its tendency to rise to the surface 
and oxidize. Most of the floor seals today have a china wood 
oil base (commonly known as tung oil). If this seal is not 
loaded too heavily with gums of various types it is what is 
known as a penetrating seal. If it does have a quantity of gums 
included it may become a surface seal. It may adhere to the 
floor, but it may build up a surface on top of the floor. Some 
of the gums used in seals are copal, bakelite, etc. 

The bakelite seals usually dry quickly. However, if they con- 
tain much bakelite they may be inclined to build up a surface 
on the wood. In general the requirements for the seals are that 
they shall not powder. They should be resistive to alkali, they 
should be fairly rapid in drying, and should not turn white 
when moistened. The solids in the seal should not settle to the 
bottom, and the seal should be resistive to heat, shoe burns, and 



HOUSEKEEPING 47 

friction. Many manufacturers like to put in about one pound of 
the bakelite to three pounds of china wood oil. However, the 
combination should vary for different uses. 

Terrazzo Seal 

Much difficulty has arisen in attempting to maintain a de- 
sirable surface on terrazzo floors. Waxes usually make the floor 
too slick. Seals may darken the floor and may fail to penetrate 
sufficiently to give the bond desired and to give the sheen 
needed. Many terrazzo seals are on the market. Most of them 
have some value. Many janitors today are obtaining satisfying 
results by the use of a sodium silicate preparation mopped on 
the floor. This usually is mixed about one part of sodium 
silicate to four parts of water. If this wears off, it is easy to apply 
another coat. This solution will be inexpensive and is easy to 
apply. A new application may be made when the old seal shows 
the effects of wear. A seal of this type usually prevents bloom- 
ing or efflorescence of terrazzo floors. 

Floor Wax 

Liquid waxes are now used almost exclusively in schools. 
There are two general types, the spirit solvent and the water 
emulsion wax. The first needs polishing but the second is often 
called a self-polishing wax. Most schools prefer to use liquid 
waxes. They have a liquid carrier and a gum suspended in the 
liquid. The spirit solvent waxes include benzine or some similar 
solvent. These waxes usually need buffing. The water emulsion 
waxes are often called non-buffing waxes. 

Dance Floor Preparations 

Many good gymnasium floor finishes are spoiled by use for 
dancing and for other activities where people must be on the 



68 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

floor with various types of shoes. A preparation of borax crys- 
tals may be scattered on the floor before use for these purposes. 
TJiis gives the type of surface usually desired for dancing. 

Miscellaneous Preparations 
Roach Powder 

One base for roach powder is sodium fluoride. This is not 
costly and is used in many commercial roach powders. 

Crack Filler 

Equal parts of corn starch and wheat flour mixed with lin- 
seed oil and Japan filler may be used. 

Varnish Remover 

One quart of benzol, plus one ounce of paraffin dissolved. 
To this, add one quart of denatured alcohol and one quart 
acetone. This is spread on the floor and sprinkled with scouring 
powder. When scrubbed with warm water, most of the old 
varnish is removed. Caustic soda or T.S.P. may also be used to 
remove paint or varnish. (Do not use on oak.) These may be 
mixed with starch. Apply hot. Rinse well. Protect hands and 
clothes. 

Paint Remover 

Wood alcohol 2 pints 
Benzine 2 pints 
Paraffin 1 pound 

Grease Spof Remover 

Mix whiting with carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, kero- 
sene, or turpentine. Make paste, cover the spot, let stand, then 
wash. This prevents spreading and rings from grease. May be 
used on fabrics if used before setting. 



HOUSEKEEPING 69 

Ink Spot Remover 

To remove ink spots from an unprotected floor after it has 
been cleaned, add to three gallons of warm water three pounds 
of oxalic acid crystals and mop entire floor if spots are scattered 
over the room. Allow solution to remain on the floor until dry. 
Then rinse with clean warm water. 

Cleaning Stone 

1 gallon soft soap 

1 quart of water 

2 pounds of F. F. Powdered pumice stone 
1 pint liquid household ammonia 

Brush the loose grit and dirt from the surface, apply with a 
brush. Let stand fifteen or twenty minutes; then scrub with 
warm water and rinse off. 

Ce//ar Wall Mold Remover 

Use one tablespoon of arsenate of lead to one gallon of water 
for mold on cellar walls. 

Gum Solvent 

When chewing gum is imbedded in a surface so that it can- 
not be scraped off, it usually may be dissolved by the use of 
carbon tetrachloride, gasoline, or naphtha. 

Furniture Polish 

One of the best furniture polishes is a thin wax solution simi- 
lar to that used on the floor (water wax). However, the janitor 
may, if he wishes, make up a polish with an oil base. 

No. 1 Paraffin one part 

Kerosene one part 
No. 2 Paraffin oil three parts 

Turpentine one part 

Vinegar one-half part 



70 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Mix oil and turpentine together and add vinegar. If he uses an 
oil base he will need to rub furniture vigorously to remove all 
traces of dust catching oil. 

Cleaner for Paint 

Lukewarm water one gallon 
Tri-sodium phosphate one teaspoonful 
Neutral soap one-fourth pint 
Fine scouring powder one tablespoon 

Stir often and after using this cleaner wash the surface 
thoroughly with clean water to which has been added a little 
vinegar. 

Wfj/fewasfjes 

1. Soak 5 Ibs. casein (glue substance) in two gallons hot 
water until softened. Dilute three pints ammonia (commercial) 
with one gallon of water. Add to casein mixture and dissolve. 
To hydrated lime 50 Ibs. (or 38 Ibs. quick lime) add six gallons 
of water. When cold, mix two solutions stir well. Just before 
using, mix five pints formaldehyde with three gallons of water 
and add slowly to first mixture, stirring constantly. 

2. Make thick cream 50 Ibs. hydrated lime and about seven 
gallons of water. Mix 3 Ibs. glue and two gallons of water. Mix 
and stir. Thin as needed. 

3. Use two parts lime, one part Portland cement, add water 
to thinness desired. 



Metal Polish 



Paraffin oil 

Fine scouring powder 

A little ammonia 



Mix to desired thickness, apply with a cloth, let dry and polish, 



HOUSEKEEPING 71 

Floor Sweeping Compound 

While there is little demand or need for the use of sweeping 
compound in modern school buildings, it is still used in some 
places. If the janitor must use a sweeping compound he can 
make one much more economically than and equal to those 
purchased. One is made as follows: 

Fine sand 20 to 35% by weight 
Sawdust 40 to 50% 
Paraffin oil 8 to 15% 
Water 6 to 10% 

Purchase and Storage of Materials 

It is not intended here to recommend that the janitor prepare 
any or all of the cleaning agents. It has seemed desirable to call 
attention to the need for a study of the various cleaning agents, 
their value, methods of purchase, and their use. It is difficult 
to set up specifications for supplies and equipment. There is 
still much experimenting and testing needed in this field since 
the materials are not sufficiently standardized to permit general 
purchase on specifications. As a result, those in charge of school 
buildings have resorted to purchasing from known distribu- 
tors. This practice may be commended, particularly if the pur- 
chasers and users know that they are getting materials best 
suited to their needs at a reasonable cost. It must be remem- 
bered that many distributors depend upon commercial sales- 
men who must sell quantities of material in order to earn their 
commissions. Some of these salesmen are willing to overload 
the buyer or to sell materials not needed. Some schools do at- 
tempt to buy on specifications but find it difficult to make 
specifications that designate the material desired without limit- 
ing the competition to one bidder. When purchasing, the 
school officials should expect the distributor to guarantee that 



72 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

the material purchased is on a par with the sample presented, 
that it meets specifications set up, and that it has behind it the 
guarantee of a reliable distributor. The purchaser should under- 
stand that price alone is no indication of quality or cheapness. 
Purchase orders should state whether the material is to be 
delivered f.o.b. the school, the local shipping point, or the 
factory. They should also state whether containers are included 
in the price listed. Purchase orders should also state how goods 
are to be delivered. 

When goods are received they should be checked in to the 
general storeroom by the janitor in charge, unpacked, and the 
condition of the contents noted. Each item should be checked 
against the invoice and later against the purchase order. When 
materials are checked, this list should be added to the store- 
room list of stock on hand, showing total gallons or pounds 
of "X" material available. Materials of like quality should be 
stored together. Combustible or highly inflammable materials 
should not be stored in places where they present a fire hazard. 
Supplies should not be sent from the shipping point directly 
to a building other than the general storage room, unless they 
are delivered in full or one-half case with a definite record 
made of the distribution. In general, it is desirable to have all 
materials come to the general storeroom and to charge against 
each building and to the janitor in that building the supplies 
distributed to that building. In this way, a check may be made 
of the materials used in each building. If materials are taken 
from the general storeroom for each building, the storeroom 
records should be extended to show how the materials are 
distributed. 

The janitor in each building will probably not have the 
authority to purchase any of the supplies or tools used in his 



HOUSEKEEPING 79 

building. He should, however, keep some record of the various 
materials used. He should be able to inform the purchasing 
agent of the utility and durability of the supplies and tools 
used in his building. He should have a record of the date cer- 
tain floor finishes were applied and value of these finishes. 



Chapter 5 

Daily Floor Cleaning 

PROBABLY NO TASK of the janitor is more important than the 
daily cleaning of classrooms. One of the principal parts of 
this daily cleaning is that of floor care. Teachers and pupils 
alike seem to react quickly and favorably to clean, attractive 
floors. On the other hand, unattractive floors may mar the ap- 
pearance of a room even though the walls and ceiling are in 
a satisfactory condition. There was a time when sweeping, and 
firing the furnace, constituted the two principal tasks of a school 
janitor. In many schools the term "sweeping" was even then 
a misnomer since the amount of dirt carried in made the 
cleaning procedure almost a shoveling process. 

The changes that have come in school plant construction and 
school plant maintenance have made a great difference in the 
floor cleaning tasks of the janitor. Surfaced yards have cut 
down the amount of dirt carried into the building. Treated 
floors of better materials have made it easier to remove the 
dirt that has been brought into the building. The development 
of new cleaning tools and machinery have made easier the 
cleaning tasks. On the other hand, an awakened consciousness 
of the necessity for clean floors has made it imperative that the 
floors be maintained in a satisfactory condition. Teachers, 
pupils, and janitors need to cooperate in maintaining satisfac- 
tory floor conditions. School officials should realize that all 
floor finish is subject to wear and that it cannot be maintained 

74 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 75 

in a satisfactory condition unless protected from unusual and 
unnecessary abuse. Muddy yards may yield bushels of dirt to 
be carried into the rooms by the pupils. It should be the duty 
of the janitor and the school administrators to provide suitable 
playground surfaces and adequate and sufficient foot scrapers, 
brooms and brushes at the door, that all mud may be cleaned 
from the shoes before pupils come into the room. It should be 
the duty of the janitor to keep these tools and cleaning ap- 
pliances in a satisfactory condition. It should be the duty of 
the teachers to see that no pupil comes into a room until shoes 
have been properly cleaned. The teacher should instruct the 
pupils how to aid in floor care by keeping the floor free from 
scrap paper, chalk, or sharp sand. By the use of suitable door 
mats, the janitor can also help protect his floors from the harm- 
ful effects of sand, dirt, and water that may be carried in on the 
shoes of the children. Some janitors find it desirable to provide 
three sets of mats near the entrance. The coarse metal mat in 
front of the entrance, a cut rubber mat just inside the entrance 
and a fiber mat in the entryway. Pupils entering will have an 
opportunity to remove all mud and grit from their shoes before 
entering the classrooms. The janitor should clean these mats 
frequently. It is desirable to have more than one fiber mat for 
each entrance, that one may be drying while another is in use. 
The title "daily floor cleaning" is used because some floors 
may be mopped daily and others will be swept with some type 
of cleaning broom. The term, "sweeping" when used should be 
interpreted to mean any accepted method of daily floor clean- 
ing. 

Tools for Cleaning 

The type of tools needed in floor cleaning will depend upon 
the condition of the floor, the amount of dirt carried in, and the 



76 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

furniture in the room. In a few places, such as the boiler room 
or on walks, the janitor may need to use the corn broom. In 
other rooms where much dirt has collected, he may need to use 
the floor brush. In rooms with treated floors he should be able 
to use either the long-string or the short-string dust mop. In 
almost all floor cleaning it will be essential that he have a dust 
pan and a counter brush. In rooms where radiators are exposed 
he may need to have a radiator brush. It is anticipated that the 
janitor will have in his pocket tool kit a putty knife to be used 
in scraping gum from the floor. In each room there should be 
a suitable waste paper can. The janitor will need to carry with 
him some sort of pail or receptacle into which he will put the 
dirt and sweepings from the floor. In some cases, janitors de- 
posit floor sweepings in the can used to gather waste paper. 
Most janitors find it better to provide a large container for 
waste paper and to use a fourteen or sixteen quart pail for the 
sweepings. It is obvious that the dust receptacle and the room 
waste paper basket should have solid sides so that shavings 
from the pencil sharpener, and other small bits of rubbish will 
not fall through the sides to the floor. 

Core of Tools 

It is particularly desirable that the janitor know how to care 
for his cleaning tools. Sweeping brushes should have reversible 
heads and should be reversed often so that the brushes or fiber 
will not develop a permanent set in one direction. These 
brushes should be combed out often with a palmetto or wire 
brush. When not in use, the brush should be stored in racks 
erected for that purpose, or should be hung on racks or hooks 
so that the heads do not touch the floor. Dust mops should be 
of a type that may be slipped off the head. They should be 
washed as soon as they become soiled. For this purpose the 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 77 

janitor will need to have several dust mops for each head. The 
mop can be washed by soaking overnight in a solution of warm 
water and neutral soap. If the janitor has steam pressure, the 
mops can be immersed in a small tank of water so connected 
to the boiler that steam pressure may be used to cause the 
water to boil. After the mop heads are washed they should be 
rinsed out in clear warm water and hung up to dry. While 
the mop is still a little damp it should be given a treatment 
which will make it better adapted for picking up dirt. Where 
the mop is used on oiled floors, this treatment may consist of 
a small amount of high grade oil. For use on treated floors the 
mop should be treated with the wax or other preparation used 
on the floor. This may be sprayed on the mop or in some cases 
it may be applied by pouring some of the solution into a pan, 
letting it contact the sides and bottom of the pan and then by 
pouring the solution out of the pan leaving only that film that 
is on the side and bottom. If the mop is placed in this pan it 
will absorb some of the treating liquid. The treated mops should 
then be stored in fireproof containers until ready for use. The 
janitor should keep a pair of shears to trim off loose and ragged 
strands from the mop. 

Vacuum Cleaning 

Until a few years ago there was a tendency to install vacuum 
cleaning units in all of the larger buildings. Vacuum cleaning 
systems are of two types. The type that has been generally 
favored is the central vacuum cleaning system with motor and 
suction fans located at a convenient point in the basement and 
connected to each room by suction lines. In these systems the 
janitor carries into the room fifty to sixty feet of hose with a 
suction nozzle. He attaches the hose to the suction pipe in the 
wall and proceeds with his cleaning. Of course, all openings 



78 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

in the suction pipe must be closed tightly except the one in use. 
A second type of vacuum cleaning system which has been used 
some during recent years is the portable type. One of the most 
common portable types of machine is that used in the home for 
rugs and floors. These are not generally large enough for 
school cleaning. There is, however, a larger portable machine 
which has been used satisfactorily. Some of these machines are 
of considerable size and are not easily moved from floor to 
floor in buildings that do not have elevators. There are a number 
of advantages in the use of vacuum cleaners. In the first place, 
there is no dust to float about the room and since dust is a germ 
carrier, this is very desirable. They are particularly good on 
stairs and in corners where it is difficult to reach with a broom. 
Vacuum cleaning units are also good on rugs, mats, and other 
materials of this type. The vacuum cleaner will pick up small 
pieces of paper, and in cleaning large areas like corridors the 
janitor can clean with a back and forth movement, thus reduc- 
ing his travel distance. There are, of course, some disadvantages. 
The hose is cumbersome and difficult to manipulate in rooms 
with a considerable amount of furniture. The central systems 
are costly, and if not properly adjusted are subject to a considera- 
ble amount of wear. 

In the use of vacuum cleaners it is necessary that the janitor 
have the joints and connections tight. The vacuum nozzle part 
is usually moved lengthwise of the boards rather than across 
'the boards. During the time when cleaning methods stirred 
much dirt into the air, vacuum cleaning was so much superior 
to other methods that many systems were installed. Vacuum 
cleaning is still preferred by many custodians, but the use of 
the dust mop which is lighter and more quiet, has made it pos- 
sible to use other methods without raising an excessive amount 
of dust. 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 79 

Sweeping Compound 

Up until a few years ago the janitor felt that he could not 
sweep a floor unless he first put down a quantity of sweeping 
compound. This compound was usually composed of sawdust, 
sand, and floor oil. In some cases this sweeping compound 
cost a considerable sum of money each year. Today few janitors 
use sweeping compound and do not use it at all on rooms that 
are cleaned with the dust mop. A sweeping compound which 
contains oil should not be used on linoleum or asphalt tile 
floors or on wood floors having a waxed surface. The sweeping 
compound may spot these floors. Sweeping compound is prob- 
ably not needed on floors having an oiled finish. On untreated 
floor surfaces the sweeping compound may have some merit. 

Frequency of Cleaning 

The frequency of sweeping will depend almost entirely on 
the location of the building and the use of the floor. Most 
janitors find it necessary to sweep or clean classroom floors 
each day, although in instances where much mud is brought 
into the building it may be necessary to clean floors more often 
than once a day. Corridor floors may need to be swept two or 
three times a day. Offices are usually cleaned daily. The fre- 
quency of cleaning the auditorium and gymnasium floors de- 
pends on their use. If the auditorium is used for daily assembly 
purposes it may be necessary to clean it each day, and if used 
for evening meetings it may be necessary to clean it again 
before evening usage. However, auditorium units used only 
occasionally will need to be cleaned just before usage. In gen- 
eral the room should be cleaned as often as necessary to main- 
tain it in a satisfactory condition. Gymnasium floors used 
regularly should be cleaned each day. 



80 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Time of Cleaning 

A few years ago the janitor was not permitted to enter the 
classroom to sweep the floor until all of the teachers had gone 
home. This often created difficulties, particularly in those build- 
ings or rooms where teachers wished to remain in the room 
until five or six o'clock. In these cases, the janitor often had to 
work long hours in order that the cleaning might be done 
before he left the building. However, during that time the 
methods of sweeping raised so much dust that the teacher 
could not easily stay in the room while it was being cleaned. 
The amount of dust raised made it almost impossible to sweep 
the room in the morning before pupils arrived and to have the 
dust settled sufficiently to be removed by dusting. With present 
methods of cleaning with a dust mop many janitors clean 
the room while the teacher is still in the room after the pupils 
have gone, without creating any dust or annoying the teacher. 

In other schools, the schedule is so arranged that the janitor 
can clean several rooms at some time during the day when these 
rooms are not in use for classes. In many buildings the janitor 
cleans all of the classrooms during school hours, and in 
these buildings he may be ready to complete his work within 
thirty to sixty minutes after the close of the last class period. 
Experience indicates that this does not make for poorer clean- 
ing and it does relieve the janitor of the long hours of daily 
service. It should be understood by the janitor that the class- 
rooms are erected for the purpose of providing school facilities 
for the pupils. On the other hand, it should be understood by 
the teachers and administrators that when the schedule of 
classes permits, the janitor should be allowed to clean vacant 
rooms at a designated time. The janitor should expect to start 
the day with a clean corridor floor. Then if the corridors be- 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 81 

come dirty he should expect to clean them again during the 
day, preferably during class periods, when he will interfere 
least with the pupil traffic. 

In general it is possible to clean the auditorium unit some- 
time during the day when it is not used for pupil activities. 
The exact time for each particular auditorium unit will depend 
upon the schedule of usage. In many cases it is not possible to 
clean a gymnasium in the evening because of practice classes 
in gymnasium activities. If the janitor does not find a vacant 
period during the day when he can clean the gymnasium he 
may find it necessary to clean this unit each morning. In many 
cases, offices are in use until the time the janitor wishes to leave 
the building in the evening. In these cases it probably will be 
necessary to clean the office unit in the morning before the 
teachers and principals arrive. The janitor can clean the toilet 
rooms and dressing rooms for boys at any time during the day 
and if a matron is employed she can care for the toilet rooms 
for the girls in the same manner. If no matron is employed, it 
may be necessary to leave the cleaning of the toilet and locker 
rooms for girls until evening. 

Methods Vary with Type of Floor 

The procedure to be followed in the cleaning of floors will 
depend somewhat on the type of floor to be cleaned. In gen- 
eral, floors composed of linoleum, asphalt tile, or mastic can 
be cleaned with a dust mop. Smooth wood floors may be 
cleaned rapidly with a dust mop if the floor is treated with 
wax or other suitable material. Smooth wood floors that are 
covered with a heavy oil may need to be cleaned with a floor 
brush. Rough wood floors may best be cleaned with a brush. 
This is particularly true with flat grain pine or other floors 
that are cupped and splintered. It is also necessary to use a 



82 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

brush on floors that have wide cracks or that are so badly 
worn that the splinters of wood would catch on the mop. 
Terrazzo and marble floors may be cleaned with either a brush 
or a mop. In neither case should a tool having oils on it be 
used. If these floors are smooth, the mop seems to give the 
best result; if the floors are rough or pitted, or if they have 
numerous cracks, it may be necessary to use a brush. On rough 
concrete floors use a brush for satisfactory results. On smooth 
concrete floors with a treated surface, use either a brush or mop 
for satisfactory results. 

Methods Vary with Tools Used 

There is still a use for a floor brush in many school buildings. 
Floor brushes are necessary on rough concrete floors, on rough 
wood floors, or untreated smooth floors. There are two general 
types of movements practiced in sweeping with the brush. 
Some janitors attempt to use the brush as they would a push 
mop, attempting to bear down on the brush or to push it from 
one end of the room to the other. Brushes are not designed to 
serve as squeegees or shovels and should not be so used. Brushes 
work best when used with a stroke of thirty to thirty-six inches 
(depending on the dirt on the floor). At the end of the stroke 
the brush should be raised so that the bristles may have a chance 
to kick out, thus freeing themselves from the dirt on the head. 
When the brush is brought back to a point near the advanced 
foot, it should be set down with a sliding motion and should 
not be dropped on the floor. This practice helps avoid depos- 
iting a quantity of dirt off the brush at the place the brush 
strikes the floor. 

In using the brush with the stroke method, janitors find 
that they secure better results if the handle of the brush is cut 
off to the proper length. The proper length for each janitor is 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 83 

usually determined by setting the brush head on the floor and 
marking the point about even with the eyebrows. Then when 
using the brush the skilled operator places the power hand 
(which is usually the right hand for right-handed men) on 
the end or near the end of the brush handle. The other hand 
serves as a guiding hand and is placed on the handle with the 
palm down at about an arms length from the power hand. 
This hand provides the power to pick the brush up and also 
helps guide the stroke. The janitor permits the handle to 
slide through the guiding hand as he makes the stroke. 

Use of Dust Mops 

The type and condition of the floor may be an important 
factor in the use of dust mops. On treated floors with large 
open areas the dust mop may be used in one continuous move- 
ment; that is, the janitor starts at one end of the floor area 
and places the mop head on the floor. Then by resting the mop 
handle against his hand which is in turn supported by his 
shoulder, he pushes the mop from one end of the floor area 
to the other where he shakes the dust free from the mop and 
turns to repeat the process going to the other end of the room 
or floor. For this type of sweeping, most janitors prefer the 
long string mop with strings ten to fourteen inches in length. 
In this case, the mop head is given a flip before being set down 
so that the strings pile up in front of the mop head. A mop 
with a head of thirty to thirty-six inches in width is preferred. 
If the janitor does not have this type of mop head, he may get 
rather satisfactory results by using two mops. In sweeping with 
the short string mop some janitors attempt to use the pushing 
method similar to that used with the heavier long string long 
head mop. The light string does not have the weight necessary 
for this type of stroke on dirty floors. Some janitors use the short 



84 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

string mop with a slight circular movement. In using this stroke 
the strings are supposed to contact and hold the dirt. Where 
there is not much dirt and with a properly treated mop this 
stroke is quite effective. If there is much dirt on the floor, or if 
the mop is not treated, this stroke serves principally to move 
the dirt from one place to another. Many janitors use the short 
string mop with a straight stroke method similar to that used 
with the brush. In using this stroke the janitor must be particu- 
larly careful not to drop dirt on the floor at the beginning of 
the stroke. It requires some practice before the janitor learns 
to obtain the best results for each floor with the short string 
mop. 

In using the long string mop with the round head a swing 
motion is used. This movement should cause the mop strands 
to contact the dust on the floor. Some skill is required if the 
janitor is to reach all corners and around all furniture. The 
motion should be regular and should not flip or twist the mop to 
throw off the dust. When using this stroke the mop is not 
shaken until the janitor reaches the end of the room. 

Usually the corn broom is not used except in the furnace 
room, on walks, or other areas that may be very dirty. Even on 
these surfaces the broom should be used in such a manner that 
little dust is thrown into the air. The corn broom gives best 
results when the ends of the straws are in direct contact with 
the surface to be cleaned. An excessively long stroke reduces 
the efficiency of the broom. 

Methods Vary with Room Use and Equipment 

Sweeping methods vary with the type of floors and also with 
the usage of the room. If all floor areas were free from furniture 
and other obstacles, sweeping would be a comparatively easy 
task. However, furniture is essential in schoolrooms and the 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 85 

janitor must adapt his method to the type of furniture and 
equipment found in the room. There are many types of equip- 
ment used in school rooms. Some rooms are equipped with 
desks having four legs each and accompanied by chairs or seats 
having four legs each. Other rooms are equipped with a com- 
bined desk and seat having four legs attached to the floor. Still 
other rooms are equipped with combined pedestal desks and 
seats. These make for ease in sweeping but experience indicates 
that they are not popular with pupils and teachers. Still other 
rooms are equipped with pedestal desks and pedestal seats. 
Some of the rooms for primary pupils are equipped with low 
seats which make it difficult for the janitor to get the sweeping 
tools under the seats. Some classroom and many library units 
are equipped with tables and chairs which must be moved 
when the janitor sweeps the room. Still other rooms are 
equipped with movable tablet arm seats so arranged that there 
is only one aisle from the back to the front of the room. Each 
of these call for a different procedure in cleaning the floors. 

Classrooms with Fixed Seats 

Through practice many janitors have developed a regular 
method of procedure in sweeping classrooms with fixed seats. 
With the single pedestal seat.the janitor can sweep the room 
almost like an open area. However, most rooms are equipped 
with the combined seat and desks having four legs. Tests and 
experience seem to indicate that the janitor will save time in 
cleaning these rooms if, on entering the room he carries his 
pail and tools to the front inside corner of the room. He then 
proceeds to wipe out the chalk tray and to use his counter brush 
to rake paper or waste from under the radiator and the radiator 
brush to remove dust from the radiator. He then picks up the 
sweeping tool, either the brush or mop, carrying it in a per- 



86 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

pendicular position with the head down and the strings or 
bristles away from his leg. The sweeping tool is carried in his 
right hand and with his left hand he raises the seats as he goes 
down the outside aisle to the back of the room. He then sweeps 
to the rear of the seats, pushing the dirt down the aisle and 
under the seats. He proceeds down the outside aisle, sweeping 
the aisle and under the row of seats to his right, pushing the 
dirt under the seats as far as his sweeping tool will reach con- 
veniently. As the brush or mop is brought out from under the 
seat he sweeps the dirt in the aisle ahead of him. When he 
reaches the front of the room, the dirt is swept across the front 
of the room towards the dust pail. He then picks up the mop 
or broom and proceeds in the same manner down the next 
aisle, raising the seats as he goes. This procedure is repeated 
until all of the dirt is gathered at the front inside corner of 
the room. He then proceeds to pick it up, using the sweeping 
tool and the dust pan. All dirt should have been removed from 
around the seat legs and the corners. Pencils and books should 
have been picked up before starting the sweeping process. He 
gathers his tools and proceeds to the next room. Note that this 
process or procedure does not take care of the waste paper in 
the room but most janitors can handle the waste paper more 
readily if they bring to the corricjpr a basket or box big enough 
to handle the waste paper from each room, and gather the 
waste paper before they start sweeping. The procedures out- 
lined here are for men who are right handed and who use their 
right hand to give power to the sweeping movement. Men 
who are left handed will start at the other side of the room 
and will reverse the process, winding up in the front outside 
corner of the room. 

The process outlined here will be applicable to untreated 
floors or to treated floors of either wood, linoleum, or asphalt 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 87 

having fixed seats. In some instances, schoolrooms have fixed 
seats on runners or strips of wood. In these cases the use of the 
long string mop may not prove practical. However, the short 
string mop or the brush may be used with ease. The procedure 
will vary somewhat for classrooms with different types of seats 
but in general the process outlined here will be found usable. 

Classrooms with Loose Seats 

There are a number of different types of loose seats. One type 
of loose seating is that which has the seat and desk built into 
one unit and connected by a gas pipe or rod near the floor line. 
These present some difficulty since the janitor's sweeping tool 
will not pass under this connecting bar or rod. This may make 
it necessary to move these seats when cleaning in the room. A 
second type of loose seating is that which has a chair and desk 
combined with book rack or drawer under the seat. These 
seats have little open area between the book rack and the floor 
and it becomes necessary to move the seats when cleaning the 
room. A third type of loose seating is that known as the tablet 
arm chair. These are usually located close together so that the 
janitor cannot sweep between them. Hence these too must be 
moved. 

One of the first precautions of the janitor caring for the 
rooms with loose seats is to see that all seats are equipped with 
gliders or other appliance that makes it possible to move them 
over the floor easily without scratching or marring the floor. 
Janitors differ as to the best method of moving the various types 
of movable seating. Some janitors like to proceed as with fixed 
seats, leaving their tools at the front of the room, cleaning the 
chalk rail and the radiators and then sweeping the outside 
aisle, moving the first row of chairs over in this aisle, thus 
making another aisle or row to be cleaned. Other janitors pre- 



88 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

fer to get behind a row of seats and to push all seats toward 
the front of the room, thus making it possible to clean a con- 
siderable area of the floor at the back of the room before the 
chairs are moved back. This method is somewhat difficult be- 
cause of the fact that chairs are not always in straight rows or 
because the tablet arm or desk part may extend out sufficiently 
in front of the chair seat to cause the chairs to get out of line. 
Probably the most efficient method is that where the janitor 
pushes the back row of seats up to the next row and then pro- 
ceeds to sweep the side and back aisle, after which he moves 
back one or two rows of chairs into the swept area. He then 
proceeds in a like manner with the next chairs and the area 
under them. Either of these procedures involves moving the 
chairs at least twice. However, the moving of only one row of 
chairs at a time seems to cause less scratching and marring 
of the finish on the chairs. It has one distinct advantage in that 
the chairs may be moved with the floor boards more easily 
than across the cracks. In moving the chairs the janitor may 
find it desirable to give the chair a slight bump on the floor to 
remove the dirt that might be around the legs of the chairs, 
before moving it back into the cleaned area. After the whole 
room is swept, the janitor proceeds to pick up the dirt as in the 
process described for rooms with fixed seats, and passes on to 
the next room. Many janitors have developed methods of 
sweeping rooms so that they can clean an average classroom 
in a satisfactory manner in from four to six minutes. 

Classrooms with Tables and Chairs 

These rooms present several problems in floor cleaning. As a 
rule, the janitor cannot sweep under the chairs. Hence, the 
chairs must be moved. A few janitors practice pulling out one 
chair from the table and placing this chair in the aisle and 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 89 

then sweeping the area where this chair originally sat. They 
then move the next chair into this place and proceed in that 
manner on around the table, placing the chair first moved into 
the place vacated by the last chair. This method makes it 
necessary for the janitor to move one chair at a time, and if he 
uses his hands to pick up the chair, he finds it necessary to 
remove his hands from the brush or mop handle. If he tries 
to shove the chair over by the use of the mop he may scar the 
chair or leave a streak of dirt on the chair from the mop. It 
also has the objectionable feature that a part of the dirt is 
pulled out from under the table and chair while a part of it is 
pushed through. Experience seems to indicate that the dirt can 
be pulled with the mop but that the brush works better when 
pushed. 

A second procedure is to set all chairs on top the tables, 
sweep the room, and then to come back and place the chairs 
in the proper position. This procedure has merit provided the 
tables are free from obstructions and provided the chair legs 
are clean and smooth and do not leave dirt or scratched places 
on the table. This method permits the janitor to complete his 
sweeping at one time and to handle the chairs at one time. 
Where this method is not practical, a number of janitors prac- 
tice pulling out the chairs from the table, sweeping the dirt 
from under the table, and then replacing the chairs. This 
method is practical if the tables are far enough apart that the 
chairs can be moved about with ease. Throughout all of the 
rooms where loose furniture is used, the janitor should be very 
careful not to bump chairs against plastered walls or against 
tables. In all sweeping he should be careful to avoid bumping 
the brush or mop against the baseboard or the furniture. It will 
be easier to do this if he uses mops or brushes of the proper 
size for that particular room. It seems obvious that a primary 



90 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

room having the chair or desk legs only seventeen or eighteen 
inches apart cannot be swept with an eighteen inch mop head 
without bumping against the furniture. For these rooms, a four- 
teen or sixteen inch mop or brush head should be used. For 
larger equipment it may be possible to use either a sixteen or 
eighteen inch head. 

Cleaning Floors in Special Rooms 

The janitor faces many problems in cleaning special rooms. 
Shop units often have an accumulation of metal shavings, bits 
of metal, and perhaps of oily drippings from drills and ma- 
chinery. Usually the shop instructor will teach the pupils to 
remove the metal pieces so that the janitor may sweep the 
room. In some cases, the instructor has the pupils clean the 
room each evening. In these rooms the janitor usually finds 
that he must keep a special brush or broom that is not used in 
other parts of the building. Methods of sweeping will depend 
almost entirely on the arrangement of the equipment and the 
type of floor. A similar condition exists in the woodworking 
rooms. In each of these rooms the janitor should be careful to 
watch for any condition that creates a fire hazard or that might 
become a hazard to the health of the pupils. Some of these 
hazards will be discussed in Chapter 8. One hazard that he 
should watch in his cleaning is that of greasy spots or slippery 
places near power machines. 

In Home Economics units teachers usually instruct the pupils 
on methods of cleaning and in most cases the janitor does not 
have the task of daily sweeping. He does have the occasional 
task of mopping the rooms. If he is required to sweep these 
rooms he should use the dust mop if floor conditions will 
permit. Living room units having a mat or rug floor covering 
should be swept as are the office units. Kindergarten rooms and 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 91 

those used for primary pupils, where the teacher follows the 
practice of permitting the pupils to play on the floor or to lie 
down on the floor on mats, should never have sweeping com- 
pound or oils placed on the floor. If possible, these rooms should 
be cleaned only with the dust mop. If there is an excessive 
amount of dirt it will be desirable first to sweep the rooms and 
then to go over them with the dust mop to leave a surface 
suitable for use by the small children. Offices are often equipped 
with rugs or carpet floor coverings. In many cases the janitor 
has spoiled the finish of these coverings by the use of a brush 
containing some of the floor oils or wax picked up in other 
rooms, or by the use of brooms which pull the nap out of 
the rug. Rugs and carpets should be swept with a carpet 
sweeper or vacuum sweeper adapted to rug cleaning. If a part 
of the floor is not covered with rugs this can be cleaned with 
the dust mop. The janitor should be careful to raise the edges 
of the rug frequently that he may clean around and under the 
borders. While it is necessary for the whole school to be cleaned, 
he should remember that this is one place where visitors are to 
be received, and should attempt to maintain it in a satisfactory 
condition. 

Corridors 

As stated previously, corridors should be swept as frequently 
as needed. Most janitors find it desirable to sweep the corridor 
sometime before noon and then again sometime during the 
afternoon. Where the corridor has smooth floors either of as- 
phalt tile, linoleum, terrazzo, or concrete it can be swept with 
the long string dust mop in a very short time. If the corridor 
floor is rough or if there is an excessive amount of dirt it may 
be necessary to sweep it with a brush. In either case, the dust 
mop or brush with a thirty to thirty-six inch head saves time 



92 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

for the janitor and secures satisfactory results. The brush should 
be used in a stroke method. The janitor usually finds it desir- 
able to sweep lengthwise of the corridor when using a brush, 
covering the whole width as he proceeds. When he is using the 
push method with the long string mop he proceeds from one 
end of the corridor to the other, moving the dirt down the cor- 
ridor as he proceeds. If the amount of dirt becomes too heavy 
he may use the dust pan and pail to pick up part of it before 
reaching the end of the corridor. Since the corridors are usually 
swept during the day, he should be particularly careful not to 
create an excessive amount of noise and not to have the tools 
in the corridor during a change of pupil location between class 
periods. Corridors or entry ways may be swept with the brush 
before the mop is used. 

Before starting to sweep the corridors he should clean out 
dirt from behind and under radiators and under bookcases or 
other places where dirt might collect. In sweeping the corridor 
with a brush using the stroke method he should avoid attempt- 
ing to take excessively long strokes and setting the brush down 
in such a manner that he will leave a streak of dirt showing at 
the beginning and ending of each stroke. He should avoid the 
practice of knocking the end of the brush head on the floor to 
free it from dust. 

Stairways 

Probably no sweeping task of the janitor is more poorly done 
than that of stair cleaning. Janitors do not agree as to the best 
method of sweeping stairs. Many janitors make more noise in 
stab: sweeping than in cleaning all of the rest of the building. 
Some janitors sweep stairs with a counter brush, sweeping from 
one side to the other and pulling the dirt from one stair down 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 93 

to the next step. This procedure causes the janitor to bend over 
in a rather tiresome position and usually calls for the use of a 
counter brush which is not well designed for moving a quan- 
tity of dirt. Some janitors clean the stairs with either a brush or 
mop while standing below the stair to be cleaned and pull the 
dirt down towards them. Other janitors stand above the stair 
to be cleaned and push the dirt below them. While standing be- 
low the stair to be cleaned does cause the brush to be used with 
a pulling motion, it places the janitor in a better position to see 
the area to be swept. It also puts him in a position to see 
whether or not any dirt is being left on the stair. The practice 
of standing above the stair to be cleaned makes it difficult for 
the janitor to see the area to be cleaned and also causes him to 
work on a level below his feet. From experience it seems that 
the most economical work is done by those janitors using a 
floor dust mop or brush and who clean the stair above where 
they stand, pulling the dirt from one side of the stair to the 
other and then pulling the dirt down to the next stair. There 
seem to be fewer bumping noises made in sweeping the stair 
and less dirt left on the stair. This procedure becomes some- 
what complicated if the janitor finds an open banister on one 
side or on both sides of the stair. Oftentimes the presence of 
one banister will cause the janitor to use the sweeping tool in 
a left-handed manner or a manner opposite to that to which 
he is accustomed. Where open banisters are found on one side 
of the stair, the janitor can sweep the dirt across the tread to 
the other corner but where there are open banisters on both 
sides of the stairs he will find it necessary to pull the dirt from 
each end of the stair to the center where it may be pulled down 
on the next step. In cleaning stairs janitors should be particu- 
larly careful to get the dirt out of the corners and to avoid us- 



94 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

ing sweeping compounds or other material that might stain 
the stairs. The use of sweeping compound may be necessary on 
certain stairs but not on those stairs that are sealed. 

Gymnasium Units 

Gymnasium units usually have treated floors with a built-up 
surface on top of the wood. This surface of hard finish should 
not be exposed to sweeping compounds or oils of any type. 
Most gymnasium floors can be swept or cleaned by the use of 
the long head dust mop. As stated previously, it may be neces- 
sary to clean this room each morning. Since gymnasium floors 
get rather hard usage from the effect of basket ball and other 
play, those floors which are older and which have loose boards 
may give rise to an excessive amount of dust coming from the 
cracks between the boards. If the floor is old and has cracks it 
may be necessary to sweep with a brush which may aid in 
cleaning some of the dirt out of these cracks. The highly pol- 
ished surface of the gymnasium floor makes it essential that 
the janitor use a method in sweeping that does not leave any 
streaks of dirt across the floor. For this reason, even if he has 
used the brush to sweep up the dirt, he may find it desirable to 
use the dust mop to remove all traces of dirt or dust from the 
floor. The dust mop used on this floor should not have any 
treatment that would cause the floor to become slick. Although 
the janitor will probably mop the dressing rooms and toilet 
rooms adjacent to the gymnasium or in other parts of the build- 
ing frequently, he may also find it necessary to sweep these 
rooms daily. The janitor is indeed fortunate who has the co- 
operation of his teachers and physical education director in 
keeping the clothing of the children, waste paper, uniforms 
and apparatus off the floor so that the floor may be swept with 
a minimum of effort. 



DAILY FLOOR CLEANING 95 

Auditorium Units 

In some instances auditorium units are equipped with mov- 
able seating. If this movable seating has suitable protection on 
the bottom of the chair legs to prevent scratching the floor, it 
may be moved about to permit sweeping the floor, as is done 
in classrooms with movable seating. The auditorium having 
fixed seats presents a different problem in sweeping. Many of 
the auditorium floors slope towards the front which makes it 
somewhat easier for the janitor in sweeping. In those states 
that require an open aisle back of the seats and an open aisle 
between each bank of seats and the wall, the sweeping problem 
of the janitor is somewhat simpler. As a rule he finds it desir- 
able to sweep back of the back row of seats, sweeping the dust 
under the seats toward the front. He usually finds it necessary 
before sweeping the row of fixed seats to put down the seats on 
the row in front of the one to be swept. This becomes necessary 
because the back of the seat is farther from the floor when the 
seat is down ready for use than when the front of the seat is 
raised to provide passageway. Then carrying the brush in the 
method outlined under classroom sweeping, he proceeds to turn 
down the seats and sweep under each row as outlined above. 
If the aisle between seats is covered with a rug or carpet mat or 
other loose material he may find it desirable to roll this up be- 
fore sweeping. If it is not easily removed it may be necessary 
for him to sweep the aisle separately from the space under the 
seats. In sweeping the auditorium the janitor should be careful 
not to raise dust which will settle on curtains, light fixtures and 
the walls. He should also be careful to avoid bumping the 
furniture or the seats with his sweeping tools. 

Throughout the whole procedure of cleaning school floors 
it is anticipated that the janitor will carry the ever-faithful 



96 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

putty knife for the removing of gum from the chair backs, 
floors, and desks. It should also be understood that he must 
watch for loose seats, broken parts that might cause damage, 
or projections and splinters that might tear the clothing or ho- 
siery of the children. 

When the janitor has completed the cleaning of any floor he 
should look back over the area cleaned. If his task has been well 
done all dirt will have been removed from the floor. There will 
be no visible broom, brush, or mop marks. There will be no dirt 
in the corners or around the legs of seats or furniture. The floor 
should be clean enough that it will not soil the clothing of the 
children. When he leaves the room he will leave no tools or 
cleaning supplies in the room. 



Chapter 6 

Other Cleaning Duties 



/-pHERE ARE OTHER cleaning duties that must be cared for as 
J_ the need arises. Toilet and shower rooms, door and win- 
dow glass, blackboards and erasers must have frequent atten- 
tion. Dust must be removed from seats and building trim. 
Room walls and furniture must be dusted. 

Care of Toilet, Shower and Locker Rooms 

It seems impossible to overestimate the importance of proper 
care of the toilet and sanitary facilities in a school building. 
The health of the children may be vitally affected by the lack 
of sanitary facilities in the toilet rooms. Proper care is important 
to the appearance of the building, to the morale of the school, 
and to the habits of the pupils. Many school buildings which 
are otherwise pleasing in appearance are often unattractive in 
and around the toilet rooms. Obnoxious odors, marked and 
unattractive walls, waste paper on the floor, drippings of dirty 
water and soap in the lavatories indicate a state of general neg- 
lect in many of the toilet rooms. It is important that the health 
of the school child be protected. It is also important that the 
child be taught, through proper methods and suitable environ- 
ment, desirable health habits and bodily care. He should be pro- 
vided a place where he may care for the needs of his body with- 
out being forced to enter ill-smelling, unattractive places. The 

97 



98 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

building that has a dirty, odorous toilet room will probably be 
a dirty building. 

Not all the responsibility for the care of the toilet room rests 
upon the janitor. In many school buildings there is no janitress 
and the janitor finds it impossible to enter the toilet rooms used 
by the girls between the hours of eight and five. Some buildings 
have only women teachers who cannot freely enter the boys' 
shower and toilet rooms. The responsibility for toilet room 
care should be shared by the janitor, the teachers, and the prin- 
cipal. The principal of the building should arrange that certain 
teachers have definite obligations at various hours for super- 
vising toilet room control. Teachers having smaller pupils 
should instruct them on the use of the toilet room, on methods 
of flushing the stools, the use of supplies, and toilet room sani- 
tation. Since the janitor is not authorized to punish children 
for infraction of local regulations there should be some ar- 
rangement whereby he may secure the cooperation of the 
teachers in eliminating toilet room waste and the writing on 
walls. It may be desirable for the janitor to be in or near the 
toilet room for boys at times during recess periods. Because of 
the conditions under which he works, it requires much tact on 
the part of the janitor to be able to secure pupil cooperation in 
the care of the toilet rooms. 

The janitor should realize that a clean toilet room does not 
have obnoxious odors. He should understand that most toilet 
room odors arise from decaying or decayed fats and organic 
matter. Oftentimes this organic matter has lodged in crevices 
in stools or has adhered to dirty surfaces in the room or in the 
fixtures, thus permitting an odor to arise. Smooth impervious 
toilet room and fixture surfaces that are easily cleaned collect 
less of this waste than do rough surfaces. If the janitor does not 
have hard wall plaster or die on the lower part of the toilet 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 99 

room he should cover the surface with enamel paint. Toilet 
stalls either of wood or of metal should be covered with a paint 
or an enamel that prevents the adherence of filth to the surface. 
Floors and ceilings should have smooth surfaces that are im- 
pervious to moisture and odors. 

In many cases, the janitor will find it necessary to apply some 
finish to the floors and walls in order to give the protection de- 
sired. A type of fixture should be provided which does not 
have a rough surface to collect waste matter which may later 
cause odors. Light, and particularly sunlight, and ventilation 
are vital to toilet room sanitation. The janitor cannot depend 
on open window ventilation to provide the air movement 
needed in his toilet rooms. The toilet room vents should extend 
directly from the toilet room out through the roof so that odors 
may not be distributed to other parts of the building. These 
vents should be kept open. 

It should be understood that toilet rooms do not provide the 
greatest service unless supplies are available. Many supplies, 
particularly paper towels and soap, are wasted in the toilet 
rooms. The janitor will probably not have control of the pur- 
chase of these supplies, but he does have control of the distri- 
bution. He sees the waste that occurs. He also realizes that this 
waste is generally caused by a few pupils and not by all the 
pupils. However, if the waste is permitted to continue by a few 
pupils, others get careless. The janitor cannot afford to deny 
all pupils the supplies needed in order to punish a few wasteful 
pupils. He may, in cooperation with the teachers, develop a 
plan whereby pupils are taught proper use of the supplies. If 
certain pupils persist in waste, he may then report them to the 
principal. The type of paper and the type of fixture become im- 
portant factors in waste. Pupils often use three, four, or five 
towels when one would do. In many instances, an examination 



100 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

of the towel after it is used indicates that only a small part of 
the towel has been dampened. 

It is apparent that in toilet room control the use of fixtures 
which permit the rolling off of quantities of paper seems to 
encourage wastefulness and leads to unattractive toilet rooms. 
During recent years the inner fold towel and toilet paper dis- 
pensers have come on the market. In many cases these dis- 
pensers were designed for one particular type of filler, thus 
obligating the user of the fixtures to purchase paper from one 
certain house. This type of fixture should not be selected. In 
general, if roller type fixtures are used they should be of a type 
that checks, thus preventing the distribution of extensive lengths 
of paper. Soap dispensers can be regulated so that they do not 
drip soap on the lavatories. Waste of any type, and dirty toilet 
rooms seem to bear a close relationship. 

No set regulation can be developed for the cleaning of toilet 
rooms. Toilet rooms used frequently need to be cleaned more 
often than others. The general regulations are that toilet rooms 
should be kept clean. If this requires cleaning four or five times 
a day, they should be cleaned that often. Stools and fixtures 
should be kept clean. In some areas iron and other minerals in 
the water cause the fixtures to stain more quickly than in other 
areas. These stools should be cleaned more often. 

Floors, Walls and Woodwork 

Floors for the toilet room should be of impervious material. 
These should be smooth enough that they may be swept with 
a mop, or flushed with a hose as often as needed. There should 
be a drain in the floor to permit water to escape. In many cases 
this drain is through the floor urinals when such are provided. 
Floors should be swept daily and in most cases they should be 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 101 

mopped each week. The janitor should clean around all cor- 
ners, around the fixtures that are attached to the floor, and any 
other place where dirt might lodge. Floor should be mopped 
with hot water which has been broken down with sufficient 
T.S.P. to make an efficient cleaning liquid. Some janitors use 
ammonia in the mop water, but the T.S.P. is generally pre- 
ferred. It is often desirable to use a disinfectant in the mop 
water. Accumulations of dirt or waste matter should not be 
permitted on the toilet room floors. Scrubbing with hot water 
and a stiff brush may remove from corners and crevices dirt 
not reached in the mopping process. The janitor should not 
forget that fresh air is essential to toilet room sanitation. Win- 
dows may be left open at various times in order to insure a 
good supply of fresh air. Toilet stalls should be washed each 
week and door knobs, handles on fixtures, and other places 
where pupils may place their hands, should be wiped with a 
cloth which has been immersed in a disinfecting solution. Writ- 
ing and marks on stalls and walls should be removed as quickly 
as possible. It is desirable that the walls be painted (unless the 
walls are of glazed tile) and that this paint be renewed as 
needed. There seems to be much more tendency for pupils to 
mark on dark finish than on an attractive light colored finish. 
Light fixtures should be kept clean and the whole room should 
be as attractive as it is possible to make it. 

Drinking Fountains 

Dirty and stained drinking fountains are unattractive and 
unsanitary. These should be cleaned frequently. Since acids 
should not be used on the fountains, rust and other accumula- 
tions are usually removed with a cloth and a mild abrasive. 
Thorough rinsing is essential. 



102 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Toilet Sanitation 

As has been stated previously, many janitors attempt to cover 
up foul odors by other odors. The best provision for sanitation 
in the toilet rooms is cleanliness. Some disinfectants that are 
put in toilet bowls are oily and tend to cling to the side walls 
and may in turn collect accumulations of waste which cause 
odors. Deodorizing blocks and deodorizing crystals often are 
an indication of an odor that would not need to be covered up 
if the cause of the odor had been removed. Because of these 
facts, one of the best disinfectants for toilet rooms is some prep- 
aration like tri-sodium phosphate which will help dissolve the 
fats and make them easy to wash away. 

Plumbing Fixtures 

The janitor who has a first-class toilet room with suitable 
walls and adequate ventilation is fortunate. The janitor who 
has first-class toilet fixtures is also fortunate. The best toilet 
fixtures are of vitreous china. This china is impervious to most 
acids and chemicals. Enameled iron fixtures are subject to de- 
terioration, thus exposing the iron to the action of the chemicals 
and to other materials that pass through the fixture. When the 
finish in these fixtures becomes rough it is almost impossible 
to maintain them in a satisfactory condition. 

Toilet Stools 

Toilet stools should have a large water seal. With the large 
water seal there is less chance for waste to contact and stick to 
the sides of the stool before it is washed out. As stated previ- 
ously, the toilet stool that is of vitreous china may be cleaned 
with sodium bi-sulphate. A weakened solution of muriatic acid 
or T.S.P. in water may be used without damage to the stool. 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 103 

There is a tendency for the stools to collect a coat on the sides 
and throat of the stool. This coating is the cause of many of the 
foul odors arising from the stool. This coating should not be 
permitted to collect and if it has collected it should be removed. 
Some stools that otherwise appear clean have a coating of dirt 
up around and under the rim. This should be removed. Some 
janitors practice using a hand mirror to get a good view of the 
under side of the rim. Loose stools should be reset in putty. No 
leakage around the stool should be permitted. The flushing 
device should be kept in proper order and so adjusted that the 
stool will flush readily without using an excessive amount of 
water. Toilet stool cleaning may best be done by two means. 
One is the use of a scouring powder of pumice, volcanic ash, 
or tripoli with water. In some instances some of these powders 
are mixed with T.S.P. or a small amount of soap in order to 
give a washing effect along with the abrasive action. Only a 
small amount of powder will be needed. The stool should be 
well rinsed after washing. A mild solution of muriatic acid or 
sodium bi-sulphate may be used to remove rust stains from 
vitreous china stools. As stated previously many of the bowl 
cleaning compounds have a muriatic base. These should be 
placed in the stool and permitted to stand long enough to dis- 
solve the stains before washing the stool. On stools of enameled 
iron a mixture of T.S.P. and whiting or tripoli may be used. 
The janitor should use a stiff fiber brush that will reach down 
into the throat of the stool and up around the rim. He should 
not hesitate to use a cloth and his hands if necessary to clean 
the stool. Kerosene or heavy oils should not be used in stools. 
A plumber's friend, a suction pump, or a worm (snake) may 
be used to remove obstructions from the stool. The janitor 
should clean toilet seats at least once a week. After cleaning he 
should wipe them with a cloth on which he has sprinkled a 



104 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

disinfectant. He should remove cores from toilet paper or towel 
rolls as soon as empty so that pupils will not have an oppor- 
tunity to throw them into the stools. Receptacles should be pro- 
vided in the girls' toilet rooms for sanitary napkins and other 
waste. Teachers should teach the girls not to throw this waste 
material into the toilet stools. 

Urinals 

Urinals must be kept clean. Urinals of vitreous china may be 
cleaned by the process recommended for vitreous china toilet 
stools. Urinals of enameled iron may be cleaned with hot water 
and T.S.P. Iron stains and other accumulations may be removed 
by the use of a mild abrasive. In some instances it may be neces- 
sary to remove the strainer at the bottom of the floor urinals in 
order to clean the traps. Rough concrete or other porous floors 
near the urinals should be mopped frequently and scrubbed 
occasionally with hot water to which has been added some 
T.S.P. and some disinfectant. 

The janitor should remember that frequent cleaning of all 
toilet fixtures will prevent the accumulation of stains and heavy 
incrustations. Lavatories and sinks should be washed as often 
as needed to keep them clean. 

Cleaning of Glass 

Glass is installed in school buildings for three purposes. It 
is used to admit light to the schoolroom, to protect the contents 
of certain cases from dust, and at certain places as a decorative 
feature. To a great extent, it fails in all three of these purposes 
if not maintained in the proper manner. The janitor in the 
school building is responsible for the care of the glass in the 
building. He should realize that dirty windows may shut out 
fifteen to twenty-five per cent of the light that normally would 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 105 

enter the room through the windows. He should also realize 
that dirty windows detract from the appearance of the build- 
ing and that finger marks on glass in doors and cases are indi- 
cations of poor housekeeping. 

Time of Cleaning 

The frequency of cleaning will depend to a great extent upon 
local conditions and use. In certain buildings where outside 
dust and smoke cause dirt to settle on the windows they may 
need to be cleaned often. Basement or ground floor windows 
close enough to the ground to permit dirt to splash upon them 
may need to be cleaned more frequently than other windows 
in the building. It is generally considered necessary to wash 
outside windows three to four times each year. The inside of 
the windows may need to be washed more often. Many janitors 
practice washing transom glass and the inside of the window 
panes monthly or more often if needed. It is often advisable to 
wash glass in doors and cases each week. The glass in doors and 
cases may be cleaned by wiping with a moist chamois skin. In 
areas where sand and dust storms are common it may be diffi- 
cult to maintain glass in a satisfactory manner. The time of 
cleaning will depend upon local conditions, the use of the 
building, and the schedule of work for the janitor. Inside clean- 
ing, if done properly and with the proper tools, may be done 
at almost any time the room is unoccupied. Outside window 
cleaning will, as a rule, be done at the time the janitor can be 
away from his other work in the building for a period of time. 
Many janitors form the habit of cleaning windows on holidays, 
during vacations or at the end of certain weeks throughout the 
year. In some cases, it is found desirable to clean the windows on 
one side of the building during one week end and those on the 
other side during the next week end. It is not feasible to attempt 



106 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to clean the outside of the window panes during extremely cold 
weather. 

Methods 

There are many methods used for cleaning glass. There 
seems to be no one best method for cleaning glass panes of all 
sizes and in all locations. In cleaning large panes of outside 
glass, a few janitors use a hose or a brush and squeegee. This 
method is applicable to large plate glass areas, but is usually 
somewhat sloppy when applied to window panes. These meth- 
ods are most easily used when windows are near the ground 
level. It is not easy to use a long handle squeegee on windows 
on the second floor. For these windows, many janitors use a 
cheese cloth for washing and then dry the windows with a 
hand squeegee. Although this method lets water drop on the 
sills, it is about as rapid as any method for the larger paned 
windows and gives satisfying results. The third cleaning 
method used on outside windows is the use of two cheese 
cloths, one for washing and one for drying. This process seems 
slow and the cloth may leave some lint on the windows. The 
fourth method, and one that is practiced by many janitors, is 
the use of cheese cloth for washing, with the chamois skin for 
drying. This method seems to be used by more janitors than 
any other method for outside glass. 

Methods used for washing the glass on the outside of the 
building may not be practical for inside cleaning. The hose 
or the wet brush are not practical because of the amount of 
water that is permitted to run down over the sash and window 
stools. The two cloths or the cloth and the chamois may be 
used on the inside with satisfying results. Even the hand squee- 
gee on the inside of the glass seems to permit too much water 
to be scattered over the trim of the room. Again on the inside 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 107 

the use of two cloths does not seem to be as satisfactory as the 
use of the cloth and chamois skin. The janitor should remem- 
ber that the cloth is used for washing and the chamois skin is 
used for drying and polishing. Many janitors find it possible 
to do the work more rapidly and also find it necessary to run 
to the water pail less frequently if they fold the clean cheese 
cloth in several folds and then wet the cloth in the water. The 
fold of the cloth is then used to wash the first pane. The cham- 
ois skin, which has been wrung out and hung over the shoul- 
der, is used to dry the pane. The cheese cloth is then changed 
so that another side of the cloth is available and the next pane 
is washed. The janitor proceeds in this manner until the cloth 
is too dry to use or until all clean sides have been used. 

In all of the glass cleaning it has been found that rotary or 
circular movements take more time and do not produce as sat- 
isfactory results as do the vertical or horizontal strokes. Most 
janitors prefer to use back and forth (horizontal) strokes com- 
mencing at the top of the window making strokes from side 
to side and washing from the top of the window down. Janitors 
find it desirable to use a duster to remove the loose dirt from 
the windows before they attempt to wash. This makes it pos- 
sible to use the same wash cloth for a longer period without 
cleaning. It will also leave less dirt to be washed down upon 
the window sash. 

Glass in cases should be dusted frequently and washed as 
often as necessary. The janitor should watch glass in cases and 
in doors for fingerprints and grease marks. Washing case glass 
and door glass will be about the same as that for the inside of 
the windows, except that the doors will probably need to be 
washed more often. Transom sash may be cleaned by using the 
methods and tools recommended for the inside of the window 
panes. 



108 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Cleaning Agents 

Many cleaning agents have been used in the cleaning of glass. 
Kerosene is not used extensively in glass cleaning, for many 
janitors now feel that the kerosene leaves a film of oil on the 
glass which will in turn collect more dirt. Some janitors use 
ammonia in the cleaning water. Ammonia does aid in mak- 
ing the glass clear, but it has a tendency to darken putty when 
in contact with it and for this reason is not in general use. 
Many janitors put some alcohol in cleaning water. This seems 
to give satisfying results and does aid in cleaning the glass. A 
few janitors still use some sort of powder in cleaning glass. 
Any cake or powder form of cleaner must first be spread on the 
glass and then washed or wiped off. Cleaning results with 
powder do not seem to be superior to the other methods and 
the amount of work is almost double. In addition, the powder 
tends to collect around the corners of the panes or to fly off in 
powder form, which makes other cleaning necessary. It seems 
to be a waste of time and effort to attempt to put something on 
the window which must later be taken off. There are a number 
of patented cleaning liquids on the market, and while these 
seem to work in a satisfactory manner, they probably are little 
better than preparations that can be made locally by the janitor. 
Smoke and soot form a gum that is difficult to remove. Many 
janitors now prefer to put a tablespoonful of tri-sodium phos- 
phate in the pail of cleaning water before washing the glass. 
The T.S.P. aids in cutting greases and makes cleaning easier. 
There is no powder or solution in the water to collect on the 
window and if the solution is not made too strong, this prepa- 
ration will not affect the paint or finish of the window sash 
or window stool. Paint spots on the glass may be removed with 
a knife or with an old razor blade. If the paint is hard and 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 109 

is difficult to remove, it may be softened with a small amount of 
turpentine. 

In washing windows, the janitor should be careful not to 
have too much water on the cloths and should not allow water 
to run down over the sash or drip on surrounding surfaces. He 
should be careful to clean out all corners and to avoid leaving 
streaks on the glass. 

Safefy 

He should also avoid taking unnecessary personal risks. No 
janitor should be permitted to stand on open window ledges 
without the assistance of some protective device when washing 
windows. If the janitor has windows that are arranged so that 
they may be turned with the outside in when cleaning, he may 
avoid taking unnecessary risks. However, if he does not have 
such features, it will be necessary for him to clean the windows 
from the outside. The practice of attempting to clean the out- 
side of the panes by reaching up from the inside of the window 
is not satisfactory. For outside cleaning he should have a win- 
dow jack which will reach through the window. This jack 
should have claws or hooks which permit it to be attached 
rigidly to the window sill. The outside platform should have 
a square area of six or eight square feet, sufficient to permit the 
janitor to move around on it and to carry the cleaning pails. It 
is desirable that the inside of the platform be tipped with rub- 
ber so that the bumpers or ends of the platform will not mar 
the finish of the window. It is desirable to have a platform with 
a surrounding railing. This gives added protection. Window 
jacks of this type with a collapsible railing may be purchased. 
However, the janitor who is handy with tools may be able to 
make a satisfactory jack for his own use. In addition to the jack, 
it is desirable that the janitor have a safety belt. This belt is 



110 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

usually three or four inches wide and should have heavy straps 
extending to the side of the window where the ends may be 
snapped into hooks. In addition to this strap, there should be a 
second safety feature in the form of a rope which will also at- 
tach to the hooks at the side. These hooks should be rigidly 
attached to the masonry and window frame and should be 
tested frequently to determine whether they provide the safety 
needed. For cleaning the windows on the inside the janitor will 
need a step ladder. It is desirable that this step ladder be 
equipped with a platform either at the side or top to hold the 
pails and other equipment that must be used during the clean- 
ing process. 

After the janitor has cleaned the glass he should pause to 
look back over his work, preferably from the inside out towards 
the light. Any streaks or spots should be removed. All sash and 
sills should be kept clean. 

Blackboard Cleaning 

Clean, attractive blackboards add much to the appearance 
of the schoolroom. Dirty boards with chalk scattered over the 
floor detract from the appearance of the room and are an in- 
dication of poor housekeeping practices, both on the part of 
the teacher and the janitor. In many schools the responsibility 
for blackboard care is not clearly established by the school offi- 
cials. It should be understood that the cleaning of the black- 
board is an obligation of the janitor. It should also be under- 
stood that it is the duty of the teacher and the pupils to keep 
erasers and pieces of chalk of! the floor. As a rule, the teachers 
will have the blackboard erased before they leave the room each 
evening. However, since the janitor may wish to erase any 
marks left on the board, the teacher should place a "DO NOT 
ERASE" sign near any work to be retained. Although the 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES m 

teacher should be expected to give some attention to blackboard 
care, it is the duty of the janitor to complete the cleaning proc- 
ess. 

Authorities do not agree on the procedure to be followed in 
the care of blackboards, either in the methods to be used or in 
the frequency and time of cleaning. The frequency of cleaning 
will depend somewhat on the use. In grade rooms where the 
boards have much use, they may need to be cleaned twice a 
week. In other rooms where the boards are used little, cleaning 
weekly or twice each month may be sufficient. The time of 
cleaning will depend upon the methods used. 

Cleaning Methods 

Some school officials still recommend that blackboards be 
washed with a mixture of water, alcohol, and kerosene. The 
alcohol may be harmful to the finished surfaces of manufac- 
tured boards. The kerosene, or any other oil, may make the 
board slick. If boards are to be washed, a small amount of 
T.S.P. or of vinegar in the water will probably give the best 
results. Where water is used, most administrators recommend 
that the board be cleaned with horizontal or vertical strokes of 
a bath towel folded and wrapped around a stick and used as a 
swab or laid along the forearm and used in the same manner. 
In these cases, the board is washed from the top down. If the 
board is somewhat rough, the use of a towel laid along the 
forearm seems to give more satisfactory results. The rotary mo- 
tion of cleaning leaves streaks. The use of a sponge and water 
usually spills much water upon the floor and along the chalk 
tray. Any method of washing may soften the chalk (calcium 
carbonate) and binder leaving a film of this mixture in the 
pores of the board. Using large amounts of water to remove 
this film may permit water to run down back of the mouldings 



112 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

or to drip on the floor. While washing is not recommended as 
the best method of cleaning blackboards, it is understood that 
some boards will be washed. If the janitor does wash a black- 
board he should wipe the board until no moisture remains on it 
or in the pores. This requires that he go over the board twice, 
but unless this is done washing may have more harmful effects. 
During recent years a new practice of blackboard cleaning 
has been developed. This is what is sometimes known as dry 
cleaning. With this method, the blackboard is erased as for any 
other cleaning and then is wiped clean with a dry chamois skin. 
This process is recommended by the blackboard manufacturers 
and is considered effective by almost all janitors who have used 
it. If the chamois skin is taken out of the room before being 
dusted this method does not distribute the chalk dust in the 
air in the room. When using the chamois skin in cleaning the 
board it will not be necessary to clean the chalk tray until the 
board has been wiped clean. When using this process the teach- 
ers and pupils will use the erasers as usual and the janitor will 
do the cleaning with the chamois skin. With this process, the 
janitor does not have to carry pails of water and other cleaning 
appliances into the room. 

Genera/ Care of B/acJcfaoards 

It is essential that the janitor know the purpose and use of 
the blackboard. He should also know that excessive amounts 
of blackboard absorb light that may be needed in the room. 
If the room has more blackboard space than needed he may 
find it desirable to cover some of this space with tack board or 
fiber board. We speak of the board as "blackboard" while in 
fact many of them are not black. Some of the schools are using 
green boards. No one seems to know the best color for boards 
but in general the blackboard with a slight gray tint is better 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 113 

than an intense black color. The intense black board seems to 
provide too much contrast in color to make it easy for the child 
to visualize the words written on the board. For this reason, the 
board cleaned with a chamois skin and which has a rather gray- 
like color, seems easier on the eyes than do the boards that have 
been washed. 

The janitor should know how to treat the boards. When the 
board is purchased and installed or after it has been washed 
(if ever) he should break it in before it is used for writing. In 
breaking it in he should cover the whole board with chalk by 
rubbing over it a piece of chalk held parallel to the board. 
When this is erased he has a smooth even appearing board. 
Future chalk marks are more easily erased. 

Regardless of the type of board, it is understood that the 
board is effective only if it has a bite to rake off some of the 
chalk that is drawn across it. If the board becomes smooth or 
glossy it loses its bite. Chalk is composed partly of calcium car- 
bonate held together with a binder. This binder is usually a 
glue. It is contended that when boards are washed the glue re- 
maining on the board may be washed into the pores of the 
board, thus filling them up and making the board slick. Slick 
boards make writing difficult and present a glossy surface 
which reflects light into the eyes of the pupils. The effect of 
this glare and of other blackboard defects may seriously affect 
usefulness of the boards and may place strain on the eyes of 
the pupils. Old boards that cannot be resurfaced in a satisfac- 
tory manner should be replaced by new boards. 

In the cleaning of blackboards the janitor should wipe the 
dust trays and leave the board, chalk trays, and erasers in a 
neat condition. The cleaning of chalk trays is made easier if 
the janitor has removable dust trays or if he has a vacuum 
cleaner. As a rule, the chalk tray is cleaned and wiped with a 



114 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

dry cloth which may be followed with a damp cloth if desired. 
Water should not be used frequently in the dust trays. 

When the janitor has finished his work on the blackboard, 
he should stand back and view the board from the front and 
the side. If any streaks appear or if the board appears gummy, 
it should be recleaned. He should also make a hasty examina- 
tion of the erasers that have been cleaned and of the chalk trays. 
If these remain dusty, his task is not completed and more work 
is necessary in order to make these facilities ready for the use 
of the teachers and the pupils. 

Cleaning Erasers 

The dusting of erasers is one of the most undesirable tasks 
of janitorial work. In too many cases, the dusting of erasers is 
left to pupils who take them out and beat them on the side of 
the house. While the pupils should give attention to house- 
keeping in the school, they are not obligated and perhaps 
should not be permitted to do the eraser dusting, at least under 
practices ordinarily found. The dust may be harmful to the 
respiratory tracts of many children. No one seems to be able 
to state how often erasers should be dusted. In rooms where 
they are used frequently they may be dusted each day. In other 
rooms they may be dusted weekly. Erasers that are used in 
rooms having a dust trough tray will not need to be dusted as 
often as other erasers. 

Methods of Cleaning 

There are several methods of cleaning erasers. Probably the 
best method is the vacuum system where the eraser may be 
passed over the intake or the suction of a vacuum system. Tests 
seem to indicate that these erasers are well cleaned. However, 
many janitors do not have vacuum cleaning systems and must 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 115 

use some other method. Almost every janitor can obtain one 
of the hand operated eraser cleaners. Some of these have rotary 
brushes and vacuum fans to take the dust away. These cause 
less dust and do better work than do most other types of 
cleaner. These should be equipped with fiber revolving 
brushes. Other cleaning methods are what might be termed 
hand methods. They include the use of a stiff brush, the rub- 
bing of erasers together, the beating of erasers together, etc. 
None of them seem to be very effective but when the janitor has 
no other tools he may have to use one of these methods. In some 
instances janitors have erected a cleaning rack of hardware 
cloth on which they beat the erasers. 

Although it is a generally recognized fact that fire box doors 
to the furnace should not be left open, this is often times the 
only spot that the janitor can have a draft to pull the chalk 
dust away from him while he dusts erasers. If this is true, and 
if the janitor has no eraser cleaning device, he probably would 
be justified in leaving the door open long enough to clean his 
erasers. He should have extra sets of erasers that he may leave 
clean erasers in the room when he picks up the dirty ones. He 
may then dust the dirty set and have them ready for replace- 
ment in other rooms. 

Dusting 

School buildings which are cleaned daily with vacuum clean- 
ers, or those where the floors are cleaned with dust mops, will 
not have excessive amounts of dust spread into the air by the 
cleaning process. However, the dust from the outside air and 
from that used in ventilation will enter the room and settle on 
the walls and the furniture. This dust may become distinctly 
harmful to the health of the pupils, many of whom have re- 
spiratory weaknesses which may be irritated by the dust. Dust 



116 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

on the furniture or any part of the room detracts from the 
appearance of the room. No good housekeeper will permit this 
dust to remain on the furniture and on the various parts of the 
room. It is a part of the duty of the janitor to remove this dust. 
In many cases teachers and pupils keep dust cloths and dust a 
part of the furniture. While this may be good housekeeping 
practice for the pupils, and while there is no objection to their 
doing this type of work, this does not in any way release the 
janitor from his obligation to maintain a clean room, free from 
dust. The amount of dust accumulated will depend to some 
extent on atmospheric conditions, on the methods of cleaning 
the building, and on the condition of the clothing of the chil- 
dren. If their clothing is dirty and much dirt is tracked in, 
there is likely to be much dust in the room. If the heating 
system is of a fan driven type and is not equipped with a filter 
more dust will accumulate. Any method of sweeping that stirs 
the dust into the air may cause much dust to settle on the furni- 
ture. One of the tasks of the janitor is to keep this dirt out of 
the building. He will not be able to prevent the infiltration of 
dust through the ventilating ducts, but he can prevent the in- 
filtration of dust and smoke through the heating plant (this 
applies particularly to a hot air heating plant). He can also 
provide foot scrapers and brushes where the children may re- 
move the mud from their shoes before they come into the build- 
ing. He may be able to secure the cooperation of the teachers 
in preventing pupils from carrying excessive amounts of dirt 
into the building. 

Time 

Most janitors do their dusting in the morning. However, the 
work schedule which permits the janitor to sweep classrooms 
during the day at periods when they are not in use may make 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 117 

it possible for him to dust a number of the rooms before he 
leaves the building each evening. This reduces the burden of 
morning dusting. Classroom furniture, entrance doors, door 
knobs, stair landings, and other places where pupils sit or 
where they may have their hands should be dusted daily. Cases, 
windows, window stools, and other places the pupil may touch 
should be dusted as often as needed. In many cases, these are 
dusted each week. More remote places, like the tops of picture 
moulding, ledges, the tops of bookcases, in and around radia- 
tors and Venetian blinds may be dusted monthly or five or 
six times each school year. Each janitor should set up a sched- 
ule of dusting for his own building. This schedule should be 
worked out with the principal in charge of the building. The 
teacher should understand that the janitor is to be permitted 
in the room at the time designated for the purpose of dust- 
ing. 

Too/s 

Many different tools have been used in dusting. At one time, 
the janitor made extensive use of the feather duster which 
stirred up the dust but did not remove it from the room. During 
recent years, many janitors have used cloths for dusting. These, 
if used in a flipping method are little superior to the feather 
duster. If a cloth is used, some material like cheese cloth or 
cotton flannel is preferred. Old rags often have heavy seams, 
buttons, or hooks which may mar the surface to be dusted. 
The duster preferred by many janitors today is known as a 
sanitary duster. This is composed of a slip-on mitten to be used 
on the hand or on a wire frame. The head of this duster con- 
sists of heavy canvas into which are looped strands of cotton 
string. The head of this duster is usually ten or twelve inches 
long and the handle about the same length. The duster with 



118 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

the handle or head too long is somewhat cumbersome and 
difficult to use. 

Methods 

In dusting classrooms with fixed seats, it is desirable that the 
janitor go to the rear of the room and proceed up the aisle, 
dusting first the back of the desk next to him, then the top of 
the desk in front, and proceed to the next desk. Some janitors 
attempt to use a duster in either hand. In general the use of two 
dusters does not produce results that are satisfactory. With the 
sanitary duster not more than two sweeps across the desk will 
be necessary to complete the dusting. Various types of dusters 
are available for the purpose of dusting slats in Venetian blinds. 
Some janitors find it easy to dust the tops of exposed pipes 
and picture moldings with a duster made by inserting a long 
handle in the bottom of a short string floor mop. 

No duster should be used after it becomes soiled. The janitor 
should have several duster heads for each handle and should 
replace each soiled head with a clean one as soon as it becomes 
dirty. Dirty duster heads should be washed in a solution of 
warm water and neutral soap and hung up to dry. Before the 
duster head is quite dry, a small amount of furniture polish or 
wax may be sprayed into the head. It will then be ready for use 
as soon as dry. Dust cloths may be maintained with a similar 
treatment. The janitor should carry a dust cloth even when he 
has the sanitary duster, that he may use it in corners and other 
places that cannot be reached easily with the duster head. 

When the janitor has completed his work, he should look 
back over the room to see if any dust remains. He should 
frequently make a test with a piece of clean white cheese cloth 
or linen to see if any dust may be picked up on it from the 
desks or on other parts of the building. If dust is picked up on 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 119 

this cloth, the surface is dirty and should be redusted. Furni- 
ture, seats, and desks which remain dirty or dusty will soil 
the clothing and hands of the children. 

The teacher should keep her desk clear so that it may be 
dusted. She should teach the pupils to leave their desks in a 
suitable condition for dusting. This means that books and 
pencils should be put away each evening. A few friendly con- 
ferences with the teacher will be of value in securing the co- 
operation desired. 

Cleaning Classroom Walls and Ceilings 

It is important that the classroom walls be clean and attrac- 
tive. Soiled walls do not reflect light. They may cause rooms to 
seem dark and gloomy. Dirty walls are health hazards and are 
indicative of poor housekeeping practices. 

Types of Surfaces 

The work of the janitor in cleaning walls is made more com- 
plex by the many types of wall surfaces found in school build- 
ings. These range from sand floated untreated plaster to glazed 
tile, unglazed tile, oil painted surfaces, those treated with a 
water mixed paint, linoleum, and those covered with cork or 
fiber board. This variety of surfaces makes necessary a number 
of cleaning methods. Some of these surfaces cannot be washed 
while others may be washed at will. On some of them only 
clear water may be used while on others a strong cleaning 
solution may be used. 

Frequency of Cleaning 

The need for cleaning will depend on the type of surface, the 
location, the use of the room, and outside conditions. In smoky 



120 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

areas or in buildings where smoke and dirt enter the room from 
the heating plant, cleaning should be done often. 

The tools for wall cleaning will vary. A step ladder, sponges, 
pails, and clean water are essential. Cheese cloth or clean rags 
may be used. Brushes or mops are desirable. A dust mop, or a 
cloth spread over a floor brush may be used. 

Adaptation to Surfaces 

On glazed tile or similar surfaces a damp cloth will provide 
all the cleaning necessary. The use of mild cleaning compounds, 
however, will do little harm to these surfaces. Unglazed tile 
may be washed, but not so easily as the glazed tile. Some scour- 
ing or cleaning compound may be necessary for any oils that 
may be on the wall. 

On marble surfaces clean water and a sponge will clean 
without harm to the polish. Strong cleaning solutions should 
never be used. Some janitors clean marble surfaces by applying 
a starch paste which is later removed carrying the dirt with it. 
This may mar the finish. 

Untreated smooth or sand-floated plastered walls may be 
washed. In doing this the janitor should be very careful not to 
saturate the plaster which may absorb some of the water. In 
general, untreated plastered walls are washed only in order to 
remove accumulations of dirt before applying paint. Portland 
or Keene's cement plaster will stand washing better than will 
gypsum plaster. 

Painted Walls 

Until recently walls painted with water-mixed paint could 
be washed only when the old paint was to be removed and a 
new paint applied. Some of the newer paints of this type may 
be washed by using water with a mild cleaning agent. On these 



OTHER CLEANING DUTIES 121 

walls a detergent similar to T.S.P. is better than soap which may 
require rinsing to remove the soap. Oil paints may be washed 
without difficulty. In cleaning surfaces of this type only a mild 
cleansing agent may be used. A strong solution may dim the 
surface. The janitor should realize that each cleaning or wash- 
ing removes some of the paint and that repainting is necessary 
at regular intervals. Many schools have developed a practice of 
painting one year, washing once during the second year. They 
wash again in the third year and repaint during the fourth year. 
In a few cases washing is done on alternate years after painting. 
Then if the walls are washed twice painting is done each six 
or seven years. This practice permits spreading the painting 
program so that a part of the rooms may be repainted each 
year. During recent years school boards have practiced placing 
a starch film over all new paint. This film remains until the 
first washing which opens up a fresh paint surface. The painted 
surface is then washed once more when dirty before repaint- 
ing. This practice lengthens the life of the paint and provides 
attractive wall surfaces. 

Other Surfaces 

Linoleum wall surfaces may be cleaned with a damp cloth. 
Fiber board walls and ceilings cannot be cleaned by washing. 
Some of these surfaces and cork tackboard can be cleaned by 
rubbing with corn meal or some similar material. When pos- 
sible, it is better to clean than to paint these surfaces, since paint 
may destroy some of the acoustical properties. 

Cleaning Methods 

Some janitors contend that there is less streaking if they start 
at the bottom of the wall and wash to the top. However, many 
janitors start at the top and wash down. The washing is usually 



122 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

done with a sponge which must be rinsed frequently to pre- 
vent streaking. The washing is done with perpendicular or 
horizontal strokes. Some janitors hold a second sponge in the 
other hand and follow the first cleaning with this to remove 
streaks. The removal of all sponge marks and streaks is im- 
portant. The janitor should avoid having the sponge too wet. 
The dirty water should not drip on the floor or wood trim. The 
water must be changed frequently. Where a cleaning com- 
pound is used on a wall, the janitor should clean only a small 
space at a time and then rinse. Both of these regulations are 
important and should be followed. 

Wood trim, baseboard, window stools, and doors may be 
washed as other painted surfaces. They should be wiped fre- 
quently with a moist cloth or a cloth treated with a good grade 
of furniture polish. 



Chapter 7 

General Care of the School Pknt 



JANITOR HAS many duties in caring for the school plant. 
-L He is responsible for the care of the yards, the electric serv- 
ice system, the window shades, and the flag. 

Care of Walks, Lawns and Play Areas 

Home owners know the value of well kept lawns and walks. 
More and more school officials are recognizing the value to the 
school system of well kept lawns and properly placed shrubbery. 
Many patrons seem to appreciate attractive school yards; often- 
times they obtain their most vivid impressions of the school by 
the appearance of the exterior of the building and the yards. 
For many citizens, the school yard and grounds represent the 
showcases of the janitor. Many school janitors make their school 
grounds the beauty spot of the neighborhood. In some cases, 
school grounds were laid out before the janitor took charge 
and in too many cases no plan was followed. During the years 
that the janitor cares for the grounds he can make changes 
and may eventually change the original design of the grounds. 
Attractive school grounds and yards don't "just happen." They 
are the result of careful planning and painstaking care. The 
yards, walks, and building locations should be so laid out that 
they lend themselves to planning. In general, it is desirable to 
have the playground to the side or rear of the building so that 
it is easier to maintain an attractive lawn at the front of the 

123 



124 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

buildings. Walks and driveways should be laid out to accom- 
modate traffic. Trees may be planted around the border or in 
certain selected areas away from the building. Trees should not 
block a view of the building from the main street or road. 
Neither should they be planted close enough to the building 
that their shade may cut oft needed light in the building. Shrub- 
bery may be planted in selected corners, along walkways, or 
driveways, and in many cases may be banked near the build- 
ing. Hedges are attractive if properly cared for. If they cannot 
be cared for, it is best that they be destroyed, since unattractive 
and poorly kept hedges do not add to the appearance of the 
grounds. Where possible, walks should be laid in the nearest 
direct line of traffic for pupils. Heavy traffic on one particular 
street may make it desirable not to have walks leading to this 
section of the grounds. If it becomes necessary to locate play 
areas at the front of the building, they can be segregated from 
the building by walks, drives, or decorative shrubbery. Play 
areas should be laid out for the games played on the school 
ground. In many cases it will be necessary to provide special 
play areas including sand or sawdust boxes and teeter boards 
for the small children. In planning a school site, advantage 
should be taken of the slope of the ground. In some cases it will 
be necessary to build a slight terrace to prevent washing on 
steep slopes. In planning, it is desirable to know the location of 
sewers, drains, and of yard hose connections. 

Planting 

One of the tasks that will fall to the lot of the janitor is new 
planting or replanting of the trees, shrubbery, flowers, and grass 
on the school yard. In many cases, he will have little to say 
concerning the type of tree or shrub selected. In other cases, 
he will be given an opportunity to see what he can do in de- 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 125 

veloping an attractive school yard. He should learn to make use 
of the plants adapted to his locality. Some trees, shrubs, and 
flowers are particularly adapted to certain areas in the United 
States. The lists given here include many of the plants adapted 
for use in the central part of the United States. The state Agri- 
cultural College is always of real help in such matters. 

Trees 

In general, trees should be selected that are native to, or which 
do well in, a particular locality. Honey locust and other trees 
which tend to spread rapidly through runner or root sprouts 
are not desirable. For rapid growth, the white poplar, syca- 
more, or silver leaf maple are considered desirable. However, 
these trees break in the wind, and for this reason have not 
found favor in school yards. Some of the trees liked for school 
yards are elm, hard maple, ash, and the various types of native 
oak. Trees should be planted at a depth that is approximately 
the same as that in which they grew before being dug up for 
transplanting. In general, the tree should be planted in a hole 
that is sufficiently large to permit a full spread of the roots that 
are attached to the tree. If the soil is packed, it may be necessary 
to loosen it, either by blasting or digging a large hole before 
the tree is planted. When planting the tree, the soil should be 
worked down around the roots. It is desirable to cut off a part 
of the top of the tree at the time of planting so that the leaves 
will not make too heavy a demand for food and water before 
the roots have had an opportunity to develop. In planting trees, 
the janitor should recognize the various needs of different trees. 
When a wide spreading shade tree is desired, the trees should 
be planted some distance apart. If a lofty stately effect is de- 
sired, such trees as the poplar or pine should be planted in 
clusters. 



126 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Shrubs 

The type of shrub to be planted will depend to some extent 
on the location and the need. Shrubs are often used to mask 
unsightly places and to break the lines between the building 
and the lawn at the front. They should not be planted where 
they will shut out the sunlight from the classrooms. The type 
of shrubbery selected will depend upon the use and location. 
Some tall shrubs like lilac, mock orange, or snowball are often 
planted at the rear while the shorter shrubs are planted at the 
front. This intermingling of the shrubbery provides a more at- 
tractive bank. Shrubbery which grows eight or ten feet high 
should be planted five or six feet apart, while some of the 
medium height shrubbery, such as Japanese Rose, Spirea, and 
red dogwood, may be planted three or four feet apart. Some 
of the low growing shrubbery, such as Japanese Barberry, may 
be planted two or three feet apart. The method of planting 
will depend somewhat on the type of shrubbery. As a rule, 
shrubbery used in banks should not be set in rows, but in a 
rather haphazard fashion with the smaller shrubs at the front. 
Privet, when used as a hedge, may be set in trenches which 
places it in a straight row and makes an attractive hedge. It is 
desirable to scatter a small amount of humus in the trenches 
when planting. Vines which are related to shrubbery are often 
planted along old fences or stone walls to mask them from 
view. The planting of vines around the school building to climb 
up the walls helps provide an attractive wall, but there is some 
question whether the practice is good. 

Flowers 

Many school janitors do not know how to care for flower 
beds. Some of them have never grown any flowers. The average 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 127 

janitor will do well to depend upon the advice of the florist in 
the planting of flower beds. He does need to know that flowers 
are usually planted in beds or along borders. As a rule, sporadic 
planting of flowers over the yards is to be discouraged. He also 
needs to know that certain flowers are classed as annuals and 
are reproduced from seed. Some of the most popular seed an- 
nuals for school yards are poppies, snapdragons, sweet peas, and 
dahlias. In order to get early spring color, many schools set out 
beds of bulbs during the months of October and November. 
Popular bulbs for school yards are narcissus, tulips, jonquils, 
and crocus. Some of the popular perennial flowers, that is, 
those that do not need to be planted annually, are the peony, 
larkspur, chrysanthemum, and iris. 

Lawns 

In planting and designing school lawns, one of the most im- 
portant factors is a suitable seed bed. Many school yards are 
composed of fresh dirt from excavations and have a bed of 
broken concrete, plaster, and brick which makes it difficult to 
establish a suitable seed bed. Before planting it is necessary that 
the bed be thoroughly pulverized and that it contain enough 
humus to support the growth of the plants. The most common 
grasses for school yards are Kentucky blue grass, red top, white 
clover, and Bermuda grass. A grass that forms a complete sod 
should be used. Weeds are inclined to grow more rapidly than 
the grass, and nurse crops are often planted with the grass. The 
type of nurse crop depends on the time of sowing. Lawns are 
usually seeded early in the spring or in late fall. The nurse crop 
should not be heavy or rank enough to shade the grass crop 
that is to follow. The nurse crop should be removed after it has 
served its purpose. The grass should be given a chance to de- 
velop. In developing and planning school lawns, the basic re- 



128 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

quirements are plenty of humus and moisture. If fertilizers 
are used, it is probable that some nitrogen fertilizer, such as am- 
monium sulphate, cotton seed meal, or a complete mixture, will 
be needed. 

Care of Trees, Shrubs and Lawns 

So many factors are involved that only a brief description 
can be given here. 

Tree Care 

The practice of cutting off the heads of trees every three or 
four years is not recommended by experts in the field and 
should not be attempted by an inexperienced worker. It may be 
necessary to do some pruning of the trees. If this is done, at- 
tention should be given to the prevention of crotches that 
may split. Attention should also be given to the removal of 
old snags or stubs of limbs. It will be necessary for the janitor to 
provide water for the trees in many cases. Both the trees and the 
grass under them compete for soil water, and a lack of water 
may hinder their growth. Trees that are located in crowded 
areas or with sidewalks around them sometimes do not get 
enough air and water. In these cases it may be necessary to 
sink a tile from the surface down to the roots in order to pro- 
vide both water and air. Trees are subject to a number of 
diseases and pests. Some of these pests can be controlled by 
sticky bands around the trees; others by burning out the nests, 
and still others by spraying. The treatment will depend on the 
type of pest. 

Shrubbery Core 

In general, the care required for shrubs will be cultivation 
and the supplying of plenty of water. The shrubs which grow 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 129 

in clumps need little pruning. If there is a need for pruning, 
cut out some of the old wood so that the young shoots may de- 
velop near the base of the plant. Honeysuckle and quince send 
out many shoots from the base, and pruning of these new 
shoots may be necessary. Snowball, barberry, and spirea are 
usually left in their natural state while shrubs like hydrangea, 
hedge, and dogwood are often trimmed. The time of trimming 
shrubs other than the hedge is not very important. Most janitors 
find it desirable not to prune until after the blossoms have 
fallen. Hedges are usually pruned three to five times per year, 
depending upon the growth. In pruning, the hedge should be 
lined up by the use of string until the desired shape is obtained. 
Then it may be maintained in this shape. If the janitor is not 
familiar with the methods of pruning, he should obtain out- 
side assistance until he has learned the principles to be fol- 
lowed. Occasionally it is necessary to spray certain shrubs and 
hedges for diseases. Privet and other hedges in use are suscep- 
tible to winter kill. Some janitors now mulch these hedges 
during the winter with leaves or straw, removing this in the 
spring before the first cultivation of the shrubs. 

Lawn Care 

The care of lawns often proves one of the most difficult tasks 
of the janitor. Many lawn grasses are particularly susceptible to 
drouth conditions. The root systems are limited, and where the 
lawns are mowed frequently, the mowing prevents the building 
up of plant resistance. In addition, the lawns are subjected to 
damage from pests, such as moles, ants, and worms. They are 
often infested with noxious weeds. Many janitors may spend 
a summer developing a lawn, only to have an excellent crop 
of dandelions next spring. 

After the lawn is first sowed, the janitor will probably find 



130 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

that some spots are bare. He must recultivate and reseed these 
spots, being careful to provide good seed, free from weed seed. 
After the lawn is started, he will find it necessary to mow as 
needed. Before mowing the lawn, it may be necessary to roll 
the lawn. When mowing a new lawn, the grass should not be 
cut too close to the ground. Later, mowing will depend upon 
weather and soil conditions. If the janitor has a large area to 
cover, he probably will have a power mower. He should mow 
under the shrubs and along the walk to give the whole yard a 
neat appearance. He should fill trenches and drains before 
mowing. The yard should never present an unsightly ap- 
pearance because of the lack of care. The addition of organic 
matter will increase the water holding capacity of the soil and 
make it easier to cultivate. The organic matter may be supplied 
by hauling a good black dirt to the site or by adding fertilizer. 
New soil should be free from noxious weed seeds. 

Weeds and Pesfs 

The types of weeds that grow will indicate some of the soil 
conditions. For instance, sorrel often indicates a sour soil. In 
caring for the lawn, the janitor will find it necessary to trap 
moles, to use oil or some other agent to kill ants, and he may 
find it necessary to put out poisoned mash to kill worms. In 
each case, the remedy will depend on the type of pest. Some of 
the most common lawn weeds are dandelions, buckthorn, 
plantain, sheep sorrel, knot weed, and crab grass. Some weeds 
are deep rooted and stand upright. Some of these are kept in 
check by mowing. Other weeds like crab grass have a tendency 
to creep along the ground and to reproduce from the point 
where the joints make contact with the ground. Weeds like the 
dandelion produce a seed that is wind carried. Hence, the elimi- 
nation of the dandelion in the yard supervised by the janitor 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 131 

may have little effect if the neighbors grow a good crop of 
seed. Many patented killers, including ammonium sulphate, 
crude oil, and other materials, have been developed for the 
killing of weeds. In most cases, the killing agent also destroys 
the grass. In a few cases, a spray or a squirt gun is used to apply 
the killing solution directly on the weed. For many weeds, 
digging is the best method of elimination. This is true of the 
deeper rooted weeds, but is not effective unless all the roots are 
destroyed. Constant care and attention, as well as some pride in 
its appearance, are essential if the janitor is to develop and 
maintain an attractive school yard. 

Yard Cleaning 

He must prevent an accumulation of waste paper around the 
building and other places in the yard. He may find it desirable 
to place waste paper containers at various points in the yard and 
near places where pupils may collect during the fall months to 
eat lunch. He should make a daily round of the yards to pick 
up loose paper. Janitors have found that the use of a pointed 
stick or a stick with a nail at the end and a sack to be hung 
over the shoulder provides about the best method of collecting 
paper from the yards. It may be necessary to remove leaves from 
the yards. This may involve raking the leaves into piles and 
having them hauled away. Leaves should not be burned on 
grass spots. 

Walks 

One task that is with the janitor all the year is the care of 
walks. During the summer time he will find it necessary to 
make some repairs on various walks. It may be necessary to 
trim around the walks. A hoe with a straight shank or a 
specially developed spade may be used to trim the sod back 



132 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

from the walks in order to provide an attractive appearance. 
The janitor should remove snow and ice from the walks as 
soon as possible. As a rule, he can remove the snow before it 
becomes trampled with the use of a snow shovel or pusher he 
makes for that purpose. If the snow and ice develop so rapidly 
that they cannot be removed and if the walks become slick, he 
may use salt to melt the ice. Some janitors use sand on icy spots. 
This does aid in preventing slipping but it also provides a 
place where sand is picked up on the feet and carried into the 
building to cut the floor finish. The use of cinders or sand is 
sometimes objectionable for this reason. If they are used, an 
ample supply of brushes and brooms should be provided that 
this sand may be brushed off the shoes before the children come 
into the building. Some janitors provide tow sacks and lay 
them on the walks that become slippery. These seem to be of 
some value. The janitor should be watchful and should repair 
walks as soon as he finds broken places. He should also be care- 
ful to protect from the hazards of slick walks. While the school 
district probably will not be liable for damage from injury from 
walks, the janitor should take all possible care to prevent in- 
juries arising from bad walks. 

Care of Light and Electric Service 

During recent years there has been a great increase in the 
electric current used in the school buildings. The demand for 
more illumination and an increased demand for power for fans, 
heating units, pumps, lifts, potato peelers, dishwashers, solder- 
ing irons, and power machines for industrial shops has multi- 
plied the current consumption many times. Because of the 
nature of electricity it presents a number of potential hazards 
to both people and property. Most light current is brought to 
school buildings with a voltage of 110. Power current may be 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 133 

220 to 440 volts. While pupils, teachers, and janitors are ac- 
quainted with the use of electricity, few of them exercise suffi- 
cient care in its use. The janitor as building custodian has an 
obligation to help conserve electrical energy, to protect against 
electrical hazards, and to aid in securing adequate illumination 
from the electric lights in use. 

Wires and Fusing 

Many of the older buildings were wired before the present 
janitor came on the job. Some of these wires are too small to 
carry the present load. The increased consumption of power 
has added to the overloading. In some cases, the old wiring and 
the newer extensions are not properly installed. Some of the 
wires are insulated with a poor grade of rubber with no protec- 
tive braid to add strength. Much of the old knob and tube 
work is not installed properly and the wires have sagged until 
they are in contact with combustible surfaces. When wires are 
overloaded they tend to become hot. In order to give protection 
against this resistance and heat, fuses are placed in the line. 
These fuses are designed to serve as weak spots in the line. They 
are supposed to offer less resistance than the rest of the line and 
to give way before the line becomes too hot. Oftentimes a short 
in the line or an overload may cause these fuses to blow out. 
When this happens several times, some janitors may replace 
the blown fuses with heavier ones. This practice closes the 
weak (fuse) gap and throws added resistance back on the line, 
but when an overload again occurs, the line may become hot 
and a fire may be the result. All fuse panels should be marked, 
showing the size of fuse to be used in each line when installed. 
If these panels are not marked, the janitor should seek the ad- 
vice of a competent electrician and mark each fuse socket. The 
janitor should never use a heavier fuse than that designated for 



134 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

that particular line. Neither should he wire around the fuse 
or place a coin back of a fuse to prevent a break at that point. 
The lines in each panel box should be marked, showing the 
room or lights served by each line. Many janitors keep extra 
fuses and a flashlight on hand. If the fuse panel box is properly 
arranged, one or two extra new fuses may be left in the bottom 
of the panel box to hasten replacements. Cartridge fuses are 
often used for power lines. Before attempting to replace these, 
the janitor should throw the switch connecting that line. He 
should use a fuse puller to dislodge the old fuse. The newer 
fuse and switch panel boxes have what is known as a dead face 
front. This is arranged so that pupils and janitors cannot come 
in contact with any wires when the box door is open. Doors to 
the older exposed type of boxes should be kept locked to pre- 
vent possible hazards from these sources. 

Extension Cords 

The janitor should be careful in the use of extension cords. 
Light fabric wrapped cords should never be used in places 
where they may become moist or wet. For these places heavy 
rubber insulated cords with cage protectors over the lamp, 
such as those recommended for garage repair shops, should be 
used. Portable extension cord lamps should be equipped with 
a hanger that they may be attached to some object when used 
in making temporary repairs. Extension cord lamps should be 
for temporary use and should not be used for permanent light- 
ing. In no case should extension cords be hung over nails or 
tied around water, gas, or steam pipes. All splices in extension 
cords should be securely taped. Tieing knots in extension cords 
in order to shorten them is bad practice. 

The use of cheap extension cords for temporary lighting is 
hazardous. This is particularly true of some of the Christmas 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 135 

lighting. The use of these poorly insulated lights should be 
prohibited in all school buildings. In many school rooms tempo- 
rary decorations are suspended from the light fixture. In some 
cases these lights are of the old drop cord type where the weight 
of the fixture and the lamp are supported by the cord. The fact 
that these cords swing from side to side may cause the cord to 
become worn at its connection with the upper outlet until the 
wires are exposed. When this occurs a short may be the result. 
Any flimsy decoration connected with this light can lead to a 
fire. 

Heavy Duty Units 

The janitor should know that electrical heating units build up 
a considerable amount of resistance. Some of these units such 
as electric irons, glue pots, radiant heaters, stoves, and soldering 
irons may be left turned on when not needed, using costly 
current, and developing possible fire hazards. For this reason, 
all electrical heating units should be equipped with a pilot 
light connected in the line. This light should be so arranged 
that it shows red when the heating unit is turned on for use. 
Heating units or any heavy power units should never be con- 
nected with a cord or pull chain. These are not heavy duty out- 
lets and may arc when called upon for heavy duty. In fact, 
heating and heavy duty units should not be connected to 
ordinary suspended light sockets. They should have direct con- 
nections or should be connected with heavy duty wall plugs. 

Large motors are usually equipped with starting switches. 
Some of these are designed to kick out if for any reason the 
resistance is excessive. Where possible the janitor should ask 
that such switches be installed and should use these starting 
switches. He will thus avoid probable contact with exposed 
switches. 



136 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Repairs 

The janitor should be careful in his use and care of electrical 
equipment. Open and dusty motors throw off sparks that may 
start a fire in shavings and other combustible materials. He 
should avoid forming a ground for some faulty connection. 
This hazard is greater if he is in contact with metal piping or 
if he is standing in a wet place. The janitor is often called on to 
make minor electric repairs, to splice wires, or to locate new 
outlets. He should not attempt these repairs unless he knows 
how to do the work properly. On the other hand, many janitors 
find that if they do not make these minor repairs some less 
skilled pupil or teacher does attempt to make them. It may be 
better for the janitor with some training and skill to do minor 
repair work than to have the work improperly done. Many 
janitors have developed the ability to make adjustments in the 
public address, bell, clock, and other low voltage electric equip- 
ment in a satisfactory manner and at a saving to the district. 

Electric Lighting Service 

One of the tasks of the janitor is to assist in protecting the 
health of the pupils. Adequate controlled illumination is a 
distinct factor in the protection of the eyesight and conse- 
quently the health of the pupils. The janitor usually has no 
control over the original installation of classroom lighting. 
There are many factors in lighting efficiency over which the 
janitor does have some control. Most lighting circuits are laid 
out to carry and use 110 volt current. The fuses and wires from 
the panel boxes to the lamps are limited in the load they will 
carry and the lamps they will serve. When overloads are placed 
on any circuit there is a dimming of lamps and a loss in ef- 
ficiency. 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 137 

Lighting Principles 

There are certain basic school lighting principles that the 
school janitor should know. He should know that light in stair- 
ways and in other places where danger may exist will reduce 
the number of accidents. He should know that ample con- 
trolled illumination makes rooms more cheerful and speeds up 
school work. On the other hand, glare from glossy surfaces or 
from bright lamps in the child's line of vision may be tiresome 
to the eyes. He should realize that a major part of the light 
falling on the desk of the pupil is reflected light. This reflection 
comes from the walls, ceilings, and other surfaces in the room. 
Black or dark surfaces like blackboards do not reflect much 
light. Dirty floors, walls, and ceilings reduce the possible re- 
flection and cause a greater consumption of current if the room 
is to be properly lighted. Pupils should not be required to face 
the light. It is better if the light comes from the side and above. 
There should be no shadow on the desk. In locating school 
room seats the janitor should so place them that the pupils 
have natural (day) light coming from the left. 

Lamps and Their Care 

Better diffusion of light is obtained in the average classroom 
if several lamps (luminaires) are used. Many of the better 
schools now install six lamps in the average classroom. These 
lamps should be located above the normal line of vision of the 
pupils seated in the room. In practice these lamps are usually 
located about nine or nine and one-half feet from the floor. 
Since the inner side of the classroom is the darker area it is 
desirable that the inner row of lights be on a separate switch 
that these lights may be turned on when the outer row or rows 
are not needed. It is desirable to have this light come from above 



138 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

and slightly to the rear of the pupils. The front row of lights 
is not at the front of the room. 

Types of Lamps 

An open bulb provides an intense illumination and a bright 
spot immediately surrounding the lamp. To provide better il- 
lumination and to prevent eye injury, these lamps are usually 
encased in some type of diffusing globes. One of the most com- 
mon types is the enclosing white glass. These lamps are usually 
known as semi-direct lights. Since the use of lamps that are too 
large may cause these diffusing globes to be too bright for the 
eyes of the pupils, the janitor should know the size of globe 
used in each. It is recommended that the following limits be 
observed. For a 14 inch diffusing globe, a lamp or bulb of not 
over 150 watts; for 16 inch globe, not over 200 watts; for 18 inch 
globe, not over 300 watt lamps should be used. The dimensions 
of the diffusing globes represent the total crosswise or hori- 
zontal spread. A second type of lamp is the indirect lighting 
fixture. This fixture has an opaque bowl and throws the light 
against the ceiling where it is to be reflected down to the desks. 

Care of Lamps 

The semi-direct or white glass lighting fixtures throw a part 
of the light on the ceiling and walls from where it is reflected 
on the desks. Dirt that has accumulated on or in these fixtures 
may reduce their efficiency by half. Dust will get inside these 
globes and prevent a complete diffusion of light. The indirect 
fixtures throw the light to the ceiling. These fixtures are usually 
open at the top and dirt settles in them. All these light fixtures 
must be kept clean. The janitor should wipe out the bowls of 
the indirect fixtures often. He should remove and wash fixtures 
as often as needed. For this purpose, he will need a step ladder 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 139 

and other tools similar to those used in window washing. After 
washing, the fixtures should be fastened securely to the fitter 
or hanger. There must be no danger of their falling when 
pupils are in the room. Care does not end with washing the 
lamps. Walls and ceilings must be kept clean if the schoolroom 
lighting is to be satisfactory and economical. 

Bulbs that have been in use for some time become dark and 
lose their efficiency because the filament gradually dissolves and 
is deposited on the bulb. They should be replaced. This re- 
placement is not a difficult task in classrooms where the lamps 
are not far from the floor. In auditorium and gynasium units 
the task of replacing lamps or of washing fixtures is more diffi- 
cult. In some of the newer buildings the whole fixture may be 
lowered to the floor for replacements or for cleaning. In some 
of the new gymnasium units the fixtures are so arranged that 
they may be serviced from above. There is now on the market 
a combination suction cup mounted on a long pole that makes 
it possible to replace high lamps from the floor. This instrument 
is equipped with a trigger that releases the suction cup after 
the new lamp is set. 

Control of Current Consumption 

The janitor does not have control over the amount of elec- 
trical energy consumed. Yet he is often required to turn out 
lights not needed. In some instances the building is equipped 
with keyed switches which only he can operate. This practice 
requires that the janitor watch each room to determine just 
when and how many lights are needed. This control is not 
economical since the janitor cannot watch all rooms at all times. 
Another practice is to permit the janitor to pull fuses control- 
ling rooms where the teacher is wasting current. It seems better 
to instruct the teacher how to use and to enforce teacher control 



140 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

of lights and window shades than to deprive pupils of needed 
light as a retaliation for teacher negligence. It seems desirable 
to provide suitable switches in the room convenient to the 
teacher, and located on the knob side of the doorway. It is pos- 
sible for the janitor to conserve current by turning out lights 
in vacant rooms and by adjusting window shades before the 
room is occupied. 

Records 

The janitor should make a record of meter readings and of 
the current used. It probably is desirable that he make the 
readings at or about the same time the meters are read by the 
service company. Power and light readings should be recorded 
separately if so metered. The following is a sample of a record 
sheet kept by some janitors. Readings are taken monthly and the 
amount of current used is determined by subtracting the present 
reading from the previous one. 

(Sample) 
BUILDING 



DATE 


LIGHT METER 


POWER METER 




Current 
Reading Used 


Current 
Reading Used 


3-10-40 
^10-40 


15270 
15375 105 





Care of Window Shades 

Window shades are provided for the purpose of shutting out 
or breaking up the direct rays of the sun. However, the shades 
should not shut the daylight out of the classrooms. Several 
types of shades have been used in an attempt to secure the de- 
sired results. The older filled green or dark cloth shades shut 
out too much light. When the shades with a heavy filler check 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 141 

or crack they present an unattractive appearance in the room. 
The heavy duck shades also shut out a great deal of light. 
Venetian blinds when dirty fail to reflect much light. 

Cleaning Shades 

The janitor has a real problem in attempting to care for all 
of the window shades in the building. Dirty shades shut out 
light. Spotted or discolored shades are unattractive. Window 
shade cords break and must be replaced. 

Many of the modern cloth shades can be washed. For this 
purpose they should be removed from the rollers and washed in 
a neutral soap solution. Some of the newer shades can be 
cleaned by wiping with a moist cloth. Care should be exercised 
to avoid streaking the shades when cleaning in this manner. 
After the shades are washed they should be dried before being 
attached to the rollers. Faded spots and streaks are difficult to 
remove. When they are bad it is probably wise to replace the 
shades. Frequent dusting of the cloth shades will prevent some 
of the accumulation of dirt. Venetian blinds should be dusted 
frequently. A soft brush may be used for this purpose. If no 
brush is available, a cloth may be used. 

Control of Shades 

Many teachers insist on pulling the shades down to cover 
about half the window, regardless of weather conditions or the 
amount of electric current consumed. The janitor has no con- 
trol over this practice. Many building principals overcome this 
practice by instructing teachers in the control of shades and 
by forbidding the use of window drapes. They also instruct the 
janitor to raise (retire) all shades on the west side of the build- 
ing each morning before school opens and to raise those on the 
east side of the building during the noon hour. The janitor 



142 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

should keep all shades in good condition with the springs 
properly tensed and all cords in good repair. 

Care of the Flag 

Our national flag is an emblem of our national and individual 
liberties and should be treated with respect. The school should 
always be able to furnish an example for the community with 
regard to the proper methods of displaying the flag. In some 
schools the responsibility of caring for the flag is assigned to the 
janitor. Frequently, through carelessness or ignorance, school 
children may violate the flag code, and it is important the 
janitor be definitely informed. 

1. The flag should always be in good repair. A torn, ragged, or dirty 
flag should never be raised. When the flag becomes unfit for display 
it should be burned in the furnace. It should never be left lying 
around, or kept with the waste or wiping cloths. 

2. The flag should not be flown during rainy or stormy weather. If 
the weather becomes stormy during the day the janitor should see 
that the flag is taken down. 

3. Generally the flag is raised at the beginning of the school day, and 
is lowered at the close of the school day. By all means the flag should 
be lowered by sunset, and should never be left up during the night. 

4. Of course the flag should always be raised with the blue field up- 
permost. Yet nearly every year each school has the experience of 
having the flag raised "upside down." Remember that the flag in 
that position is a sign of distress. Carelessness in this respect is cer- 
tain to expose those responsible for the flag to a great deal of ridi- 
cule. 

5. The flag should be kept folded when not in use. The Boy Scout 
plan for doing this is an excellent one. When the flag is raised it 
should never be permitted to drag on the ground. As it is lowered 
it should be caught in the arms and not allowed to touch the 
ground. 

6. When a flag is displayed flat on the walls it should be hung with 
the blue field to the flag's own right. As an observer would see it, 
the blue field would always be to the left. 



GENERAL CARE OF THE SCHOOL PLANT 143 

7. The flag should never be used as drapery over a desk or a speaker's 
stand. At no time should anything be placed on the flag. 

8. The flag should not be used as a ceiling covering, or as a covering 
for a pillow. 

9. In parades it should be carried on a staff, and should never be 
carried in flat or horizontal position. It should never be draped on 
a float or a car. 

10. Bunting should be used for decorative purposes, draping a float or 
a car. The blue in the bunting should be at the top. 

11. No other flag or emblem should be placed above our flag. 

12. When the flag is to be flown at half mast (half way up the pole) it 
should be first raised to the top of the pole, and then lowered. On 
Memorial Day it should be flown at half mast until noon, and then 
raised to full mast until sunset. 

13. When the flag is displayed on a stafT on a speaker's platform, it 
should always be on the speaker's right, and the audience's left. 

14. When the flag is displayed on a staff and is placed on the floor with 
the audience (not on the speaker's platform), it should be on the 
audience's right. 



Chapter 8 

Safety in Schools 

Prevention of Accidents 

THE JANITOR DOES not plan the school buildings; neither is 
he legally responsible for the safety of the school pupils or 
the school property. On the other hand, the janitor can prob- 
ably do more than any other individual to provide greater 
safety in the school building and on the school grounds. There 
are so many possible hazards that it is difficult for the janitor or 
the teachers to guard against all of them. In many cases the 
teachers and principals have not made a study of pupil and 
property hazards. This often throws much of the burden of 
protection on the janitor. This may be desirable. He is the man 
in a position to know hazards and to do something about them. 
In addition to the elimination and prevention of hazards, the 
janitor must learn to cope with pupils, many of whom get a 
thrill out of taking a risk. The janitor will realize that in most 
states the school is not financially responsible for damages 
from injury. However, this does not justify negligence in pupil 
or property protection. The paragraphs following will point 
out many of the hazards in school buildings. More detailed 
outlines and methods of repairs will be discussed in section 17 
on maintenance and repairs. The broad scope of the subject 
"safety" makes it impossible to cover every item. Hence, the 
discussion given here is in the nature of a summary of present 
knowledge and practices that contribute to pupil and property 
safety in school buildings. 

144 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 145 

Records of accidents, injuries, and property loss indicate that 
hazards might be grouped into those applying to the janitor 
in his work, those applying to pupils individually and in 
groups, and to fire hazards. Those applying to the janitor 
usually arise from some such cause as explosion, scalds or burns, 
falls, and carelessness in the use of tools. Those applying to 
pupils usually arise from falling, slipping, running into sharp 
corners, or from falling objects such as statuary. Other pupil 
hazards arise from electric shocks, poison, or fire. Property loss 
is usually caused by fire, tornado, explosion, theft, or careless- 
ness. 

Janitor Protection 

It is generally understood that the janitor who is not careful 
in protecting himself and who is not careful with his tools and 
in his methods of work, may also be careless in the protection 
of pupils from various hazards. The janitor should avoid ex- 
posing himself to unnecessary risks. His tools should be in good 
repair and properly stored. Being careful may consume time, 
but it is better to be careful than crippled. The janitor should 
not attribute his injuries to bad luck, but rather to poor judg- 
ment. Some of the cautions that the janitor may observe for 
his own safety are: 

1. Fix all ladders solidly before mounting. See that rungs and steps are 
solid. 

2. Keep tools in racks arranged for them. Have all sharp ends of the 
tools protected. 

3. Use a vise, not the hands, to hold materials for screw driver and 
chisel. 

4. Wear heavy soled shoes when doing work that might injure the feet. 
Old thin soled shoes or tennis shoes are not suitable for this purpose. 

5. Use a block to shove short pieces of wood into the saw or planer. If 
the material slips, a ringer may be saved. 

6. Use a safety belt and/or platform window jack when washing the 



146 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

outside of the windows. He should remember that he is working 
for a public organization and that injuries arising from carelessness 
are not good publicity for the school. 

7. Do not wear gloves or loose clothing around machinery such as 
pumps or fans, where moving machinery might catch on this cloth- 
ing. 

8. Do not use gasoline to start fires, and kerosene only sparingly, and 
never on hot coals. 

Hazards from Slipping and Falling in Building 

Many of the accidents that occur are from falling and trip- 
ping in and around the school building. While it is true that 
children should be and probably are taught not to run down 
stairways, it must be remembered that the child is full of life 
and that he does not realize what dangers might be involved. As 
a consequence, the janitor should endeavor to eliminate haz- 
ards which might cause pupil injury in and around the build- 
ing. One sign that the janitor should post in his work room is 
"PAYING THE LIGHT BILL IS LESS PAINFUL THAN 
PAYING FOR ACCIDENT INJURIES." He should realize 
that plenty of light is one of the best means of preventing ac- 
cidents. This applies particularly to stairways and to dark cor- 
ners where pupils and teachers might be injured. Many of the 
accidents in schools arise from slipping or falling or from 
contact with rough surfaces. Some of these accidents are harm- 
ful to children. Some are harmful only to clothing. Some of 
the things the janitor can do to protect the pupils or the teacher 
and their clothing are: 

1. Plane off all floor splinters or replace the boards. 

2. Fasten bolts and seats in the furniture so that there is less danger 
of falling. 

3. Remove splinters in seats and chair legs with file or sand paper, to 
protect hosiery. 

4. Pull out or drive in protruding nails. 

5. Leave no mops or pails in corridors when pupils are passing. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 147 

6. Place tape under corners of loose rugs to prevent slipping. 

7. See that all hand rails are securely fastened. 

8. Reset loose stair treads and nosings. 

9. Shield sharp corners. 

10. Remove cases and other obstacles from pupil line of traffic. 

11. Have exit ways and exit doors opened or unlocked so that the pupils 
may open them easily at any time when the building is occupied. 

12. See that doors swing out with the line of traffic. 

P/aygrouncf 

Many pupils are injured each year on the playgrounds from 
falling and tripping on rough surfaces and on defective play- 
ground equipment. Pupils may be injured by slipping on 
walks. The school property usually has walks around it. In 
many cases city ordinances require that these walks be pro- 
tected as well as the walks on the school grounds. In order 
to reduce the number of accidents of this type the janitor 
should : 

1. Pick up loose nails and boards with nails in them. 

2. Keep man-hole of coal pit covered. 

3. Remove ice and snow from the walks. If this snow cannot be re- 
moved the hazard may be reduced by putting sawdust or salt on the 
walk. 

4. Fill ditches and holes in the playground. 

5. Use only smooth wire in wire fences for the school yard. Barbs are 
more effective but also more dangerous. Repair holes in walks. 

6. Put away yard scythe, sharp picks, and any other sharp or cutting 
tool. 

7. Shield teeter boards to prevent catching fingers at the center sup- 
port. It is also desirable to put blocks under the ends of the teeter so 
that the children will not catch their legs under them. 

8. See that all swings and horizontal bars have good and sufficient 
supports. 

9. Remove rocks from under horizontal bars and horizontal ladders. 

10. Place rubber bumpers on swing seats. 

11. Remove poison ivy, nettles, briars, thorn bushes, and poison berries 
from the school yard. 



148 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Hazards Special Rooms 

There are many potential hazards in the school boiler room, 
in the laboratories, the home economics department, in the 
shop, and in the toilet and shower rooms. In many cases teach- 
ers and pupils are not aware that these hazards exist. A num- 
ber of pupils are injured through boisterous play in the shower 
rooms and around the swimming pools. Other accidents may 
occur from carelessness in the use of blow torches or Bunsen 
burners, and from certain chemicals in the laboratories. It is 
not possible for the janitor to prevent or eliminate all of these 
hazards but if he makes a study of them he can take precau- 
tions to reduce the possible hazards or to eliminate some of 
them. Some precautions that the janitor can take are: 

1. Watch all gas heaters for fumes. Flexible hose contacts should be 
permitted only between the shutoff cock and the burners. Even then, 
a rigid connection is preferable. 

2. Watch gas for possible leakage. Gas purchased from service com- 
panies usually has in it a malodorant that a leak may be detected 
easily. All canned gas purchased in pressure tanks should also have 
in it a malodorant. 

3. Have fixed racks for acid carboys. 

4. In chemical laboratories keep a woolen blanket to use in smother- 
ing possible fires in clothing or elsewhere. 

5. Treat tops of chemical laboratory tables to make them acid resisting. 

6. Have all machine guards in shops fastened securely. 

7. Remove rubbish from around power machines. Eliminate slick floor 
conditions from around power machines. 

8. Keep boiler room clean. Have fire doors free acting. Do not block 
fire door openings. 

9. Watch boiler steam pressure, also water level in boiler. Even "pP- 
ping off" of the boiler has been known to give alarm to pupils in 
the building. 

10. Pick up soap in shower rooms. 

11. Remove all obstacles that might cause tripping around swimming 
pools. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 149 

12. Regulate hot water flow in showers and laboratories. Burns from 
hot water are painful and should be avoided. 

13. Place hand rails on ramps for swimming pool. 

Hazards from Electric Current 

The electric service in the school buildings creates many 
potential hazards. Teachers and pupils generally become ac- 
customed to the use of electricity and do not realize the dan- 
gers that may be present. Janitors are inclined to forget that 
the presence of water on the floor may cause him to be a 
grounding connection between the electric current and the 
floor. In order to reduce some of the possible electric hazards 
the janitor should: 

1. Keep electric connections tight. All open face panel boxes or switches 
should be locked. 

2. Eliminate electric switches around showers. Locate switch in a place 
which may be kept dry. 

3. Shut off electric current before making repairs or replacing fuse. 

Miscellaneous Hazards 

A number of school accidents occur from causes which may 
be attributed to carelessness or lack of precaution. Some of 
these accidents result from falling objects and others from 
broken glass. There are a number of precautions that the jani- 
tor can take to eliminate this group of injuries. He should: 

1. Pick up broken glass. 

2. Keep glass in door panels tight to reduce probable breakage. Remove 
broken glass from windows and doors (This problem is eliminated 
to a great extent where safety or wired glass is used). 

3. Remove statuary that cannot be fastened to insure against falling. 

4. Make secure all pictures, urns, and vases. 

5. Reset loose parapet wall copings, cornices, and brick on flues. If 
they cannot be reset, they should be removed. Possible property dam- 
age from the removal is less important than probable pupil hazards. 



150 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

6. Adjust door checks to prevent slamming that might catch fingers. 

7. Remove snow from sloping roofs unless snow guards are provided. 
If the snow cannot be removed, place guard fences around the danger 
areas until the snow on the roof has melted. 

8. Remove large icicles from the eaves. If this cannot be done, place 
guard fences around the danger area. 

Life Protection 

In addition to the duties mentioned in the protection against 
these hazards, the janitor has definite obligations in attempting 
to protect the health of the pupils. Precautions against health 
hazards from poor maintenance of fountains, lavatories, stools, 
and electric lights were discussed under different headings. 
The janitor should make it a fixed rule to provide ample pro- 
tection in case of panic. It seems desirable to restate that "EXIT 
DOORS SHOULD NEVER BE LOCKED AGAINST 
EGRESS WHEN PUPILS ARE IN THE ROOMS OR 
BUILDING." This is applicable to all school rooms. It is par- 
ticularly applicable to auditorium and gymnasium units where 
large numbers of people may congregate. 

Property Protection 

The janitor also has obligations in protecting district prop- 
erty against loss, excessive wear, and too rapid deterioration. 
One loss that occurs frequently around school buildings is that 
of theft. The janitor can aid in reducing this loss by locking 
doors at night and by fastening windows and other possible 
means of entry to rooms and areas where theft is most likely 
to occur. It should be the duty of the teachers to lock labora- 
tories, laboratory store rooms, shop units, tool rooms, offices, 
libraries, storerooms for athletic equipment, and commercial 
departments where typewriters and other machines are kept. 
If the teachers are instructed and taught by the principal to 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 151 

lock these rooms, the janitor can in a rapid examination before 
leaving the building determine if these rooms are locked. He 
can also check exterior doors before leaving the building. As 
stated previously, the janitor will have a set of keys for all doors 
in the building and these keys he should not lend. 

In some cases the janitor is called upon to watch the build- 
ing during the evening when special programs are held in the 
building, or on such occasions as Hallowe'en. (Many schools 
have eliminated Hallowe'en misdemeanors through school 
supervised activities.) In some of the schools the janitor is made 
a special policeman with authority to hold or detain miscreants 
or vandals. There are some advantages in the janitor being 
given the authority of special policeman, but there are some 
disadvantages. He probably is not trained as a policeman, and 
is not in a position to carry out the usual duties of a policeman. 

The janitor should be alert to prevent deterioration of the 
building and of the school property. Broken furniture should 
be removed at once. Broken gutters should be repaired. Dis- 
connected downspouts should not be permitted to dump the 
water at a place where it may enter the wall. When the janitor 
can make repairs that protect the building, he should make 
them. At times it may be necessary for him to make temporary 
repairs. At other times it will be necessary for him to report the 
need to a superior official. He should also report loss through 
breakage or theft immediately. 

Fire Prevention in School Buildings 

If schools were wholly of fire resistive construction, and if 
no people were in them, fire loss would not be a serious prob- 
lem, but school buildings are not wholly of fire resistive ma- 
terial and even if they were, they have combustible supplies 
and materials in them. Those in charge of school buildings 



152 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

should know the danger from school fire, not only to the lives 
of the pupils, but to the property. Proper methods in caring 
for a building will reduce the potential fire hazards and proper 
attention given to protective measures and exit facilities will 
reduce the possible pupil panic that sometimes ensues when 
a fire alarm is given. Since the school janitor has charge of the 
building, and since he is the one person who has frequent con- 
tact with all parts of the building, it seems that he is best 
trained and best fitted to eliminate some of the hazards causing 
school building fires. 

If the janitor is to help protect these buildings from fire 
loss, he should know something of the nature of fire. He should 
realize that practically all fires start in a small way and could 
be put out before they do damage. Most janitors know that 
fire is a form of rapid oxidation. They also know that fire 
cannot occur or continue unless three factors are present. The 
fire must have air to support combustion; it must have ma- 
terial for the fire to consume; there must be sufficient heat to 
bring the material to the kindling point. These three items are 
part of every fire hazard check. 

Fires cause many losses in school buildings each year. A 
part of this loss is in property values. When property is de- 
stroyed by fire, that material is wasted. It may be replaced by 
new materials, but the old material and the old values are gone. 
Even if the building is protected by insurance, fire entails losses. 
In addition to property loss, there is always the possible loss of 
life and injury to pupils. This, of course, is far more impor- 
tant than the property loss. Another loss that may occur in 
some of the older school buildings is that of records. It is al- 
most impossible to replace records destroyed by fire. The pos- 
sible loss and the danger to life resulting from fires makes it 
essential that school administrators, teachers, and janitors join 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 153 

forces in preventing fires and in reducing fire losses and haz- 
ards. 

One of the best means of reducing fire loss is to construct 
buildings of fire resistive materials. This practice is not always 
feasible because of cost. A second measure of reducing fire loss 
is to get the pupils out of the building as quickly as possible. 
Getting the pupils out of the building involves adequate exit 
facilities and proper exit practices. It is necessary to have ade- 
quate facilities for both regular and emergency purposes. The 
third measure of reducing fire losses is a plan for the extinguish- 
ment of fires that do occur. Each of these preventive measures 
are discussed here. 

Fire Prevention and the Janitor 

The janitor can do much to reduce the possibility of fires. 
One of the first things he should learn is that cleanliness aids 
in fire prevention. The second thing he should learn is that 
eternal watchfulness is essential in order to keep down an ac- 
cumulation of fire hazards. After he has located the hazards 
he is in a position to take the proper steps to eliminate a large 
number of them. For the purpose of clearness, the possible 
hazards are grouped under several headings, including those 
from building structure, furnace room, electric wiring, natural 
causes, basement and attic areas, special units, roofs, and from 
careless housekeeping. 

Dangers from Building Structure 

In many cases, the janitor will have had no part in planning 
the building. He cannot be held responsible for the fire haz- 
ards occurring because of faulty structure or poor planning. 
He can in many cases reduce the hazard arising because of the 
poor planning. In some instances, he can make alterations or 



154 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

additions that will reduce the hazard. It is desirable that all 
furnace rooms have fire resistive walls and ceilings. In some 
instances where these units were not made fireproof, the janitor 
has improved the situation by installing asbestos lined ceilings 
or by placing metal shields in such a way that they reduce the 
possible hazard. In other cases, hazardous ventilating ducts in 
combustible partitions and floors have been closed and a dif- 
ferent type of ventilation known as corridor ventilation has 
been installed by the maintenance force. Building planners 
sometimes fail to protect openings like dumb-waiter shafts or 
scuttle holes to the attic. The janitor may reduce the hazard by 
providing a sheet metal cover for the scuttle hole lid or by 
installing a cover of two inch planks. In order to reduce the 
hazards arising from the building structure the janitor should: 

1. Keep scuttle hole closed. 

2. Keep fire doors closed or set with fusible link. 

3. Close storage space under stairways or other places where they might 
create fire hazards. 

Furnace Room Hazards 

The furnace room furnishes one of the most dangerous 
places for the origin of fires. Records that are available indicate 
that the furnace room is one of the hot spots of the building. 
The fact that it is used for a heating plant creates some fire 
hazard. As stated previously, the furnace room is not always 
sufficiently segregated from pupil areas. The location, together 
with the use of the room for storage purposes, makes it one 
requiring frequent attention from the janitor if fire hazards 
are to be eliminated or reduced. Some furnace room practices 
which help reduce fire hazards are: 

1. Moving out rubbish and waste. The furnace room is not a good 
store room. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 155 

2. Removing all combustibles from near the furnace. This applies to 
coal bins, waste paper boxes, or other fixed or movable materials. 

3. Have suitable containers for ashes. Paper or wood boxes are not 
suitable containers and should never be so used. 

4. Watch the furnace that the fire does not get too hot. Cracked fur- 
nace walls or a furnace that is too hot may cause a fire. 

5. Gasoline is never used to start fires. Kerosene is used only sparingly 
and never applied to hot coals. If kerosene is used, soak stick in the 
kerosene and then apply the match to the stick. Kerosene should 
not be poured directly from the can or container on the fire. 

6. Watch water level in boiler. Explosions resulting from semi-dry 
boilers may create fires. Even automatic controls need to be in- 
spected. 

7. See that steam lines, boiler pipes, and smoke pipes have proper clear- 
ance between them and any combustible materials. If this clearance 
is not available, provide protection by suspended sheet metal be- 
tween the pipe and the combustible material so that air space will 
be on either side of the sheet metal and so that the sheet metal will 
not contact either the pipe or the combustible material. If possible, 
lay a sheet of asbestos on top of the sheet metal. 

8. In banking fires, do not leave the doors open, particularly if there 
is any combustible material in the boiler room that might be ignited 
by flying coals. 

9. Inspect smoke flue frequently. Cracks or holes in the flue may lead 
to fire loss. 

10. Watch adjustment of oil burners. Oil running over into the fire box 
creates hazards. 

11. Use extreme precautions in lighting gas fires. 

Electrical Fire Hazards 

Because of the nature of electricity it offers many possible 
fire hazards in school buildings. The fact that so many people 
have become accustomed to the use of electricity and the fact 
that so many of them know little about it adds to the danger 
that may be incurred from misuse of electric current and elec- 
trical appliances. Electric current represents or is energy. If 
properly controlled, there is little hazard but if too much 
energy is carried on wires or through connections that are not 



156 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

properly adapted to carry this load, the wires may become 
hot and cause a fire. Poor connections, overloading, overfusing, 
worn out and broken wiring, and misuse are probably the 
most common causes of electrical fires. Records indicate 
that electric wiring is responsible for a substantial number of 
school fires. There are a number of ways in which the jani- 
tor can reduce the danger from electrical fires. Some of them 
are: 

1. Avoid causing wires to heat from overloading or overfusing. 

2. Watch for bare or exposed wires resulting from poor splices, from 
contact of the wires with some abrasive surface, and from decom- 
posed insulation. If the wire inlets have no drip loops, water 
may run down the wires, causing the insulation to rot. 

3. Discard broken extension cords. 

4. Move any combustible materials some distance from open type 
motors that might throw ofl sparks. 

5. Equip all irons, other heating units, and soldering irons with auto- 
matic pilot light which shows red when the unit is in use. 

6. Avoid putting radio and clock wire in same conduits with power 
currents. 

7. Use only rigid connections for heavy duty outlets. 

8. Remove fuse boxes and open lamps from laboratories where com- 
bustible chemicals and gases may be present. 

9. Check picture booths for exits and for automatic door closing de- 
vices. 

10. Inspect rheostat control of dimmer bank for resistance and heat de- 
velopment during use. 

A janitor can, by watching and checking the items just men- 
tioned, do much to prevent possible electric fires. He can also 
reduce the possible hazards by: 

11. Supervising or advising against Christmas decorative lighting. 

12. By seeing that exit lights are in working order and on when build- 
ing is in use at night. 

13. By checking switches frequently to note conditions and to see that 
there is no arcing. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 157 

Spontaneous Combustion, Exposure, Lightning 

Certain combustible materials have a tendency to oxidize at 
room temperatures. This is particularly true with certain oils 
and to a lesser extent with coal. If this oxidation proceeds 
rapidly enough, heat is generated to the point that ignition fol- 
lows. The danger of ignition is greater if there is little air move- 
ment to cool the materials and to carry off the gases that may 
be generated. This oxidation and the ignition that follows is 
termed spontaneous combustion. Oil and paint soaked rags 
are particularly susceptible. When spontaneous combustion 
occurs in coal bins it may be possible to check it by soaking 
the coal with water. This, however, does not remove the cause. 
As the water is removed the trouble may return. In many cases 
it will be necessary to move the coal. 

School buildings are susceptible to fire hazards from light- 
ning and from exposure. Some lightning protection may be 
obtained by the installation and maintenance of lightning rods. 
This is particularly important in the protection of tall smoke 
stacks. Other hazards may arise from exposure from other 
buildings, from bonfires, or other fires outside the building. 
The janitor can assist in eliminating fires from these sources 
by: 

1. Putting all oily rags and mops in tight metal containers. 

2. Watching coal bins for spontaneous combustion. 

3. Making secure all lightning rod connections and by extending 
ground connections to moist earth. 

4. Using incinerator for burning leaves and papers. 

5. Having hose or pails of water ready when bonfires are lit. 

6. Reporting probable hazards from neighboring sheds or buildings. 

Basement and Attic Areas 

Basement and attic areas are the starting points of a large 
number of our school fires. In older buildings with high gable 



158 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

roofs the attics are often used as a store room for holiday deco- 
rations and other combustible materials. In addition, many 
buildings have old wiring in the attic from which the insula- 
tion has rotted away. Smoke flues often extend up through the 
attic and sparks passing through flue cracks may start fires. 
Basement areas are also often used as storage rooms for paints, 
oils, and other combustible supplies. In most cases these areas 
are entered only occasionally. Waste paper may collect and dis- 
integrate or be cut up by mice to become a veritable tinder box 
ready for the spark. In these somewhat secluded areas, fires that 
start may gain considerable headway before being detected. In 
order to reduce the fire hazards from these sources the janitor 
should: 

1. Store no combustibles in these areas. 

2. Destroy, not store, highly inflammable materials like scraps of crepe 
paper and flimsy decorations. 

3. Store paints, oils, and other inflammable materials in fireproof cases 
or closets. 

4. Burn or bale waste paper. 

5. Remove all rubbish. 

6. Keep all store rooms clean and visit often. 

7. Burn junk. 

8. Check wiring in attic for exposed wires and for contact with joists. 

9. Examine attic flues for cracks and holes. 

Hazards in Special Units 
Shops 

Because of the nature of the work done in shop units, a num- 
ber of fire hazards are created. Some of the most pronounced 
hazards arise from the use of glue pots, open motors, blow 
torches, gas engines, forges, and from certain activities such as 
painting. The presence of shavings and sawdust add to the 
possible hazards. In many cases, the instructor should be held 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 159 

responsible for- these hazards. Other hazards arise from the lack 
of dust bins and suction fans. The janitor can: 

1. Place protective insulation under glue pots. 

2. Blow dust out of dirty motors. 

3. Remove shavings and sawdust. 

4. Provide insulation for walls and ceiling of finish room, and fireproof 
cases for paints. 

5. Keep all gasoline in cans bearing an approved Underwriters label. 

6. Oil shaft bearings to avoid hot boxes. 

7. Place fireproof floor under forges, provide cooling vat. 

Home Economics and Cafeteria Units 

The presence of stoves for cooking, greases, and electric irons 
help make fire hazards in these units. Some of these hazards 
seem inherent in the nature of the work done, however, the 
janitor can eliminate some of the worst hazards by: 

1. Installing a shield between hot plates and the tables under them. 

2. Placing shield under coal and kerosene stoves. 

3. Providing metal box storage for matches. 

4. The installation of protective pilot lights for all irons and electric 
heating units. 

Laboratories 

The storage of chemicals and the use of motors add to the 
possible fire hazards in laboratory rooms. The fumes from 
some chemicals are quite inflammable and may ignite with 
the first spark. Bunsen burners carelessly used may set fire to 
tables. In order to reduce these hazards the janitor may: 

1. Install gas tight electric lights. 

2. Provide fireproof earthen jars for waste. 

3. Provide wool blanket for smothering fire. 

Auditorium and Dressing Room Units 

The combustible nature of stage scenery and the storage of 
stage scenery and costumes in dressing rooms often make fire 



160 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

traps of these areas. The large amount of current used for stage 
lighting and faulty resistance coils in dimmer banks may add 
to these hazards. Picture booths are not always properly in- 
stalled, ventilated, or protected. To some extent the janitor can 
reduce the fire hazards arising from these causes by: 

1. Frequent inspections of wiring and dimmer banks. 

2. Removal of rubbish from dressing rooms. 

3. Installing fusible link drop shutters and door closers in picture booth. 

4. Keeping exits open and exit lights turned on when the room is in use. 

Roof Hazards 

The roofs of school buildings collect leaves which ignite 
easily. Roofs of combustible construction, particularly those 
with old wood shingle surfaces, are the source of many school 
fires. The janitor should: 

1. Remove leaves from valleys and gutters. 

2. Make frequent inspections to see if live sparks and cinders have made 
dark burned spots on the roof. 

3. Advise principal or superior officer of hazards found. 

Careless Housekeeping Practices 

Hazards arising from careless housekeeping practices are 
indefensible. The janitor who knows his job and has a pride in 
it will have few or no fires arising from poor housekeeping. 
Accumulated dirt or rubbish and fire hazards are boon com- 
panions. Lack of attention to details may cost the loss of prop- 
erty values and perhaps even the lives of pupils. If the janitor 
does not care, he should be replaced by one who does. If he does 
not know, he should make an effort to find out how to reduce 
the fire hazards in the building. He should know that: 

1. Matches should be kept in metal mouseproof cases. 

2. Smoking if permitted should be done only in protected areas. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 161 

3. Quantities of gasoline or naphtha are not needed in the building. 

4. All waste should be removed from the building. This applies par- 
ticularly to rags and paper. 

5. Gas leaks may cause serious explosions. 

6. Broken plaster may admit fire into secluded places where it is 
difficult to extinguish. 

7. Broken windows should be repaired. 

8. Waste cans for paper and other rubbish may prevent fires. 

9. Cleaning floors with gasoline is dangerous and should never be 
permitted. 

10. Fire prevention requires eternal vigilance. 

Getting Pupils Out of the Building 

Despite the usual fire prevention measures, fires may occur. 
Hence, it is desirable that school officials have well developed 
plans to get the pupils and teachers out of the building quickly 
and with the least possible danger to them. To this end school 
officials should plan for building evacuation and practice same 
until pupils become familiar with the method of leaving the 
building. The task of planning and conducting fire drills be- 
longs to the principal and teachers. However, the janitor does 
play an important part in building evacuation in case of a 
fire. In fact, since the janitor may often be in a position to 
be the first one to notice a fire, the safety of the children may 
depend much on his action. 

One of the first things for a janitor to do when he locates a 
fire is to determine whether he can put it out immediately. If 
so, he may extinguish it. If he cannot put it out at once, he 
should sound the fire alarm. Some school regulations require 
that a janitor sound the alarm even after he has extinguished 
the fire. It is desirable that average and small sized buildings 
be equipped with a mechanical gong fire alarm system that 
can be operated from any floor and that will sound on each 
floor loudly enough to be heard at all times. If an electric system 



162 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

is installed in the building it should meet the same require- 
ments and should be wired in conduits separate from the power 
and/or lighting current. All fire bells or gongs should be dif- 
ferent in tone and volume from the class bells. It may be well 
to have established a bell code indicating whether any exit is 
blocked. 

After sounding the building alarm the janitor should notify 
the city fire department if one is available. His later actions 
will depend somewhat on the location and nature of the fire. 
If the fire is still small he may return to try to prevent spread. 
If it is located in a spot where it may be cut off by closing doors, 
after pupils are out of this area, he should close these doors. He 
should remember that pupil safety is more important than prop- 
erty protection. In any well established plan of evacuation he 
will have specific duties assigned him. If he does not have a defi- 
nite assignment he may find it advisable to check to see if any 
pupils remain or if any need help in getting out of the building. 
As outlined elsewhere all doors will be unlocked for egress and 
will have safe stair and hand rail facilities. He should remem- 
ber that panic in the janitor breeds panic with the pupils. 

No janitor can expect to render the best service in fire pro- 
tection unless he has planned ahead for such occasions and 
unless he has made some study of fires and their extinguish- 
ment. He should know the various types of school fires; their 
methods of spreading, and the hazards involved. 

Classes of Fires 

There are three or four major types of fires that may occur 
in school buildings. 

Class "A" Fires These include those of wood, rubbish, paper, cloth, 
coal, asphalts, and other comparatively slow burning materials. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 163 

Class "B" Fires This class includes rapid burning materials such as oils, 

paints, varnish, kerosene, gasoline, and linseed oil. 
Class "C" Fires This class includes fires around motors, generators, hot 

wiring and other electric equipment. 
Class "D" Fires These include fires in automobiles, busses, and trucks. 

They often become a combination of a flashing fire from a volatile gas 

accelerated and intensified by oil covered machinery. 

Fire Extinguishment 

The janitor needs to know the principles of combustion and 
of fire extinguishment. He should know that heat, combustible 
material, and oxygen are necessary for any fire. Remove either 
of these and the fire dies out. It is not generally possible to get 
close enough to the fire to extinguish it by removing all com- 
bustible material in the burning area. However, this is a prac- 
tice often followed in subduing leaf or grass fires and most 
janitors are familiar with the method of raking an open path 
ahead of leaf or grass fires. A second method of putting out 
fires is smothering or cutting off the supply of oxygen. This 
is the method used in putting out fire with a blanket or sand. 
The third method of extinguishment is to cool or chill the mate- 
rial to below the kindling point. Water is the universal agent 
for this purpose. However, a few fire extinguishers have a 
chemical in the water to aid in reaching the cooling point (for 
fire) more quickly. 

F/re Extinguishing Agents 

Although he may never have to use them, every janitor 
should know the various fire extinguishing agents and the 
types of fire extinguishers. The most common extinguishing 
agent is water. In general, this agent is used to cool the com- 
bustible material below the kindling point. On some oil or 



164 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

gasoline fires water may float the lighter oil on top of the water 
and cause the fire to spread. The skilled janitor or fireman may 
be able to use his thumb or some object to form a hooding 
spray from the stream of water and cut off the oxygen, thus 
smothering the fire. In an emergency this is not recommended 
for a janitor who has not practiced this form of extinguish- 
ment. Sand or other non-combustible powders may be used 
to extinguish small oil fires. They are not of much value for 
oil fires in deep vats. Since a fire must have air, certain chemi- 
cals that form a non-volatile gas will shut off the supply of air 
thus smothering the fire. Carbon-tetrachloride and carbon diox- 
ide are two chemicals often used for this purpose. These should 
be applied in a small stream or spray at or near the base of 
the fire. 

Fire Extinguishers 

Many schools are now equipped with fire extinguishers. 
Some have questioned the value of fire extinguishers in pro- 
moting pupil safety, contending that all pupils can be removed 
from the building safely if a fire is small enough to be put out 
by an extinguisher when first detected. Without attempting to 
evaluate this contention we do know that fire extinguishers 
properly cared for and used may save a school building and its 
contents from destruction. Proper care involves proper place- 
ment, protection from freezing for various types, occasional 
testing or checking, and for certain types recharging at regular 
intervals. The location will depend on the arrangement of the 
building. In general certain extinguishers should be located in 
known hot spots such as the boiler room, shops, and labora- 
tories. One regulation often recommended is that no one 
should have to travel over 100 feet from any place in the build- 
ing to reach an extinguisher. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 165 

Standpipe and Hose 

This system is good for Class "A" fires. The hose is usually 
an unlined fabric hose about one and one-half to two inches in 
diameter. It is of more value if connected to a four inch main. 
The hose should be folded in racks so that it may be used 
quickly. It should be inspected monthly and tested yearly. 

Sprinkler Systems 

A few schools are now installing an automatic sprinkler or 
spray system. These are set off by heat and are particularly 
valuable for secluded hot spots like attics, basement storage 
rooms, finishing rooms, or closet spaces. Little care is needed 
other than to provide water pressure and to prevent freezing. 

Soda-acid Extinguishers 

These extinguishers usually come in two-and-one-half gallon 
sizes. The body of the can (container) is filled with a strong 
soda water solution. In the top just under the lid there is a 
bottle of sulfuric acid fitted with a weighted cork. In operation 
most janitors carry the can by the top bail or handle held in 
the right hand while the left hand holds the bottom of the 
can. On approaching the fire the can is inverted. The cork of 
the acid bottle falls out and the resulting chemical action from 
the acid and soda water forms a pressure to throw a stream 
twenty-five to forty feet. This type of extinguisher is effective 
on Class "A" fires. Its action comes primarily from cooling. 
Before use the can should be hung or set up in a place where 
pupils will not turn it over. When it is once turned over it 
must be refilled. Since it is subject to freezing it should be pro- 
tected against temperatures below 32 F. Ready made refill 
charges can be obtained through supply houses. In many cities 



166 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

the local fire department will refill free of charge. The janitor 
can make up his own refill charges using water, sulphuric acid 
and bicarbonate of soda (bulk). The acid bottle in the top is 
marked to show the amount of acid to use. About one to one 
and one-half pound of soda will be required for two and one- 
half gallon extinguishers. Mix soda and water and fill con- 
tainer to mark (which is about eight inches below top). Each 
of these extinguishers should bear a tag showing date of refill. 
They should be refilled yearly. (Note, they are conductors and 
should never be used on fires around electric motors or elec- 
tric wires.) 

Foam Type Extinguishers 

These extinguishers are usually filled with water, a solution 
of aluminum sulphate, and sodium bicarbonate, plus some 
foam making ingredient. Like the soda-acid extinguisher this 
one is used by inverting. It is subject to the same care and pro- 
tection in preventing against freezing and overturning while 
in storage. It works principally as a smothering agent but 
because of the water content has some cooling effects. It is best 
for Class "B" (oil) fires but has some value on small Class "A" 
fires. Not good on electric fires. 

Carbon Tefrach/or/c/e Extinguisher 

This extinguisher comes in various sizes. It is worked by 
the hand pump in the end. It is good for small Class "C" or 
electric fires since the material is a non-conductor. It is also 
valuable for Class "D" fires and is standard equipment in many 
busses. It does not freeze easily. It should be tested frequently 
to see if it is filled and in working order. A supply of the 
liquid can be kept on hand for refilling. It has a smothering 
effect and should be aimed at the base of the fire. 



SAFETY IN SCHOOLS 167 

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher 

This extinguisher has a cylinder filled with carbonic acid 
gas liquid under pressure. The liquid when released forms a 
sort of carbon dioxide snow. This has some cooling effect but 
works principally by smothering. This type is particularly 
adapted for use on Class "B" fires. The carbon dioxide is a non- 
conductor; hence, this extinguisher is quite good for Class "C" 
fires. It is also good for Class "D" fires. The extinguisher is 
operated by releasing a valve. Since this extinguisher is filled 
under pressure the filling must be done at a factory or shop 
where the pressure is available. The contents are not subject 
to frost damage. 

Force Pump Tank Extinguisher 

This type of extinguisher furnishes an ever ready supply of 
water for use on small fires. The pump is operated by hand. 
The water contents have a cooling effect on the burning ma- 
terials. The water contents should be protected from freezing, 
otherwise, no other special care is required. 

Other Extinguishers 

There are some other extinguishing agents and extinguishers. 
Some of them are promoted by manufacturers or sales agencies. 
At times efficient extinguishing agencies are recommended 
for a use for which they are not adapted. The janitor can de- 
termine whether an extinguisher is adapted for the needs of 
his building by examining the Underwriters label. This ap- 
proving label tells for what use this particular extinguisher is 
recommended. While there may be some good extinguishers 
not bearing this label, the label is evidence that the extinguisher 
has been tested and approved by competent judges. 



Characteristics of Hand Fire Extinguishers 



TYPE or 
EXTINGUISHES 


ADAPTED FOR USE ON 


METHOD or 
OPERATING 


PRINCIPAL EX- 
TINGUISHING 
EFFECT 


Class "A" 
Fires 


Class "B'' 
Fires 


Class "C" 
Fires 


Class "D' 
Fires 


Wood, Tex- 
tiles, Rub- 
bish & Slow 
Burning 
Materials 


Oils, 
Paints, 
Varnish, 
etc. 


Electric 
Machin- 
ery 
Switch- 
board 
Genera- 
tors, etc. 


Auto- 
mobiles, 
Trucks, 
Motor- 
boats, 
etc. 


SODA Aero 
Must be kept in 
heated cabinet if 
installed in places 
subject to freez- 
ing 


The best 
available in 
buildings 
and places 
not subject 
to freezing 
tempera- 
tures 


No 


No 


No 


Invert. See 
instructions 
on extin- 
guishers 


Cooling or 
wetting down 
the burning 
materials 


FOAM 
Must be kept in 
heated cabinet if 
installed in places 
subject to freezing 
temperatures 


Must be 
kept in 
heated 
cabinets in 
locations 
subject to 
freezing 


Yes 
Very 
Good 


No 


No 


Invert. See 
instructions 
on extin- 
guishers 


Blanketing or 
smothering 
also some 
cooling effect 


TETRACHLORIDE 
If proper charge 
is used will not 
freeze in tempera- 
ture at 40 below 
zero 


No 


No 


On 

small 
fires 
only 


The 
best 
avail- 
able 


Hand pump 
action or com- 
pressed air 
see instruc- 
tions on ex- 
tinguisher 


Blanketing 
some cooling 
effect on very 
small fires 


ANTI-FREEZING 
This type of ex- 
tinguisher when 
properly charged 
will not freeze in 
temperatures at 
40 below zero 


Very 
good 


No 


No 


No 


Invert. See 
instructions 
on extin- 
guisher 


Cooling or 
wetting down 
of burning 
materials 


LOADED STREAM 
This type of ex- 
tinguisher when 
properly charged 
will no t freeze 
in temperatures 
at 40 below 
zero 


Very 
good 


No 


No 


No 


Invert. See 
instructions 
on extin- 
guisher 


Cooling or 
wetting down 
of burning 
materials also 
fire-proofing 
effect 


PUMP TANKS 
Water or with 
calcium chloride 
added depending 
on lowest temper- 
ature likely to be 
encountered 


Yes 


No 


No 


No 


Hand pump 
action 


Cooling or 
wetting down 
of burning 
materials 


CARBON DIOXIDE 
or COa GAS 
This extinguisher 
will not freeze 


No 


The 

best 
avail- 
able 


The 
best 
avail- 
able 

-VSy- 
good 


good 


Manually 
operated valve 
or valves. See 
instructions 
on extin- 
guisher 


Blanketing 
also some 
cooling effect 


DRY CHEMICAL OR 
DRY POWDER 
EXTINGUISHER 


No 


Very 
good 


Yes 


Manually 
operated 
valves. See in- 
structions on 
extinguisher 


Blanketing or 
smothering 



168 



for First Aid Fire Protection 



MAXIMUM 
REACH OF 
STREAM OR 
EXTIN- 
GUISHING 
AGENT 


METHOD 
BY WHICH 
PRESSURE 
Is CREATED 


RATED 
LIQUID 
CAPACITY OR 
AMOUNT OF 
EXTINGUISH- 
ING AGENT 


CHEMICALS 
EMPLOYED 


NATURE OF 
PRINCIPAL 
EXTINGUISH- 
ING AGENT 


QUANTITY OF 
PRINCIPAL 
EXTINGUISH- 
ING AGENT 
PRODUCED 


UNDER- 
WRITERS 
RATING 


40 Ft. 


Chemical 
reaction 


Gallons 


Bicarbonate 
of soda 
water and 
sulphuric 


Liquid 
Soda 
Solution 


Gallons 


Al 








acid 








40 Ft. 


Chemical 
reaction 


Gallons 


Aluminium 
sulphate 
bicarbonate of 


A mass of 
bubbles 
filled with 


Approxi- 
mately 
20 Gallons 


A1.B1 








soda and 


carbon 


if properly 










foaming 


dioxide gas 


charged 










agents 








40 Ft. 


Hand pump 
action or 
compressed 
air 


and 2 Qt. 
also 1 Gal- 
lon 


Special liquid 
with compo- 
nents added to 
depress freez- 
ing and to 
avoid cor- 


Liquid fire 
gas pro- 
duced when 
vaporized 
by heat of 
fire 


Quantity 
variable 
depending 
on amount 
of liquid 
coming in 


See Under- 
writers 
label on ex- 
tinguisher 








rosion 




contact 














with fire 




40 Ft. 


Burning of 


2K 


Calcium 


Liquid cal- 


2H 


A 1 




safety fuse 


Gallons 


chloride spe- 
cial grade 


cium chlo- 
ride solu- 


Gallons 










safety fuse 


tion 












cartridge 








40 Ft. 


Chemical 
reaction 
acid mixing 
with anti- 


2K Gal- 
lons 


Special acid 
and special 
anti-freeze 
solution 


Liquid spe- 
cial alkali 
metal salt 
solution 


1-1K & 
2% Gal- 
lons 


See under- 
writers la- 
bel 




freezing so- 














lution 












40 Ft. 


Hand oper- 
ated double 


2K&5 
Gallons 


Plain water or 
a solution of 


Liquid Cal- 
cium chlo- 


2 l / a &5 
Gallons 


See under- 
writers 




action 




calcium chlo- 


ride solu- 




label 




pump 




ride 


tion 






10 Ft. 


Compressed 
gas which 
expands 
many times 


10-15 
25 pound 
sizes 


Compressed 
liquid car- 
bonic acid gas 


Inert gas 
which re- 
sembles 
snow when 


Quantity 
variable 
depending 
on condi- 


See under- 
writers 
label 




i ts volume 






liberated 


tions 






when in- 






from cyl- 








liberated 






inder temp, 
about 110 














below zero 






12 Ft. 


Compressed 
gas 


20 pounds 


Specially 
treated Bicar- 


Inert gas 
and white 


Quantity 
variable 


See under- 
writers 








bonate of soda 


powder 


depending 


label 








and com- 




on condi- 










pressed gas 




tions 





169 



170 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

In using extinguishers the janitor should know the effect 
desired. Smothering type extinguishing agents are effective in 
close spaces where there is no strong current of air to bring 
fresh oxygen to the fire. For this reason, automatic bomb type 
smothering extinguishers are not of great value in large attic 
areas. In use this extinguishing agent should be directed at the 
base of the fire. Water or other cooling type extinguishing 
agents may be applied directly to the burning materials. A 
handy chart prepared by Captain H. C. Ousley of the Missouri 
Inspection Bureau is shown on the accompanying pages. This 
chart describes the types and uses of fire extinguishing agents. 
A copy of this or a similar chart should be pasted on the wall 
of the workroom of each janitor. 

The janitor should make frequent building inspections to 
locate the fire hazards and to check the condition of the exits, 
the fire escapes, and the fire fighting equipment. In many 
school districts the officials of the local fire department will as- 
sist the janitor in his study of fire prevention and pupil safety. 
In some cases local school officials, the janitor, and a member 
of the local fire department make an annual inspection of the 
school building to study fire hazards and safety facilities. Some 
school officials use the "Self-Inspection" blanks prepared by 
the National Board of Fire Underwriters, in checking fire 
hazards, with satisfying results. 

A number of schools have fire hazard and exit safety check 
forms for local use. In some of the janitorial training schools 
janitors are taught the methods to be followed in making 
building inspections. They are also taught how to remove many 
hazards. Most of these periodic inspections cover occupancy 
hazards. The building structure hazards are generally covered 
in the annual inspection. 

The sample check list or inspection blank which follows can 



Check List of Fire Hazards and Exit Facilities in Schools 



.DISTRICT 



.BUILDING CHECKED BY. 



APPROVED BY. 



.TYPE OF SCHOOL 
ENROLLMENT 



(Check lists should be made in duplicate, one copy retained by the checker and one 
copy turned to the office. Fill blanks by checking " V " in proper column. By com- 
paring last check with previous ones it is possible to determine the improvements 
made.) 



I Exit facilities ... . 


SATISFACTORY 


FATE 


NEEDS ATTENTION 


1 Doors 








A Open out 








B Unlocked when build- 








ing occupied 








C Panic bolt operation 








2 Exit lanes 








A Obstructions 








B Stair hand rails 








C. Slick places on stair 
or in entrance 








3. Window, screens open out, 
easilv 








4 Fire escapes 








A Rigid accessible 








B Free from ice 








C ^Vindows wire glass 








5. Exit signs and lights 
Glass intact lights o k. 








n. Fire alarms and fire fighting 
facilities 








1 Alarms 








ATVne 








J -J'F C - / 

B Accessible 








C Condition 








D. Fire department con- 








2. Fire fighting facilities 
A. Hose, location and 








B. Wool blanket in lab- 








C. Fire extinguishers .... 
Type adapted to 

npoH 
























Chemical recharged 
in last 12 months 









171 



Check List of Fire Hazards and Exit Facilities in Schools 







SATISFACTORY 


FAIR 


NEEDS ATTENTION 


in. 


Hazards from outside 
1. Combustible structures 
near 










2 Other outside hazards 








IV. 


Heating plant and furnace 
room hazards 










1. Furnace 










A. Cracks 










B. Smoke pipe protec- 
tion 










C. Combustibles near 










D Overloading 










2 Steam boiler 










A. Pressure control 










B. Automatic cut-off. . . . 










C. Protected steam lines . 










D. Water level 










3 Fuels 










A. Coal bin inspection . . . 










B. Remote cut-off gas or 
oil 










C. Segregation of fuel. . . . 










4. Smoke flue, cracks 










5. Fire door, operation 










6. Furnace room practices . . . 
A. Ash storage 










B. Gasoline in room 










C. Starting fires 










D. Banking fires 










E. Rubbish in room 








V. 


Roof and attic openings 
1. Roof 
A. Leaves in gutters and 
valleys 










B. Condition of roof 










2. Attic 
A Rubbish . . 










B Flue leaks 










3. Building openings 
A Waste in ducts 










B. Scuttle hole closed 








VI. 


Electric hazards 
1. Wiring 
A. Rigid connections .... 










B. Switches arcing 










C. Wires protected 










D. Extension cords .... 










E Wires, size 










F. Overloading .... 










G. Fusing 










2. Motors protected .... 










3. Dimmer bank 









172 



Check List of Fire Hazards and Exit Facilities in Schools 





SATISFACTORY 


FAIR 


NEEDS ATTENTION 


4. Picture booth 








5. Pilot lights 








6. Hot plate protection 








VII. Storage 
1. Closets 
















B. Condition 








2. Supply rooms 








A. Type of materials 
stored 








B. Frequent inspection. . . 








3. Special storage for com- 
bustibles 








A Waste paper 








B Paints and oils 








C Floor waxes 








D. Oily rags and mops. . . 








E. Gasoline 








VEIL Hazards in special rooms 
1. Shops 








A Glue pots 








B. Waste and rubbish . . . 








) Forges 








D Paints and oils 








2 Auditorium 








A Dressing room storage . 








B, Picture booth pro- 
tection 
















A Stoves 








B Gas connections 








C Hot plates 








4 Laboratories 








A Stone waste jars 








B Lights shielded 








DC Miscellaneous and housekeep- 
ing hazards 
1 Use of incinerator 








2 Lightning rod connections 








3 Housekeeping practices 








A Gas leaks 








B ^faste cans 








C Matches storage 








D Smoking 








E. Rubbish in the build- 








F Broken plaster 








G Use of volatile oils 








H A^aste cans 








Comments: 









173 



174 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

in most cases be filled out by the janitor. However, local school 
officials should assist in making a check of the hazards at least 
once each year. 

Fire Protection No Job for a Lazy Janitor 

It is realized that the duties and obligations of the janitor 
outlined here are quite numerous. They may be burdensome 
for a swivel chair janitor. However, the alert, energetic, janitor 
will want to know more about his job. He will want to be able 
to demonstrate the fact that he is a specialist in building care 
and management. It is sometimes difficult for the local janitor 
to know the things he should do to promote safety in his school. 
Many janitorial schools now provide courses for training jani- 
tors in fire protection, and in the elimination of hazards in the 
school building and on the grounds. If the janitor can provide 
proper protection for his building and the people in it he will 
have, in addition to the appreciation of his patrons, the satisfac- 
tion of a job well done. 



Chapter 9 

Developing a Planned Work Program 

IN CHAPTER THREE the part of the administrator in the de- 
velopment of a work program was outlined. In this section 
attention will be given to the duties and obligations of the 
janitor in developing a work program. Although many cus- 
todians admit the need for a system of work, only a few of 
them do anything about it. Some of these men feel that the 
administrators do not appreciate the many obligations and 
duties of the janitor. This complaint may have some basis. The 
administrators are busy people and may neglect the janitorial 
force until something goes wrong. They have too often ac- 
cepted both good and bad work without comment. A part of 
this lack of appreciation and understanding is a carry over 
from the days when janitorial selection on the basis of sym- 
pathy or friendship made it difficult to secure and retain com- 
petent men. 

During recent years many changes have been made. More 
and more the janitor is becoming a trained worker. As a 
trained worker he strives to improve the status of his position 
and the quality of his work. Janitors should not expect teachers 
and administrators to grant them high appreciation and stand- 
ing until the janitors have proved themselves worthy. Only 
by their own efforts in demonstrating their skills, abilities, and 
knowledge with results obtained can the janitors expect to 
obtain the appreciation they should merit. Changes in the 

175 



176 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

standing of the janitorial force are coming. In too many cases, 
the janitor still is a worker with his hands and fails to demon- 
strate that he has a plan and program of work. Some men may 
be called "good fellows" or "hard workers" and yet not gain 
much recognition as building maintenance specialists. The man 
who is going somewhere should have a destination. He should 
have a plan. This plan should be laid out in steps so that he 
can see progress as he goes forward. He should also have a 
checking device to determine what progress he is making and 
the things he expects to do. He should have something tangible 
to show to his superior officers. To this end, a work schedule is 
of prime importance. 

Making a Work Schedule 

There are so many factors involved in the making of a work 
schedule that it is difficult to lay down any set rules or plans. 
The type of school organization and the administration of the 
building maintenance program are the determining factors in 
schedule development. In some instances, there will be a super- 
intendent of buildings and grounds who will collect requisi- 
tions from the janitors and group them into one master requi- 
sition to be sent to the purchasing officer. This man can assign 
men to various jobs and recommend men for demotion and 
promotion as well as plan the work for smaller repairs and 
outline procedures for various tasks. He keeps all personnel, 
payroll, and attendance records, makes the annual report, and 
acts as contact agent between janitors and other school officials. 
He hears and evaluates complaints, and develops a training 
program for apprentices and men in service. In other schools 
where no superintendent of buildings and grounds is employed, 
the janitor in a building may have to perform all these duties 
in some form or other. The janitor has a dual responsibility. 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 177 

If a superintendent of buildings and grounds is employed, it 
is probable that the janitor will be under his supervision in 
repair work, for the quality of his work, and to some extent 
for the procedure. On the other hand, he will be under the 
supervision of the principal for his relations with the school, 
and for those activities that contribute to the welfare of the 
school. In addition to this, many janitors are subject to the 
call of the teachers for transferring material, cleaning up after 
sick children, and for various minor duties or chores. These 
add to the difficulty in developing a schedule of activities which 
would make best use of the available time of the janitor. 

Buildings and Ground Conditions 

If all buildings were of equal size and located in similar 
areas, schedule making would be comparatively easy. One 
building may have fourteen rooms yet not be large enough for 
two janitors, while another building of six rooms will require a 
full time janitor. It is obvious that the loads will not be com- 
parable, yet if the board of education is to secure a good man 
for each job, reasonable salaries must be paid and these cannot 
be based wholly on the amount of work done. In many build- 
ings of thirty to fifty rooms it is easier to divide the work so 
that every man will have approximately the same load. Main- 
tenance methods vary with the age of the building. Old worn 
floors are much more difficult to maintain than are some of 
the newer smooth surfaces. Even the height of the building 
may make a difference in the total load. It is obviously easier to 
care for rooms on the same level than when the janitor must 
carry his supplies up and down stairs. The location of the build- 
ing is also a factor. Site variations play an important part. Some 
playgrounds are muddy and permit pupils to bring in quanti- 
ties of dirt which have a deteriorating effect on the floors and 



178 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

which make it difficult to maintain a clean building. The size 
of the site, the number of ornamental shrubs, the amount of 
lawn to mow, the number of walks to clean, and the amount 
of hedge to be trimmed must be considered in establishing the 
janitor's load and in making out a schedule of activities. Special 
rooms like laboratories, cooking rooms, cafeteria, and shop 
units, cannot be grouped with regular classrooms in establishing 
time unit measures of the work of the janitor. These factors 
must be considered in planning the schedule. 

Many conditions inside the building also become important 
factors in time allotment for the janitor. The type of heating 
plant, the location of the heating plant, and the type of fuel 
used may make a great difference in the time required each day 
for temperature control. Obviously, the janitor having an auto- 
matic oil burner or even a stoker with automatic temperature 
and ventilation controls has a far different problem than has 
the janitor that shovels coal and who may have to carry out 
ashes and cinders in pails up narrow stairways. The type or 
location of the radiators may also be important since it requires 
more time to clean under radiators set close to the floor than 
under those hung on the wall or enclosed in cabinets. The num- 
ber of plumbing fixtures and the type of fixtures should be 
given consideration in planning the daily and weekly activities. 
If consideration is not given to these factors, it is probable 
that some of the work will be neglected. The amount of bul- 
letin board and blackboard space, the size of the window panes, 
the type of finish on the woodwork and floors, the amount of 
nickel and brass to be polished; and facilities for storing wraps 
for children may be important factors in time allotments for 
janitorial activities. It is impossible to make a schedule of ac- 
tivities for a janitor in a building until these building condi- 
tions are taken into consideration. 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 179 

Tools and Supplies 

In some buildings janitors have more tools than they need. 
In others, about the only tools the janitor has are those that 
he brings from home. The type of tools and supplies provided 
must be given consideration in the development of a work 
schedule. The cleaning tools range from the old corn broom 
through a list including brushes, dust mops, scrub brushes, 
scrubbing machines, sanitary dusters, and radiator brushes, to 
a complete vacuum cleaning system. In attempting to set up 
a work load of similar areas for men using different types of 
cleaning tools, one should consider the time element involved 
in obtaining satisfactory work with the different tools. Some 
janitors spend hours in dusting erasers by some crude method 
while other janitors clean forty to fifty erasers per minute by 
some approved method and with a satisfactory tool. The type 
of metal and wood working tools usable for repairs will make 
a substantial difference in the time required to do minor re- 
pair jobs. Likewise, the difference in time in the use of a power 
lawn mower and the small hand lawn mower may determine 
whether or not the janitor must spend most of his summer 
months in lawn mowing. In addition to the tool variation, 
the type of chalk used in the building, the type of detergents, 
and the type of floor seal and floor wax will make a difference 
in the time required for the various activities. 

Organization of the School 

In setting up any work schedule for a building in a large 
system, it is necessary to consider such factors as the age of the 
pupils in the building, the organization of the school, the 
demands of the teachers, and the local building regulations. 
Tests have indicated that it requires more time to sweep under 



180 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

small primary seats than under seats used for high school 
students. On the other hand, auditorium units with fixed seats 
require more time than do similar areas with movable seating; 
however, the time required for moving the flexible seating 
should be considered. As has been stated several times, the work 
of the janitor is for the purpose of maintaining satisfactory 
plant facilities for the school program. Variations ki methods 
of teacher control may make a big difference in the require- 
ments upon the janitor's time. In many cases, he is obligated 
to perform many tasks that are in another building performed 
by teachers. In some cases the janitor is required to remain in 
the toilet room for boys during the morning and afternoon 
recess intermissions. This one activity may consume daily 
thirty to forty-five minutes of the janitor's time. In other cases, 
the janitor is requested to watch that children do not destroy 
shrubbery or other school property. 

School housekeeping should be a cooperative activity, where 
teachers encourage pupils to assist in maintaining an attractive 
building by keeping paper off the floor and by refraining from 
marking on the walls and destroying property. If pencils and 
books are left on the floor and stickers are pasted on the black- 
board, the janitor must remove them and must have time al- 
lotted for these duties. The local school regulations concerning 
the after hour and out of school use of playgrounds by children 
may determine the time that the janitor is permitted to lock 
up the playground equipment and the toilets before going 
home. The fact that many schools do not have a room designated 
as a lunchroom may make a difference in the cleaning duties 
throughout the building. Teachers may request that their 
room be kept excessively warm. In other cases, teachers stay a 
long time after school to do work. A plan must be developed 
regulating closing practices and room entry for cleaning. There 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 181 

must be a definite regulation concerning the amount of the 
janitor's time teachers may consume with requests for various 
errands and chores. The amount of record keeping and report 
making made necessary by local board regulations will play 
an important part in the allotment of time to various activities 
for the janitor. 

Setting Up Time Requirements 

One of the first considerations in setting up the time re- 
quirement in a work schedule is the total time to be allotted 
for janitor work. In most cases the janitor expects to remain 
in the building as long as necessary to do the work. The janitor 
should not be expected, however, to come to the building at 
4:30 or 5:00 o'clock in the morning and then to stay at the 
building until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening in order to close it 
after some practice periods or after some public meeting. Re- 
gardless of whether the janitor is working at hard labor all of 
the time he is in the building, he should not be expected to stay 
on the job fifteen or sixteen hours per day. It is true that in 
many cases local administrative practices make these long 
hours necessary. It is also true that in many cases proper co- 
operation between teachers, administrators, and the janitor and 
a system of janitorial work make it possible to eliminate the 
long hours. If it is not possible for the janitor to do his work in 
a reasonable number of hours, more help should be provided. 
If it is possible for him to do them in a shorter number of hours 
and he, by dilatory practices stretches these hours out, he should 
be reprimanded or released. There have been many measures 
used in attempting to set up a janitor schedule. Some of these 
are square feet of floor area, the amount of yard area, the num- 
ber of pupils in the building, number of rooms, and the area of 
the yard. The various factors involved make it difficult to 



182 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

establish the load of the janitor on any one of these measures. 
If the janitor has only cleaning work to do then one can de- 
termine the square feet of floor area of treated floor surface that 
he may be expected to clean per hour. But when he must care 
for certain plumbing fixtures, when he must devote some time 
to the care of the heating plant and to yard care, the square foot 
of floor area measure loses much of its value. The same is true 
of practically any other general measure. 

The method which seems to offer the best measure is what 
may be called a unit time measure. This measure is established 
by the janitor by actual trial. First, the janitor makes up a list 
of various activities and duties. This list cannot be made up 
until he has been on the job some time. He notes the number 
of times per day or per week that each different task recurs. 
By checking, he soon determines the time required for each of 
these tasks. After noting the number of times this task must be 
done each day or week, he soon is able to determine the total 
daily or weekly time required for this particular activity. When 
he has determined the amount of time required for each 
activity during the week, he is in a position to develop a tenta- 
tive schedule of activities. However, this schedule cannot be 
developed until he has set up the total load. This means that he 
must allot some time for emergency activities, and for ever 
recurring tasks which must be done weekly or monthly. It 
probably will be wise for the janitor to set up a chart on which 
he may mark for several days the amount of time required to 
do a particular task. 

How fo Set Up a Schedule 

There is no need for some of the excessively long hours of 
service. There are many ways in which these long hours may 
be reduced. Extra help can be employed for evening duties. 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 183 

Teachers should be told that the janitor must be permitted to 
clean classrooms during the day so that he may not have the 
bulk of his work piling up after four o'clock in the afternoon. 
In large buildings it may be desirable to arrange to have one 
man on night duty to serve as a watchman and to do cleaning 
tasks that were not reached during the day. 

The janitor will have to take the initiative in setting up his 
own schedule. With the background outlined above showing 
time required for various tasks, the number of times each 
week that different tasks must be performed, and the number 
of occasional tasks that arise, he is in a position to determine 
the time required for routine activities. Then if he gets a sched- 
ule of classroom usage he can determine what time is available 
for cleaning various rooms and units. With this information 
he can work up a tentative schedule. This tentative schedule 
should be kept within the general board regulations both as to 
time and as to cleaning practices. This tentative schedule should 
be presented to the superintendent of buildings and grounds 
and to the building principal for approval. They should have 
time to study the proposal and to approve. After approval, 
copies of this schedule should be made out, one for the janitor, 
one for the office of the principal, and one for the office of the 
superintendent of buildings and grounds. The principal should 
then notify teachers that certain rooms should be available for 
cleaning at certain periods of the day and that the janitor 
should be permitted in these rooms for cleaning at this time. 

Developing the Schedule 1 

In addition to developing time requirements for various 
duties the janitor will need to make a tabulation of the various 



1 Viles, N. E. "Administration of Janitorial Service," Proceedings Tenth Annual 
Meeting, National Council on Schoolhouse Construction, p. 91-93. 



184 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

tasks to be done. One of the important steps in the develop- 
ment of a work schedule is to list the tasks to be done on the 
basis of frequency. A partial list for one building is outlined 
here. 

I. Some of the tasks which should be performed daily: 

1. Care of heating, ventilating, and mechanical apparatus. 

a) Start fires in morning. 

b) Bank fires at night. 

c) Replenish fires as needed. 

d) Inspect thermometers, steam gauge, and water glass. 

e) Clean grates and ash pit. 

f) Wet down ashes. 

g) Start and stop ventilating fans. 
h) Clean boiler flues. 

i) Inspect pumps, drains. 

j) Turn of! lights not needed, particularly when leaving 

building for the day. 
k) Start and stop pumps and motors. 

2. Cleaning: 

a) Sweep (or clean) each classroom and office. 

b) Sweep corridors and stairs (as often as needed). 

c) Inspect and clean fountains, lavatories, and stools. 

d) Dust classrooms, desks, tables, chairs, window sills, cases, 
shelves, office furniture, doors, and hand rails. 

c) Clean locker rooms. 

f) Sweep walks near doors. 

g) Clean furnace room, 
h) Mop toilet room floors. 

i) Pick up paper and trash from grounds. 
j) Remove marks from walls and walks. 

3. Miscellaneous: 

a) Burn waste paper. 

b) Check supplies in toilet rooms. 

c) Lock and unlock outside doors at specified times. 

d) Provide chalk and other supplies needed in rooms. 

II. Some of the tasks that will be done weekly: 

1. Dust radiators. 

2. Blow down boiler. 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 185 

3. Clean walks on and around yards. 

4. Clean blackboards. 

5. Wash glass in doors and cases. 

6. Clean and mop special rooms. 

7. Clean all erasers (may be more often for some rooms). 

8. Clean floor brushes, mops, dust brushes, and other tools. 

9. Inspect building for fire hazards. 

10. Secure supplies from stock room. 

11. Inspect all motors, pumps, and engines to sec that they arc 
properly oiled and in good condition. 

12. Mop composition and masonry floors. 

13. Clean all chalk trays (more often if needed). 

14. Clean door mats. 

15. Wipe or wash door knobs and hand rails. 

16. Inspect playground apparatus for broken parts. 

Tasks to be done bi-weekly or monthly: 

1. Clean glazed wainscot on walls. 

2. Dust pictures. 

3. Scrub where needed. 

4. Wash windows on inside. 

5. Polish brass or other polished surface. 

6. Read meters and report to supervisor or principal. 

7. Report to superior officer things he should know about the 
plant. 

Tasks that will be done two or three times annually: 

1. Receive and check supplies. 

2. Make seat adjustments. 

3. Mow lawns. 

4. Care for shrubbery, flower beds, fences, and hedges. 

5. Make minor repairs. 

6. Remove snow and ice from walks. 

7. Move desks, supplies, scenery, and pianos. 

8. Clean up after sick children. 

9. Care for plants, aquariums, and grounds during yacations. 

10. Assist during fire drills. 

11. Receive and store coal. 

12. Rake leaves in fall, remove fallen branches. 

13. Remove dirt from walks after rains. 

14. Open closed sewers, downspouts, stools and urinals. 



186 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

15. Report leaks or breaks that need attention or that must be re- 
paired by someone else. 

16. Supervise pupils in toilet rooms upon orders from principal. 

17. Be present when building is open for evening meetings unless 
an assistant is employed or unless excused by principal. 

18. Open lockers for pupils upon request. 

19. Keep records required by officer in charge. 

In making up a schedule of work for each day, week, month, 
or year, arrangements should be made to include each day or 
week some of the tasks that recur at infrequent intervals. A 
time should be allotted for each routine task with some time 
reserved for emergency tasks. Those responsible for making 
schedules should remember that certain tasks must be done at 
specified times each day. A satisfactory plan often followed is 
to make up a skeleton schedule and after a little practice, study, 
and experimentation to fill in the details. A part of a sample 
skeleton daily schedule for one building follows: 

1. On reaching the building each morning make a hasty inspection for 
losses, damages, or fire hazards. 

2. Test water gauge, open fires, and examine pumps. 

3. Start recirculating fans (if any) as soon as heat is available. 

4. Complete dusting of desks, hand rails, and furniture. 

5. Check supplies in toilet rooms. 

6. Unlock doors at designated times. 

7. Check all rooms and radiators to see that room temperature is 
properly regulated. 

After school opens for the day the work of the janitor will 
vary according to the demand and local regulations from day 
to day. In some schools he will be required to raise the flag 
and to unlock playground apparatus. In other schools certain 
pupils or teachers are assigned these tasks. During the day his 
work should be so arranged that he can sweep the corridors, 
repair seats, or do other odd jobs as per his schedule and as 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 187 

the need arises. It is usually desirable for him to start cleaning 
classrooms as soon as these rooms become available in the 
afternoon. After school closes a definite schedule of room 
cleaning may be followed if the principal will notify teachers 
that a certain room is to be cleaned at a specified time. The 
weekly schedule will include such tasks as the cleaning of 
mops, brushes, and door mats, and the washing of door knobs. 
A majority of these tasks may be worked into the daily sched- 
ule. A few tasks such as the cleaning of blackboards or the 
mopping of floors may be done Saturday morning. The com- 
mon tendency to leave too many tasks until Saturday morning 
should be avoided in making work schedules. 

The schedules for the month or for the year will include 
many tasks that may be included in the daily work program. 
Other tasks must be done as the need arises. Meters should be 
read at the time they are checked by the service company. 
Windows may be washed on the inside on Saturday morning. 
The walls of one or two rooms may be dusted during the week 
without interrupting the regular program of work. The avail- 
ability of extra sets of erasers and of cleaning tools makes it 
possible for the janitor to have a fresh supply ready for use 
when needed. 

Janitorial Records and Reports 

The average janitor has a dislike for records and reports. He 
feels that his is a working, not a bookkeeping job. This feeling 
has probably had something to do with the lack of progress 
made by some janitors. The janitor must use his head as well 
as his hands if he is to be of the greatest value to the school. 
He should be a skilled workman with a plan. This plan will 
be of more value to him and others if he has tangible written 
proof for others of certain of his activities. All business organi- 



188 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

zations have some records. The school plant represents a con- 
siderable investment and records of maintenance are essential. 
The janitor does not know when he may be forced by illness 
or accident to be off the job. Records should be available to 
give his substitute information on supplies and on plant care. 
There will be times when the gas, water, or electricity must be 
shut off quickly. There should be a chart showing the location 
of these cut-off valves or switches. Records of supplies needed, 
of goods received, of tools available, of jobs to be done, and of 
fuel received should be kept. These essential records should be 
kept up to date. 

Types and Amounts of Records 

It is not always possible to separate records and reports. 
Certain reports when filed become records or will be trans- 
ferred to a permanent record in the office of the principal or 
that of the superintendent of buildings and grounds. Records 
and reports should be as brief as possible. They should not be 
complicated. In many cases the forms can be so developed 
that the janitor can fill them out by checking or by filling in 
numbers or single words. Record forms should be uniform in 
size. One set can be made up in half page sizes and the others 
in full page size. It is a mistake to attempt to keep records on 
scraps of paper. These may be lost, and if not lost are difficult 
to file because of variations in size and because they have no 
identifying marks. Record forms should be printed or mimeo- 
graphed. In most cases three or four copies will be needed for 
the various vendors and offices. These should be made up in 
colors. A plan similar to the following is used in many places. 
First or white copies go to the office, blue copies go to the 
vendor or delivery agent, and the pink copies are retained by 
the janitor as his record. Carbon paper should be used to make 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 189 

these copies. The copies retained by the janitor should be filed 
in permanent boxes or cases in chronological order for each 
form. School officials should realize that the janitor is a busy 
man and should limit his record making to essential features. 

Information Sheet 

When a substitute janitor is working, certain information 
may be needed in a hurry. The janitor should make up a sheet 
showing this information. One copy should be placed on the 
wall of his work room, one copy should be filed with the 
principal, and one filed with the superintendent of buildings 
and grounds. A sheet similar to the following is often used. 



Form 1 

Information Sheet 

Public Schools 

Building 

, 19 

Janitor Home Address Phone number 

Fire Pept. Tel. No Business Office Tel. No 

Location of: Fire alarms 

Fire Doors 

Fire extinguishers 

Water cut-off . . Gas cut-off . . Electric cut-off . 



Inventory Record 

Some time during the year, probably near the close of the 
school year, the janitor should make up an inventory of district 
owned janitorial supplies and equipment on hand. This record 



190 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

will serve as a check on supplies used and to some extent as a 
basis for future needs. There are two forms which are used 
frequently. The more simple forms show a record of supplies 
and equipment now on hand. In order to check use one must 
refer to purchase orders and to inventories of the preceding 
year. The other form often used shows the amount on hand 
at first of year, the amount or number purchased, the amount 
used during the year, and the amount now on hand. Separate 
forms should be provided for equipment and supplies. Printed 
or mimeographed forms save time and are more practical if 
supplies and equipment are standardized. Blank spaces should 
be provided for articles not shown on the list. The copy of a form 
is shown here. When used only for checking or inventory pur- 
poses all but one or two columns may be left blank. When com- 
pletely filled, it provides a continuing record. 



Form 2 



Inventory 



Filled in by 



Public Schools 
Building 



19. 



Loose Equipment 



Number 

on Hand 

Last Report 



Number Number Number 

Article Received Used Up Now Qn 

Durmg or Hand 

Year Worn Out 



Condition 



Snow Shovel 



One fair, one 
much worn 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 191 

It is quite important that the janitor have a record of the sup- 
plies used during the year. The differences in quality may make 
it necessary for the janitor to use trade names. If the supplies 
used are standardized this record will be simplified. Quantities 
will be recorded in pints, quarts, gallons, pounds, cases, yards, 
or feet. In making up these forms in the main office the names 
of the articles can be inserted with spaces left blank for the 
janitor to fill in other articles. It would also be possible for the 
office to fill in the columns showing carry over from last year 
and the quantity received. In either case, the janitor should 
check these quantities with his own records. 



Form 2 A 

Inventory Record 

Public Schools 

Building 

Filled in by , 19. ... 

Janitorial Supplies 

Quantity Quantity Quantify Remarks as to 

on Hand Description Received Quantity NQW Q * Value of, Need, 

Last of Supply During Consumed Han<J or Recommenda- 

Report Year tions 

2 cases 9x 72 folded 70 cases 7 7 cases 7 case Too soft 
paper towels 



H It 



2 gal Pene- 20 gal. 78 gal. 4 gal. Satisfactory 

trating floor 
seal 



192 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

These forms need be filled out only once each year. 

Supply and Equipment Requisitions 

Many of the progressive schools now use some form of a 
requisition blank. If the school has a regular form of requisition 
these will be used by the janitor. If none are available he may 
find it necessary to have forms made up in the business office. 
If supplies are budgeted he may need to carry forward the 



Form 3 

Requisition 

Public Schools 

Building 

Requested by ,19 

Please deliver the following . . to this building: 

equipment 

Number or Quantity Description Remarks 

2 gallons Liquid hand soap None 



Approved by 

Prin. Supervisor 

Delivered date 

Refused " 



Original allotment this article 

Last balance due 

This request 

New balance " " 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 193 

balance of his yearly allotment of that particular article. In 
some cases the business office will report balances. In sending 
in requisition forms the janitor should turn in two blanks so 
that one may be returned to him with the goods. If the requi- 
sition is not honored one copy should be returned to the janitor 
with denial or refusal noted. His record should show disposi- 
tion of request. In school systems where a central store room 
is maintained the requisition may go first to the principal or 
the superintendent of buildings for approval and then to the 
store room keeper. In districts where a central store room is 
maintained it is customary to keep most of the supplies in the 
central store room and to make general deliveries weekly or 
monthly. In other schools enough supplies to last one semester 
or one year will be delivered at one time. The local practice 
will determine the amount of material to be requisitioned at 
one time. The sample requisition form shown on opposite page 
may need to be changed to suit local regulations. 

If the bottom part of this requisition showing balances is 
used it limits each requisition to one article. In many small 
systems this part of the requisition is omitted. The local regu- 
lations and practices will determine whether balances available 
should be carried forward. 

Record of Goocfs Received 

After supplies are requested the janitor should have a record 
of the amounts and type of supplies delivered. In many cases 
where there is no central store room the janitor will be re- 
sponsible for receiving freight, express, or local deliveries of 
books, fuel, and various other supplies. In order to protect the 
district he should make some record of such deliveries and the 
condition of the goods received. A sample record form for this 
purpose is shown here. As with other forms one copy should be 



194 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

retained by the janitor, one copy sent to the principal or super- 
visor in charge, and one copy to the delivering agent. The 
janitor should not sign company receipts for goods which are 
damaged or short in count unless such deficiency is noted on 
the receipt. 



Form 4 

Goods Received 



Public Schools 
Building 



From Delivered by 

Company or store room 



Number or Name or 

Quantity Description In Good Order Damaged or Short 



(Any acceptance of broken containers or damaged goods subject 
to later adjustment) 



tons lump coal 

T c 

Signed 

Jan/for 

(If damaged, either do not accept or note damages) 



Repairs and Job Sheets 

In some schools the janitor is required to maintain a record 
of requests for repairs that he cannot make and a time record 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 195 

of the men making these repairs. He may also be required to 
report special tasks. Some of these records are quite valu- 
able. In large school systems where a roving maintenance 
squad is maintained some form of job repair request is es- 
sential. If no repair force is maintained and the work is done 
by private companies or individuals employed for that job, the 
school officials may wish to know the type of work done and 
the time required. In either case, the janitor is best qualified to 
check on the time consumed. In no case should this report 
keeping be permitted to become burdensome to the janitor. In 
the smaller school systems a part of these reports may not be 
needed. Samples of some of the forms now used are shown 
here. 



Form 5 



Job or Repair Request 

Public Schools 

Building 



Requested by , 19. 

Janitor 



Type of Difficulty or 

Repair Needed Location Remarks 



Sewer line choked Somewhere on grounds Needed at once as 
on north side of building toilets are flooding 



196 



THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 



Form 6 



Job Report 



Reported by 



Public Schools 
.Building 



19. 



Janitor 



Nature of Job 
Done 



Work Done by 

Company or 

Individual 



Time Consumed Results Obtained 



Opening closed Brown Co., 
sewer A. J. Brown 

working 



hours 



Satisfactory 



The janitor can use the same form to show some task that 
he has performed by inserting self in the proper column to 
show who did the work. 

Local conditions and regulations may make it desirable for 
the janitor to keep a number of records on pupil activities and 
on the consumption of water, gas, or electricity. In some schools 
he obtains a report of temperature readings in the various 
rooms. Some of these protect him from later criticism and others 
serve as a check on meter readers. 

Service Mefer Records 

The janitor should make a record of meter readings. It is 
desirable that he read the meters at the time they are read by 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 197 

the service company. While the janitor cannot be held re- 
sponsible for excess usage, his records may be of value in check- 
ing consumption. Samples of various meter record forms are 
shown here. 



Form 7 



Water Meter Record 

Public Schools 

Building 



Reported by , 19. 

Janitor 



Amount Consumed 

Reading Reading Amount Consumed Same Month 

Last Month This Month This Month Last Year 



Similar forms except as to headings may be used, Form 8 
for electric current and Form 9 for gas consumption. 

Reports on Pupils 

While it is a generally recognized fact that janitors should 
not punish pupils, they are sometimes required to report glass 
breakage, or certain rule infractions by pupils. Naturally, the 
janitor wishes to reduce his reports to a minimum but for self 
protection some reports may be necessary. If the janitor has a 
record of such accidents or infractions he will not need to 



198 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

depend on memory alone if later investigations become neces- 
sary. The sample form shown here may be used for breakage, 
accident or rule infraction. 



Form 10 



Report of Breakage, Accident or Rule Infraction 

Public Schools 

Building 

Reported by ,19. 



Name of Incident Done by Time Remarks 

Broke 2 win- James Brown 4:30 Tuesday Playing ball on 

dow panes and ofhers October 21, school grounds 

Room 27 1939 offer school 



Temperature Records 

In many cases teachers complain that their rooms are not 
heating. Sometimes the janitor is sure that the rooms are hot 
enough. At other times he wishes a record to show the lack of 
heat at certain hours of the day. It is difficult for him to visit 
these rooms each hour because of the danger of disturbing class 
activities. A record kept in the room by the pupils is often 
more convincing to the teacher and less trouble for the janitor. 
While it is not recommended that a complete record of room 



Room Temperature 


Form 1 1 

Record 

19 


RuilrJmr 


J 




-. Month 


At the hour designated show in the pi 
cated on the room thermometer. Day 
fourth weeks of the school month en 


oper column record of the temperature indi- 
s listed are for the first, second, third, and 
ding , 19 




Day Hours When Record Is Made and Temperature at Time 




9:00 A.M. 


10:OOA.M. 


11:00 A.M. 


1:00 P.M. 


2:00 P.M. 


3:00 P.M. 


Monday 














Tuesday 














Wednesday 














Thursday 














Friday 




























Monday 














Tuesday 














Wednesday 














Thursday 














Friday 




























Monday 














Tuesday 














Wednesday 














Thursday 














Friday 




























Monday 














Tuesday 














Wednesday 














Thursday 














Friday 















199 



200 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

temperatures be maintained of all rooms, an occasional record 
may at times be valuable. The room temperature record shown 
here is for one month. The blank space is filled in at the hours 
designated by some pupil monitor appointed by the teacher. 
Pupils are usually glad for an opportunity to do this. The record 
is usually tacked on the bulletin board and is taken down at 
the end of the month. 

P It is desirable to have some record of the time certain floors 
were treated, walls painted, or other improvements made. It 
may also be desirable to have some record of the type and 
quantities of materials used. In some cases these reports may 
be made on Form 6. There are so many different improvement 
tasks that a separate report form for each may not be necessary. 
As a rule, these forms are made up as needed and to fit the 
local demand. 

Stock Room Records 

The records and reports outlined here do not cover stock 
room control. Such forms will probably be developed by the 
business office. It is not wise for the janitor to permit record- 
keeping to take up too much of his time. He should keep some 
records and the forms outlined here may be of value to him in 
his record keeping. 

Office Records 

In a modern school system there should be some central 
office records of the janitor and his work. There will also be 
some records of supplies and equipment used. The janitor has 
no part in preparing these records and forms. The central office 
should keep a complete personnel record of each janitor show- 
ing time of employment, salary, vacation periods, health record, 
and absences. Attached to this there should be a rating sheet or 



DEVELOPING A PLANNED WORK PROGRAM 201 

a record of achievements and failures. It is to be presumed that 
these records will be developed in a fair manner. The janitor 
should realize that these records are of value to him. In too 
many cases good work goes unrewarded and poor work is for- 
gotten because of a lack of accumulative personnel records. 



Chapter 10 

School Floors 

Types and Cleaning 

IN A MODERN school building one may find many types of 
floor surfaces. The janitor may have had no part in selecting 
the floors in his building, but he may have some voice in se- 
lecting new floors for additions or for replacement. It is essen- 
tial that the janitor know the qualities needed in floors. He 
should know the composition and characteristics of various 
flooring materials that he may care for them properly. He 
should realize that floors having slick surfaces are not desirable 
around shop machines, that hard non-resilient floors are not 
satisfactory for playrooms, that bare cement or other masonry 
floors are not suitable for classroom use, and that certain areas 
like library units need soft floors. 

Flooring selected for any school use should have the follow- 
ing characteristics. 

1. It should be adapted to the use for which that particular room was 
designed. In certain areas this will include attractiveness. 

2. It should be sanitary, easy to clean, and non-absorbent of odors and 
water. 

3. It should be relatively safe from slipping, with a smooth uniform 
surface, free from cracks. 

4. It should be durable and wear resistive. 

5. It should be reasonably economical, both as to original cost and as to 
the cost of maintenance. 

6. It should provide the resiliency needed for the purpose for which it 
is used, yet have sufficient rigidity to provide a safe stable floor. 

202 



SCHOOL FLOORS 203 

School floor surfaces may be divided into four general types 
based on construction. They are wood, masonry, composition, 
and cloth. Here is a brief description of each type. 

Wood Floors 

Wood floors are generally thought of as either hard or soft 
wood floors. However, there are many variations. In addition to 
these variations, there is a difference in the manner of season- 
ing that may play an important part in maintenance. Poorly 
seasoned woods may continue the drying and seasoning process 
after they are laid. This may cause shrinkage that leaves dirt- 
catching cracks between the floor boards. The seasoning process 
that once required months and much care is now done in a 
few hours. If poorly done, the janitor is faced with difficult 
maintenance problems. Although wood floor boards stop 
growth when cut from the forest, the cells retain the ability 
to expand or contract with the presence or absence of moisture. 
This tendency may lead to warping and makes it necessary to 
protect the floors from all possibilities of water impregnation. 

Hardwood Floors 

Probably the most common wood used in hardwood floors is 
maple. Maple floors are adapted to many school uses. The 
northern hard maple is a dense wood, and is provided in about 
three grades. The better grades are white in color and free from 
knots. Good maple floors may, if properly protected, outlast the 
building. Good maple cleans easily and polishes under wear. It 
is resistive to indentations. The better grades of maple bear the 
mark of "M.F.M.A." indicating the approval of the Maple 
Flooring Manufacturing Association. Floors of soft maple are 
laid in some school buildings. They seem to have few if any 
advantages over other soft wood floors. 



204 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Oak floors are used in many schools in the central part of 
the United States. The oak provides a hard floor that resists 
wear. It is darker in color than the maple. When the oak is 
quarter sawed it presents an attractive appearance. Because of 
the porous nature of the oak it is usually necessary to fill these 
floors before applying the finish. Some oak has a tendency to 
splinter along the edges if not treated. This makes it less de- 
sirable for use in gymnasium and playroom floors. Oak floors 
take a good finish and provide attractive floors. 

Two other woods that are used extensively in certain states 
are beech and birch. These are dense woods that wear well 
and are attractive in appearance. These take the same treat- 
ment recommended for maple and oak. 

Soffwooc/ Floors 

Of the softer woods, pine, fir, and spruce are most used for 
school floors. These do not wear as well and are more suscep- 
tible to stains than are the hard woods. If laid with the flat 
grain exposed these floors are inclined to splinter and sliver. 
Adequate treatment reduces this tendency to some extent. 
The vertical grain or quarter sawed boards present an attrac- 
tive appearance and wear fairly well. Even with the vertical 
grain flooring there is a tendency for the softer wood to wear 
out leaving ridges of the more dense layers. Preservation and 
surface treatment are essential if these floors are to be main- 
tained in an attractive condition. 

During recent years, floors made of wood block have been 
installed. One such floor is made of short lengths of blocks 
set on end. These blocks are usually of pine and present an 
attractive appearance. A new pecan wood block has recently 
been introduced. These floors are often used in gymnasium 
and shop units. Those set in mastic must be guarded against 



SCHOOL FLOORS 205 

dampness or they will buck up as did the old wood block street 
pavements. The other block floor is made up of short floor 
boards fastened into squares and laid horizontally. They may 
be laid in mastic over a concrete base or may be nailed over 
other wood floors. 

There are also a number of pressed wood floors on the 
market. Most of these are made from sawdust or a form of 
wood pulp made by steaming and exploding wood chips. The 
pulp is tied together with a cement or glue under pressure. 
These floors are usually laid in blocks. They present an at- 
tractive appearance and take the usual wood treatments. The 
binder is susceptible to and may disintegrate from the effects 
of certain chemicals. 

All wood floors contract and expand with changes in the 
moisture content of the surrounding air. This action often 
brings difficulties for the floor maintenance department. If the 
floor does not have expansion facilities the boards may buckle 
or cup. This action is often evident on large gymnasium floors 
where the edge expansion joints are some distance from the 
center of the floor. Unless moisture is kept away from the floor 
and/or ventilation provided, the resulting cupping often makes 
it difficult to maintain a satisfactory floor finish. 

Masonry Floors 

There are many masonry floors but they can usually be 
grouped into three classes; natural stone, manufactured stone, 
and clay products such as tile. While not suited for use in 
classrooms and in playrooms these floors do have a place in 
school buildings, particularly in corridors, stairways, shower, 
and toilet rooms. These floors lack resiliency but if properly 
surfaced do have good wearing qualities. 



206 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Natural Stone 

The natural stone most often found in school buildings is 
marble. It is used for lobby and corridor floors and for stair- 
ways. The marble coming from Vermont usually has a smooth 
dense texture, while the Tennessee and Georgia marble often 
has a granular texture. Marble has a composition similar to 
that of limestone and is subject to damage from acid, strong 
alkaline, and abrasive cleaners. It wears well but because of 
the difficulty in obtaining the same hardness in all pieces may 
show small depressions or holes from the effect of wear. Care- 
ful treatment is necessary to preserve the beauty of marble 
floors. 

Travertine is a porous straw colored stone found in some of 
the western states. It hardens when exposed to air and makes an 
attractive floor. It absorbs stains and does not resist wear as 
well as marble. 

Slate floors are seldom used in school buildings and are not 
recommended for schools. 

Manufactured Stone 

The most common artificial stone floors are concrete, ter- 
razzo, and magnesite; however, rock asphalt may be classed 
as manufactured stone. 

Concrete 

In addition to its other uses in the building structure, con- 
crete serves as a subfloor for wood, mastic, linoleum, and 
terrazzo floors. It is also extensively used as a floor surface in 
corridors, on stairs, and in toilet rooms. It is perhaps the most 
common masonry floor round in school buildings. Concrete is 



SCHOOL FLOORS 207 

made up of a mixture of rock aggregate, sand, and cement. 
The quality of a concrete floor depends on the mixture, the 
composition, the curing, and the finishing process. If the floor 
is made of the proper proportions and is finished and cured 
properly it should show little blooming (dusting), checking, 
spalling, or pitting. If a concrete floor is not cared for in a 
proper manner it may become ugly and rough with many 
surface checks and pits or holes. If it once starts to wear, dust 
will float in the air and grit will be carried to other finished 
floor surfaces. Natural concrete floors are not very attractive 
and architects now provide a coloring compound along with 
some metallic hardener to give the surface an attractive tint 
and a sheen. The composition of concrete makes it susceptible 
to action from any acid cleaners. It is also injured by strong 
bleaching agents and oils. 

Terrazzo Floors 

The terrazzo floor is probably the most attractive of all the 
artificial masonry floors. It is composed of a surface of marble 
and granite chips embedded in cement. After the floor is laid it 
is ground down to a smooth polished surface. With the proper 
blending of chips and a good binder a durable attractive floor 
can be produced. It offers many possibilities in color combina- 
tions. This floor is laid over a cement or a cement and sand 
base and a good bond is not always obtained. 

Many of the terrazzo floors split and crack. Cleaning 
water carrying cleaning compounds enters these cracks and 
helps to expand the joints. The marble chips contain calcium 
as does the cement and as a result the terrazzo is susceptible to 
disintegration from acids. Strong alkaline cleaners may cause 
terrazzo to dust and pit. Terrazzo is also subject to efflorescence 



208 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

and blooming. Because of these tendencies it is desirable to 
use a hardener or seal as on concrete. Unless these are applied 
properly they make the floor sticky or slick. 

Magnesite Floors 

Magnesite floors are composed of magnesium oxide mixed 
with fillers and binders such as cork, marble chips, and saw- 
dust. These floors are sometimes colored when laid. A chemical 
is added to hasten the set. Sometimes trap rock and sawdust are 
combined in the mix. These floors may be trowelled over an- 
other floor or may be purchased in a block (tile) form. They 
have about the same characteristics, such as blooming and 
susceptibility to acids, as do the concrete floors. These floors 
are less resistant to wear than is concrete and have not been 
used extensively in school buildings. 

Tile Floors 

Tile floors have for many years been used in lobbies and 
entryways where a decorative effect is desired. Because they are 
easy to clean and are resistive to uric acid they have been used 
to a considerable extent in toilet and shower rooms. There are 
several types of tile used in floor construction. The ceramic 
tiles provide a hard impervious surface. They come in colors 
and make an attractive floor. The faience tile are designed by 
hand and have a rough surface. They are used primarily for 
their decorative effect. The glazed (twice burned) and the 
unglazed tile are used for many floors. They come in various 
shapes and during recent years have been used rather exten- 
sively for stair risers and treads. These tile may be of a natural 
color or may be colored in making by use of the proper metallic 
oxides. The color is fixed and there is little fading. Another 
tile that has much use is the red quarry tile. This tile is cheaper 



SCHOOL FLOORS 209 

than the others but gives equal service although it is not quite 
as attractive in appearance. 

The tile floors seem more uniform in texture than are the 
different slabs of stone used in stone floors and the floor shows 
less wear. The tiles have a surface that resists the effects of 
ordinary cleaning compounds. They are easily cleaned. The 
ceramic and faience tile are usually laid in small blocks. The 
red quarry tile, often used for corridors, is usually laid in larger 
blocks, square, triangular, or hexagonal in shape. Tile floors 
are slightly alkaline and may effloresce if not treated. The 
quarry tile may become dull in color if not treated. The weak 
point in tile floors is usually in the seam or joint. The grouting 
or cement is subject to deterioration from acids and alkalies. 
If the grouting or binder gives way the tiles becomes loose. 
Tile floors may turn brown from the effect of iron stains. 

Crysfa///zaf/on 

All masonry floors are subject to deterioration from crystal- 
lization. This fact is often overlooked by janitors. Strong clean- 
ing salts (some alkalies) when used in cleaning may enter the 
pores in the floor. If not washed or rinsed out they remain in 
the pores. As they dry they tend to crystallize and exert a 
powerful force on the sides of the pores as they contract and 
expand. At the next washing they are again dissolved and if 
allowed to remain repeat the process over and over. 

Composition Floors 

The demand for resilient floors which are both attractive 
and durable has led to the development of a number of com- 
position floors such as rubber, linoleum, cork, and mastic or 
asphalt. Each of these floors has certain properties adapting it 
for use in some part of the school building. 



210 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Rubber Floors 

The rubber floors are composed of a vulcanized rubber and 
some filler. The filler may be either mineral or organic matter. 
Some of these floors are of the same material throughout and 
some have cushion backs of softer materials. Experience seems 
to indicate that the solid pieces wear better and last longer. 
These floors come in blocks or in wide strips like linoleum. 
They are usually quite resilient and silent, and are popular 
for use in corridors or libraries where quiet floors are desired. 
The soft rubber strips do not permit much slipping. They do 
not creep or wrinkle as do lighter materials and hence are often 
used for sloping aisles in auditorium units. Rubber tile are 
usually glued to a concrete base but the rubber strips may be 
loose. Rubber floors are wear resistive but are subject to damage 
from sunlight and air which may oxidize the rubber. They are 
also injured by oils and abrasives. They resist water but wash- 
ing with soap may cause disintegration. They may also be 
damaged by any wax containing a spirit solvent. 

Linoleum 

The linoleum floors have been used in school buildings for 
many years. The linoleum floor coverings generally used in 
school buildings are known as battleship, inlaid, and printed 
linoleums. One of the chief ingredients of linoleum is oxidized 
linseed oil, hence, the name. Battleship and inlaid linoleums 
also include cork, resin, and some coloring material. All of 
these are pressed into and tied with a burlap backing. As a 
rule the battleship linoleums are gray, green, or brown in a 
solid color. The inlaid linoleum is similarly made except that 
there is a color pattern. There is also a cheaper linoleum with 
an asphalt base, this is not generally used in school buildings. 



SCHOOL FLOORS 211 

Linoleum floor coverings may be obtained in blocks or in 
rolls, but the roll form seems to be more commonly used in 
school buildings. The linoleum floors absorb little moisture. 
They are not very resistant to abrasive action and should be 
surfaced with a material that may be replaced easily if traffic 
lanes appear. Most linoleum floors are rather easily indented 
by chair legs and heavy furniture; however, they are not as 
susceptible to temperature changes as some of the mastic floors. 
Linoleum floors should not be cleaned with a strong alkaline 
cleaner, nor should they be subjected to a spirit float wax. These 
floors can be cleaned easily by the use of a neutral cleaner. 
They are resilient and silent, hence, are liked for classroom 
and library use. Some schools also use them for corridors. They 
seem to give best service when laid over a smooth concrete 
or other masonry surface. They may be laid over a wood sur- 
face, if a heavy paper is placed between the linoleum and wood. 
However, there seems to be some danger of rotting the wood 
under the linoleum. 

Cork Floors 

Cork floors are often found in library and kindergarten 
units. The cork may be obtained in tile form or in rolls. Each 
type is glued to the underfloor. The cork flooring is composed 
of cork chips pressed and bound together with a binder. The 
floor will deteriorate if any cleaning agent which may dissolve 
the binder is used. These floors usually come in tan or brown 
colors. These floors are resilient and quite durable if given 
proper protection. They may be sanded lightly or buffed with 
steel wool. They absorb moisture and stains. For protection 
they should be treated with a light application of water emul- 
sion wax or other substance that does not reduce too much 
the resiliency or the acoustical properties. 



212 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Mast ic and Asphalt Tile Floors 

The term mastic or asphalt floors is applied to both the 
poured (trowelled) and the composition tile floors. The chief 
ingredients of these floors are asphalt, with a high melting 
point, and a filler of asbestos and/or other mineral. The trow- 
elled mastic once had wide use. However, the floors wore out 
in traffic lanes and were hard to patch without showing the 
patch. Most of the asphalt floors laid today are in tile form. 
These tile come in a variety of solid or marbleized colors. They 
offer many possibilities for borders and for decorative effects. 

The asphalt is not much affected by moisture and the tile 
are usually laid in a moisture resistant cement. For this reason 
these floors are preferred over linoleum for damp ground and 
basement floors. The older tiles were soft and showed many 
indentations from furniture legs. The newer tile are harder and 
not so easily indented. Intense heat will cause the tile to soften. 
The tile are also susceptible to extreme dryness. Because of this 
tendency many janitors find it necessary to mop or moisten tile 
floors above the ground to prevent them from becoming dry 
and brittle. These floors are rather hard when dry or when 
coated with a wax loaded with gums. They will also become 
slick when treated with heavily gummed waxes. They are 
susceptible to damage from oils, gasoline, or naphtha. They 
should not be subjected to oils or a wax with a spirit solvent. 
Strong alkalies may cause the color to fade but this tendency 
is not so pronounced in the newer tile. If one tile is damaged 
it is easily replaced by the janitor. 

Cautions for Composition Floors 

The composition floors should be laid over a smooth solid 
base. If the base is rough, it is impossible to secure a good bond 



SCHOOL FLOORS 213 

and the roughness shows up through the composition floor 
covering. Composition floors should not be laid over a wood 
base. They dry out and show the lines of the floor beneath. 
Asphalt tile may crack when laid over wood. Composition 
should not be laid over green or poorly cured concrete. When 
this is done the composition floor often becomes soft and is 
easily marked and indented by the furniture. 

Rugs and Carpets 

Rugs and carpets are not generally used for schoolroom 
floors. However, many school janitors have some cloth or rug 
coverings in office units, restrooms, and in other parts of the 
building. It is not necessary for the school janitor to make an 
extensive study of rugs, but he should know something of the 
composition of rugs so that he will be qualified to care for those 
found in his building. Most rugs have a wool base, bound 
together by a backing or inner web of wool, jute, cotton, or 
linen threads. Rugs are generally known by the name Ax- 
minster, Wilton, Velvet, Brussels, and Ingram, each of which 
is slightly different in type of construction and weave. Most 
of the rugs used in school buildings are what is known as 
loop-pile-weave with the piles forming the wearing surface. 
Some of these rugs, particularly the Velvet, Wilton, and Ax- 
minster, have a pile or nap that will flatten down with the 
pressure of furniture and foot treads. This flattening may cause 
an apparent variation in shade and the effect is more noticeable 
on the plain colored than on the flowered rugs. Frequent turn- 
ing of the rug to bring the wear in different spots may reduce 
the effect of traffic wear and the flattening of the piles. All rugs 
are subject to deterioration from any agency which may injure 
the cotton, linen, or wool fabric, or that may affect the color 
and sizing. 



214 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

No floor sweeping compound should be used on the rugs. 
The corn broom should be barred, and the sweeping brush 
used on waxed or oiled floor should not be used on the rug. 
The best cleaning method seems to be the use of the vacuum 
cleaner. If a vacuum system is not available, the rug should 
be cleaned by the use of a hand sweeper. The janitor should 
avoid the use of water or other liquids on the rug without the 
advice of one trained in rug care. In many cases, the use of 
liquid cleaner by an uninformed maintenance force has re- 
moved the sizing from the rug, thus permitting it to become 
limp and to wrinkle on the floor. 

It is not possible to secure the type of floor desired if the sup- 
porting members do not give sufficient rigidity and strength 
to prevent springing or sagging. Any floor that vibrates as 
pupils walk across it may sooner or later have small cracks to 
catch dirt. On the other hand, good school floors must be so 
designed that in addition to the rigid support they have a 
surface that is not too hard for schoolroom use. After securing 
rigid construction it is desirable to select a surfacing material 
suitable for use in each particular room. Regardless of the type 
of material used, the floor cannot be expected to give the best 
results unless it is given proper care. 

Cleaning School Floors 

For many years little attention was given to school floors. 
Treatments given, if any, bleached the wood or permitted the 
building up of accumulations of dirt and oils to make the floors 
dark and unattractive. Floors represent a considerable part of 
the cost of school buildings. They play a most important part 
in the appearance of the building and particularly of the school 
room. They are the part of the building most used and often- 
times the part most abused. Good school plant floors properly 



SCHOOL FLOORS 215 

maintained don't "just happen." They are the results of proper 
construction and proper care. In most cases the maintenance 
janitor is not consulted on the type of floors installed in new 
buildings. He must adapt his maintenance methods to the type 
of floors in the buildings. When he has an opportunity to ad- 
vise on floor replacement, he should consider adaptability, dura- 
bility, and ease of maintenance. He plays an important part 
in maintenance. Proper floor care involves much study and a 
considerable amount of work. Many school administrators have 
not had an opportunity to study the principles of floor mainte- 
nance. Until recently, school janitors learned what they could 
about floors by a trial and error or experience method and by 
absorbing information given them by agents of various supply 
companies. These methods were somewhat wasteful of time 
and often confusing. The alert, wide-awake janitor of today 
realizes that he must be something of a floor expert. He realizes 
the importance of attractive floors to the appearance of the 
school and to the school itself. He knows that floors cost money 
and that neglect over a short period of time permits floors to 
deteriorate. 

Adequate Floor Maintenance 

If floors are to be maintained in a good condition at an 
economical cost, they must be given a suitable surface. Rough 
floors wear more rapidly than smooth floors. Certain chemical 
compounds will harm floors. Some floors will discolor from 
the use of oils, others from acids, and others from strong alka- 
line treatments. The janitor who knows floors will not permit 
accumulations of dirt, will not use cleaning preparations that 
mar the surface, or allow them to deteriorate from lack of 
care. In the following discussion of floors, the term "condition- 
ing" floors will mean the setting up of new floors, putting them 



216 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

in shape for use. The term "reconditioning" floors will mean 
setting up of old floors, either by resurfacing or otherwise, to 
make them suitable for use. The term "maintenance" will 
mean the current treatment that maintains the surface set up 
in the conditioning or reconditioning activities. The term 
"cleaning" may refer to daily cleaning or to periodic cleaning 
by mopping or by scrubbing. School floor care and preservation 
may be more costly if the janitor does not know the type of 
maintenance best suited for each particular floor. The janitor 
should have some record of his maintenance costs and have a 
well developed plan showing which floors are to be recondi- 
tioned each year and showing how long certain treatments 
stand up under the wear in that particular room or rooms. 

Scrubbing and Mopping 

There is a distinct difference between the terms "scrubbing" 
and "mopping." Scrubbing as used here refers to a scouring 
or to that activity that is necessary to remove accumulations of 
dirt. It is often stated that scrubbing involves the use of some 
chemical action to help wet the floor and much elbow grease 
to loosen the dirt from the floor. On the other hand, mopping 
might be termed damp sweeping. Mopping is not done for the 
purpose of removing accumulations of dirt but to remove dust 
films and small amounts of dirt that may collect on floor sur- 
faces. In neither case is it possible to set up a schedule of fre- 
quency for mopping or scrubbing for all floors. At one time, 
floors were scrubbed monthly. Today floors are scrubbed only 
at rare intervals when it is desirable to change the type of 
finish or to remove old accumulations of dirt that cannot be 
removed otherwise. In many schools, it is a practice to mop 
marble, tile and terrazzo floors weekly, although some janitors 
mop these floors more frequently in dirty areas. Most treated 



SCHOOL FLOORS 217 

floors of wood or composition are never scrubbed unless it is 
necessary to remove the old treatment. Some treated floors, 
particularly those of masonry, are mopped twice a week. 

Floor Cleaning Compounds 

Under previous sections, some mention was made of various 
cleaning compounds for floors. It seems desirable here to show 
the application of some of these cleaning compounds to the 
floor. Floor cleaning compounds might be grouped into about 
three classes; the abrasives which clean by friction, the chemi- 
cals which clean by dissolving or by chemical action, and soaps 
or other material of the soap family which aid in wetting the 
floor and also in loosening the dirt. The janitor should under- 
stand that either of these three cleaning agents may be valuable 
on certain floors while on other floors each or all of them may 
be harmful. Abrasives are of value only for scrubbing. There is 
always a danger that the abrasive will be too harsh and that it 
may scratch the floor. Some authorities recommend the use of 
abrasives that will pass a 100 mesh screen but which will not 
pass a 300 mesh screen. Most abrasives are made of such ele- 
ments as volcanic ash, lava, tripoli, and fine sand, or bone meal. 
In general, the less harsh abrasives like tripoli, lava, calcium, 
soap stone, or volcanic ash are to be preferred. Ground bone is 
sometimes used but it seems to break down and get gummy 
under pressure and heat. There should be little free alkali in 
the abrasive but there may be some soap in order to make it 
easier to rinse the dirt off the floor. Abrasives are never used 
in mopping and not always in scrubbing. Some acids are used 
to clean spots off the floors in various places. There are a 
number of instances where the acids may be of value in re- 
moving spots from floors. The janitor should be careful in the 
use of muriatic acid or oxalic acid. The stronger acids may 



218 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

attack the grouting around the chips in the terrazzo floors and 
may attack the marble chips. Acids may also attack the mortar 
used around tile floor sections. 

The chemicals most often used in floor cleaning are the 
alkalies such as sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and 
ammonia. The alkaline solutions aid in wetting the floor and 
the dirt on the floors but they may also be harmful to the floor 
surface. Strong salts or alkalies if put on marble will help to 
clean it but that part which remains on the floor may crystallize 
when dry and as it crystallizes it exerts pressure that may in 
time cause pitting or chipping. Strong alkali such as lye may 
burn wood surfaces and cause them to turn red. A small 
amount of alkali, properly administered, will help break down 
the hardness in the water and will help precipitate certain 
sulphates in the water, thus aiding the water to wet the sur- 
faces to be cleaned. Janitors sometimes add a mild alkali like 
tri-sodium phosphate to the water, a small amount at a time, 
until they determine by feeling when the water is slippery or 
slick. By measuring the amount used, they then have an idea 
as to the amount required for the same amount of water later. 
However, the janitor will need to know that the hardness of 
the water may vary with the season, even in the same location. 
Judiciously used, alkalies may be a great benefit in cleaning. 

Water and soap are universal cleaners for floors. Even soaps 
may be strong enough to injure the floors. As a rule, the janitor 
feels safe in using neutral soap or one containing a small 
amount of alkali. There are many floor cleaning compounds 
on the market. Most of them have value. On the other hand 
some of them contain ingredients that are distinctly harmful 
to certain floor surfaces. The janitor should know the com- 
position of the material placed on his floors. In many cases he 
can prepare his own cleaning compounds. 



SCHOOL FLOORS 219 

School officials should select scrubbing compounds with 
care. They should understand that some floors are seldom 
scrubbed, and that certain other floors are scrubbed only when 
wishing to remove old finish before retreating. In many cases 
these old finishes may be removed by the use of steel wool and 
scrubbing. In general, strong alkalies and coarse abrasives 
should be used only in extreme cases. Floors and floor condi- 
tions vary and it is difficult to set up any one procedure ap- 
plicable to all floors. Some janitors set up a scrubbing schedule 
similar to the following: 

I. General: 

1. Water. 

a) Use hot water. 

b) Break water with T.S.P. until it is slippery. 

c) Apply water to only small area at a time. 

d) Pick up old water, rinse. 

2. Abrasive. 

a) Use mild abrasive. 

b) Apply friction. 

II. Old rough floors: 

1. If covered with oil and grime. 

a) Apply abrasive on dampened floor. 

b) Add water soap solution alkaline until water feels slippery. 

2. Old floors, dirty but no oil. 

a) Use mild abrasive. 

b) Use neutral soap. 

III. Treated wood floors: 

1. Scrubbing compound will depend on type of floor treatment. 

a) On spirit solvent wax use T.S.P. 

b) Use mild abrasive. 

c) Use neutral soap. 

IV. Masonry floors: 

1. Concrete. 

a) If rough and very dirty use treatment recommended for 
dirty wood floors. 



220 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

b) If smooth use mild abrasive, neutral soap, and small 
amount of T.S.P. 

c) Avoid use of acids or strong alkalies. 

2. Terrazzo, tile. 

a) Use treatment recommended for smooth concrete. 

3. Marble. 

a) Clear water, can break slightly with T.S.P. 

b) Small amount of neutral soap if used wisely and if rinsed 
off. 

V. Linoleum and asphalt: 

1. Can mop, but scrubbing seldom needed. 

A small amount of pine oil can be added to scrub water if 
desired. Rinsing is essential. Practically the same cleaning com- 
pounds with the exception of the abrasives are used in mop- 
ping; however, much less soap is used in the mop water. 

Scrubbing Tools 

One of the best scrubbing tools is the electric scrubbing ma- 
chine having a fiber brush. These machines come with cylinder 
or disc brushes. When using the disc brush most janitors pre- 
fer the single disc. Few men seem to care for the tank mounted 
over the brush. In addition to the scrubbing machine, scrubbing 
brushes will be needed. One of these should be a small hand 
brush with square corners to be used where the large brush does 
not reach. The other may be a long handled brush used for simi- 
lar purposes. These should have fibers stiff enough to be used as 
a friction agent in removing dirt. It will also be necessary to 
have at least two pails, one for hot scrub water and one for 
rinse water. It will be desirable to have a squeegee, the size 
depending upon the floor area to be scrubbed, and a pick-up 
pan. The pick-up pan is one with the hump at the edge which 
permits the water to be pushed up into the pan without run- 
ning back on the floor. It will also be desirable to have one 



SCHOOL FLOORS 221 

pick-up mop to be used in picking up water in places where it 
cannot be reached with the squeegee. The janitor should re- 
member that scrubbing is most easily done with hot water, 
since hot water of about 150 degrees aids in dissolving greases. 
The squeegee should probably be about 16" long of three-ply 
flexible rubber. It should be attached to a light metal frame in 
order to permit rapid use. 

Mopping Tools 

The mopping tools will be somewhat different from those 
used for scrubbing. The mops are usually about twenty to 
thirty-two ounces in size. While the size should depend on the 
man, it is usually understood that light mops are time wasters. 
The mop handle should be about the same height as the man 
using it. The janitor should learn how to use mops. It is 
desirable for him to trim off loose strings on the mop. He must 
remember that a dirty mop is useless. He should know that a 
mop is primed by soaking it before it is put into use. When he 
is through using the mop, he should rinse it and hang it up 
with the handle down. This permits the mop to spread out and 
dry more rapidly. The selection of a mop will be largely up 
to the janitor. Linen lasts longer than cotton, but may not have 
as much absorbency. In general, wear and absorbency are not 
compatible. 

It will be necessary to have at least two pails for mopping; 
one for dirty water and one for rinse water. It is also desirable 
to have screens that fit in the bottom of the pail so that any 
dirt that is dropped into the pail may pass through this screen 
and be out of the way of the mop when it is dipped. The 
janitor can make a screen of this type. The screen should be 
a little smaller than the size of the bottom of the pail. A mop 
wringer should be attached to the pail. The squeezer type 



222 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

wringer seems to give best results. The size of the squeezer 
should be adapted to the size of the mop used. For mopping 
large areas, some janitors prefer to use a small truck on coasters 
with both pails on this truck. Some janitors use a large truck 
with a tank on it. The tank is good for mopping large areas, 
but it is difficult to move up and down stairways. 

One cannot measure the number of tools needed by the 
number of men working in the building. In large buildings 
where several men are employed it is not necessary to allot so 
many tools to each man. However, in smaller buildings where 
only one man is employed, a full equipment of mopping tools 
is essential. All tools should be properly cared for. Mops should 
be washed and rinsed. Squeegee heads should be wiped clean 
and hung up. Mop pails should be cleaned after each use. 

Mopping Methods 

As stated previously, mopping and scrubbing are two differ- 
ent procedures. Methods of mopping will vary with the type 
of room, the equipment, the condition of the floors, and the 
tools available. It is not easy to mop classrooms with fixed seats. 
Where possible, it is better to move the seats. Rooms of this 
type are usually swept or cleaned daily with a process that does 
not involve the use of a wet mop. If it becomes necessary to 
mop a classroom with fixed seats, it is desirable to start at one 
corner of the room and to mop one aisle at a time. The usual 
mop swing cannot be used in rooms of this type. In general, 
janitors find it preferable to mop certain floors like marble and 
terrazzo frequently. The reason for mopping these floors is 
to remove light applications of dust and dirt. 

The first step in mopping is to have clean water. It is de- 
sirable to have two pails. If necessary, the water may be softened 
by using a small amount of tri-sodium phosphate or neutral 



SCHOOL FLOORS 223 

soap depending on the surface material to be cleaned and the 
condition of the water. The wet mop is dipped in the water 
and wrung out until it does not drip. The janitor then pro- 
ceeds with his mopping, holding the mop in such a shape that 
he can get a full swing of the mop of 2 l / 2 ' to B 1 /^' on either side 
of him. In mopping, he usually walks backward, taking one 
step at a time as he completes his stroke. The mop should 
be held so that the janitor has full swing of his arms. Some 
janitors hold the top of the mop handle with the left hand 
and furnish the power with the right hand. The mop should 
be moved in continuous motion with no pause at the end of 
the stroke. However, the mop should not be jerked so that 
water will be flipped off the end of the mop. The janitor should 
be careful not to brush the mop against the furniture or the 
baseboards. He should remember that dirty mops will not 
clean floors; that the mop should not be too wet, and that the 
water should be changed as often as necessary to keep it clean. 
The wet mop is not a scrubbing tool. 

Scrubbing Methods 

Scrubbing as used in this discussion refers to the removal of 
accumulations of dirt. The removal of this dirt usually involves 
some energy or friction and the use of chemical liquids that 
help to remove the dirt or loosen it from the floor. It is almost 
impossible to satisfactorily scrub a room having fixed furniture 
until the furniture is moved. However, with modern day main- 
tenance, scrubbing is seldom done in any rooms. When 
scrubbing becomes necessary in a classroom it is usually de- 
sirable to start in a corner some distance from the door and to 
scrub a small area at a time. In most cases scrubbing involves 
the use of abrasive powder. If this powder is put into the 
water, it usually settles to the bottom and does little good 



224 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

as an abrasive in scrubbing. Hence, most janitors prefer to 
dampen the floor with water which may or may not be given 
a chemical treatment, depending on the need and on the type 
of floor. The abrasive powder is then sprinkled on the floor and 
the scrubbing brush is applied to loosen the dirt. After the dirt 
is loosened, it is desirable to pick up that which can be picked 
up with the squeegee and pick-up pan. This part of the floor 
that has been scrubbed is rinsed to remove the powder, the 
chemical, and the dirty water before starting to scrub a new 
part of the floor. 

In scrubbing, the janitor will need one pail for scrub water 
and one pail for the rinse water. Under no conditions should 
he neglect the rinse. This is important on any floor. It will be 
necessary for the janitor to use clean water, both for his scrub 
water and for his rinse. After the water becomes dirty it should 
be changed. Scrubbing does not necessarily involve soaking 
and he should avoid using excessive amounts of water. He 
should be careful to clean all corners. Scrubbing can be done 
more easily with the use of a scrubbing machine. These ma- 
chines are equipped with a heavy fiber brush which applies 
the friction necessary to remove the dirt. Even where a scrub- 
bing machine is used it will be necessary to use a hand brush 
or a long handle fiber brush to remove the dirt from the cor- 
ners. In scrubbing the janitor should be careful in the selection 
of cleaning compounds. Strong alkaline or acid cleaners may 
do harm to the floor surfaces. He will need to select his cleaning 
compound to fit the floor to be cleaned. He may need to scrub 
to remove certain accumulations of gummed waxes and oils. 

Dry Cleaning 

Dry cleaning involves the use of steel wool and is done with- 
out any application of water. The steel wool machine is used 



SCHOOL FLOORS 225 

for more purposes than for cleaning. In one respect it replaces 
the old burlap bag on the feet of the janitor or on blocks which 
were once used for buffing floors. The steel wool machine may 
be used for cleaning off old wax or chipped varnish. However, 
the machine may not be effective on some varnished finish. 
One of the most frequent uses of the steel wool machine is that 
of buffing off old wax finish. Oftentimes, the old seal and 
finish must be removed before the new finish is applied. The 
steel wool for these machines comes in various grades. The 
coarser grade used for cutting off varnish is usually Number 3 
or Number 4 wool. 

When the steel wool machine is used to assist in applying 
finish it is first used to remove the old finish and to level 
off the nap of the wood that may have been raised with 
the cleaning process. In this case, the floor must be swept before 
the seal is applied. After the seal is applied and has set for a 
short time the buffing machine may be used to buff the seal 
into the floor. After the second coat of seal is applied, a buffing 
machine may be used again to set the seal. The buffing ma- 
chine is also used to give a finish to waxes that are not self- 
polishing. It may also be needed for waxes which are built up 
with a soap and water content. The water dries out, leaving 
the lighter soap on top of the wax. There is also some pos- 
sibility that when water gets on the floor the soap may unite 
with the water, making a solvent for the wax underneath, thus 
causing it to loosen its bond with the floor. When a wax like 
this is used the buffing may remove the soap finish before it 
gets wet. 

The dry cleaning process has some advantages in that it does 
not add water to harm the floor. It can also be used to buff the 
floor filler which is usually made up of the dust from sanding 
and a good seal. The use of the buffing machines gives a sheen 



226 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to the seal or wax and aids in preventing slipperiness. The 
buffing machine usually uses wool in grades of Number 3 down 
to Number for floor finishing. This wool may be purchased in 
pads or in long rolls. Either type may be used successfully. The 
long roll is usually cut in strips and used on the bottom of a 
special brush or disc applied to the scrubbing machine or on 
special cylinders made for this purpose with certain steel wool 
machines. In any attempt to use steel wool the janitor should be 
careful that the wool does not knot and ball up, thus causing 
the machine to cut the finish in grooves. 



Chapter 11 

School Floor Maintenance 



SATISFACTORY AND ECONOMICAL school floor maintenance can 
best be provided on floors that have been properly condi- 
tioned. The floor expert uses the term "conditioning" in de- 
scribing the preparation of new floors for use. He uses the term 
"reconditioning" when referring to the renovation of old floors. 
The school janitor should know how to prepare or condition, 
floors. He should be familiar with the procedures in sanding, 
scraping, buffing, oiling, sealing, and waxing floors. He should 
know the maintenance practices and procedures best adapted 
for the various types of floors. He should also know how to vary 
his floor treatments and maintenance practices for the various 
schoolrooms or units since the different school activities and 
room use calls for different floor maintenance practices. 

Conditioning and Reconditioning Floors 

There has been much improvement in floors since the time 
when the footing in enclosed spaces was only the natural dirt. 
These floors did have one good quality. They were resilient and 
not hard to walk on. They had little else to recommend 
them. In our changing from the dirt floor we have developed 
some types of floors which may be among the most attractive 
features in the room or rooms if properly cared for. The new 
floors demand a different type of treatment. Two changed de- 
mands for floor service are somewhat opposite in nature. We 



227 



228 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

desire floors that will resist wear for a long period of years, and 
which will at the same time take a surface treatment giving the 
proper luster or sheen. On the other hand, we want floors that 
are somewhat elastic or have a little spring so that they are not 
too hard on the feet of the people walking on them. We also 
want floors that are not too noisy. If it were not for these last 
two requirements we could put masonry floors everywhere. In 
order to get life in the floor we try to put in floors with good 
wearing qualities; then we attempt to use treatments that will 
build a temporary surface in and on the floor in order to give 
the appearance and the degree of softness desired. The type of 
treatment then, must depend on the floor. In general, the sur- 
face treatments range from none to scrubbing, oiling, sealing, 
or sealing and waxing. 

Obfa/ning a Smooff) Floor Surface 

One of the first steps in floor maintenance is to obtain a 
smooth surface. Smooth surfaces look better and wear longer 
than do rough surfaces. Sanding, scraping, or buffing may be 
necessary in order to obtain the surface desired. 

In sanding, a part of the floor surface is cut away with an 
abrasive sandpaper. New wood floors are usually sanded before 
being put into use. There was a time when all sanding was done 
with sandpaper fastened to the bottom of heavy block or brick 
weights. This method did improve the surface but it was ex- 
tremely slow and could not always be controlled. Today sand- 
ing is usually done with a sanding machine which has a disc or 
drum covered with sandpaper and driven by a gasoline or 
electric motor. Many of the larger schools own sanding ma- 
chines while others rent or borrow the machines when needed. 
The janitor who does his own sanding should learn how to use 
the machines. He should know that the machines should be run 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 229 

over the floor at regular speed to avoid digging holes in the floor 
or burning the wood fiber. He should also know the drum or 
disc speed desirable when using the various grades of paper. 
The coarseness of the paper will depend on the type and condi- 
tion of the floor and the job to be done. The paper generally 
used ranges from Number 3 which is coarse to Number 00. On 
rough pine floors he usually starts with Number 3 paper and 
changes to Number ! /z to Number for finishing. 

There is some difference of opinion, relative to the movement 
of the sanding machine. On rough floors most janitors find it 
desirable to run the machine diagonally with the boards in 
making the first cut. Some janitors run the machine crosswise 
of the boards in making the first cut. There is danger that the 
cups in the board may be cut deeper by the inexperienced op- 
erator when running the machine crosswise of the boards, thus 
leaving a surface of humps and hollows. Running the machine 
in a diagonal line across the boards seems to aid in removing 
the cups. After the rough spots have been removed the finer 
paper may be used and the machine run lengthwise of the 
boards. When the janitor has finished he should have a smooth 
floor that does not show scratches and marks from the paper. 
The drum sanding machines can be purchased with drums of 
various sizes. These run from about seven to about twelve inches 
for school use. The disc type machines usually have a grinding 
disc of from about 13 1 / 2 to 15 inches. On convertible machines 
it is desirable to have several pulleys or adjustable gears that 
permit a change of speed when using the machine for various 
purposes. Many schools that are not able to purchase a separate 
sanding machine do purchase convertible machines and then 
use them for light sanding jobs. In using a machine of either 
type the janitor should remember that they are run at a com- 
paratively high speed. All bearings should be of a type that will 



230 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

stand hard usage. They should have adequate protected lubri- 
cating openings. These bearings should be properly oiled. Dust 
should not be permitted to collect in the bearings or in the 
motor. 

Sanding is often one of the necessary steps in reconditioning 
old floors. The janitor should study his floors to determine 
whether sanding is feasible and practical. Some of the older 
floors are so badly worn that sanding is not feasible. Others 
have exposed nail heads that tear the sandpaper. Sanding is 
done to smooth rough floors and to remove old varnish or oil 
finishes. In removing heavy varnish it is often necessary to use 
a Number 3 sandpaper, and it may be necessary to reverse the 
motion of the machine so that the roller turns upward against 
the edge of the cut. This aids in avoiding gumming up the paper 
with the old varnish. Usually it is not necessary to use a coarse 
paper in sanding old maple or oak floors unless the boards are 
badly cupped. A fine grade of paper is also used in sanding cork 
floors. Sanding is one of the effective means of removing surface 
coatings of oil from old floors. Never cut any floor deeper than 
necessary to get smooth surface. 

On some floors where the edges of the boards stand up above 
the rest of the floor, it may be necessary to remove these high 
spots by scraping before sanding. It is impossible to reach all 
corners and edges of the floor with the sanding machine. The 
janitor will find it necessary to use the hand scraper to smooth 
these rough spots. 

The term buffing applies both to conditioning and mainte- 
nance procedures. The buffing machine is used to remove the 
nap from wood floors before and after initial treatments have 
been applied. The buffing machine is also used to smooth and 
set wax finishes after they are applied. The buffing machine 
which is usually a steel wool machine is also of value in condi- 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 231 

tioning certain floors. It is used to remove rough spots or de- 
teriorated surfaces from asphalt or rubber floor surfaces. It may 
be used to remove old applications of seal, varnish, or oil from 
smooth floors. 

Oiling 

Many years ago the schools copied from the neighboring 
housekeepers and scrubbed the school floors frequently. Since 
scrubbing did not hold down the dust and involved a lot of 
labor, janitors tried to combine utility and labor saving by put- 
ting oil on the floors. Oil treatment did not seem bad so long as 
only light applications of a light oil were made and so long as 
frequent scrubbing took up the old oil. However, some janitors 
felt that the oil was a cure for all floor ills and soaked the floors 
in oil, much of which remained on the surface and made the 
floors gummy. Dirt collected on this oil and became imbedded 
in it. Then as new applications of oil and dirt were applied and 
accumulated the floors became black. They absorbed light that 
was brought into the room. They soiled the clothing of the 
children. They were unattractive and unsanitary. 

A part of this difficulty arose from the types of oils used. Oils 
for school room floors may be a vegetable oil such as linseed or 
tung oil, or a mineral oil with a paraffin base. The tung oil and 
linseed oils do serve as wood preservatives and also aid in hold- 
ing down dust. However, each of these is costly and somewhat 
difficult to obtain in a natural state, hence, few schools ever use 
pure linseed or tung oil. The linseed oil has a tendency to 
come up and oxidize, making the floors somewhat dark. The 
paraffin oils have gum in them which may collect on the floor 
and catch dirt, thus making the floor dark. The lighter the 
grade of oil the more penetration it has into the wood and the 
less tendency it has to gum up on the floor. 



232 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

The janitor should understand that there are two types of 
floor oils. One is a cleaning oil composed primarily of kerosene 
and creosote. This oil is highly inflammable and is rarely used 
in school buildings. The penetrating oils contain paraffin, tur- 
pentine, and other ingredients such as pine oil. 

Application of Oil 

Oiling is not generally recommended today for school floors, 
yet it is recognized that there are instances and conditions that 
might make oiling desirable. On some old floors which are in a 
condition that prevents sanding and smoothing for waxing or 
sealing, an application of oil may be about the only possible 
means of dust holding. Even then, floors should not be oiled in 
one room if this room is close to the other rooms with sealed 
and waxed floors for the pupils will carry the oil from one room 
into the room with better floors. Where oiling is done, all old 
oil should be removed before the new oil is applied each year. 
The old oil should be scrubbed or scraped off the floor so that 
none of the dark residue remains. When the new oil is added, 
only a thin coat should be applied. This may be applied with a 
mop or spray. Oil should not be poured on the floor and left to 
soak in. A mop may be dipped in the oil and then rung out 
comparatively dry so that only a thin film of oil is applied to the 
floor. After the oil has been on the floor for a short time, an- 
other mop should be used to take up any that may have col- 
lected in drops. If a janitor uses a spray he can apply the oil 
more easily and perhaps in a better manner. The spray should 
deliver a fine mist of oil to the floor. Under no conditions 
should the spray nozzle be high enough in the air to permit the 
oil to spray on the desks and seats. In either method of appli- 
cation there is no need to apply the oil to the edges around the 
baseboards since this part of the floor does not get any wear. It 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 233 

may be possible for the janitor to make light applications once 
or twice during the year, using the spray or the mop. Oil is not 
often used on hard wood floors, but is used on floors of soft 
wood. Oil is not a preservative and may actually do harm to the 
wood floor. Oil should not be applied on asphalt tile, linoleum, 
or masonry floors. In applying oil the janitor should use only a 
thin oil. Light applications on clean floors are less objectionable 
than the heavy applications over old oil and dirt. 

Sealing Floors 

There are so many different problems involved in sealing and 
treating floors that special sealing for terrazzo and concrete will 
be considered separately. The word seal as used in this section 
refers primarily to the sealing of wood floors. There are two 
general types of wood floor seals; penetrating and surface seals. 
Each of these treatments has its place in school buildings. The 
janitor should understand that seals have a distinct purpose and 
that mineral oils are not classified among the sealing agents. 
The purpose of sealing is primarily to support the grain of the 
wood and to make it impervious to the entrance of water and 
other deteriorating agents. The materials forming the basis of 
the seal are usually oils like tung or linseed oil. The seal must 
fill the wood cells and form a basis for other finish. Bake- 
lite, luxite, or copal gums are often made a part of the seal in 
order to give sheen and finish. This is particularly true of sur- 
face seals. 

Surface Sea/5 

Surface seals are often used on gymnasium floors where wax 
applications are not practical. They also make a good furniture 
finish. These seals have more gums than the penetrating seal. 
At one time copal gums were used extensively in seals. Copal 



234 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

gums have a tendency to turn dark and are not used as much 
now as bakelite. The bakelite content of a seal will depend 
somewhat upon the use desired. If not enough gums are in- 
cluded, the seal may not have the sheen and finish desired, but 
if too much of the gum is used, there may be a tendency for the 
seal to crack and peel from the floor. The finish obtained from 
a good surface seal is somewhat like a lacquer or varnish finish. 
It is costlier but stands up better, however. The surface seal 
for the gymnasium should not powder or turn white or gray 
in color. It should dry in about two hours and should harden 
in about twenty-four hours. It should resist friction burns from 
rubber shoes. It should resist alcohol and mild caustics and 
should provide a hard non-slippery surface. It should be light 
in color and should give good footing for rapid gymnasium 
activities. The solids of a good seal should not separate from 
the liquid when the seal is permitted to stand. 

Penetrating Seals 

The penetrating seals are used for different purposes. They 
are primarily an undercoat serving as a basis for surface treat- 
ment. In wood, the penetrating seals help support the grain and 
become almost a part of the wood structure. While it is difficult 
to get deep penetration in hard woods, the deeper penetration 
does wear longer and protects the wood against other impreg- 
nations. For this reason, the penetrating seal should be made 
thin. Tung oil is one of the basic ingredients of the modern 
penetrating seals. The penetrating seal is usually put on in two 
coats. The first coat gives the greater part of the penetration 
while the second coat bonds to this and in turn furnishes a bond 
for the surface treatment to be placed on it. The penetrating 
seal should dry in about thirty minutes. It is usually applied 
with a lambs wool applicator. About all that the wood will take 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 235 

is applied to the floor. The floor should be clean and dry before 
applying. The janitor should use different mops for sealing and 
waxing. The lambs wool applicator heads do not cost much and 
can be cleaned after use. 

Janitors can sand the top coating off oiled floors and by seal- 
ing immediately can hold down the old oils. This method of 
sealing seems to give better results than to attempt to seal over 
washed or scrubbed surfaces. If the floor has been washed it 
should be thoroughly dried before any attempt is made to seal 
it. In sealing porous woods like oak it may be necessary to use a 
filler first in order that the floor will not absorb excessive 
amounts of the seal. Sealed floors treated with a penetrating 
seal do not provide the complete treatment necessary for class- 
room floors. If the seal is left exposed, dirt collects on it and in 
a short time the floor must be retreated. It is more economical 
to cover these floors with a thin application of floor wax which 
catches and holds the dirt and which can be removed along 
with the dirt. A new wax coating may then be applied. If this 
practice is followed frequently, resealing will not be necessary. 

Waxing Floors 

When wax is placed over an undercoat of preservative seal 
the wax helps to protect the under finish and to hold the dirt. 
The wax does provide an attractive floor finish and if properly 
cared for gives a color that does not absorb excessive amounts 
of schoolroom light. There are several bases for wax prepara- 
tions. One of these is beeswax which is not much used in school 
floor waxes. A second one is ceresin. Carnauba is probably the 
most popular base for school floor waxes. This is derived from 
a Brazilian palm. Other ingredients, such as potassium, turpen- 
tine, ammonia, borax, soap, triethanolamine, mineral oils, or 
gasoline are used. 



236 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

The waxes come in two general forms; paste and liquid. The 
paste is not often used in school buildings. The liquid wax 
comes in two types known as spirit float or spirit solvent and 
water emulsion wax. The spirit solvent wax was used before the 
water wax came into use but it seems today that the water float 
wax is becoming more popular. The spirit solvent wax needs to 
be polished and should not be used on surfaces that may be 
harmed by the spirit solvent. The janitor can make a wax of 
this type by the following formula which is given in the United 
States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, Ma- 
terials for the Household, Circular 70, pages 2, 3, and 4. The 
following ingredients are used: 

Carnauba two parts by weight, Ceresin two parts by weight 
Gasoline high (.725) specific gravity twelve parts 

Melt the wax by setting in vessel of hot water and add turpen- 
tine and gasoline, cooling rapidly, stirring to a creamy mass. Al- 
ways set can in hot water when heating and keep away from 
flames as gasoline and turpentine are inflammable. 

Wafer Emulsion Wax 

This wax is often called a self drying or non-buffing wax. It 
is used in many places and on many types of surfaces. It con- 
tains few or no chemicals harmful to asphalt tile, mastic, or 
cork. The water in the wax applied to the floor dries leaving 
a hard surface. If the floor is wet later, there may be a tendency 
for the water to reemulsify this wax. These waxes are usually 
made up of carnauba or some other suitable wax base in a 
water solvent with soap or certain other ingredients added. 

The U. S. Bureau of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, Cir- 
cular Letter, L. C. 275, outlines on page seven a plan for making 
cheap water emulsion wax. It is about as follows: 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 237 

Dissolve one part (by weight) castile soap in sixteen parts of 
soft water. Heat to boiling. Add four parts (by weight) car- 
nauba wax chips, stirring to a smooth emulsion. Cool by adding 
water to necessary thickness (usually fourteen to sixteen parts 
of water). Let mixture cool and filter through cheese cloth, 
stirring in a small amount of formaldehyde as a preservative. 

The same Bureau of Standards outlines a process of making 
the brighter, water emulsion wax. The procedure is about as 
follows: 

SMALL AMOUNT LARGER QUANTITY 

Carnauba wax (No. 1) 72. grams 6.6 Ib. 

Oleic acid 9.1 milliliters .8 pt 

Triethanolaminc 10.6 mil. .95 pts. 

Borax 5.4 grams .5 Jb. 

Boiling water 500. ml. 5.75 gaL 

Shellac (dry polishing) 10. grams 1.1 Ib. 

Ammonia (28 per cent) 1.75 ml. .175 pL 

Water at room temperature 100. ml. 1. gal. 

A milliliter, (ml.) is the same as a cubic centimeter. 
(Increase in regular multiples for larger quantities.) 

Melt wax and add oleic acid @ 194 F. in hot water bath. Add 
triethanolamine slowly stirring. Dissolve borax in 5 ml. boil- 
ing water and add stir five minutes. Add rest of boiling water 
slowly stirring. Add the 100 ml. of water. Add shellac and 
stir. 

These formulas are not given as an indication that the janitor 
should attempt to make his own wax preparations. He probably 
can purchase better ones. They are given to indicate to him the 
composition of some of the wax preparations and to indicate 
that there is no magic formula in their preparation. 

Application of Wax 

The method of applying wax will vary with the type of floor 
and the type of wax used. A homemade applicator may be 



238 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

made by cutting off a part of the strings of an old short string 
mop. These homemade applicators absorb much of the wax and 
are not as well liked as the lambs wool applicators. In most 
cases, the old wax has some dirt imbedded in it. Remove this 
old wax by buffing or by the use of some solvent before the new 
wax is applied. The new wax should be applied in thin layers. 
Heavy applications may pile up, causing slick places on the 
floor. One coat of wax is usually sufficient, but sometimes two 
coats of wax are applied. With some types of wax, the second 
coat may cause the first coat to soften and lose its bond with the 
floor. The janitor should remember that the wax is to serve as a 
protection for the seal, to hold dust, to provide a cushion, and 
to give a satisfactory appearance to the floor. Any wax in excess 
of the amount needed is wasted. It is not difficult or costly to 
apply another coat when needed. 

There is some difference of opinion on whether buffing of 
wax finish is necessary. The spirit solvent waxes are usually 
buffed and polished. Some janitors regularly buff water emul- 
sion waxes, contending that the buffing gives a sheen immedi- 
ately, and that the buffing removes some of the lighter solvents 
that float to the top of the wax. Other janitors contend that the 
water waxes will be buffed by the shoes of the children in a 
satisfactory manner. Machine or hand buffing does seem to add 
to the wearing qualities of the wax. 

The janitor should not use any spirit solvent wax on asphalt 
tile or linoleum where the solvent might injure the floor. He 
should not expect satisfactory results from wax on a rough floor. 
He should not use a dirty applicator. He should clean the appli- 
cator after each use. He should not wax stair treads. A floor 
that is properly waxed with a good wax will not be tacky. 
Tackiness can be determined by the way shoe heels seem to 
stick to the floor when walking slowly across it. The properly 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 239 

waxed floor will present a dry hard surface. It will not scratch 
easily and it will have a sheen or luster without a high light re- 
fraction. It will be slick and smooth but not too slippery. It will 
have good wearing qualities and will be easy to maintain. It will 
not streak or get dark and will be resistant to rubber burns. 

Other sections have outlined types of floors and methods of 
sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing. Modern school floor main- 
tenance involves more than cleaning. The janitor in charge of 
school buildings must know modern maintenance. It is desir- 
able that he have an accurate knowledge of floors, of preserva- 
tives, and of surfacing compounds. He should also have a back- 
ground of experience in the use, durability, and value of various 
surfacing agents. He must recognize the importance of floors 
and floor care to the building. He must become a floor specialist. 

There are many theories, often conflicting, of the best 
methods to use in floor maintenance. Some practices recom- 
mended and satisfactory for one floor surface may not be at all 
desirable for the same type of floor in another location and used 
under different conditions. Few building planners give ade- 
quate attention to the floor maintenance problems that may 
arise after the building is put into use. The janitor will find it 
necessary to study his floors and to provide the treatment that 
secures the best service possible from the floors that are in the 
building. 

In studying floor finish the janitor should realize that the 
type of finish may vary with the use of the room. For instance, 
gymnasium, library, and shop units may have the same type of 
floors but do not need the same maintenance treatments. Like- 
wise, the age of the floor, the type of furniture used, and the 
condition of the playground may determine the types of floor 
finishes that may be applied. Certain floors may be treated with 
a wax finish while stair treads and gymnasium units should 



240 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

never be waxed. Maintenance methods must be adapted to the 
tools, materials, and man power available and the capable jan- 
itor will maintain his floors in the best possible manner with 
the facilities available. 

Maintenance Practices and Standards 

1. The janitor should know how to maintain an attractive floor with 
the proper sheen in an economical manner. 

2. Proper floor maintenance includes those practices which provide dura- 
bility and preservation. Good finish lasts longer. 

3. The beauty of certain floors should not be marred by a paint that 
completely covers them, oils that soften them, or varnish that may 
chip and peel. 

4. Good finish reduces the burden of daily care. 

5. Bleaching agencies have no place on most floors. 

6. Dust holding power is desirable but tackiness should be avoided. 

In order to maintain floors in a desirable manner with a mini- 
mum cost and labor the janitor must know floors, cleaning 
methods and surfacing agents. He should be able to evaluate the 
claims of salesmen who may promote a material for a use for 
which it is not at all adapted. Since various floors require differ- 
ent treatment it seems desirable to outline some generally ac- 
cepted maintenance practices and to list some cleaning and sur- 
facing materials adapted for use on some of the more common 
floors. 

Cleaning and Surfacing Preparations 

The Procurement Division of the U. S. Treasury Department 
specifications gives detailed description of the standards set up 
for articles purchased by that division. They define one cleaner 
which is usable for certain composition floors as a preparation 
of linseed oil and potash with a coverage of 4000 square feet on 
linoleum or 2000 square feet on mastic. A crack filler of ground 
silica and a volatile liquid dryer should cover about 60 to 70 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 241 

square feet of oak floor for each pound of filler. A water emul- 
sion finish (wax) would have 17 per cent solids of gums and 
vegetable waxes, of which at least seven-tenths should be a 
vegetable wax. It will have a coverage of 1000 square feet per 
gallon on treated wood or composition floors. The same divi- 
sion lists several seals varying in content and composition, de- 
pending on the use for which they are intended. In general, 
they will have some penetrating qualities, will not be slippery, 
and shall have preservative qualities. They will have a coverage 
of from 300 to 400 square feet per gallon. 

As stated previously, floor treatments and floor maintenance 
methods vary with the use of the room or unit. It also varies 
with the type of floor. Since much of the discussion under the 
headings of sealing, waxing, and oiling referred primarily to 
wood floors, that part of the wood floor maintenance procedure 
will not be repeated here. In general the treatment of classroom 
floors preferred by most janitors is first to produce a good sur- 
face. If the floor has been sanded, all loose dust should be wiped 
up with a burlap cloth or a Turkish towel before a finish is ap- 
plied. Next, the janitor applies about all the penetrating seal 
that the floor will take. It is often desirable to buff off the loose 
wood nap before the second coat of seal is applied. The buffing 
may be started before the seal has completely dried. After the 
surface has dried the second coat of seal is applied. After the 
seal has dried the wax finish is applied. 

If the floors need filling, and open grained floors like oak 
often do, a filler can be made by one of several processes. 

1. A simple effective filler can be made by mixing the dust made by 
sanding with a good quick drying seal. 

2. Another filler can be made by mixing one part flour, one part corn 
starch, one part Japan dryer, and one part linseed oil. Mix powders, 
add dryer, and then linseed oil. 



242 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

3. Stick shellac or plastic wood make good fillers, particularly for cracks. 

4. A satisfactory filler may be made of newspaper pulp and alum boiled 
and mixed. 

5. Another filler may be made from powdered silex or silica and linseed 
oil or turpentine and Japan dryer. 

Fillers should be made into a fairly stiff paste. Most janitors 
apply filler after the first coat of seal, others feel that less seal is 
required if the filler is applied first. The filler should be rubbed 
over the floor in a manner to fill pores and cracks. It should be 
buffed in and all surplus removed before applying other treat- 
ments. 

In caring for wood floors the janitor should not apply too 
much wax, use only good seals and waxes, and use no oily 
sweeping compounds on wax or seal finishes. He should not 
attempt to paint or seal over old wax. Worn spots should be 
retouched as soon as they appear in the traffic lanes or the 
aisles. 

Maintaining Masonry Floors 
Marble 

Marble floors where the floor slabs are of equal hardness wear 
well. However, many problems arise in the care of marble. The 
marble is sufficiently porous to absorb stains and one cleaning 
may injure the surface. Oils, tar, and soaps may stain the mar- 
ble. Acids will react on the marble and cause the floor to disinte- 
grate. Coarse abrasives are harmful to marble finish. Stains may 
be removed by a paste poultice but there is some danger that the 
poultice may pit the surface of the marble. Clean water without 
any cleaning compound is usually sufficient for marble. The 
janitor should avoid crystallization from the use of strong salts 
or alkalines. Damp mopping with water containing a mild 
abrasive or a small amount of T.S.P. will usually provide all 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 243 

of the treatment needed for cleaning. Sealing or waxing are not 
usually necessary. 

Concrete Floors 

There are many concrete floor surfaces in school buildings. 
Many of these have not been properly constructed, surfaced, or 
cured. Some of these dust and become pitted. The dust or sand 
that arises serves as an abrasive to cause further wear of the con- 
crete and of the neighboring room floors to which it may be 
carried. Concrete floors are subject to deterioration from the 
effect of acids, from greases, or from strong alkalies. In cleaning 
concrete floors the janitor should be extremely careful in the use 
of gasoline or other inflammable liquids. A mild solution of 
T.S.P. in warm water will usually clean the floor. 

In order to preserve concrete floors many treatments have 
been tried. Wax provides a slick surface but does not seem to 
stand up. Concrete paints or surface treatments containing rub- 
ber asphalt or other flexible materials have been tried. Several 
manufacturers have developed paint treatments that wear well 
and that give good service. However, not many janitors report 
complete satisfaction with any concrete paint preparation for 
floors. The impact of sharp heels on the unyielding concrete 
seems to cut through the finish. Painted concrete floors worn 
into visible traffic lanes are unattractive and are difficult to 
maintain. 

Concrefe Seals 

Probably the most satisfactory treatment to prevent dusting 
and pitting is to seal the floors. Many floors are sealed and hard- 
ened with some metallic oxide seal when constructed. Some of 
these seals add color and seem quite effective. Many of the floors 
were not properly sealed and hardened when laid and the jani- 






244 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

tor must apply some treatment that will preserve the floors and 
prevent further dusting. Some of these pre-hardened floors need 
re-sealing in a year or two. There are a number of seals that may 
be purchased, most of which are quite effective. If the janitor 
does not have these he can prepare his own seal. He may use any 
of the following methods. (A part of these formulas are out- 
lined in "Circular Letter No. 139," October 28, 1921 from the 
United States Bureau of Standards, and in "Circular Letter 
No. 42," issued in February 1923 by the same bureau.) 

1. Aluminum Sulphate treatment 

Add 2 1 / 2 pounds aluminum sulphate to one gallon water and 2 cc sul- 
phuric acid. Mix in barrel or stone jar stir well. Dilute mixture l /2 
for first coat and second one applied one day apart. After another 
day add last coat 2 parts solution and one part water. Apply with 
brush. This seal is durable and economical. 

2. Magnesium fluosilicate applied in three coats. Mix first coat 1 to 2 
with water, second coat 1 to 1, and third coat 2 to 1 with water. 
This seal is durable. 

3. Sodium silicate is probably the most economical and the most easily 
applied of all the home made seals. The sodium silicate (sometimes 
called water glass) may be purchased at from fifty to ninety cents 
per gallon. It is an alkaline, syrupy, viscous liquid. For sealing con- 
crete those varieties containing more silica and alkalies seem prefera- 
ble. These are mixed about one gallon to four gallons of water. One 
gallon of the mixture should cover about 1000 square feet unless the 
concrete is in bad condition. A second coat will probably be needed. 
The first coat should dry twenty-four hours before the second coat is 
applied. 

The seals listed here will give a sheen and will retard dusting. 
They will wear out but can be replaced in worn areas without 
showing the lap. Sealed concrete floors may be cleaned daily 
with the same type of tools used for other treated floors. Before 
applying the seal, all dirt should be removed. The floor should 
be swept to remove dust and sand. In applying the seal over 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 245 

worn spots, it is not necessary to apply near the walls where 
little wear has occurred. 

Terrazzo Floor Care 

Terrazzo floors are a combination of cement and marble or 
granite chips. These floors are hard and smooth. They may be 
mopped with the wet mop and scrubbed with the scrubbing 
machine. As a rule, these floors are easily maintained. However, 
many of these floors crack. Since they contain a cement binder 
they are subject to blooming and pitting. 

Varnish is sometimes applied to prevent dusting, but it may 
crack and peel, and may discolor the terrazzo. Waxes make the 
floor too slick. Probably the best treatment is that of sealing. 
There are a number of good seals on the market. They are ap- 
plied in the same manner and provide comparable results on 
terrazzo floors. Terrazzo can be made too slick for safety. One 
of the janitor's tasks is to provide the surface needed without 
making the floor slippery. Heavy soaps and strong alkalies 
should be avoided in cleaning. 

Mcrgnes/fe Floors 

Since these floors have a cement base they should have about 
the same treatment as that provided for terrazzo and concrete. 
The magnesite floors are porous and need sealing. 

file Floors 

Tile floors are quite impervious and may be cleaned by mop- 
ping. Heavy soaps will pile up on the floor and make them 
slick. Acids or strong alkalies will attack the grouting or binder 
between the tile and may cause the tile to loosen. Their use 
should be avoided. Quarry tile may be inclined to bloom and 
should be sealed. Waxing is not necessary. 



2 46 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

In the care of masonry floors the janitor should avoid using 
strong salts or alkalies that may lead to floor injury. He should 
also avoid the use of acids on masonry floors. When either acids 
or alkalies are used, the floor should be thoroughly rinsed. 

Maintaining Composition Floors 

The maintenance problems of the janitor increased with the 
introduction of composition floors. The various materials used 
made it necessary for him to study the materials used and to 
know how to maintain these floors. One problem that arises is 
the prevention of scuffing and denting of the floors. Sometimes 
these floors are laid on concrete that is damp or that has not had 
time to cure. This may lead to softening in linoleum floors. 
Dampness may also cause linoleum binding glue to give way 
thus permitting the floor to bulge or buckle. 

Linoleum Floors 

Linoleum floors are usually glazed with lacquer or some sim- 
ilar substance at the factory. The use of any abrasive cleaners 
may cut this finish and expose the linoleum to the effects of 
water and wear. The linoleum is made up of a combination of 
linseed oil and cork chips, so no cleaner containing a solvent for 
linseed oil should be permitted on it. Corn oil, mineral, or 
cotton seed oils and free alkalies are harmful to these floors. The 
surface must be protected. Frequent washing may destroy this 
surface. In fact, it is often stated that linoleum floors may be 
washed out before being worn out. They may be mopped oc- 
casionally with water and a neutral soap, linseed oil soap pre- 
ferred. If properly cared for no new seal need be applied. Spirit 
solvent waxes are harmful and should not be applied. Water 
emulsion waxes with a low bakelite content may be applied in 
thin coats. Wax treatments of this type bring out the color and 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 247 

are essential for linoleum preservation. Waxes loaded with 
heavy gums make the surface too slick. The floor should be kept 
dry. Oil stains may be removed with a cloth dampened with 
hydrogen peroxide. 

Cork Floors 

These floors often need to be buffed with steel wool before 
waxing. The cork chips are bound together with a glue binder 
and no cleaner that will dissolve the binder should be used. It 
should be kept dry and surfaced with a thin coat of water emul- 
sion wax. 

Rubber Floors 

Rubber floor tile are usually made with a hard plate-like sur- 
face by a process called calendering. In caring for rubber floors 
the janitor should try to preserve this finish. Abrasives, oils, and 
alkaline soaps are particularly harmful to this finish. Naphtha 
and other mineral oil products are destructive to rubber. For 
this reason, spirit solvent waxes should never be used. Oils make 
the rubber spongy. The rubber is not particularly susceptible to 
the effects of water but it may deteriorate with age and check or 
crack on the surface from the effects of air and sunlight. The 
light colored rubber tile seems to check worse than does the 
dark colored floor. The hard tile does not seem to deteriorate as 
rapidly as does that with a soft cushion back. 

The rubber does not soil readily and can be cleaned easily. 
The surface should be protected from air and sunlight. A light 
application of water emulsion wax may be applied. The floor 
may be cleaned with the dust mop and occasionally by mopping. 
Soaps are not needed. However, the water may be softened 
with T.S.P. If the floor checks or becomes soft it may be re- 
surfaced with steel wool. Damaged tile may be replaced. 



248 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Mastic and Asphalt Tile 

Asphalt tile is particularly adapted for ground floor or base- 
ment surfaces. If it gets too dry it may crack. Many janitors 
find it advisable to mop these floors occasionally to keep them 
moist. This often creates a problem since the water emulsion 
wax may be removed by the process. The asphalt tile are particu- 
larly susceptible to damage from oils or any petroleum products. 
Oils cause them to disintegrate and become gummy. Spirit 
solvent waxes should never be used. It may be washed and 
should be surfaced with a water emulsion wax. The wax used 
should not contain an excessive amount of gums or the surface 
may become slippery. With the proper wax treatment the tile 
will remain pliable but not too soft. The footing will be safe 
and sure. Sand should be kept off the floor since it will mar 
the finish. Steel wool may be used to remove soft spots. Dam- 
aged tile may be taken up and replaced. 

Care of Gymnasium Floors 

In many schools it is necessary to use a gynasium floor for 
dancing or auditorium activities. For dancing a slick floor is 
needed. Corn meal may be used but it cuts the finish. Shoes 
with leather soles are hard on the gynasium finish. Borax 
flakes or crystals sprinkled on the floor provide the slipperi- 
ness needed for dancing and will to some extent protect the 
floor. A damp mop may be used to remove the borax crystals. 
If the floor remains slick it may be mopped with a mop dipped 
in warm water. 

M/sce//aneous 

One of the first principles of floor maintenance is to provide 
a suitable surface. A second principle is protection. A third is 



SCHOOL FLOOR MAINTENANCE 249 

care and upkeep. The development of a suitable surface has 
been outlined. One of the first steps in protection is to keep dirt 
out of the building. Rubber, steel, or cocoa mats, scrapers, 
brushes, and brooms should be provided as an aid to shoe clean- 
ing before pupils enter the building. These are vital to floor 
protection. In the care and upkeep of a building all dirt, sand, 
and grit should be kept off the floor. Bleached spots and mar- 
ring stains should be removed as soon as possible. The school 
floor can provide a beautiful base or background for an attrac- 
tive school room if properly maintained. On the other hand, 
the lack of an attractive floor may mar the appearance of any 
otherwise attractive room. 



Chapter 12 

Heating and Ventilating Systems 

THE EFFICIENT SCHOOL janitor should be familiar with the im- 
portance of and the principles involved in a modern system 
of heating and ventilating school buildings. He should know 
the various methods of generating heat, the types of generating 
units used, and the methods of distributing this heat. It is 
essential that he understand the principles of combustion and 
the value of the fuels used. He should know how to care for 
his fires to obtain the greatest heat value with a minimum of 
effort and of fuel. He should know how to care for the pumps, 
fans, and other devices used in a modern heating and ventilat- 
ing system. 

The discussion in this and the following sections is not in- 
tended as a scientific exposition of heating and ventilation. It 
is developed for the purpose of aiding the janitor or school 
official in a study of his system, the principles involved, and 
operating practices that may lead to economical, efficient opera- 
tion. Principles and practices that do not apply directly to 
school buildings are omitted. Figures denoting measurements 
and quantities have of necessity been given as approximate 
estimates. These principles and practices are outlined in de- 
scriptive form rather than as definite rules and regulations. 
This is done on the theory that the modern school janitor- 
engineer is an intelligent man. He will have a wider and deeper 
knowledge of his job than can be obtained in a list of rules and 

250 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 251 

regulations on a "do" and "don't" basis. In a few cases definite 
suggested regulations are listed. 

In school buildings where a number of pupils are brought to- 
gether in one room or group and heat and ventilation are closely 
related, it is almost impossible to discuss them separately. The 
heating system is supposed to provide the temperature needed. 
The ventilating system aids in diffusing the heat to the vari- 
ous parts of the building and in removing excess heat. In some 
types of heating systems, a part of the ventilation is provided 
by the warm air brought in. The exhaust ventilation is aided 
by the air pressure built up. Either a lack or an excess of heat 
or of air movement may make less efficient the other system. 

There was a time when school buildings were heated by open 
fires in huge fireplaces or by crude box stoves. Some of these 
stoves are still in use. The stoves provided a direct heat that 
often did not extend very far from the heating unit. Many of 
us can remember the old open, stove heated rooms where the 
pupils roasted on one side and froze on the other side. The 
stoves were difficult to service and gave rise to much dirt in the 
room. The room stoves were finally replaced by one large 
(stove) heating unit located in the basement and the heat was 
piped to the rooms, or perhaps even to several buildings. The 
development of the central heating system has created a num- 
ber of problems in heat distribution and in heat regulation. The 
modern heating and ventilating plants can provide controlled 
heat of the temperature desired, with positive air changes, and 
the occupants of the room will not realize that any change is 
taking place. 

Importance of Adequate Heating 

Experience and tests indicate that children do more and better 
work when they are comfortable. If a room is too cold pupils 



252 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

cannot work in comfort. If it is too warm they become slug- 
gish. Physicians tell us that controlled temperature within a 
desirable range, for pupils seated in a school room, is essential 
to promote healthful conditions. 

Principles of Heating 

An efficient heating plant should maintain the desired room 
temperature regardless of outside temperature. In order to over- 
come variations in outside temperature, it is necessary that the 
heating plant be flexible in operation. It must be able to over- 
come the lowest possible temperature yet be able to operate 
efficiently when the outside temperature is only a little below 
that desired in the room. The pupils in laboratory and gymna- 
sium units are more active than are the pupils in other class- 
rooms and do not need the same amount of heat. The heating 
system should be flexible enough and should be adjusted to 
provide the temperature needed in each of these rooms. The 
effective temperature in the classroom may be affected by the 
moisture in the air and the air motion. In general, classrooms 
should have a temperature range of from 67 to 71 F. with no 
rapid change of more than two degrees. 

Hecrf Transfer 

In practice the heat is generated in a central furnace located 
either in or out of the building. The initial heat is obtained by 
the rapid oxidation or burning of fuel. However, this heat 
source is usually too far from the classrooms for the direct heat 
of the fire to have any effect on room temperature. To obtain 
heat for the classrooms the heat from the furnace fire is 
brought into contact with a conducting surface, usually some 
form of iron. The heat conducted through this metal is trans- 
ferred to some flexible medium such as water or air that may 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 253 

be sent to the classroom. In some heating plants the heated 
water rises or is forced to the classrooms. In other cases the 
water is converted into steam which is sent to the rooms. In hot 
air systems the heated air rises or is forced to the classrooms. 
In all cases the room units are designed to retain the heated 
medium until it has given up a considerable part of its heat to 
the room air. 

With hot air systems the warm air enters and is mixed with 
the room air, thus tempering both the room air and the in- 
coming air. The heat from classroom steam or hot water units 
is delivered in one of three methods. These are conduction, 
convection, and radiation. Not much room heat is provided 
through conduction, which means the transfer of heat along 
and through a substance such as a metal rod. Convective heat 
is that which is carried by an air current. Radiated heat is that 
which is thrown out or off as an excess from a unit like a stove 
or a radiator. The latter two methods of heat transfer are used 
extensively in school room heating and are outlined in more 
detail. 

Heaf Diffusion 

A convective heater located in or out of the room with a 
forced air circulation around it provides the most rapid method 
of heating a school room. In some cases this circulation is in- 
duced by shields or ducts which direct moving air around the 
unit. In other cases the air movement is accelerated by the use 
of fans. Some method of air circulation is the only practical one 
for heating large areas with high ceilings. 

Radiating heat units are used in many classrooms. These 
radiators are located in the room and give up their heat to the 
air surrounding them. Radiant heat travels in straight lines and 
like the sun's rays gives up little heat to the air, but does warm 



254 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

objects in its path. Unless there is some air movement this heat 
does not reach all parts of the room. In the installation of direct 
radiation an attempt is made to overcome this difficulty by 
locating the radiators under the windows so that the warm air 
rising from them will mix with the air coming through the 
windows and thus be carried over the room. This makes use of 
both radiant and convective heat. 

This spreading or diffusion of heat is important. If the heat 
is not properly diffused it rises to the ceiling. Some parts of the 
room in the corners and near the floor may be cold when the 
temperature near the ceiling is much too high for comfort. This 
condition is particularly noticeable in some of the older base- 
ment rooms heated by ceiling radiators. Methods of distributing 
and diffusing room heat will be discussed more fully under 
the heading of ventilation (Chapter 12). 

Methods of Delivery 

For many years it has been customary to designate or name 
the heating system from the type or method of delivery. There 
are many different types of heating plants that deliver their 
heat in the same manner. For this reason, it seems better to 
discuss methods of delivery separate from the types of heat 
generating units. Heat is delivered to the classrooms from or 
through one or two types of units (not systems). All units that 
are located in the room and deliver their heat to the room are 
direct heating units, regardless of the method of diffusing heat 
through the room. These include stoves, gas-steam radiators, 
steam or hot water radiators, unit heaters or ventilators, and 
electric heaters if located in the room to be heated. Some of 
these are convectors and some are radiating heaters. 

The indirect heat dispensing units are located outside the 
room and the air heated by these units is sent to the room. 






HE AT ING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 255 

In some cases the heat dispensing units are radiators located in 
ducts or tunnels below the rooms. Air passing over these coils 
is tempered before delivery to the room. In other cases the air 
is heated by being passed over a furnace. The latter is called a 
hot air furnace. The third method of heat delivery is known 
as a split method. This method is a combination of the direct 
and the indirect method. One or more direct dispensing units 
are located in the room. In addition, tempered air is brought 
into the room after having been passed over some indirect units 
located elsewhere in the building. 

The direct method and the indirect methods may supply heat 
generated by either steam or non-steam (hot air) systems. The 
split method is supplied by a steam heating system. It should 
be noted that all methods depend on the classroom air for their 
efficiency. The heat may be carried from the furnace to the 
room by steam, hot water, or air. When it reaches the room it 
must be transferred to the room air in order to become effective 
in controlling room temperatures. 

Types of Heating Systems 

As stated previously, some heat generating units are located in 
the room to be heated. These include stoves, room gas burners, 
and electric stoves. These are all isolated or segregated units 
and are not used extensively except in rural schools. During 
recent years a newer type of room gas heater has been installed 
in a number of school rooms. One of these units is known as a 
gas-steam radiator. The radiator has a gas burner in its base 
and generates room heat from the water or steam in the radia- 
tor. The other unit is sometimes called a gas unit heater. It has 
a fan which creates air movement around the heating unit. This 
unit is best adapted for use in shops or in large areas that are to 
be heated for only short periods of time. Each of these units 



256 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

need exhaust ventilation for the gas fumes. They should also be 
equipped with both safety valves or controls and hand valves 
for manual operation. These units present some hazards and 
are not often recommended by school heating engineers. 

Sfecrm Heating Systems 

In general, all steam heating systems generate their heat in 
boilers attached to or connected with a fuel consuming furnace. 
While there are several types of steam generating units (boilers) 
the differences in steam heating systems are primarily in the 
method of distribution. The distributing methods are usually 
classified as one pipe, two pipe, and vapor vacuum systems. 
There is some overlapping and much similarity between these 
systems. 

One Pipe Steam 

There is only one line connecting the radiators to the boiler 
in the one pipe system. The steam line usually makes a com- 
plete circuit leaving the boiler through a header located at the 
top of the boiler and returning at a point near the bottom of the 
boiler. In this system the steam line must carry both steam and 
the condensed water returning to the boiler. The steam line 
must be located under the rooms. The steam enters the radiator 
at one end near the bottom and the condensed water leaves by 
the same route. This makes it necessary for the radiator to slant 
upward from this port. In a few of the older installations, the 
steam main sloped upward from the boiler and returning water 
flowed backward against the flow of the steam. In later and 
better installations the steam line is highest just over the boiler 
and slopes downward from this point. All condensation return- 
ing to the line flows along with the steam. 

The one pipe distributing system is installed only in small 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 257 

buildings now. With this system it is desirable to have air valves 
on the radiators, otherwise the air in the radiators would block 
the inflow of steam. Some of the newer air vents are adjusted 
to permit air to escape but to prevent any air from entering the 
radiators through these vents. It is contended that such vents 
help create a partial vacuum in the radiators thus speeding up 
the heating process. While this system can be made fairly effec- 
tive, the water in the steam lines cools the steam and makes it 
more difficult to supply dry steam to each radiator. Partially 
closed radiator valves and water pockets may cause gurgling 
and hammering, while air blocks may prevent a free flow of 
steam. 

Two-Pipe System 

The two-pipe system is so arranged that steam travels from 
the boiler to the radiator and the condensation travels back to 
the boiler in another set of pipes. This avoids having the con- 
densed water and the steam in contact in the steam main, and 
thus avoids reducing the efficiency of the steam. In this system 
it is often necessary to bleed the steam main into the return 
line at various points to prevent the accumulation of water 
from condensed steam in the main. Two-pipe jobs are generally 
trapped at the radiator with traps that permit the passage of 
water and cold air from the radiator but which close at the 
temperature required for steam. This means that steam is not 
supposed to pass through a trap, but that the trap will open to 
permit all water and air to pass. This system is more effective 
with the installation of a pump or vacuum return traps which 
pull water and air out of the return mains thus making the 
system react more quickly. With this type of system sufficient 
heat is usually provided with a steam pressure of from zero to 
two and one-half or three pounds. In poorly installed systems 



258 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

where pockets have been allowed to develop in the steam mains 
it may be necessary to maintain a steam pressure of ten or 
twelve pounds to force the steam through these water pockets. 
This condition can usually be corrected by eliminating the low 
spots in the lines. In this system the radiator is tilted so that the 
low end is near the water outlet. The steam may enter either 
near the top or bottom of the radiator. The live steam mains 
should slope with the flow but may extend around the building 
either under the rooms or in the attic. The return lines are 
located below the radiators. 

Vapor Vacuum Sysfems 

The vapor vacuum system is really an improved type of a 
two pipe system. It has a vacuum pump connected with the re- 
turn lines. This pump creates a partial vacuum in the return 
lines thus aiding the flow of the heating medium. This vacuum 
is gauged (measured) in equivalent inches of mercury. The 
pump is adjusted to start and stop automatically and to return 
water from the condensed steam to the boiler. Because of the 
lesser boiler pressure with this system, water is supposed to 
steam at a slightly lower temperature. 

Sfeam Hof Blast 

In some school buildings the steam is piped to radiators 
located in a tunnel under the classrooms. There may be one 
set of radiators supplying the tunnel but usually one radiator 
is located in the opening or duct leading from the tunnel up to 
each room. A central fan builds up an air pressure in the tunnel 
forcing air over the radiators and up to the rooms. In some 
cases room heat control is obtained by thermostatic regulation 
of steam flow to the radiator or by controlling the wing or fin 
that directs a part of the tunnel air flow into the duct leading 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 259 

to each room. This system is sometimes called a hot blast steam 
system. 

Sp//f System 

A combination of direct radiation and a hot blast system is 
called a split system. The tunnel and fan set up are similar to 
that of the hot blast system. Some radiators are located in the 
room as in any direct radiation job. In this case, the air is gen- 
erally delivered to a room at a lower temperature than when 
the hot blast system is used. Automatic controls on the steam 
flow to the room radiators are used to regulate room tempera- 
ture in each room. 

Unit Heaters 

In order to provide individual control and to overcome some 
of the objections to the open room radiators some schools have 
installed a system of unit heaters (sometimes called unit ventila- 
tors). These units make use of the direct room radiator (usually 
of copper or other good conducting metal) and add a fan or 
set of fans to create a convective heater. Some of these units have 
automatically adjusted mixing dampers that regulate the mix- 
ing of recirculated room air and of the fresh air brought in 
through a port at the rear of the unit. Another and larger type 
of unit heater is used to heat large areas like gymnasium units. 
These units do provide air movement and heat diffusion in the 
room. Some of the newer units equipped with silent fans create 
little noise, but some of the older units equipped with poorly 
insulated propeller type fans are quite noisy. In installing these 
units it is necessary to wire for and to provide a separate motor 
for each fan. The fact that the current for the unit heater fans 
is usually taken from and metered with the lighting current 
makes it difficult to estimate this cost. 



260 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Steam Generating Boilers 

Steam generating boilers for school buildings may be of cast 
iron or steel construction. The cast iron units are usually made 
up of "U" shaped sections set on end (inverted) on top of a 
cast iron base. The base serves as a part of the ash pit. The "U" 
shaped sections are hollow and are fitted together with grooves 
and interlocking nipples to permit a flow of water and steam 
between sections. Special flat sections form the front and rear 
ends. The sections are held together by long bolts extending 
from front to rear. (Since there is some expansion when the 
boiler is heated these bolts should not bind tightly.) Open ports 
are so arranged in the sections that the hot gases from the fire 
may flow at least twice through the sections in order to use 
most of their heat in heating the water. The heating bed or 
furnace usually extends the full length of the boiler and the 
length of the boiler is usually limited in the number of sections 
that may be used. Such boilers are classed as low pressure 
boilers, according to engineers. 

Steel Boilers 

Steel boilers may be classified under several different head- 
ings. One classification may be made on the basis of the steam 
pressure carried. Heating boilers carrying a steam pressure of 
over 15 Ibs. are classed as high pressure (heating, not power) 
boilers, and ones carrying less pressure are classed as low pres- 
sure boilers. Another classification may be made on the basis of 
the setting. Those boilers set on a brick foundation and partially 
or wholly encased in a brick wall with the furnace outside or 
below the boiler are classed as brick set boilers. Those having 
the furnace encased in a part of the boiler with a water leg ex- 
tending down on each side of the furnace or fire box, are usu- 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 261 

ally called fire box or water leg boilers. They are sometimes 
called portables. 

Boilers are also classified according to the direction the flues 
run and the method of circulating the smoke and hot gases. 
Those boilers having vertical flues are called upright or vertical 
boilers. They are not used extensively in school heating. Those 
boilers having the flues running from front to back are called 
horizontal boilers. If the boiler passes the gases from the furnace 
to a smoke box at the other end of the boiler and then returns 
it to a smoke box or exhaust chamber over the furnace, from 
where it enters the smoke stack, it is known as a horizontal re- 
turn tube (H.R.T.) boiler. One type of return tube (H.R.T.) 
boiler is sometimes called a three pass boiler, since the hot 
gases pass back under the boiler, then through tubes to a front 
smoke box, then up and back through another set of tubes to 
the rear end exhaust smoke box. If the flues extend only from 
the front to the back of the boiler so that the smoke and gases 
pass only once through the boiler it may be known by one of 
several names such as straight fired or straight tube or even as 
a one pass boiler in contrast with the return tube (R.T.) or 
double pass boiler. 

Boilers may also be classed according to the manner of firing. 
Those with a double set of grates which are fired on the upper 
grates are known as down draft boilers. They are also called 
smokeless boilers. While they probably do consume more of the 
gases, the name is to some extent a misnomer. Those boilers 
having only one set of grates with the draft coming from the 
ash pit up through the grates are known as updraft boilers. 
There are several other names or descriptive titles indicating 
some particular characteristic of the boiler. Some of these are 
marine, locomotive, electric welded, or seamless, etc. However, 
the types discussed here cover most of the steel school heating 



262 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

boilers. It should be understood that there is much overlapping 
of types. 

Boiler Rating 

There are several methods of rating the capacity or possible 
output of school heating boilers. High pressure boilers may be 
rated in horse power (H.P.) generated. This rating is usually 
of little value to school janitors. However, 1 H.P. is often re- 
ferred to as sufficient energy to heat 135 to 140 square feet of 
equivalent direct radiation (E.D.R.). The E.D.R. is the amount 
of heat service that will give off 240 B.t.u.'s per hour when filled 
with steam at a temperature of about 215 (under pressure) 
and surrounded with 70 air. One square foot of steam radia- 
tion thus becomes 1 E.D.R. under these conditions. Steam 
heating boilers are usually rated on the square feet of radiation 
they will serve. Boilers are also rated on the furnace grate area, 
but variations in the type of fuel used probably make this 
measure less valuable than one based on the boiler area exposed 
to the furnace heat. 

Hot Water Heating Systems 

A few schools are heated by hot water systems. The water is 
heated in a hot water heater or boiler. This system may operate 
on a gravity basis or may have a circulating pump. In the grav- 
ity system the water is heated and rises through the lines to the 
radiators. The cold water returns through the return lines to be 
heated and rise again. An expansion tank is located somewhere 
above the top radiator to care for the expansion of the water 
when heated. This type of system does maintain regular heat. 
It warms up slowly after it has cooled off during the night. 
This system requires more radiation than does the steam system. 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 263 

Since the radiators and lines are constantly filled with water 
this system must be protected against freezing. 

Hot Air Heating Systems 

During recent years a number of schools have installed hot or 
warm air heating plants. These are of two types. One is known 
as a gravity plant and the other as a fan or forced air type. In 
each type the air is brought into direct contact with the metal 
housing of the furnace after which it rises or is forced into the 
classrooms. The gravity system is limited to small buildings 
where the air will not have to travel any considerable distance 
before entering the classroom. It is generally installed in small 
buildings where no electricity is available for fan motors. 

The fan forced or fan furnace system is more flexible. In 
operation, it is quite similar to the steam hot-blast system except 
that the air obtains its heat directly from the furnace rather 
than through tempering steam radiators. The tempered air 
may rise to the rooms in one trunk line or by individual ducts. 
In either case definite controls are needed. With this system it 
is possible for the air to be dried out (scorched) when it comes 
into contact with the hot metal around the furnace. Manu- 
facturers or hot air systems now claim to have overcome this 
difficulty by a humidifier that throws moisture into the air 
stream. Since the air from around the furnace goes directly to 
the classrooms it is essential that it be free from any furnace 
gases that might seep through furnace cracks. All furnaces 
should be absolutely leak proof. 

Hot air systems are rated on the basis of the B.t.u. output 
rather than on the radiation needed. Air ducts are based on the 
air speed at the smallest diameter of the duct. Room registers 
are computed on the square inches of clear air passage area. 



264 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Air Circulation and Controls 

Fan driven air circulating systems are usually pressure systems 
and there may be more exfiltration (leakage) than with a non- 
pressure system. Circulating air systems are also subject to the 
effect of open windows and wind currents. For these and other 
reasons automatic control of dampers regulating the flow to 
each room is desirable. Air circulation systems will not be effec- 
tive unless some method is provided for exhausting used air 
from the rooms. In practice a part of the air is exhausted by the 
ventilating system and a part of it is returned to be recirculated. 
If this air is returned through clean ducts there will probably 
be little dust picked up by the air stream. If the air is returned 
over dirty corridor floors as is sometimes done, the air may be- 
come polluted with dust. One criticism that has been made of 
any warm air distributing system is that of noise. This noise 
comes from two sources, small ducts through which the air 
must pass at rapid speed, and the noise made by the fans. The 
first can be corrected by installing larger ducts. The fan noise 
can be overcome by installing multiblade fans (the squirrel 
cage type) and by connecting the fan housing to the air ducts 
with a heavy canvas connection. 

Factors in Heating Efficiency 

There are a number of factors that must be considered when 
attempting to secure efficient economical results from the heat- 
ing system. Fuel, method of firing, and plant operation will be 
discussed in some detail in Chapter 14. Other factors such as 
installation, building exposure, draft, humidity in the air, and 
temperature control will be outlined briefly in the following 
paragraphs. 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 265 

Installation 

In many cases the janitor will have no part in planning the 
heating plant. In other cases he may find it necessary to make 
some changes in the plant. Heating plant efficiency depends 
to a great extent on clean flues and a clean furnace. If the boiler 
room is small and if there is not sufficient room to permit the 
flues to be cleaned easily the whole system may suffer from a 
lack of care. The furnace (fire box) should be high enough 
to permit combustible gases to be burned before coming into 
contact with cooling surfaces. In some cases conditions may be 
improved by raising the boiler. Another installation factor is 
that of pipe insulation. Exposed pipes or ducts make possible a 
heat loss, usually in a place where no heat is needed. Exposed 
pipes may lower the temperature of air or steam which is being 
sent to distant rooms. Other factors such as the length of the 
fire box and smoke flow are also important. Radiator installa- 
tion may become a factor in heating efficiency. Tempering 
radiators in corridors often prevent a flow of cold air into class- 
rooms. In direct radiation the location of radiators under win- 
dows permits mixing the warm air from the radiator with cool 
air from the window and aids in preventing cold drafts. Radia- 
tors painted in gray, black, or some other suitable color will be 
more efficient than those with either a bronze or aluminum 
finish. Radiator shields help create air circulation in the room. 

Building Exposure 

The exposure of the building may play an important part in 
heating efficiency. The janitor cannot control exposure but he 
can have some control over heat loss through infiltration of 
cold air and exfiltration of warm air. Window caulking and 



266 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

weather stripping of openings may check a large part of this 
loss. 

Furnace Draft 

Furnace draft plays an important part in fuel combustion. 
The chimney is erected to help produce the desired draft. Since 
smoke travels upward in a sort of spiral motion, a square or 
round flue will be more efficient than a flat or oblong one of 
equal area. A lack of chimney height may be corrected by ex- 
tending the flue. Chimney leaks should be detected and closed. 

Relative Humidity 

The amount of moisture in the schoolroom air is important 
to the comfort of the occupants. The heat required in the room 
depends on the amount of moisture, too. The term relative 
humidity refers to the present air moisture in terms of a per- 
centage of the total that the same air could carry (without 
dropping) at the same temperature. For instance, if the air in a 
room at a given temperature could carry six quarts of water 
and actually has in it three quarts, the relative humidity is fifty 
per cent. Warm air will carry more water, hence, when air is 
warmed it may contain the same moisture but the relative 
humidity will be lower unless more water is added. A relative 
humidity of from 30 to 60 or 65% is desirable for schoolrooms. 
Experience shows that less heat is required to maintain com- 
fortable conditions if the relative humidity is high. A tempera- 
ture of 68 with a relative humidity of 62% gives about the 
same comfort in feeling as does a 70 temperature with a rela- 
tive humidity of 47% ; or 72 with 32% ; or 75 with 15% ; or 
77 with 2%. We also know that if we raise the room tempera- 
ture from 70 to 75 we use about fifteen per cent more fuel, 
and if we raise it to 77 it is necessary to use about twenty-two 



HE AT ING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 267 

per cent more fuel than is used at 70. Thus relative humidity 
may become an important factor in heating costs. Many mod- 
ern heating plants are equipped with an atomizing spray or an 
evaporating humidifier to provide air moisture. Some of these 
plants are also equipped with humidistats to control the amount 
of moisture to be added. These regulators may control the ac- 
tual moisture provided but since relative humidity evaluation re- 
quires a double measure involving both moisture and tempera- 
ture these regulators are not usually exact in operation. 

Pup/7 Heaf 

In order to understand room heating and its control it is 
necessary to know how this heat is developed. When the janitor 
comes to the building in the morning he sees that the tempera- 
ture in each room is raised. When the pupils arrive, often 
chilled, they admit a quantity of cold air as they enter the 
building. For a while after they enter the room it may seem 
comfortable. However, these pupils may each give off from 
200 to 240 B.t.u. of heat per hour. This heat, added to that 
provided by the heating plant, may make the room too warm 
and make some control necessary. 

Radiator and Latent Heat 

The radiator heating system uses what is known as Latent 
Heat. This heat is best described in the following manner. It is 
the heat required to change the physical condition without 
changing the temperature. Its use in this case is as follows. It 
requires about 970 B.t.u.'s to change one pound of water from 
a temperature of 212 F. (still water) over into steam which 
will still have a temperature of 212 unless compressed. This is 
the latent heat or the heat of evaporation. This steam is sent to 
the radiators where it is held in check by the traps on the 



268 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

radiators. While held in the radiator the steam condenses and 
in so doing gives up its latent heat which is used to temper the 
air in the room. 

Temperature Control 

Temperature control may be an important factor in heating 
costs and in heating efficiency. We have previously mentioned 
the added cost and waste of fuel with high temperature in the 
classrooms. Temperature control also aids in maintaining com- 
fortable working conditions for the pupils and in protecting 
their health. A constant classroom temperature of from 68 to 
71 or 72 F. is desirable. If a teacher does not neglect this duty, 
she may still find it difficult to overcome great excesses or 
deficiencies in the heat provided by the heating system. 

There are several types of temperature controls. The re- 
ducing valve on high pressure steam systems is designed pri- 
marily to reduce steam pressure. However, since steam under 
pressure has a higher temperature, this valve has some effect 
in controlling temperature. 

Perhaps the most common type of temperature control is the 
pneumatic system. This system is operated by air pressure 
generated by a pump in the control room. A pipe from a central 
storage tank is run to each controlled radiator. A room ther- 
mostat is regulated to provide the impulse that closes or opens 
the valve in the steam main serving that room. In a few build- 
ings one thermostat located in a corridor or elsewhere in the 
building is used as the only control. These have some value but 
cannot give complete control for each room. Other systems 
modeled somewhat after the pneumatic systems have been de- 
veloped. These operate wholly within the room. Their use has 
not become general. Unit heaters may be controlled by the 
pneumatic controls which shut off or turn on the steam supply, 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 269 

or by an electric system that regulates the dampers controlling 
the amount of fresh air brought in. The hot air systems are 
sometimes controlled by a pneumatic system and sometimes by 
an electric system. Under either plan the dampers are regulated 
to control the amount of heated air delivered to the room. In 
some instances controls have been placed on the trunk air lines 
and on the damper controlling the inflow of fresh air to the 
whole system. Neither these central controls nor the hand 
dampers set in the trunk line give adequate control of the air 
flow to and the temperature in each room. 

The general controls listed here are only a few of those that 
have been developed. They represent the general types. Others 
have been developed to control various units, combustion rate, 
or the heat output. One general regulator has been devised to 
regulate fuel combustion on the basis of outside air tempera- 
tures. It is actuated by an outside regulating device. Another 
device has a thermostatic unit in the smoke chimney. This 
device is supposed to close certain dampers when the tempera- 
ture of flue gases reaches a certain point. It is thought that 
these units prevent excessive fuel waste through the control of 
smoke stack loss. One control device cuts off the automatic 
stoker when steam pressure reaches a designated point. Another 
controls an intake water valve operated by an internal float. 
It is designed to admit makeup water to the boiler when the 
water level gets low. The steam radiator traps also serve as 
regulators. 

Radiating Units 

In steam and hot water heating systems heat is transferred to 
the room through some type of radiator. In some of the earlier 
systems this radiator was a series of steam pipes through which 
steam flowed unchecked. The pressure in the return lines was 



270 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

little less than that in the supply lines. The boiler was required 
to work against the pressure in the return line. Modern sys- 
tems use a heat dispensing unit or radiator. Some of these 
radiators are of cast iron and some are of copper or aluminum. 
The radiator should have a large heating surface to transfer 
heat readily to the surrounding air. The modern radiator has 
slender tubes that expose a large area to the air. Some radiators 
are equipped with shields or fans that direct currents of air 
around the radiator to hasten the heat absorbing process. In 
order to obtain full value from the latent heat in steam it should 
be retained in the radiator until it condenses. For this purpose 
traps are installed at the outlet end of the radiator. They contain 
a thermostatic element which operates a valve that opens or 
closes the line. The thermostatic element is often made up of a 
bellows-like device that expands at steam temperature thus 
forcing a plunger valve down to close the opening. It opens at 
water or air temperature to permit water or air passage. There 
are several types of traps, but all are designed to serve the same 
purpose. 

Ventilating Systems 

Many theories and principles have been developed on school 
room ventilation. At one time it was stated that the carbon 
dioxide given off by pupils in the room was poisonous when 
rebreathed by others. Another theory was that the air breathed 
out by one pupil was toxic in its effect on other pupils. Other 
theories cover such features as bodily temperature and air 
stratification. Based on the ideas developed, some states passed 
laws requiring that schools supply to each room a total of 
thirty cubic feet of fresh air per pupil per minute. 

In practice these older standards seem to be excessive. They 
are impossible to attain without a forced ventilation system. 






HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 271 

Using the 30 cubic foot standard it would be necessary to supply 
1050 cubic feet per minute (C.F.M.) of fresh air for a room 
housing thirty-five pupils. This would require about eight and 
one-half air changes per hour in a classroom 31 X 21 feet with 
a 12 foot ceiling. If this air is brought in through a duct having 
an opening size of 6 square feet the speed of air flow would be 
175 feet per minute. (F.P.M.) This speed would create a draft. 

Present Standards 

While most authorities on ventilation now agree that 30 
C.F.M. standard was too high, there is no general agreement 
on the amount of fresh air that should be provided. Some heat- 
ing companies now contend that no fresh air need be brought 
into the room. They feel that recirculation of room air will 
satisfy all needs. Contentions of this type must be carefully 
evaluated in the light of the commercial interests involved. 
There is a general feeling that some fresh air should be sup- 
plied at all times when pupils are in the room. Many engineers 
now recommend four to five air changes per hour in full class- 
rooms. In rooms containing 630 square feet of floor area or 
7560 cubic feet of air space housing 35 pupils this would supply 
15 to 20 C.F.M. per child. It should be understood that stand- 
ards must vary for different rooms. Auditorium and shop units 
present special problems in ventilation. 

Importance 

Ventilation in school rooms is of vital importance for several 
reasons. 

1. It removes body odors which may become obnoxious. 

2. It creates room circulation to aid in diffusing room heat to all parts 
of the room. It aids in preventing air and heat stratification with the 
hot air at the top of the room. It thus aids in temperature control. 



272 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

3. It aids in regulating the relative humidity. 

4. It provides the fresh air needed in the room. 

5. It provides a more comfortable room. 

Tests indicate that there are fewer pupil absences because of 
illness in well ventilated rooms. There are two major types of 
ventilating systems. These are known as the gravity and me- 
chanical systems. 

Gravity Ventilation 

When using gravity ventilation the fresh air is brought into 
the room through the window or some other port provided 
for this purpose. The air coming in at the bottom of the win- 
dows is often deflected upward by deflectors placed in the 
bottom of the window. If the room is heated by direct radiation 
the fresh air is mixed with the warm air coming from the 
radiator. This air is spread over the room and extracted from 
the room through an opening near the floor line on the cor- 
ridor side of the room. (A part of the foul air may be exhausted 
through the cloakroom.) The air may be taken from the room 
by individual ducts extending from the opening, near the floor 
in the corridor wall, out through the roof. Ducts emptying into 
the attic do not seem to give as satisfactory results as do those 
extending through the roof. In some cases the air is exhausted 
by what is known as corridor ventilation. The air is taken from 
the room through openings in the lower part of the corridor 
wall or through an opening in the bottom of the corridor door. 
It is then exhausted from the building through ventilating 
ducts extending from the corridor out through the roof. All 
gravity vents should be ample size to provide the air changes 
needed. Air movement is accelerated if the ducts are capped 
with approved ventilating heads. Ducts should be equipped 
with dampers that may be closed at night to prevent an inflow 



HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 273 

of cold air. These dampers should be open when pupils are in 
the rooms. 

Mechanical Ventilation 

Any air movement system that forces air through the rooms 
and exhausts a part of it out through ducts in the roof may be 
termed mechanical ventilation. A system that circulates room 
air without making any provision for taking in fresh air or of 
exhausting air through ventilating ducts is called recirculation 
and is not considered here as a ventilating system. One of the 
most common mechanical ventilating systems is arranged to 
take in fresh air from the windows as with gravity ventilation. 
Air is exhausted from the room through ducts just as in the 
gravity systems. In the attic these ducts empty into a plenum 
chamber where a suction fan aids in pulling air from the room 
and exhausting it from the building. 

Another type of mechanical ventilation is developed by unit 
heater (ventilator) systems and by a system of forced hot air 
heating. These systems, if properly operated, take in some 
fresh air at all times and force it into the room. The air pres- 
sure developed in the room aids in exhausting the air out 
through the roof if suitable ventilating ducts are provided. This 
system is really a combination of the gravity and the mechani- 
cal methods. 

Toilet rooms, cooking rooms, laboratories, and dressing rooms 
create special ventilating problems. Regardless of the system 
used these rooms should not be vented with other rooms but 
should be vented separately, directly out through the roof. The 
janitor should remember that no ventilating system is efficient 
unless it is in operation. Ventilating ducts closed with card 
board or dampers, do not remove foul air or permit the free 
introduction of fresh air. Mechanical ventilating systems with 



274 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

the fans idle may even prevent use of the ducts as gravity 
vents. 

One measure of the efficiency of the ventilation is the air 
circulation in the room. This is important in securing a good 
diffusion of heat in the room. Room air circulation may be 
measured by what is known as a smoke test. A smoke bomb 
or pot, made up (or purchased) of tar, asphalt, or other 
substance having a smoke that is visible for some time, is 
lighted and placed in the air stream near its entrance. By 
watching the motion and spread of the smoke it is possible to 
determine the rate and direction of the air flow in the room. 
Dead spots and stratification can also be detected. 



Chapter 13 

Fuels and Combustion 



ENERGY HAS FOR many years been stored up in various ma- 
terials found in nature. Man has found that when these 
materials oxidize they give up this energy in the form of heat. 
Some of these materials are called fuels. The principal fuels used 
to obtain heat for use in school buildings are coal, oil, gas, and 
wood. These fuels vary in quality, cost, and in abundance in 
various localities. 

Coals 

Coal is probably used more than any other fuel for heating 
school buildings. It has been found in many parts of the United 
States. It is easily transported and can be stored for a con- 
siderable period of time before being used. It is a product of 
ancient vegetation which decomposed and under great pressure 
formed the various grades of coal. After being mined coal 
may be treated (heated) to provide a derivative called coke. 
However, most coal is burned in its natural or raw state. There 
are several methods of classifying or rating coal. One classifica- 
tion is based on the ratio of carbon to volatile matter, another 
on the method or rate of burning, and another on the size of 
the pieces sold for use. The United States Geological survey 
separates native coal into several classes based on the type or 
nature of the coal. 

275 



276 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Peaf 

Peat is an organic matter partially converted into coal. When 
first taken from the bog it contains much water. Sometimes 
this fuel is moulded into bricks before being marketed. Peat has 
not had a wide use for school building heating. It is compara- 
tively cheap but school heating plants are not generally adapted 
to its use. 

Lignite 

Lignite is a type of coal having a brown appearance and 
woody texture. It is a grade somewhere between peat and sub- 
bituminous. It is clean to handle, ignites readily, burns rapidly, 
and gives off little smoke. It is ranked low in heating value and 
because it dries out rapidly, it slacks worse than does a high 
grade coal. It has a tendency to spontaneous combustion. Lig- 
nite is found in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, 
North Dakota, and Texas. 

Sub-b/fum/nous 

This is sometimes called "black lignite." It does not have the 
woody appearance of lignite and has more of the heating 
qualities of the bituminous coal. It slacks rapidly and may be 
subject to spontaneous combustion. It is clean to handle and 
burns freely with little or no smoke. It is found in Colorado, 
Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, 
and Alaska. This coal is usually ranked next to bituminous in 
heating qualities. 

Cannel 

This coal burns with great heat and a long flame. It is rich 
in volatile matter having more volatile matter than fixed 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 277 

carbon. It shatters, like glass. It occurs in limited quantities. 
Some has been found in most of the coal producing states. 

Bituminous 

Bituminous coal is widely used as a fuel in school heating 
plants. It is little affected by weather, but when it is, particles 
will break off that are prismatic in form. Bituminous coal is 
commonly called soft coal, but all soft coal is not bituminous. 
Bituminous coal in the eastern part of the United States is 
usually of higher heating value than that found in other parts. 
It is high in volatile matter and burns rapidly. Unless fired 
carefully it may give off quantities of smoke. It is mined in 
Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, 
Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, 
New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, 
Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and 
Wyoming. 

Semi-bituminous 

This is a super type of bituminous coal. It has more fixed 
carbon and less volatile matter than the bituminous coals. It 
burns freely with a long flame and is generally known as a 
smokeless coal. It has excellent heating qualities. Clinkers are 
not common. The principal sources are West Virginia, Virginia, 
and Pennsylvania, with some found in Maryland, Arkansas, 
and Oklahoma. 

Sem/-Anfhrcrc/fe 

This is a low grade of anthracite. It is less dense and has less 
of the metallic luster. It ignites easily and burns freely. Since 
it has a high fusing temperature there is little clinkering. The 
principal sources are Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Virginia. 



278 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Anffiracife 

This is a hard dense coal with much carbon and a low 
volatile ratio. It ignites and burns slowly with a short flame and 
little smoke. It has a high ash fusion temperature and it is not 
much inclined to cake, coke, or clinker. With this coal rate of 
burning and heat controls are comparatively easy. Most of the 
anthracite coal is produced in Pennsylvania, but some of it 
comes from Colorado. 

Classification on Size 

The size of the lumps of coal delivered are an important 
factor in the work of the fireman in the regulation of his drafts 
and in the passage of air through the fire bed. The anthracite 
coal lump sizes are pretty well standardized. They are based on 
the size of lump or piece that will pass through the holes of a 
round mesh screen of a certain size but will be rejected or 
passed over by a smaller size. The sizes are about as follows: 

SIZE OF 

TRADE NAME SCREEN MESH* 

Broken 3Ke to 4Ke" 

Egg 2K to 3Ke" 

Stove We to 2^" 

Nut tf to 1% 6 " 

Pea #to K" 

Buckwheat Me to X" 

Rice % 6 to Me" 

Barley % 2 to ^ 6 " 

The softer coal sizes are not so definitely standardized. In the 
bituminous coals the term mine-run is used to designate coal as 
it comes from the mine with no screening. Large and small 
lumps and dust are intermingled, the quantity of each depend- 
ing on the nature of the coal and the methods of handling. 



1 Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries. "Mimeographed Reports." 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 279 

Other names used to designate sizes are lump, egg, stove, nut, 
pea, and slack. 

Other Classifications 

One classification that is often used rates all coals having 
more than 69 per cent of fixed carbon according to the fixed 
carbon content, and those coals having less than 69 per cent of 
fixed carbon according to the B.t.u. heating value. On this basis, 
coals are often rated about as follows : 2 

VOLATILE 

FIXED CARBON MATTER B.T.U. HEATING 

ABOUT ABOUT UNITS 

Anthracite 

and 

Semi-anthracite 97 3 

Semi-bituminous 90 to 85 10-15 14,800-15,600 

Bituminous Eastern 85-70 15-30 12,500-14,800 

Lignite Up to 50 Over 49 11,000-13,500 

The ratings are approximate and may vary for any one type 
of coal and even for coals from different levels in the same 
mine. 

Coals are also classified according to their tendencies to react 
to heat, and their tendencies to disintegrate or decompose. The 
so-called caking coals show a tendency to melt and run together 
when heated. These coals swell when heated and may give rise 
to either soft or hard clinkers. Coking coal swells when heated 
but does not cake as freely as the caking coal. Free burning coal 
swells little when heated. It does not cake or coke. It burns 
freely and at times even flashily. The so-called smokeless coal 
usually has a low volatile and a high fixed carbon content. As 
a rule it ignites and burns slowly with a short flame. Coke is a 
fuel prepared from coal by having many of the volatile gases 
extracted by heat. It burns slowly with little smoke. Block coal 



2 Bartrim, W., "Information on Boilers and Coal." 



280 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

is a local term applied to a coal that breaks down into even 
faced blocks or lumps. Splint coal is also a local term that is 
used to designate coal that breaks into oblong blocks. These 
lumps are often hard, sometimes metallic in appearance, and 
have a tendency to splinter when heated. 

Coal Preparation 

As stated previously, some coal is delivered to the bin just 
as it comes from the mine. Experience indicates that better re- 
sults are obtained when using a treated or prepared coal. One 
of the earliest forms of treatment was to separate the coal ac- 
cording to size. This earlier separation was performed by pass- 
ing the coal over bar grates (called grizzlies) where the fine 
coal and thin slabs passed through the grates and the large 
pieces passed over the grates. Later methods made use of shak- 
ing and rotating screens to separate the various sizes. Each of 
these methods creates some coal dust through breakage. Dur- 
ing recent years newer methods of preparation include washing 
and the addition of dust allaying or anti-freeze solutions. With 
these processes the coal is first passed over a conveyor where 
pieces of slate and stone are picked out. The coal is then sent 
to jigs or washers that grade and clean the coal. This grading is 
important for all school coal users and particularly to those 
schools using stokers. The washing also aids in reducing the 
sulphur content of the coal. Some companies add an oil film 
to the coal. Others provide a film of some substance like sodium 
silicate, while some add a calcium chloride (salt) treatment. 
The salt may have a corrosive effect on the furnace. 

Other Fuels 

While coal continues to be the fuel used in a majority of the 
school buildings many schools can purchase wood cheaply 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 281 

enough to make it attractive as fuel. Other schools find that 
when gas or oil can be purchased cheaply, their use offers ad- 
vantages in added cleanliness and in the constant flow that re- 
quires little attention from the janitor. 

Gas 

Schools located near some of the large gas fields or lines have 
used gas successfully for fuel. Gas has the advantage of being 
clean and easy to handle. By watching the furnace and the type 
of flame produced, the janitor soon can learn the most econom- 
ical mixture of air and gas to use in a furnace. If too much air 
is used, the gas will spit and may blow out. If too little air is 
permitted to enter the burner, the flame is red and will cause 
some smoke. The janitor should know that when gas burners 
are installed in brick set furnaces, it is desirable to raise the fire 
wall to throw the heat up against the boiler and to prevent 
waste by excessive draft. Gas used in school buildings should 
contain a malodorant which will give off an easily detected 
odor as a protection against leak and explosion hazards. 

Oil 

Oil is fed to the furnace through a specially prepared burner. 
The proper mixture of oil and air is essential to secure the best 
results from an oil burner. It is essential to have a siphon in the 
feed line to the burner to prevent any possible kick-back which 
might cause an explosion of the oil in the feed line. If the 
janitor does not secure proper combustion, he will have an ac- 
cumulation of carbon in the flues. An examination of several 
oil burning boilers demonstrates the fact that the smoke from 
the oil burner may deposit soot and carbon on the flue sufficient 
to prevent full use of the heat provided by the oil. Oils vary in 
heat values and in their effect on the boiler. 



282 



THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 



Wood 

Dry woods available in this country possess no wide variations 
in heating value. The water content, however, is an important 
factor, as it reduces the net amount of heat available. In green 
wood the moisture ranges from thirty to fifty per cent or more, 
but after eight or ten months of air drying the moisture is re- 
duced to about twenty to twenty-five per cent. Wood is bulky 
and a large fire box is needed. 

HEATING VALUES OF WOODS AIR DRIED 3 



KIND 
Ash 
Beech 
Birch 
Cherry 
Chestnut 
Elm 

Hemlock 
Hickory 
Maple, hard 
Oak, live 
Oak, red 
Oak, white 
Pine, white 
Pine, yellow 
Poplar 
Spruce 
Walnut 
Willow 



B.T.U. PER LB. LBS. PER CORD 



5450 
5400 
5580 
5420 
5400 
5400 
6410 
5400 
5460 
5460 
5460 
5400 
6830 
6660 
6660 
6830 
5460 
6830 



3520 
3250 
2880 
3140 
2350 
2350 
1220 
4500 
3310 
3850 
3810 
3850 
1920 
2130 
2130 
1920 
3310 
1920 



LBS. OF 13,500 

B.T.U. COAL 

EQUIVALENT TO A 

CORD OF WOOD 

1420 

1300 

1190 

1260 

940 

940 

580 
1800 
1340 
1560 
1340 
1540 

970 
1050 
1050 

970 
1340 

970 



Combustion 

The process of releasing energy in the form of heat for use 
in school buildings is called combustion. The school janitor- 
engineer should know the principles and processes of com- 
bustion. He should also know how the resulting heat from 
combustion is transferred through the walls of the heating 

8 Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries, "Solid Fuels and Their Use in 
Hand Fired Plants." P. 29. 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 283 

chamber to a fluid (water or air) medium that will carry this 
heat to the desired location where it is released. 

Nature and Principles of Combustion 

A combustible is a substance that burns and develops heat, or 
a material which when heated to the ignition point unites with 
oxygen and is partly or wholly consumed. Combustion is in 
effect a rapid oxidation or decomposition of a combustible ma- 
terial. This decomposition or oxidation takes place in nature 
when conditions are right. The rotting of a log in the woods 
and the development of bodily heat in animals by the burning 
up of body cells are examples. In these cases the oxidation is 
comparatively slow and the resulting heat is absorbed by the 
surrounding air. A limited quantity of air aids in the retention 
of the heat in spontaneous combustion. In the school furnace 
oxidation is speeded up by the effect of heat which hastens the 
chemical action. 

Rapid oxidation or combustion requires at least three things 
or conditions for completion. It is necessary to have a combusti- 
ble material or fuel. Heat is essential to speed up the process and 
enough oxygen must be supplied to combine with the ele- 
ments released. During the oxidizing process the oxygen of the 
air combines with the carbon of the coal, wood, oil, or gas and 
passes off as carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) or carbon monoxide (CO). 
The rapid release of the energy of the fuel produces heat. Man 
has learned how to exert some control over the rate of combus- 
tion by regulating the flow of air (containing oxygen) through 
the fire. He has also learned how to conserve and use a con- 
siderable part of the heat developing by confining the fire in 
stoves and furnaces of conductive material (metal) which per- 
mits transfer of the heat to the heating medium previously 
mentioned. 



284 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Nature of Fuel 

If he is to obtain the best results from the fuel consumed the 
janitor must know something of the nature of the fuels used. 
The composition of fuels varies some with the type used, but 
since the basic elements are similar, the description given here 
will refer primarily to coal. Coal contains various natural ele- 
ments such as carbon, hydrogen, and sulphur. The air with 
which it is combined in combustion contains principally nitro- 
gen, hydrogen, and oxygen. 

Carbons 

The carbon in the coal possesses a high heat value. Some of 
the carbon is termed non-fixed carbon and may combine with 
oxygen and be released as carbon monoxide. The so-called fixed 
carbon is not so easily released and provides much of the heat 
value. As stated previously, the fixed carbon content of some of 
the better coals may be as much as 90 to 98 per cent of the total. 

Vo/af//e Maffer 

In coal combustion many elements may pass off as volatile 
gases when the coal is heated. Some of these elements such as 
hydrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide are capable of pro- 
ducing much heat if subjected to the proper conditions. If they 
are permitted to pass out of the furnace before being consumed 
much of the heat value of the coal is lost. One of the chief losses 
of a volatile gas is in the form known as carbon monoxide. If 
sufficient oxygen and heat are supplied the combustion of this 
gas may be completed and the residue having no heating value 
passes off as carbon dioxide. The amount of draft and the shape 
of the furnace or combustion chamber are important factors in 
the combustion of volatile gases. 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 285 

Ignition Temperature and Flame 

The ignition temperature is that at which a fuel may begin to 
burn or to combine with oxygen and generate heat. This 
temperature is higher for the anthracite coals than for some 
that contain more volatile matter. This explains why it is harder 
to start fires with some coals. Some of the heat released by the 
fire is used to raise the temperature of other coal to be burned. 
If sufficient temperature is not maintained the fire dies. The 
gas, carbon monoxide, requires a temperature of about 1100 to 
about 1200 F. before it ignites. It is released at a lower tempera- 
ture. This explains the possible loss of this gas if the heat from 
the fire bed is not sufficient to ignite it. The ignition tempera- 
ture of sulphur and fixed carbon is much less than that required 
for the carbon monoxide. This is fortunate since it permits these 
elements to burn and create the heat necessary for the consump- 
tion of the gas. 

The janitor who knows his fuel can learn to regulate his fire 
by the appearance and nature of the flame. The carbon mon- 
oxide burns with a blue like flame. Solids glow when heated 
in red, yellow, and a brilliant white color. Solids like carbon 
in the gases may cause the gas flame to glow. Visible smoke 
over the flame may consist of unburned carbon and other solids. 
Visible flame may be an indication of poor combustion. In 
order to obtain complete combustion of the gases it is essential 
that the temperature of the flame be not reduced below their 
ignition point. For this reason the flames should not be per- 
mitted to come into contact with the crown sheet, the flues or 
other cooling surfaces. This necessitates a high combustion 
chamber for fuels that burn with a long flame. However, the 
greatest heat value may be obtained if the flames end just short 
of these surfaces since the point of greatest heat is just above 



286 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

the flame. It is estimated that a dark red flame from coal has a 
temperature of about 950 to 1000 F., a dull cherry red flame of 
about 1450 to 1500 F., a clear cherry red of about 1800 F., a 
white of about 2370 F., and a bright or dazzling white flame of 
about 2500 to 2700 F. By studying the flame, the janitor can 
judge their value in heating and in the combustion of the gases. 4 

The amount of air and space available may play an impor- 
tant part in the process and rate of combustion. It is impossible 
to state the exact amount of air needed for complete combus- 
tion. Even though we know the quantity of oxygen in the air 
and the amount of oxygen needed for each part of carbon we do 
not always know the amount of available carbon. It has been 
estimated that about 11 to 15 pounds of air or about 175 to 200 
cubic feet are necessary for complete combustion of one pound 
of good coal. This indicates the need for ample draft to insure 
good combustion. In a plant burning one-half ton during a ten 
hour day or 1% Ibs. per minute a total of 300 to 350 cubic feet 
of air per minute may be needed. If the ash pit doors have an 
opening of 16" x 40" the air inflow speed necessary to supply 
this air will be about 75 feet per minute. The height of the 
combustion chamber is also an important factor in the rate of 
combustion. If the chamber roof is high enough to permit 
complete combustion before the gases are cooled by contact 
with these surfaces, more heat is generated by the furnace and 
less fuel is needed to produce the heat units desired. 

If we were to secure perfect combustion all elements and 
temperatures would be brought together in exact ratios. Hence, 
there probably is little perfect combustion in the average school 
furnace. It is possible to secure what is termed complete com- 
bustion where all fuel is consumed. It is often stated that the 
presence of much black smoke indicates poor combustion. 

4 Bartrim, W., "Information on Boilers and Coal." P. 7. 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 287 

While this is true, the absence of black smoke is not always an 
indication of perfect combustion. An excess of air may reduce 
the smoke but may also reduce the efficiency of combustion by 
cooling the flues and by heating excess air which is of no value. 

Products of Combustion 

Combustion releases the minerals in the coal and the gases in 
the coal and air used. Some of these different elements combine 
in various forms. Some of the carbon and the oxygen combine 
to form carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. The water and the 
sulphur gas may combine to form a mild sulphurous acid to 
pass off in the smoke. The unconsumed minerals such as silica, 
aluminum oxides, iron oxide, calcium oxides, etc., are left on 
the grates or drop into the ash pit as ashes. As stated elsewhere, 
some of these ashes may fuse and be deposited as clinkers. 

The reason for controlled combustion in school buildings is 
to provide heat. The value of the fuel is determined primarily 
by its heat value. This heat value is rated or measured in several 
ways. The heat produced is measured in degrees on a ther- 
mometer. The heat producing power is measured in terms such 
as B.t.u., the therm, calorific value, and sensible value. The 
B.t.u. (British thermal unit) is the amount of heat required to 
raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 F. when water 
is at its greatest density of about 39 F. It will raise the tempera- 
ture of 55 cubic feet of air 1 F. The therm as a measure of heat, 
usually applied to gas heating, represents 100,000 B.t.u. (or 
100 cu. ft. of 1000 B.t.u. gas). The calorific heat value is the 
amount of heat (in B.t.u.'s) which is generated by the complete 
combustion of 1 Ib. of solid or liquid fuel, or one cubic foot of 
gas at standard pressure and temperature. Sensible heat is that 
required to raise 1 Ib. of water from 32 F. to the boiling point 
at about 212 F. 



288 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Combustion Controls 

The janitor should understand that the rate of combustion 
and the completeness of the process of combustion is closely 
connected with the rate of air passage through the furnace. 
The impetus for his draft is supplied by the chimney. Too much 
draft may pull the hot gases into the flues or throw them against 
cooling surfaces where they are cooled before being consumed. 
On the other hand too little air makes the fire sluggish. The 
wise janitor soon learns to regulate the drafts from the ap- 
pearance of the flame. After the heat is generated it must be 
extracted from the gases before they pass up the chimney, if it 
is to be of the greatest value in heating the building. Long 
winding tortuous passages in the heater or boiler aid in this 
absorption of heat from the gases. A high flue temperature 
usually indicates a waste of heat. Smoke stack temperatures of 
400 to 600 F. for heating furnaces seems to indicate much less 
waste than do temperatures of 1000 F. With slow or banked 
fires, stack temperatures may drop to about 200 to 250 F. 

Some Heating and Ventilating Terms Defined 

The janitor-engineer should be familiar with the more com- 
mon terms used in heating and ventilating literature, so that 
he may be the better enabled to understand directions given in 
instruction sheets, read descriptions in catalogues, etc. Brief 
definitions of some of these terms are given here. 

Automatic Steam Regulator A device operated by steam, that limits 

the pressure in the boiler by closing drafts, or by retarding the fuel 

feed. 

Arch Plate The cast iron plate forming an arch over the fire door. 
Aspirating Coil Heating coil placed in vent stack to accelerate air flow 

by convection. 
Air Washer A device using water to clean the air circulating in a 

building. 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 289 

Ash Non combustible matter left after solid fuel is burned. 

Ash Fusion Temperature Temperature at which ash will melt or fuse 
together and form a plastic mass or clinker. 

Blow Off Valve Valve on pipe fitted to lowest point of water space in a 
boiler through which sludge may be blown out or the water drained. 

Bleeder A small pipe fitted with a steam trap, through which con- 
densed water may pass from the steam main to the return line. 

BricJ^ Set Boiler A boiler whose furnace and combustion chamber is 
made of brick; or a boiler so surrounded by brick that much of the 
shell is exposed to the heat. 

Breeching The smoke pipe between the outlet from smoke box and the 
chimney. 

B.t.u. Abbreviation of British thermal unit. A standard of heat measure- 
ment generally used by engineers to express quantity of heat. One 
B.t.u. is the amount of heat that will raise the temperature of one 
pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, when the water is at a maxi- 
mum density, or from 39 F. to 40 F. It will raise the temperature of 
55 cu. ft. of air 1 F. 

Bottled Heat Heat that has accumulated in the furnace faster than it 
can be absorbed or carried off. 

Chec\ Valve A valve that allows fluids or gases to flow through a pipe 
in one direction only. Often used in return lines to prevent water 
from flowing back out of boiler. 

Combustion Rapid oxidation. 

Combustible Something that will burn rapidly and release heat. 

CO 2 Chemical symbol for carbon dioxide. A gas that is formed when 
carbon is burned. 

CO Chemical symbol for carbon monoxide. A gas that is formed when 
combustion is not complete. 

C.F.M. Abbreviation for cubic feet per minute. 

Calorific Value Amount of heat in B.t.u. released by complete combus- 
tion of one pound of solid or liquid fuel, or 1 cubic foot of gas at 
standard pressure and temperature. 

Condensation When a gas changes to a liquid, or a liquid to a solid, 
the process is called condensation. 

Down Draft Boiler A boiler whose furnace has two sets of grates; the 
upper grates consisting of a row of water tubes and the lower of 
ordinary rocker or stationary grates. The fuel is placed on the upper 
grates and the draft comes in above it, striking a baffle at the back 
which forces the volatile part of the fuel down through the hottest 



290 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

part of the fire bed, where it ignites, and then passing over the hot 
coke fire on the lower grates, is completely burned. The heat then 
passes into fire tubes. 

Damper A device used to control the flow of air through the furnace, 
or through ducts in the ventilating system. 

Dumping Grates Grates that can be turned sufficiently to dump the 
ashes into the ash pit. 

Direct System A system where all the radiators or heating units are in 
the room to be heated. 

Defector A shield that diverts the air stream coming into the room 
from windows or other openings; usually throwing it upward, and 
thus preventing it from striking persons in the room. 

Degree Day One twenty-four hour period of the heating season with a 
temperature 1 F. below an arbitrarily set average of 65 F. One day 
with average of 60 F. equals five degree days. 

Exfiltration Air leaving a building through pores, cracks in the walls, 
leaky windows, etc. 

E.D.R. Abbreviation for equivalent direct radiation. A square foot of 
direct radiation is standard when it will emit 240 B.t.u. with steam at 
215 F. in an environment or a surrounding air with a temperature 
of 70 F. A modern heating unit that will give off the same quantity 
of heat, under the same conditions, is said to be equivalent to one 
square foot of direct radiation, or one square foot E.D.R., regardless of 
its area. 

Effective Temperature An index of the degree of warmth felt by the 
human body under the influence of a composite of ambient tempera- 
ture, humidity, and air movement. 

Embrittlement Breaking down of metal of boiler, usually caused by 
caustic water. 

Fire Box Boiler A boiler with the fire box inside. The fire box is sur- 
rounded by water except at the bottom, and in some cases even the 
bottom including the ash pit is surrounded by water. 

Furnace The fire box. 

Furnace Baffle A deflector made of fire brick or refractory tile placed in 
the heat stream to direct it against the heating surface of the boiler. 

Fuse Plug A plug made of some metal that will melt at a low tempera- 
ture. It is usually placed in the crown sheet or just above the top row 
of fire tubes in the flue sheet. If water gets dangerously low the plug 
should melt so that escaping steam may extinguish the fire. 

F.R.T. Abbreviation for fire return tube. 



FUELS AND COMBUSTION 291 

F.P.M. Abbreviation for feet per minute. 

Gusset Stay A flat bar riveted to angle irons on boiler head and girth 

plate to support boiler head. 
Gas Steam Radiator A self contained heating unit. It has a small 

boiler cast in the base of the radiator and a gas burner under it. 

Steam generated in the base heats the radiator. 
Header Drip A pipe leading down from steam header to return line 

to drain water from header. This pipe is sometimes called an equalizer. 
High Pressure Boiler A boiler built to carry over 15 Ibs. pressure per 

square inch. 

Head Room Height above grates to crown sheet or cooling surface. 
Heating Surface Surface of boiler or furnace exposed to heat from 

furnace on one side and in contact with heating medium (air or 

water) on other side. 
Hand Holes Holes fitted with plugs in outside boiler shell, usually at 

bottom of mud leg, to facilitate cleaning and inspection. 
Humidity Moisture in the air. 

Hygrometer An instrument used to measure relative humidity. 
H.R.T. Abbreviation for horizontal return tube. 
Indirect System A system where the heating units are outside the rooms 

to be heated and the heat is carried through ducts by an air stream to 

the rooms. 
Insulation Covering made of low conducting material to prevent heat 

loss by radiation from pipes, boilers, etc. 
Latent Heat The quantity of heat required to change the form of a 

substance without raising its temperature, i.e. ice to water or water at 

212 to steam at 212 F. 

Low Pressure Boiler One having a pressure up to 15 Ibs. 
Man Hole A hole in the boiler shell large enough for a man to enter 

for inspection, cleaning, or repairs. 

Mixing Dampers Dampers in air ducts, arranged to regulate the mix- 
ture of cool and warm air. 
Mb Symbol meaning 1000 B.t.u. 
Mbh Symbol meaning 1000 B.t.u. per hour. 

Peripheral Speed Speed in F. P. M. of extreme outer edge of fan blades. 
Recirculation Using same air over and over again. Little or no fresh 

air added. 

R.P.M. Abbreviation for revolutions per minute. 
Reducing Valve A valve operated either by a diaphragm or a piston that 

will reduce the pressure of steam water or air in a pipe. It is often 



292 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

used where a group of buildings are heated from a central plant, to 

reduce the pressure where the branch main enters each building. 
Retort The box in the furnace at the end of the delivery tube of under- 
feed stokers. It receives the green coal and passes it up to the fire bed. 
Relative Humidity The amount of moisture in a given volume of air 

at a given temperature compared to the amount it will hold. It is 

usually expressed as a percentage of the maximum. 
Steam Gauge An instrument to indicate the pressure per square inch 

in the boiler. 
Safety Valve A valve on a short pipe connected directly to the top of 

the boiler to relieve all above the safe working pressure. It is some- 
times called a pop off valve. 
Steam Header The large horizontal pipe above one or more boilers, to 

which all of them are connected, and from which the steam mains 

lead ofl. 
Steam Trap A device used to drain condensation from radiators, mains, 

risers, etc., without allowing steam to pass. The valve is operated by 

either a float or an expanding unit. The latter is called a thermostatic 

trap. 
Stay Bolt A long bolt that ties the shell and furnace plates of a boiler 

together. They hold the furnace in place and prevent flat surfaces from 

bulging. 

Stoker A mechanical fireman. 
Safety Clutch A device to release the motor on a stoker, when the fuel 

tube gets choked or clogged up. 

Shearing Pin A device used for the same purpose as safety clutch. 
Split System A system using both direct and indirect heating units for 

heating the same room. 

Stationary Grates Ordinary bar grates that are immovable. 
Shading Grates Grates that can be shaken by a bar outside the furnace. 
Scale Mineral salts that have been precipitated on the tubes and furnace 

plates of a boiler, hindering the heating of the water. 
Sensible Heat Heat imparted to a body that will cause the temperature 

of the body to rise. 
Tuyere Bloc^A casting set around the top of a retort. The forced draft 

supplying the fire comes through its ports. 
Tempering CoilsLarge heating coils placed in the entrance of the fresh 

air stream where it enters the building, to raise the temperature of the 

fresh air. They are sometimes called blast coils. 






FUELS AND COMBUSTION 



293 



Thermostat Thermometer or heat register designed as a regulator for 

steam, air or water flow. 

Try Coc1(s Pet cocks on water column to check level of water in boiler. 
Up Draft Boiler A boiler where the draft travels upward through the 

grates and fire bed. 
Volatile Matter Combustible oils and gases that distill out of wood or 

coal when heated. Unless they are burned, a considerable portion of 

the heat value of the fuel is lost. 



Chapter 14 

Firing the Furnace 

IN LARGE SCHOOL buildings a trained engineer-fireman may be 
employed to care for the heating plant. In some cities all 
janitor-engineers in buildings of a certain size must be certified 
engineers or firemen. However, in a majority of the school 
buildings the custodian or janitor must care for the heating 
plant. In many cases these men have had little or no preparatory 
training for this duty. Some have had brief experience in firing 
a boiler for a sawmill or a threshing machine. Firing a school 
heating furnace is a type of task requiring specific training in 
that field. Previous experience in other lines may be of some 
value but does not guarantee success in firing a school furnace. 

School heating presents a very different problem than does the 
heating of other buildings. The school building houses children 
who do not know how to protect themselves against the ail- 
ments that may follow extreme heat or cold or rapid tempera- 
ture fluctuations. For a considerable part of the day, the building 
is not occupied. The pupils enter the building at various times 
during the day and bring cold air with them. After entering 
the building they are grouped together where body temperature 
added to furnace heat may make the rooms too hot. These con- 
ditions, together with the fact that most buildings are permitted 
to cool down at night and must be heated quickly in the morn- 
ing, make regularity in firing almost impossible. 

In spite of the difficulties involved, the janitor is expected to 

294 



FIRING THE FURNACE 295 

get results from his heating plant. Children are required to at- 
tend school and comfortable conditions should be provided for 
them. The janitor may have to use a poor grade of coal. His 
heat generator may be too small. On windy days he may have 
to heat the inside of the building and a considerable part of the 
outside. He may have to arrive at the building at four o'clock in 
the morning, but he is expected to keep it warm. 

The necessity for heating service under all types of conditions 
makes it necessary that the janitor make a study of heating prin- 
ciples, of fuels, and their reaction on the fire bed. He must study 
his building and his heating system. He must know the cold 
spots in his building. He should know how to fire the furnace 
with the fuel available to secure the desired results without 
wasting fuel and without using time that should be devoted to 
other duties. Not all janitors are engineers (although the day 
may come when all of them must pass certain tests), but most 
of them can with some study become efficient firemen. The 
following discussion has been prepared as an aid to the janitor 
in the task of generating heat for use in the school building. 

The Degree Day 

Heating engineers often determine the need for heat and the 
amount of fuel needed on the basis of a "Degree Day." This 
degree day is thought of as a variation in the average 24-hour 
temperature from a fixed point. Ordinarily, no room heating is 
required when the outside temperature (average for the 24-hour 
day) is equal to or above 65 F., then a one degree day is a day 
with an average temperature of 64 F. or 1 below the 65 aver- 
age. If the average temperature for the day were 55 F. or 10 
below the base, that 24-hour period would be a 10 degree day. 
The sum total of degree days during the heating season repre- 
sents the heating load. Engineers know the number of B.tu.'s 



296 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

required to supply the heat needed to counteract each degree 
day unit per 100 cu. ft. of air. Knowing the degree day load in a 
given locality, they can then compute the fuel needed with 
efficient firing methods for each building. As a basis for general 
information a list of the approximate degree day loads in various 
locations is given. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7953; Milwaukee, 
Wisconsin, 7366; Des Moines, Iowa, 6744; Chicago, Illinois, 
6300; Lincoln, Nebraska, 6231; Cleveland, Ohio, 6096; Wash- 
ington, D. C., 6039; New York City, New York, 5348; In- 
dianapolis, Indiana, 5331; Topeka, Kansas, 5282; Baltimore, 
Maryland, 4591; St. Louis, Missouri, 4583; Richmond, Virginia, 
3789; Raleigh, North Carolina, 3267; Nashville, Tennessee, 
3550; Little Rock, Arkansas, 2861; Birmingham, Alabama, 
2527; Jacksonville, Florida, 1080. 1 

In addition to the degree day load many variables such as 
wind velocity, size of the building, heat loss through cracks, 
and the type of fuel available must be considered. In planning 
the school heating plant engineers usually design it to supply 
an inside temperature of 70 F. when the outside temperature 
is 15 F. below the average low marks for a ten year period. 
(This is sometimes termed a "Design Day.") Most school heat- 
ing plants are designed to stand an overload of about twenty 
per cent for short periods of time. However, the janitor should 
know that overloading or crowding with forced fires may in- 
jure his heating plant and will in all probability result in a 
waste of fuel. 

Firing with Coal 

Since coal is used as a fuel in most school buildings the dis- 
cussion in this section will stress the frequency of firing, firing 

1 Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries, "Automatic Coal Heat With 
Mechanical Stokers," pp. 27, 33-34. 



FIRING THE FURNACE 297 

methods, grate care, clinkers, and smoke problems that may 
arise when using coal as a fuel. Other discussions define the 
types of coal and the principles of combustion. The competent 
fireman will know not only his coal and his furnace, but he 
will also know his fires. He will learn to judge the efficiency of 
his fire by the appearance of the fire bed, the color and length of 
flame, and the smoke entering the flues. These conditions will 
vary with the type of fuel and furnace used. 

Hand Firing Methods 

There seems to be no one best method of firing for all coals in 
all furnaces. Good firing should produce the heat desired with 
an economy of fuel and effort. It should produce a fire bed with- 
out holes, little smoke, and few if any clinkers. Some of the 
methods used in applying fresh coal are listed in the following 
paragraphs. 

Ribbon Method 

Many authorities consider this one of the most efficient meth- 
ods of applying fresh fuel to the fire bed. In using this method 
fresh coal is added in strips of about 12 to 14" wide (shovel 
width) from the front to the rear of the fire box. This leaves 
a strip of fresh coal and a strip of live or hot coals. As the fresh 
coal gets hot the volatile gases are distilled. As they pass over 
the hot coals the heat should raise the temperature to their igni- 
tion point and thus aid in securing a more complete combus- 
tion. At the next firing, coal is placed on the alternate strips left 
bare at the last firing. It is not possible to set up fixed recom- 
mendations on frequency of firing and the amount of coal to be 
added. Since large quantities of coal cannot be added at a time 
in the narrow strips this method calls for more frequent firing 
than do some other methods. This method is best adapted to a 



298 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

rectangular fire box of some size. The janitor may determine by 
trial the amount of coal to add and the frequency of firing. The 
fact that this method requires frequent attention and that the 
janitor has other duties that may call him away makes this 
method less attractive than some others for school firemen. 

Coking Method 

This method is considered the most practical and the most 
economical for use in the average school furnace by many jani- 
tors. It permits adding fuel at less frequent intervals but does 
require a little more labor at each firing since a part of the 
coals in the fire box are moved before fresh coal is added. Before 
adding fresh coal the hot coke and coals are shoved from the 
front to the rear of the fire box. They should be shoved back 
with the hoe and disturbed as little as possible. Under no con- 
ditions should the hoe be permitted to dip deeply enough to 
mix the ashes from the grates with the live coals. This mov- 
ing should leave from one-half to two-thirds of the front of 
the grates with only a thin bed of live coals. The fresh coal 
is laid over this thin bed at the front. The whole fire bed 
should not be covered. Here again, the janitor must determine 
by experience the frequency of firing and the amount of coal 
to be added. Many janitors report best results if the coal (egg 
size) is applied in a layer of about eight or nine inches. They 
usually add the fresh coal when the last charge has become a 
red mass. 

Most furnaces exhaust the smoke at the rear end of the fire 
box. In using the coking method the gases distilled from the 
fresh coal at the front as it is heated pass over the live coals at 
the rear. The heat from these coals aids in completing the com- 
bustion of these gases. This method is adapted for use in any 
type of fire box. It is particularly well adapted for furnaces that 



FIRING THE FURNACE 299 

have their grates so connected that the front and rear sections 
can be shaken separately. When this method is properly used 
there should be little volatile gas escaping in the smoke. 

Alternate Method 

This method is somewhat similar to the ribbon method. It 
differs from the ribbon method in that one-half (one side) of 
the fire bed is covered with fresh fuel at each firing period. It is 
particularly well adapted for use in wider furnaces having two 
firing doors. This method requires less frequent firing than 
does the ribbon method since larger charges may be added. It 
may produce more smoke as the gases from a part of the side 
having a fresh charge of fuel may reach the flues without hav- 
ing to pass over a bed of hot coals. This method is well adapted 
for use in furnaces where the grates on one side may be shaken 
without disturbing those on the other side. A fire maintained 
with this method may not be quite as efficient as with the cok- 
ing method when properly done, but it does require less labor. 

Conical Method 

In using this method fresh fuel is laid (not thrown) in a 
cone shaped heap near the center of the fire box. The purpose 
is to encourage the fire to burn at the edges. When a new charge 
of fuel is added the live coals at the center can be pushed to the 
edges of the fire box with the hoe. The same precautions men- 
tioned in the coking method concerning ashes should be ob- 
served here. This method is not so well adapted for use when a 
very active fire must be maintained. It is quite well adapted for 
use on mild days when little heat is needed. In using this 
method the janitor should watch to prevent the development of 
holes around the edges of the fire bed. Frequent applications 
of fresh fuel are not necessary when only a light fire is needed. 



300 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Layer Method 

This method is not often used in school buildings unless the 
draft is weak. In using this method a thin layer of coarse coal 
is spread evenly over the live fire bed and a thin layer of finer 
coal is spread over the top of the coarse coal. It is desirable to 
leave some live coals exposed or the fire may be smothered. This 
method seems to work better with the anthracite coals than 
with the more volatile bituminous coals. There is a slight tend- 
ency for air holes to develop in the fire bed. 

Heaping Method 

In using this method the hot coals are pulled to the front of 
the fire box with the hoe and fresh coal added at the rear. It is 
not well adapted for use with high volatile bituminous coals but 
is sometimes used with anthracite coals. Ashes should not be 
mixed with the live coals when pulling these coals to the front 
of the fire box. 

Ordinary Method 

This method is what the name implies both in practice and 
in results. It might well be called the piling method. The jani- 
tor gets a shovel full of coal, takes an aim at the fire door, and 
swings his shovel. He knows that he is getting results by the 
black smoke that boils up after the coal hits the fire bed. Some- 
times the fire bed seems to settle down where the fuel hits it and 
at times the whole fire bed seems dead. The inexperienced fire- 
man then may take a slice bar and thrust it under the whole 
mass giving a heave to bring some of the red coals to the top. 
He also probably brings some ashes into the heat zone where 
they are fused into clinkers to cause later trouble both in firing 
and in their removal. 



FIRING THE FURNACE 301 

Frequency 

The method used must vary with conditions. Since the jani- 
tor in small buildings will have duties in other parts of the 
building, he may be absent from the furnace room a consider- 
able part of the time. He must adapt his firing methods to the 
time available. Theoretically, firing should be done at a con- 
stant or uniform rate. Then too, it is often desirable to leave the 
fire door slightly ajar after adding a heavy charge of fuel. If the 
janitor takes time for this he may neglect some other duty. He 
must select the method that best fits his time, the weather, 
the furnace to be fired, and the fuel available. During the early 
fall months when little heat is required he may use the conical 
or coking methods. If these do not supply the heat needed for 
cold weather he may then change to another method. 

Methods Adapted to Fuel 

Under the section on fuels and combustion some coals are de- 
scribed as free burning, some are described as having caking 
tendencies, and others are listed as coking coals. Some are 
shown to be rich in volatile gases, while some have a low per- 
centage of volatile gases but have much fixed carbon. Not only 
must the janitor adapt his methods to the type of coal but he 
must also make allowance for the size of the coal. It is quite 
obvious that the methods that are adapted for use with lump 
or nut coal may be not at all adapted for use with pea or slack 
coals. In using the low volatile anthracite coals almost any 
method may be used with the larger sizes. With the smaller or 
finer sizes of semi-anthracite the coking or conical methods 
seem satisfactory. With this coal the grates should be shaken 
down but the fire should not be poked too often with the slice 
bar. 



302 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

The high volatile caking coals can usually be fired success- 
fully with the alternate method. This method disturbs the top 
of the fire bed very little and with this method there seems to 
be little tendency to clinker. They may be fired by the coking 
method if the janitor is careful in using his hoe to push the 
live coals to the rear of the fire box. With the high volatile 
coking coals (some are both caking and coking) the janitor 
may use a modified conical, a coking, or the alternate method. 
With either of these coals in fine particles, such as pea or slack 
coal, the ribbon or alternate methods may be used successfully. 

The high volatile free burning coals are usually fired with a 
light charge by either the coking, conical, or alternate method. 
These coals are not inclined to cake but holes may develop in 
the fire bed. Frequent attention to the fire is necessary. Much 
air must be admitted over the fire bed to aid in the combustion 
of the gases. Some janitors try to carry a heavy bed, when fir- 
ing with these coals, and to control the fire with the dampers. 

Down Draft Furnaces 

The methods listed have referred primarily to up-draft fur- 
naces. However, a large number of school buildings are heated 
by down draft furnaces. These furnaces have both an upper 
and a lower grate. The firing is done on the upper grate. The 
hoe may be used to keep the fire bed even over this grate. No 
bare spots or holes should be permitted to develop. A heavy fire 
bed is preferred by most janitors. Air for the fire bed is ad- 
mitted through the fire door. Live coals and ashes drop to the 
lower grates where the live coals help complete the combus- 
tion of the gases. However, no firing is done on these lower 
grates. Some ashes may collect on the upper grates. These may 
be removed by using a small "T" bar run under the fire over 
the grates. Coal should not be piled up at the front end of the 



FIRING THE FURNACE 303 

grates. The ashes should be spread out in a bed over the lower 
grates. 

Hand Firing Tools 

The most used tool in hand firing is the firing shovel. Most 
janitors prefer a shovel about 12 inches wide for small furnaces 
and 12 to 14 inches for large installations. This shovel should 
be a regular coal scoop with shallow side walls. The rake is 
used to loosen and remove clinkers from straight grate fur- 
naces. Some janitors use a set of clinker tongs for the same 
purpose. The "T" bar is used to run under the fire on down 
draft furnaces and at times in updraft furnaces to loosen the fire 
or to reduce the ash bed under the fire. The slice bar is used to 
crack the crust of coking coal. It it probably the one tool too 
much used by the average janitor-fireman. Its use to pry up 
through the fire may lead to clinkering. The janitor also needs 
a hose to wet down the ashes in the ash pit, (put water in first 
if pit is depressed below surface) and a long handled shovel 
for removing ashes from the ash pit. A hoe is essential for shov- 
ing live coals to the rear of the furnace in the coking method of 
firing. A wheel barrow or truck is usually needed to bring coal 
from the bin to the furnace and to transfer ashes from the fur- 
nace to the ash storage bin. 

Fuel Bed and Rate of Firing 

In theory the janitor should add fuel at a constant rate. In 
practice where he has many other duties this is not possible. 
One result is that he must carry a deeper fire bed than would 
otherwise be necessary. The thickness of the fuel bed will de- 
pend on the draft and the type of coal used. It is possible to 
carry a higher boiler load with a thin fire bed and there is prob- 
ably less clinkering. In using bituminous coals many janitors 



304 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

carry a fuel bed of from four to ten inches thick. These men 
feel that a bed of seven or eight inches is most economical. 
Regardless of the thickness of the bed the janitor should watch 
for fire bed holes that may permit cold air to pass through the 
furnace to cool the flues. 

Never build up large fires and leave them until they burn 
down. Unless automatic room heat controls are provided this 
practice makes a fluctuating room temperature that may be 
harmful to the pupils. Regularity in firing usually proves eco- 
nomical. A steam heating plant should be run on the lowest 
possible steam pressure. It requires more fuel to fire against 
high steam pressure. Lower temperature with adequate air 
moisture produces the same feeling of comfort as does a higher 
temperature with less humidity. It takes over twenty per cent 
more fuel to maintain a room temperature of 77 F. than it 
does for a temperature of only 70 F. 

Bringing Coal to Furnace 

The practice of carrying coal some distance from the coal 
bin in shovels is usually a dirt making process and wasteful of 
time. A wheelbarrow or truck may often be used with much 
better success. The coal should be left in the conveyor until 
used. Coal scattered or dumped on the furnace room floor is 
unsightly and a mark of poor housekeeping practices. Janitors 
do not agree on whether the coal should be wet down before 
being placed in the furnace. The water does delay ignition of 
rapid burning coal, but generally water in coal is excess bag- 
gage that must be evaporated before the coal is ready to burn. 

Stoker Firing 

Many school furnaces are fired with stokers which are auto- 
matic devices to add coal to the furnace as needed. There are 



FIRING THE FURNACE 305 

several types of stokers for use in schools. One type is known 
as a chain grate or a traveling grate. This grate provides a fuel 
bed the width of the furnace. The coal is fed to the grate by 
gravity from a hopper. Since the fire bed travels toward the 
rear of the furnace it is desirable to have a combustion arch at 
the front of the furnace to start distillation of the coal gases. 
The coal should enter the furnace at an even rate with no 
break. The grate travel speed and the thickness of the fuel bed 
are controlled by a thermostat. This type of stoker is more 
easily installed if the boiler mounting is higher than in ordinary 
installations. 

There is also an overfeed type of stoker. Most of the under- 
feed stokers use a worm screw or a ram to deliver coal to the 
furnace. The feed tube delivers the fuel through a head known 
as a retort. This retort is capped or surrounded by castings 
known as tuyere blocks. These blocks are perforated to permit 
entrance of the air from the fan supplying a forced draft. Most 
of the stokers are equipped with a clutch or a shearing pin that 
disengages the motor if an obstruction enters the feed tube. All 
stokers on low pressure boilers are operated by an electric 
motor. Most of them use a separate motor to run the fan provid- 
ing the air for the forced draft. Many of the stoker installations 
have plates inserted at the side of the fire box in water leg fire 
boxes as a protection. 

One of the principal advantages of stoker firing lies in the 
automatic control. This may be provided by a thermostat located 
somewhere in the building. In a few of the cheaper installations 
control is provided by a pressure gauge operated from the steam 
pressure in the boiler. Some stokers have a timing device which 
causes them to operate often enough to keep the fire alive dur- 
ing warm weather. Others are equipped with stack (chimney) 
thermostats to provide the same results. The stoker should have 



306 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

a surplus capacity of about 30 to 40 per cent above that of the 
furnace served by it. 

Stoker Economies 

Manufacturers of stokers contend that stokers are economical 
in that all coal is consumed. They claim that clinkering is 
eliminated, but most janitors contend that this latter claim is 
not borne out in practice. The stoker having proper controls 
does provide regularity in the production of heat. If adequate 
ventilating facilities are provided this heat may be adapted to 
changing room conditions in the school rooms. The stoker 
does save time for the janitor and releases him for duties in 
other parts of the building. Stokers burn a cheaper grade of 
coal than it is possible to use with hand firing. In computing 
the possible savings made by the stoker, consideration must be 
given to depreciation and to the cost of electricity for operating 
the stoker and the fans. 

Operation 

The stoker should be supplied with a type and size of coal 
adapted to it. Worm and ram type stokers usually take only 
small pieces of coal and some stokers operate successfully on 
slack coal. (Note slack coal does not mean black dirt.) The 
janitor should keep sufficient fuel in the hopper. All moving 
parts should be oiled. Controls should be checked often and 
kept properly adjusted. The stoker fed boiler for school build- 
ings should be equipped with an automatic device that shuts 
off the feed if the boiler water gets low. Some have automatic 
devices that add water as needed. These are assets but the jani- 
tor should visit the furnace room often to check the water level 
and should not depend too much on the automatic device. A 
peep port or hole giving the janitor an opportunity to observe 



FIRING THE FURNACE 307 

the flame is of value in controlling the rate of combustion. 
In some school buildings the janitor regulates but does not 
shut off the stoker at night during cool or cold weather. In 
other buildings the stoker is shut off at night and starting fires 
in the morning may become quite a task. Some janitors have 
found that it pays to hand fire the furnace until it has developed 
to a point that all firing may be left to the stoker. Cleaning 
stoker fired furnaces often becomes a difficult task where the 
stoker is located directly in front of the furnace. In these cases 
the ash pit doors are usually closed and cleaning must be done 
through the fire doors. In many cases this cleaning may be 
made more difficult if the stoker and furnace are in a pit. A 
few janitors have made ash pans with wide lips that extend 
out over the feed pipe. Ashes and clinkers are raked out 
through the doors and fall into the pan or on the extended lip 
from which they slide down into the pan. If one end of the pan 
is properly sloped the ashes are then easily removed with a 
shovel. 

Draft 

As stated in the section on fuels and combustion, good firing 
is impossible unless sufficient air is supplied to complete the 
oxidation of the fuel. The chimney is provided to help create 
the draft needed through the furnace. In forced draft furnaces 
this movement is aided by the draft from the fan. If the fire 
had a direct passage to the chimney, as in a fireplace, most of 
the heat value of the fuel would be wasted. In order to make 
use of this heat the smoke and hot gases are forced to pass 
through winding or tortuous passages of flues where much of 
this heat is absorbed. The effect of the draft is easily affected by 
the condition, height, and size of the smoke chimney. It is also 
affected by the amount of fresh air available in the furnace 



308 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

room. Many janitors have noticed that opening a window or a 
duct in the outer wall of the furnace room will cause the fire 
to burn more freely. 

Damper Control 

Dampers are installed on furnaces to enable the fireman to 
control the rate of combustion and the heat generated without 
having to remain by the furnace adding a small amount of fuel 
as heat is needed. Most furnaces are equipped with four damp- 
ers. Too often the janitor-fireman has little knowledge of the 
importance of and the proper use of each damper. He should 
know that dampers cannot be fully effective unless the chim- 
ney, breeching and furnace are tight and free from cracks, and 
unless doors fit snugly. In up-draft furnaces a major part of the 
draft comes from the ash pit through the grates and the fire 
bed. If this draft is not sufficient the fire is sluggish. If it is ex- 
cessive, cold air may pass through the fire bed and strike the 
flues with a chilling effect. 

Proper damper control is often said to be a measure of the 
janitor's efficiency as a fireman. The use of the dampers listed 
in the following paragraphs refer to usage when firing and 
not specifically to their use when starting and banking fires. 

1. Smoke pipe or turn damper 

This damper is often called a turn damper. It is similar to the 
smoke pipe damper found in some of our older heating stoves. It is 
usually located in the furnace breeching and should always be lo- 
cated between the furnace and the by-pass damper. It is operated by a 
lever outside the breeching. It is used to regulate the flow of gases to 
the chimney. It should always be open when the fire box door is open. 
It should never be completely closed when firing with a coal con- 
taining much volatile gas. It may be partly closed to offset the excess 
draft or chimney pull on windy days. When so used the janitor 
should watch carefully that a lull in the outside wind may not result 



FIRING THE FURNACE 309 

in a smoking furnace. While this damper has a definite place its use 
will probably be needed less frequently than will that of the other 
dampers. 

2. Feed door damper 

This damper is sometimes called a fire door damper. It is usually a 
perforated slide or a revolving disc in the face of the fire door. The 
purpose of this damper is to admit air over the fire bed to aid in the 
combustion of the volatile gases arising from the fire bed. It is usually 
best to keep this damper open or partly open when firing with a 
coal rich in volatile gases, to aid the combustion of these gases. Many 
janitors fail to understand the value of and to make the proper use of 
this damper. Too much air through this port may cool the gases, 
while too little air prevents complete combustion of these gases. 

3. Check damper 

This damper is often called a by-pass damper. This is probably a 
better name for it as it is used to by-pass furnace room air into the 
chimney without having it pass through the fire, thus checking a 
part of the effect of the chimney draft. It is usually a shutter or lift- 
ing lid. In many cases it is connected by chains and a lever to the ash 
pit damper in such a manner that when one opens the other closes. 
The lever between the two dampers is usually controlled by a thermo- 
stat. This damper is closed when firing and open when the fire is 
banked. It is usually located on the side of the breeching, and should 
be located between the breeching turn damper and the chimney. It 
too is important and the fireman should know how to make use of it. 

4. Ash pit damper 

This is a lift door or a slide with the lift door preferred, since it is 
easier to operate. It is usually located in the ash pit door but may be 
located over an opening in the side of the furnace base. The purpose 
of this damper is to admit air to the under side of the grates. Its use 
is vital to proper combustion. Its use is also vital to grate protection. 
Theoretically, if the furnace is air tight one could provide complete 
control of the rate of burning by regulating the air flow with this 
damper. However, such use might destroy the grates. The grates are 
subject to intense heat from the fire above them. The air coming 
through the ash pit helps keep them cool enough to prevent destruc- 
tion. In fact, many janitors keep the ash pit doors open a considerable 
part of the time and use the by-pass damper to regulate the fire. 
However, leaving the ash pit doors open may admit too much air 



310 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to the under side of the fire. If the ash pit dampers are closed sud- 
denly on a big fire with little protective ash above the grates the 
fire may warp them. 

Ash Removal 

Ashes are the non-combustible residue from the solid fuel 
burned. In hand fired furnaces with movable grates the ashes 
are dropped into the ash pit by shaking the grates. In straight 
grate furnaces and from the top grates of down draft furnaces 
the ashes are worked through the grates by sliding a "T" bar 
between the grates and the fire bed. Janitors find it desirable to 
retain some ashes on the grates to protect the grates from the 
direct heat of the live coals. The thickness of the ash bed will 
vary with firing conditions and the type of coal used. It may 
vary from two to about five and one-half inches. The janitor 
should avoid shaking the grates too vigorously. Red hot coals 
in the ash pit are a waste of fuel, a menace to the grates, and 
oftentimes a liability to the fire above the grates. 

Ashes should never be permitted to pile up under the grates. 
They choke off the air needed for combustion and for grate 
cooling. For school furnaces it is desirable to have an ash pit 
that is slightly depressed below the floor level with a slope at 
the front door to make cleaning easier. After each cleaning the 
janitor can run some water into this pit. This water will cool 
ashes and embers falling into it and will moisten the ashes thus 
eliminating much of the dust when cleaning. If the ash pit is 
not depressed the janitor may wet the ashes before removal. 
The water should be applied at the base some time before re- 
moval. When applied in this way no water should be per- 
mitted to come into contact with the grates or other hot metal. 
To do so might cause breakage. Water or wet ashes standing for 
any length of time in contact with metal furnace bases may start 



FIRING THE FURNACE 311 

a corrosive or rusting action. They seem to have little effect on 
the concrete pit. 

The janitor should have a long handled shovel for removing 
ashes. He should remove ash accumulations from the rear of the 
pit. When the ashes are removed they should be placed in a 
metal ash can or a wheelbarrow for removal to a fireproof ash 
bin. They should never be piled on the furnace room floor or 
placed in combustible containers. The floor should be cleaned 
after the ashes are removed. 

C//nJcers 

There are two types of clinkers, the soft clinker, and the hard 
clinker. The soft clinker is sometimes confused with the crust 
over hot caking coals. They are similar but the real clinker is 
the result of ash fusion. Coal ashes are a combination of waste 
and various metallic oxides. Some of these oxides do not melt or 
fuse readily unless in contact with other oxides which fuse more 
readily. This explains why clinkers grow. A clinker may start 
and as other ashes and oxides come into contact with it they 
are fused and adhere to the mass. Soft clinkers may start as 
small pieces and by this addition gradually shut off the air sup- 
ply through the grates. As this air supply is shut off, the ashes 
are subjected to more heat from the fire above and more clinker 
develops. This soft clinker may stay soft while on the grates. 
In fact, it may run down and choke the openings in the grates. 
It usually becomes hard when deposited in the ash pit. 

As stated, clinkers are the result of ash fusion. This ash fusion 
point varies with different coals. For the better anthracite coals 
it is usually above 2500 F., but for some of the bituminous coals 
it may be as low as 1800F. Coal ashes containing more iron 
and magnesium seem to fuse more readily. Fusing and clinker- 
ing are much worse under forced firing. They seem to develop 



312 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

more rapidly when excessively heavy fire beds are maintained. 
However, a considerable part of the clinkering is caused by the 
method of firing. Bottled or excessive heat, poor draft, pud- 
dling, and the burning of rubbish are common causes. Ashes 
stirred up into the coal bed may become heated to the fusing 
point and melt into a clinker. The janitor-fireman in an at- 
tempt to force or crowd the fire should never use the slice bar 
(better named clinker bar in this case) to slide it under the 
fire and pry the coals up, for this mixes the ashes and coals. 
This forms clinkers, choking off the draft and makes it neces- 
sary to clean the fires. 

Smoke Control 

Smoke is generally thought of as the result of incomplete 
combustion. This is not always true; however, black smoke is 
an indication of fuel waste. It usually contains some unburned 
carbon and probably some tarry matter together with some fly 
ash visible to the eye. Theoretically the smoke product of per- 
fect combustion is colorless. In general, black smoke contains a 
considerable amount of gases that have been distilled from the 
fuel more rapidly than they can be mixed with the proper 
amount of oxygen above the fire bed at ignition temperature. 
A clear chimney is not always an indication of good combus- 
tion, but may indicate excessive draft through the fire bed. In 
general, it is considered good practice to have a slight haze 
showing above the chimney. 

Most school buildings in the southern and central states are 
permitted to cool off during the night. Rapid or forced firing 
in the morning often causes heavy smoke loss. Several smoke 
consuming devices have been developed. Some of these are 
placed in the chimney. One is an oxidizer admitting air over 
the back part of the fire bed. The best smoke prevention comes 



FIRING THE FURNACE 313 

through proper firing methods and proper use of the dampers 
to aid in burning the gases in the fire box. A large combustion 
chamber aids in consuming the smoke gases before they are 
cooled by coming in contact with the flues or crown sheet. The 
janitor should remember that only those gases that are con- 
sumed in the furnace proper are of much value in producing 
usable heat. 

Starting Fires 

One of the first things that the janitor does after coming to 
the building on a cold morning is to fire up. Before starting his 
fires he should test the water level in the boiler and check the 
pump and the pump by-pass valves. The method of starting 
the fire will depend on the nature of the fire bank. If the fire 
has been properly banked close the by-pass damper, open the 
smoke pipe turn damper if closed, open the ash pit door 
damper, and break the bank. It may or may not be necessary to 
shake the grates depending on the condition of the fire. It is 
usually better to let the fire burn until the coals are red before 
adding fresh fuel. Adding fresh fuel on unburned coal may 
smother the fire and produce much smoke. It is often desirable 
to admit air over the fire bed through the fire door damper or 
by leaving the fire door slightly ajar until the fire has started if 
firing with high volatile coals. 

There are two general methods of starting a new fire. In the 
regular or ordinary method the kindling is placed on the grates 
and a small amount of coal is sprinkled on this after the fire 
has started to burn. This method usually produces much 
smoke. The other method is called the upside down method. 
Many janitors find this method satisfactory for updraft fur- 
naces. In using this method a bed of coal is placed on the grates. 
The kindling is placed on this and ignited. After it has de- 



314 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

veloped a good blaze more coal is sprinkled over the fire. The 
coal below will be heated and ignite. The gases coming from 
this coal will be forced to pass through the hot blaze and more 
of them will be consumed. As a result there is usually less 
smoke when firing up. 

Banking Fires 

The first step in banking a fire is to have a good bed of coals. 
Some janitors let the fire die down about one-half an hour be- 
fore school closes and then attempt to bank the fire without 
having a satisfactory bed of coals when they leave one or two 
hours later. In making up a work schedule the janitor should 
know how long heat will probably be needed each evening and 
then plan the banking accordingly. The fire should be banked 
with fresh coal and not with ashes. The by-pass damper should 
be open and the ash pit damper closed. Use of the turn damper 
will depend on draft conditions. It is usually found practical to 
bank with the conical or coking method. The practice of leav- 
ing the fire door open on banked fires is hazardous and should 
be discouraged. Banking methods will vary with the type of 
coal used. In some school buildings a night man is kept on duty. 
In some of the northern cities a flying firing squad of night 
firemen visits each building one or more times each night dur- 
ing cold weather. In either case, the building is not permitted 
to cool down and banking fires is not necessary. It is felt in these 
schools that the night cooling of the building is more expensive 
than the added help. 

Bottled Heat 

Quick dampering, defective dampers, poor baffles, a wind 
shift, insufficient furnace volume, or excessive firing may de- 
velop heat more rapidly than the furnace and the exhaust sys- 



FIRING THE FURNACE 315 

tern will care for it. This may create an intense furnace heat 
sometimes known as bottled heat. It may cause clinkering and 
in severe cases may destroy grates and furnace linings. 

Firing with Other Fuels 

A number of school buildings are heated with gas or oil. 
These provide clean fuels with a constant flow, requiring little 
firing attention from the janitor. However, water and pump 
problems may develop as quickly with these fuels as when 
firing with coal, and there should be no neglect of the furnace 
room. Each of these fuels may cause some soot to be deposited 
on the flues, but the oil is a little worse in this respect. As with 
coal a proper air supply for combustion is essential. Damper 
control of incoming air should be automatic. Ample combus- 
tion chambers are needed. 

The hazards from leaks and explosions are always present. 
Oil lines should have a siphon or trap in them as a protection 
against back firing. Both of these fuels are delivered to the fur- 
nace under pressure. The furnaces must be watched closely for 
leaks. If for any reason the fire goes out or is snuffed out it 
should not be ignited again until all gases or oil puddles have 
been removed. In lighting these fires a torch made of asbestos 
wrapped around the end of a rod and soaked in oil or kerosene 
is desirable if there is no pilot light. Lighting one of these fires 
with a match may cost a janitor his eyebrows and perhaps his 
life. The janitor should learn to estimate the condition of the 
fire by the flame and to adjust the air supply accordingly. 

Cautions and Economies in Firing 

1. Watch temperature and steam pressure. Excess heat and steam 
pressure are wasteful. 

2. Have a clean heating system and furnace room. 

3. Adapt firing methods to weather, fuel used, and type of furnace. 



316 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

4. Watch for air, gas, or oil leaks. 

5. Watch water level in boiler. 

6. Have a good draft. Control it by proper use of dampers. 

7. Watch room humidity. 

8. Break up large lumps of coal. Shake grates only as needed. Avoid 
smothering fire. 

9. Burning garbage, forcing fire, or too much poking of fire may in- 
duce clinkering. 

10. Provide large combustion chamber. Use it. 

11. Bank with coal not ashes. 

12. Keep ashes low (no live coals) in ash pit. Dampen if possible before 
removing. 



Chapter 15 



Care of Heating and Ventilating 
Systems 



THE JANITOR-ENGINEER should know the principles of heating 
and ventilation. He should know the various fuels and the 
principles of combustion. He must be familiar with the meth- 
ods of firing the furnace. He also needs experience and an op- 
portunity to study the plant he is to operate. He should be 
familiar with the building and the time schedule of the various 
school activities in it. He should have enough mechanical skill 
to enable him to make most of the adjustments and repairs 
needed in the heating and ventilating systems. In fact, he should 
be a man who is able to demonstrate to school officials and the 
public that he is a skilled workman who knows his job and 
who is doing it in a satisfactory manner. 

Some of the problems involved in efficient plant operation, 
maintenance, and protection are outlined on the following 
pages. Since plants and conditions vary, there can be no rule 
of thumb regulations that will apply alike to all systems. In 
many cases, the procedures outlined represent the experiences 
of several hundred active operators who have found these 
practices satisfactory. A part of the discussion to follow will 
cover operating practices and other parts will cover repairs, ad- 
justments, and alterations. 

317 



318 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Temperature Control 

The purpose of a heating plant in a school building is to 
provide proper temperature. It would be possible to supply an 
excess of heat and to permit the teacher to use as much as 
needed. The surplus might be permitted to escape through the 
windows. Such procedure is neither practical nor economical. 
Better results are obtained with a temperature definitely con- 
trolled within fixed limits' at all times. Many factors must be 
considered in attempting to provide the temperature regulation 
needed in all rooms. The janitor should be familiar with the 
principles involved in temperature regulation. 

Regulating Devices 

Pneumatic heat regulating devices have pumps and air lines. 
While most of these operate in a satisfactory manner, none of 
them are infallible. Motors get dirty, air lines develop leaks, and 
thermostats get out of adjustment. Teachers may complain that 
the temperature regulation leaves her room too hot or too cold. 
Some of the larger companies selling pneumatic controls have 
service men who visit installations to make adjustments. If no 
service man is available, the janitor may detect air line leakage 
by the speed and time of motor operation. By shutting off some 
lines this leakage may be located in a certain line. Sticking 
valves may be detected by watching the room thermostat and 
the radiator or suspected inlet. Excessive temperature for any 
room may be decreased by resetting the control thermostat for 
that room. 

Limiting Factors 

In many cases ample heat is supplied to the room without 
satisfying the occupants. After checking the janitor may find 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 319 

that the air in the room is stratified with the heated air at the 
top. A condition of this type may usually be corrected by cir- 
culating the room air. He may also find that a room tempera- 
ture of 70 F. does not provide the comfort desired because 
of a lack of air moisture. In these cases he may be able to 
satisfy the occupants by providing more moisture. The janitor 
cannot provide efficient temperature control in an economical 
manner unless he can regulate some uncontrolled room heat 
losses. It is anticipated that some heat will be lost in room 
ventilation. This can be measured and enough heat supplied 
to counteract the loss. Window caulking, weather stripping, 
and the closing of other cracks will aid in regulating the un- 
controlled losses. 

Ventilation Controls 

Heat regulations must be closely associated with ventilation. 
Certain amounts of heat are lost through ventilation. On the 
other hand, the ventilating air is used to diffuse and distribute 
the heat in the rooms and thus to overcome the tendency 
towards air stratification. The general purposes of the venti- 
lating systems are to remove odors, provide fresh air, regulate 
heat, and in general to contribute to the comfort of the occu- 
pants. Even though there is some heat loss through the venti- 
lating ducts, this does not justify closing the ducts with card 
board or dampers when pupils are in the rooms. 

The ventilating system is supposed to aid in controlling air 
humidity, and to provide clean fresh air, with the changes 
needed, without objectionable drafts. In some systems the jani- 
tor may provide moisture for the air by a controlled spray of 
water in the air stream. This is possible only when the air 
current is of warm air. In other cases the air current is passed 
through a curtain of falling water, and at other times it is 



320 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

blown across coarse burlap cloth over which water is allowed 
to drip. The last two methods also aid in cleaning the air. In 
buildings heated by direct radiation evaporating pans on the 
radiators provide about the only means of supplying artificial 
humidification. Some janitors have speeded the evaporating 
process by making evaporating pans to fit the radiators. Humid- 
ification with the spray or with an evaporating pan is easily 
provided with any hot air heating system. In any case, the 
moisture added should not be enough to make the walls and 
other room surfaces damp. 

Air Flow 

Air flow can be controlled by deflectors in the windows or in 
the room delivery ducts. If the air speed from fans seems ex- 
cessive it can be directed toward the ceiling where it will not 
blow directly on the pupils. Fan speed should be regulated so 
that there is no appreciable noise or whistling in the ducts. A 
floor level air speed of about 40 F.P.M. may be noticeable with 
cool air, but is little noticed when moving warm air. Air flow 
to or from special rooms may be controlled by fan speed and 
vent duct damper control. Mixing dampers in ducts or in unit 
heaters should be checked frequently. The use of room fans will 
aid in diffusing the heat over the rooms. This method is used 
in old basement rooms having only ceiling radiators. 

Clean Air 

Air cleaning is not easily controlled, except where air washers 
are used. In some of the newer ventilating units oiled or mesh 
screens are used to filter out the dust. These filters should be 
cleaned as often as needed to make them effective. Some of the 
filters are cleaned by immersion in an oil bath. Any system of 
air movement through dirt laden ducts may throw much dust 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 321 

into the classroom air. Corridor ventilation may stir up dust if 
the air flow speed is sufficient. Hence, all ventilating ducts, cor- 
ridors, or other air passage ways should be kept free of dust. 

Furnace Drafts 

No furnace may be expected to operate efficiently without 
sufficient and controlled draft. The impetus for this air flow 
comes from the chimney. Its effectiveness may be governed by 
the shape, arrangement, and condition of the furnace. 

Chimney Draft 

Some chimney and boiler breeching conditions which make 
them less efficient are : holes in breeching, loose connection with 
chimney, turn damper closed, soot piled up in the breeching 
and smoke pipe, breeching entering chimney on a down slant, 
breeching extending too far into the chimney, and obstructions 
in the chimney. All of these difficulties are easily removed. 
There are certain other draft difficulties that cannot usually be 
corrected until the heating plant is idle. Some of these are: 
broken chimney linings, chimney cracks, and a lack of chimney 
height above the roof line or parapet walls which may choke 
the draft or at times cause a back draft. Chimney cracks and 
holes can usually be detected by a smoke test. (Build small fire 
of smoke producing material, cover top of flue for few minutes 
and watch for leaks.) The holes and small cracks can be filled 
with mortar. The large cracks and broken linings may have to 
be repaired by a bricklayer. All breechings and soot boxes 
should be cleaned several times each year. 

Furnace 

Efficient combustion results depend on the draft and the con- 
trol of air flow in the furnace. Leaks in the furnace walls or 



322 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

through the ash pit make it difficult to control the air flow. 
Loose fitting dampers or doors, or cracks in the furnace lining 
may admit air where none is needed. Dampers will be more 
effective and the draft more easily controlled if all of these 
cracks are closed. Many of them can be closed, at least tempo- 
rarily, by a mixture of cement and asbestos fiber. 

After the air enters the furnace it should follow a prescribed 
route in order that it be of greatest value in combustion without 
exerting a cooling effect on the boiler or hot air furnace. The 
air should be directed up through the fire bed. After passing 
through the fire bed it must mix with the gases. With these hot 
gases it should pass through the flues. If the air and gases enter 
the flues too soon some heat is lost. This combustion requires a 
rather high combustion chamber. It is estimated that a furnace 
large enough to heat 5000 feet E.D.R. should have a space of at 
least 18" below the grates and a space of 42 to 48" between the 
grates and the crown sheet. In many cases improved combustion 
has been secured by raising the furnace. In some furnaces, the 
hot gases pass back under the boiler or heating unit before 
entering the flues. In such instances they may pass over a fire 
wall. The hot gases should be directed up against the boiler 
before they lose too much of their heat. The fire wall should 
be built up until the open space between it and the boiler is 
only about 12 to 15" for a majority of the school plant installa- 
tions. 

Furnace Grates 

Air entering the ash pit passes into the fire bed through per- 
forated or slotted iron grills called grates. These grates are made 
of cast iron and are of several types. The older brick set and 
some of the older portable furnaces are equipped with fixed 
grates of long slotted bars running lengthwise of the furnace. 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 323 

Most of the newer furnaces are equipped with cross grates. 
Some of these extend all of the way across the furnace. In some 
of the larger furnaces the grates from each side run only to the 
middle where they rest on a "T" bar. They may be classified as 
shaking, rocking, or dumping grates according to their action. 
Most school furnaces are equipped with shaking grates which 
are controlled by levers at the front of the furnace. 

Grafe Control and Protection 

Most of the grates installed for use with bituminous coals 
have only one-half inch slot openings. This is usually sufficient 
to admit the air necessary for grate protection. Most janitors 
find it advisable to maintain a bed of ashes of two to four inches 
between the grates and the live coals. When this bed of ashes 
becomes too thick some of it is shaken down into the ash pit. 
The grates should be shaken often enough to control the ash 
bed, but if shaken too often or too vigorously the ash protection 
will be lost and live coals will drop into the ash pit. The grates 
should be protected from clinkers. If shaking does not remove 
the clinkers they may be removed by using a slice bar or a 
"T" bar run under the fire bed. If soft melted clinkers have 
run into and closed some of the openings they should be 
chipped out as soon as possible. Heavy banking with the ash 
pit doors closed, may create enough heat on the grates to warp 
them. 

Operation 

The shaking grates are slightly convex at the surface to pro- 
tect the fingers from the intense heat. The grates should not be 
shaken so strenuously that the ends (trunions) may be jerked 
out of the slots in which they rest. In those furnaces where the 
grates are divided down the center only one side is shaken at a 



324 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

time. In furnaces where the rear and front sections shake sepa- 
rately the rear sections will probably be shaken more often, 
particularly if the coking method of firing is used. After shak- 
ing the grates the janitor should place the shaking bar in 
such a position that the grates will be flat. If the edges or fingers 
are permitted to stick up into the fire bed they may be burned 
off. Most shaking bars have latches or slots that mesh or lock 
holding the grates in the proper position. These should be 
checked and properly meshed each time the grates are shaken. 

Warping and Growth 

Grates of cast iron absorb some carbon when heated. Thus 
grates that seem loose when first installed may expand to fill 
the full space provided for them. Grates subjected to intense or 
bottled heat may warp or sag. Dumping large quantities of live 
coals into the ash pit may also cause warping. Probably the most 
common cause of grate failure is caused by ashes which choke 
off the draft through the grates. With proper protection one set 
of grates should last as long as the furnace. 

The Steam Heating System 

The use of steam for heating requires a specific type of heat- 
ing unit. Unless properly cared for the steam may create certain 
hazards. The fact that this steam condenses and must be re- 
turned to the furnace to be reheated requires that all steam lines 
have the proper slope. If the water is to be heated quickly and 
economically the heated gases must have direct contact with the 
metal separating the hot gases and the water. 

Core of Flues 

Boiler flues are of a comparative soft iron having power to 
conduct heat rapidly. If these flues become coated with a carbon 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 325 

soot which is not a good conductor their efficiency is reduced. A 
soot coating of one-thirty-second of an inch may cut efficiency 
as much as ten per cent, while a coating one-sixteenth of an 
inch thick may reduce efficiency as much as twenty-five per 
cent. This soot must be removed. In high pressure boilers a 
steam jet is often used to remove the soot. In a few schools hav- 
ing a vacuum cleaning system the flues are vacuum cleaned. In 
most schools, the flues must be cleaned by using a brush and a 
scraper. If used every day, a wire brush may keep the flues clean. 
If they become very dirty, the scraper should be used. When 
cleaning the flues the damper should be open. Flue cleaning is 
more difficult if the space at each end of the boiler does not 
permit free use of the cleaning tools. The use of a flexible or 
jointed cleaning rod is a dirty process, but regardless of how 
dirty the task is, the flues should be cleaned. 

Some janitors use a chemical like salt to aid in consuming 
the soot. This probably has more effect in cleaning the fire box 
than in cleaning the flues. However, many janitors feel that the 
use of salt may have a corrosive effect on the metal. The janitor 
should be able to replace or rebead leaky flues, or to plug, tem- 
porarily, a leaking flue with a wood plug. 

Daily Operation 

Before firing up each morning the janitor should check by 
inspection the water glass and by test the try cocks. He should 
check the pump and by-pass valves. After he starts the fire he 
should not leave the furnace room too long at a time. As soon 
as he has about two pounds of steam pressure he should test the 
pop off valve. It is a mistake to try to fire up too quickly. A 
gradual warming without having to force the fire is preferable. 
In the evening the process is similar but in reverse order. After 
banking the fire and before leaving the building the pump by- 



326 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

pass valve should be opened. The chain connecting the ash pit 
and by-pass dampers should be disconnected, the fire door 
closed and tools put away. 

Boiler Water 

The steam heating system uses water or steam as a medium of 
heat transfer. The fact that the water evaporates creates a num- 
ber of problems such as the depositing of the water carried 
solids inside the boiler, foaming from impurities in the water, 
boiler deterioration, and the danger of explosion. 

Wafer Level 

If the boiler water level gets below the top flues or the crown 
sheet and then fresh water is run on to the hot metal an ex- 
plosion may ensue. Most school heating boilers are so arranged 
that about four inches of water is retained above the crown 
sheet. If the water glass is properly located this will mean about 
one-third to one-half a glass of water. The janitor should in- 
spect the glass often to determine the amount of water in the 
boiler. The valve or pet cock at the bottom of the water column 
should be opened frequently to know that the two ports of 
entry, top and bottom, to the column are not closed. He should 
test the try cocks often as a counter check. A surging or rapid 
fluctuation in the water glass is often an indication of water 
difficulties. If the water gets dangerously low in the boiler the 
fire should be smothered and the boiler permitted to cool down 
before any make up water is added. The pop valve should not 
be opened to reduce steam pressure when the water gets low. 

Foaming and Priming 

Oil, organic matter, and dirt may cause the water in the boiler 
to foam. When this happens water is boiled over into the steam 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 327 

mains. This water is of little value in the radiators and may 
lower the water in the boiler. When this happens the janitor 
must watch the boiler closely until the difficulty is corrected. If 
the boiler has a skimmer the water may be brought to the 
proper level and some of the surface waste drawn off. Heavier 
waste may be blown off at the blow-off or mud valve. If these , 
are not effective a thorough cleaning may be needed. One of 
the best methods of cleaning is to remove the pop off valve or 
some other top connection and to connect to this port a waste 
pipe leading to the sewer or to the outside. A fire is started and 
after the water is heated but before it steams the make up valve 
is opened slightly. The feed water should be admitted slowly 
enough that the overflow water is hot. Priming often occurs 
when the water level is too high or the load heavy. Reducing 
both may aid in checking the tendency to throw boiler water 
over into the steam lines. 

The blow-off valve should be opened often to rid the boiler 
of sludge and other solids. If possible, the janitor should watch 
the water glass when the blow-off valve is opened. It should not 
be left open long enough to lower the water to the danger 
point. Many janitors claim better results if the blow-off valve is 
opened and closed quickly to start the water to surging and then 
opened again for the blow down. If the water is dirty or if 
boiler water compound is used it may be necessary to blow 
down daily. 

If water does not return readily to the boiler the janitor 
should inspect the pump and the radiator traps to determine the 
difficulty. It may be necessary to provide bleeders connecting the 
steam line to the return lines. Free flow of both water and steam 
is essential. The water glass should be kept clean. It can be 
removed and washed in a cup of hot water to which has been 
added a small amount of muriatic acid. Some janitors drain the 



328 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

glass and open the top water column valve to blow out the 
water and warm the glass. The top valve is then closed and the 
cup of water and acid is held over the bottom of the tube. By 
opening and closing the top valve the solution is drawn up in 
the glass several times until it is clean. The glass should then be 
washed out by opening both valves. The drain is then closed. 
Both top and bottom valves should be left open. ' 

Wafer Ills 

The water used in the boilers contains many impurities. 
When the water turns to steam the solids are deposited in the 
boiler. These elements may injure the boiler in several ways. 
One of the most common difficulties is the deposit of scale. This 
scale may be deposited any place up to the water line. It seems 
to be deposited more around the flues and over the bridge wall. 
A heavy scale prevents good heating. It may also completely 
coat the safety soft plug. It is estimated that a scale of one- 
sixteenth inch may reduce efficiency by fifteen per cent, a scale 
of one-eighth inch twenty-five per cent, and a scale of one- 
fourth inch about forty per cent. Scale is a precipitation of the 
salts of such minerals as calcium, magnesium, and iron. It may 
also affect hot water heaters and hot water lines. It may lead to 
boiler buckling. Another difficulty arises from corrosion or 
pitting. Strangely enough, this difficulty is not confined to min- 
eral laden water. Rainwater has been known to cause severe 
pitting. A combination of free acid and oxygen seems to form 
a sort of carbonic acid bubble on the flues. After this has started 
a small pit, other similar bubbles seem to collect there, each 
adding its corrosive effect to the weak spot. Exterior corrosion 
may occur on unpainted outer boiler surfaces or around leaks. 
Fire box or ash pit corrosion occurs more rapidly if wet ashes 
are in contact with the metal. 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 329 

These difficulties may become serious. Scale can be removed 
by opening the boiler and chipping the scale away with a 
hammer. This removal is difficult in some of the smaller heat- 
ing boilers. Pitted flues can be replaced. However, continued 
water difficulties may lead to caustic embrittlement of the metal 
structure of the boiler. There is no one cure-all for these boiler 
ailments. The addition of soda ash when no caustic or alkali 
is needed may aggravate the trouble. A water test made at one 
time may not be valid later as the water composition changes 
in rainy or dry seasons. A number of janitor-engineers have 
learned how to use a titration test to determine the amount of 
scale forming elements contained in the water. Some of the men 
have several tests made by commercial laboratories and at the 
same time make their own tests by determining the amount of 
some water breaking compound needed to precipitate the 
solids. These rough tests can give only approximate results. 
It is often possible to have the water tested by the chemistry de- 
partment of the local school or that of the state university. For 
others who cannot or do not trust their ability to test the water, 
chemical testing laboratories are available in nearly all cities. 
Some of these companies sell a yearly service of testing and 
treating boiler water. 

Bo//er Safefy 

Even if he is not an efficient fireman or a skilled engineer 
each janitor should realize that the boiler is a potential engine 
of destruction. He cannot afford to trust the often quoted but 
erroneous theory, that the low pressure boiler with a steam 
pressure of only a few pounds cannot do much damage. He 
should remember that this pressure is quoted at so much per 
square inch and that the total concentrated energy is immense. 
He should carry no more steam pressure than needed. The 



330 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

fact that the pocketed lines block free steam movement is not 
a valid excuse for high pressure. The lines should be re-sloped. 
He should watch the water level and the pressure gauge. The 
pop oft valve should be set at a low pressure and tested often. 
The janitor who adds extra weights to the level control of the 
level pop valve should be replaced. He should watch the vac- 
uum pump and the check valves. Any sticking valves should be 
repaired or replaced. The soft plug is a second safety valve lo- 
cated in the crown sheet. It should be inspected often. 

Radiator Care 

Having steam pressure in the boiler room is no guarantee of 
room heat. Blocked radiators, stuck traps, and trapped lines may 
cause difficulties in the distribution system. Often radiators are 
painted with a bronze or aluminum finish. This reduces their 
radiating efficiency. Exposed steam mains may have their steam 
partly condensed before it reaches the radiators. 

Radiator Blocking 

One of the most common complaints is that certain radiators 
won't heat. In one-pipe lines, partially closed intake valves may 
cause the water to remain in the radiator until it becomes 
water logged. In other cases, the air valve on these radiators 
does not permit the cold air to escape. In either case, the live 
steam cannot enter the radiator. Some of the air valves on 
one pipe radiators are adjustable. It is possible to hasten steam 
flow to those radiators farther from the boiler by setting the 
air valves on these radiators to permit a more rapid air flow. 
In two pipe and vapor vacuum jobs, the radiator trap may 
stick, preventing the passage of cold water and air, thus block- 
ing the ingress of fresh steam. At other times, certain lines may 
be water trapped or air locked, either of which may prevent 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 331 

the free passage of steam. Radiators may be tilted the wrong 
way, thus blocking the steam. Gurgling and pounding or ham- 
mering in the radiators or lines are other common difficulties 
that can be corrected by the janitor who knows his heating 
system. 

The remedies are usually simple. Loss of heat from exposed 
lines can be eliminated by covering and protecting the lines. 
Cellular asbestos insulation for any size of pipe with metal 
strips for attaching in place can be purchased. Water trapped 
lines can be relieved temporarily by bleeders draining back 
into the return line and permanently by resloping the lines. 
Air blocks in one pipe lines can be removed by bleeders. In 
two pipe lines they can be eliminated by regulating or replac- 
ing the line air valves. Sticking traps may often be repaired by 
reseating the valve or by inserting a new thermostatic unit. A 
spirit level used on radiators and on steam mains will aid in 
locating low spots or a wrong slope. These changes will not 
make a ceiling radiator heat the floor air of a room, nor will 
they make up for a lack of radiation. A relocation of these units 
with new return lines is sometimes necessary. The tasks and 
changes listed vary so much in different situations that no at- 
tempt is made here to describe each change in detail. How- 
ever, the efficient system should warm all radiators with a low 
steam pressure and without pounding or gurgling. 

Summer Care 

As soon as the boiler and furnace are retired for the summer 
they should be put in condition for the vacation period. This 
task should not be left until July. One of the first tasks in laying 
up the system for the summer is to clean it. The furnace chim- 
ney and flues should be cleaned first. The grates should be re- 
moved and all ashes removed from the hangers and corners. 



332 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

The flues should be scraped. The chimney, soot box and breech- 
ing should be cleaned. After the dust from this rough cleaning 
has settled the janitor should go over it again with a brush. 
He should remember that most of the coal burned may contain 
sulphur. A small amount of sulphur and water may form an 
acid that is corrosive on metal. 

He will then be ready to clean the inside of the boiler. All 
water should be drained off; clean out plugs, hand hole, and 
man hole covers should be removed. In removing the latter he 
should attempt to preserve the gaskets. The inside of the boiler 
should be washed with a hose and thoroughly cleaned. All 
scale and sediment should be removed. The soft plug should 
be removed and examined. It may be replaced with a new one 
of Banca tin bearing an approved label. He may then wish to 
fill the boiler and run in a solution of some mild substance 
that will form a protective glaze on the inside of the boiler. 
(Some use a sodium silicate or a similar solution.) 

If the boiler room is damp he should fill the boiler to the 
top for the summer. If the boiler room is dry he may drain, re- 
move hand and man hole covers, and leave air dry. An oil stove 
set in the fire box for a few hours will dry it out. A fire should 
not be lit for this purpose in an empty boiler. The boiler and 
furnace will then be retired and should not be used for burning 
paper or garbage during the summer. Neither should the 
furnace be used as a storage place for paper to be burned later. 
Someone might decide to burn it now. The inside of the fire box 
can be painted or oiled, and an oiled rag pulled through the 
flues will give them a protective coating. Fire doors should be 
left open. 

The janitor will then be ready to prepare the rest of the sys- 
tem for the summer. The pipe and boiler covering will be 
painted, valves reseated, pumps repaired and drained, and 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 333 

cylinders oil coated. Hot water tanks will be drained and 
cleaned. Fan housings will be swept and washed. Dust will be 
blown out of motors, and all ventilating ducts will be cleaned 
and dusted. Brass and nickel finish should be polished or coated. 

Putting info Service 

When the janitor is ready to put the boiler into service in the 
fall he should treat it almost as he would a new boiler. If it 
has been filled with water this should be drained off and new 
water added. If it has been dry he will replace all plugs and 
man hole or hand hole coverings and fill. He should warm it 
up slowly to permit even expansion. He may find it desirable 
to take one or two days to bring his plant into active opera- 
tion. As it warms up he should test all valves, gauges, and 
pumps. Fans and motors should be run for short periods and 
stopped for inspection. It may be necessary to redrain the boiler 
after warming up the first time. This try out should be done at 
a time when the building is not in use. The furnace flues, fire 
box and flues may smoke while the oil is burning off, and ac- 
cumulated dust in air and ventilating ducts may be blown out 
into the rooms. 

Care of Hot Air Systems 

All previous suggestions concerning the care of the furnace, 
fans, motors, and air ducts will apply to the care of a hot air 
furnace, as will those on temperature control, air flow, and 
humidity. A few additional suggestions seem worth while. Un- 
controlled hot air systems are subject to losses from open win- 
dows. They are also subject to variations from wind pressure. 
Few suggestions other than continued watchfulness in duct 
damper control can be offered. If the system has automatic con- 
trols the difficulties may be cared for by resetting the room 



334 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

thermostats. In operation a hot air system may be warmed up 
in the morning without taking in much outside air. After the 
pupils arrive full recirculation should not be practiced. The 
janitor should not close ventilating ducts in order to conserve 
hot air. Air speed should not be sufficient to cause room drafts 
or whistling in the pipes. Enough moisture should be added to 
prevent the air from becoming too dry. Odors from the hot 
metal in the air stream are obnoxious. The furnace should be 
checked often. A small seam or crack may permit smoke and 
gases to enter the air stream. All ducts should be cleaned often 
enough to prevent any dust from them entering the air stream. 
Air that picks up dust from corridors or rooms should be 
washed or discarded. Rooms and corridors may need to be 
cleaned often to prevent accumulations of dust that might en- 
ter the air stream. For the same reason floor registers for either 
warm or cold air in school rooms are not desirable. 

Miscellaneous Operating Problems 
Pumps 

Pumps should be oiled as needed. All valves should be prop- 
erly seated. The vacuum gauge in vacuum pumps should be 
checked. By-pass valves should be opened at night. The pump 
should be clean, and the floor around it free from oil drippings. 

Oil Burners 

Oil burners are of two types. The spray nozzle feed is con- 
trolled by a butterfly valve. The hinged door type of burner 
gets hot and the valve may stick. Before starting the burner 
the fire box should be examined for any accumulations of oil. 
When the burner is shut off the fan should be run long enough 
after the oil is shut off to clear the nozzle. 



CARE OF HEATING AND VENTILATING SYSTEMS 335 

Gas Burner 

If this burner is adjusted to give a proper air mixture little 
trouble may be anticipated. The janitor should be alert in 
watching for leaks. He should not be smoking when he enters 
the boiler room for the first time in the morning. In case of 
doubt he should open windows and give all free gas an op- 
portunity to escape before lighting the burner. After the burner 
is turned off it should not be relighted until free gas has had 
an opportunity to escape. A pilot light for starting the fire is 
desirable. 

Cleanliness 

Many other problems will arise in the care and management 
of the heating plant. The alert capable janitor-fireman will de- 
tect many of them before they become serious. He will main- 
tain a heating plant that operates freely and efficiently. His 
furnace room will be clean from ceiling to floor. It will not be 
a catch-all for rubbish. The floor will be free from ashes, coal, 
or oil. The furnace or boiler room covering will be clean. Ex- 
posed metal will be painted. All tools will be in good working 
condition and properly stored. 



Chapter 16 

Miscellaneous Duties 



Care of Furniture 

A SCHOOL ROOM WITH good floors and walls may have the 
natural attractiveness of the room marred by dirty, 
scarred, or squeaky furniture. One of the tasks of the janitor is 
to clean the room furniture. Pupils come into contact with the 
furniture surfaces and leave deposits of grease and dirt from 
their hands. In cleaning furniture the janitor must find and re- 
move these dark accumulations. Since some of this dirt will ac- 
cumulate in spite of the daily dusting, more effective cleaning is 
essential. This periodic cleaning usually involves washing or 
the use of some cleaning fluid. In cleaning, the janitor should 
be careful not to mar the finish. Strong soaps or cleaning fluids 
should never be used. A neutral soap may be used in washing. 
The washing may be done with a sponge or with a cloth. The 
first washing should be followed with a second sponge or cloth 
to remove streaks and surplus water. All soap should be re- 
moved. The janitor should not use sufficient water to fill the 
joints or cracks. He should also avoid using water hot enough 
to mar the finish, or the sprinkling of water on the floor. Many 
janitors find it desirable to wash furniture once or twice each 
year. 

Polishing 

Washing alone does not leave the finish desired for furniture. 
After the washed surface has dried it should be polished. In ad- 

336 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 337 

dition to the polishing after washing, frequent polishing during 
the year may be necessary. Some janitors use a polish which also 
acts as a cleaner, thus making it unnecessary to wash the sur- 
faces often. In polishing furniture the janitor should use a polish 
that does not leave an oily or sticky surface to catch dirt and 
dust. He should also avoid the use of a polish that leaves a high 
gloss surface that reflects too much light into the eyes of the 
children by using suitable furniture polish on the duster. 

Polishing Materials 

There are a number of polishes available for use on furniture. 
One of the most common of these polishes is a mineral oil such 
as paraffin or a mixture of benzine or turpentine and paraffin. 
After being applied these must be wiped off. The polish used 
should be stable. One that oxidizes easily may leave dark sur- 
faces, and one containing too much alcohol may leave white 
spots on varnished surfaces. Such vegetable oils as cedar and 
linseed are also used in polish. Wax is gaining in favor as a pol- 
ish. The school may purchase suitable polishes or the janitor 
may prepare his own. One combination of wax and oils may be 
made by using: 1 pint raw linseed oil, 2 pints turpentine and 1 
or 2 ounces of beeswax. The beeswax is dissolved in the warm 
oil. The mixture is cooled and the turpentine added. It should 
be shaken before using. One polish that has been used by the 
United States Navy department is made up as follows: cider 
vinegar 1.25 parts, petroleum spirits (paraffin oil) 2.26 parts, 
turpentine 1.35 parts, denatured alcohol .22, boiled linseed oil 
1 part, raw linseed oil 1.25 parts. If each complete part is one 
pint this will make about one gallon of polish. Because of the 
acid vinegar content it should not be kept in a metal container. 1 

X U. S. Department of Commerce, Washing, Cleaning and Polishing Materials. 
Pp. 43-44. 



338 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

A polish containing more wax may be prepared by using 2 
parts (by weight) carnauba wax, 2 parts ceresin, 2 parts turpen- 
tine, 3 parts gasoline. The waxes are melted over a water bath 
and the turpentine and gasoline added. Another may be made 
by using l / 2 lb. carnauba, l / 2 lb. beeswax, and 1 gallon of turpen- 
tine. The wax is melted in the liquids in a water bath. Avoid 
open flame. An emulsion wax polish is made to include an 
abrasive in the form of tripoli. This wax contains gasoline 4.4 
parts, carnauba or beeswax, .9 parts, tripoli .2 parts, water 4.4 
parts, neutral soap .1 part. The wax is dissolved in the gasoline 
over water bath and the other parts added. Many janitors prefer 
the wax over the oil polishes since it does not leave a sticky sur- 
face. The waxes containing some soap help clean the furniture. 
The wax also provides some protection against ink stain. It may 
leave a surface with too much gloss. When polishing, friction 
created by rubbing is important. After the polishing is com- 
pleted the sheen may be maintained with the treated duster. 

Re finish ing 

Most schools have an organized program for furniture re- 
placement, but the refinishing of desks and other furniture is 
too often neglected. In many cases the desks are scarred and 
marked. For badly scarred desks sanding is usually essential. In 
a few cases the worst cuts may be removed with a smoothing 
plane. The hand sander may then be used to smooth the surface. 
The sander may also be used to remove chipped varnish. In other 
instances, the old varnish may be removed by a commercial 
varnish remover. The janitor can make his own varnish re- 
mover by mixing 1 quart benzol and l / 2 pint acetone heated 
separately. Into this is shaved 2 ounces paraffin. After this has 
cooled 1 pint of gasoline and 1 quart of denatured alcohol are 
added. Another remover can be made by dissolving 1 lb. lye, 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 339 

adding 2 ounces of corn starch, and the same amount of China 
clay. This is applied as a paste. 

To remove old varnish from fixed seats, many janitors pre- 
pare a dipping tank with a derrick or pulley and dip the whole 
desk. This requires a tank large enough to dip the seats. The 
tank solution should be hot. It may be set over a fire or heated 
with a steam coil. For this purpose a caustic alkali (industrial 
alkali) of some such substance as caustic soda and soda ash 
(ratio about 2% to 1) may be purchased already mixed at a 
small cost. The seat should not be left in the bath for more than 
1 and l / 2 to 2 minutes. If left too long the glue in the seats may 
be destroyed. As soon as the seats are cool the old finish is re- 
moved with a stiff brush. The seats should then be thoroughly 
rinsed, using a hose. The hands should not come in contact 
with this solution. After the seats are dry the surfaces are 
sanded before finishing. 

After the old finish has been removed and after the surface 
has been smoothed a new finish coat should be applied. If a 
color is desired the stain will be applied first. The stain should 
not be too dark. If varnish is applied the first coat may be cut to 
80 per cent varnish and 20 per cent turpentine. The surface is 
then sanded lightly or buffed and the second coat, cut 10 to 15 
per cent, is applied. In many schools a clear bakelite finish 
(similar to gymnasium floor finish) is applied instead of the 
varnish. The finish should not be too glossy. The suggestions 
given here apply to wood furniture. The finish for metal furni- 
ture is usually an enamel. The treatment for this finish will vary 
little from that for wood. 

Care and Maintenance 

It is anticipated that the teacher and pupils in the room will 
be careful to avoid marring and breaking furniture. In spite of 



340 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

this care furniture will deteriorate. Seat bolts will loosen. Desk 
glue may cease to hold. Splinters on seats are harmful to stock- 
ings and clothing. The janitor should watch seats and other 
equipment for loose joints or bolts. A little prevention may 
avoid costly breakage. Fixed seats should be securely attached 
to the floor. Loose joints may be reglued with hot glue. Some 
of the older chairs get loose and squeaky. If they cannot be re- 
paired otherwise they may be wired and tightened by partially 
concealed wires under the seats. 

Chairs and movable furniture may mar floor finish. This is 
particularly noticeable on linoleum or mastic flooring. The jani- 
tor should attach suitable gliders to the legs of such equipment. 
There is now available on the market a glider with a large 
rectangular base. This attaches to the leg of the chair and seems 
superior to the smaller gliders, which might gouge holes or cut 
the surface. 

The janitor is often required to refinish table tops on science 
tables. An acid proof finish may be applied in the following 
manner. 

First coat is a solution of 125 grams of potassium chlorate 
and 125 grams of copper sulphate to one gallon of water to be 
heated and applied hot. Second coat is applied after the first 
coat is dry, and consists of the same solution as the first coat, 
but is applied cold. This is followed by two coats of a solution 
composed of 120 CC Analin oil, 180 CC of hydrochloric acid to 
1000 CC of water. When dry they should be given one coat of 
raw linseed oil which should be polished and allowed to stand 
for at least eight hours. The surface is then washed with hot 
soap suds and water and is again rubbed with linseed oil as 
above. If any black comes off, the surface is again washed and 
oiled in the same manner. This treatment should be continued 
until no black comes off in the rubbing. 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 341 

Termites and Termite Control 

Many janitors have at one time or another had to contend 
with termite infestation of their school buildings. Others have 
buildings in which termites are now plentiful, without realizing 
that termite damage is being done. Janitors often fear termites 
as they would a plague because they do not know how to com- 
bat them. While termite damage is often exaggerated, it is true 
that termites may and do cause untold damage in school build- 
ings each year. Termite damage occurs principally in wood but 
may be found in papers, books, or cloth stored in favorable 
places. It is possible for termites to practically destroy floors, or 
to eat out the inside joists or studs until they will collapse 
when subjected to unusual strain. The termite works under 
cover and may do much damage before being discovered. 

How fo Detect Termite Infestation 

In many cases the janitor discovers evidence of termite dam- 
age by accident. The discovery may come after serious damage 
has been done. There are some signs that indicate that termites 
are present. The janitor should know and watch for these indi- 
cations. If other buildings in the neighborhood have termites 
there is a possibility that they may reach the school building. 
This is in no wise a sure sign or indication. One sign that may 
be visible is the presence of dirt or mud tubes leading from the 
ground up the wall or a pier to some wood. At certain times 
during the year (in the central Mississippi Valley States this 
swarming is more likely to occur during the spring and autumn 
months) the termites may come out in a swarm in an attempt 
to start a new colony. The swarming termites, sometimes called 
flying ants, are an indication of the presence of a mother colony. 
At other times books that have been stored for some time in 



342 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

damp or musty places may show evidence of termite damage. 
Spongy floors may be but are not always an indication of such 
infestation. If the janitor suspects that termites may be present 
in any particular piece of wood he should test it by tapping it 
with a hammer or by the use of an ice pick or knife point. 
Wood that is seriously damaged gives of! a dull sound when 
tapped. The ice pick or knife point will indicate a soft spongy 
condition. However, further examination may be necessary 
since other causes may be responsible for the deterioration. An 
examination of all pieces of wood extending from the ground 
up to other wood in the building may indicate whether the 
termites have used this piece of wood as a pathway to the 
building. 

Nature of Termites 

While it is not possible to outline here a complete history and 
description of termites, there are a few basic facts with which 
janitors and others in charge of school buildings should be fa- 
miliar. There are many types of termites. Some are known as 
desert, carton nest, and soil dwelling or subterranean termites. 
The workers of the termites which may injure school buildings 
are grayish white in color. Those that swarm are somewhat 
yellow with rather white wings. They resemble ants but do not 
have so pronounced a waistline between the thorax and abdo- 
men. The termites are able to thrive on the cellulose found in 
wood. Those that are often found in school buildings, avoid the 
light, and if no wood reaches from the building down to the 
ground may build small air-tight mud tubes up to the wood. 
Those found in school buildings also seem to need water. The 
tubes in the ground lead down to moist earth. This need for 
water makes it possible to destroy them by cutting them off 
from their water supply. 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 343 

Enfrcrnce 

Termites almost invariably come into the building from some 
outside source. Places where wood is imbedded in concrete or 
wood in contact with the ground offer opportunities for en- 
trance. Cracks in the concrete or brick foundation offer a means 
of entrance. Basement windows, wood piers, or wood steps offer 
an easy path. Wood floors on concrete subfloors which rest on 
the ground offer ready entrance if the building settles suffi- 
ciently to cause a crack in the subfloor. One other source of 
entrance is the small dirt tube that the termites erect up the 
side of masonry to the wood. 

Controls 

There are three possible means of controlling termites and 
in preventing excessive building damage. They are: preven- 
tion, extermination, and elimination. All buildings having 
wood in the lower story will be subject to termite damage. 

Prevention 

The best method of prevention is in the manner of construc- 
tion. In buildings having good tight concrete foundations with 
no wood closer than twenty-four inches from the ground the 
danger of infestation is lessened. Likewise, fire resistive con- 
struction so reduces the available food supply that termites do 
not thrive. The elimination of any building wood in contact 
with the ground cuts off a possible easy means in ingress. The 
use of metal shields extending out from and turned down from 
the top of the foundations and piers aid in preventing the erec- 
tion of tubes up the walls. Anti-termite treatment, if permanent, 
of all wood near the ground aids in preventing infestation, or 
assists in their later control. 



344 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Exferm/ncrf/on 

Several methods have been developed for the use of certain 
gases and chemicals to kill the termites in the building. It is 
possible to kill the termites if the gas or chemicals is introduced 
into the wood under pressure. However, unless the chemical 
thoroughly impregnates the wood the treatment does not last. 
Commercial or home treatments on the surface of the wood are 
usually not lasting. One of the chemicals used in impregnating 
the wood is zinc chloride. 

E/jm/ncrffon 

Elimination as outlined here is really one method or form of 
prevention. It is now quite well understood that each infesta- 
tion is a special case and should be given special study. There 
seems to be no one universal method of elimination. Elimina- 
tion methods used may be successful but not permanent. Many 
chemicals and fumigants are temporary and unless those in 
charge watch carefully new infestations may occur. One com- 
mon means of elimination is to destroy the tubes that lead 
from the ground to the wood above. The termites usually found 
in school buildings need moisture. When the termites in the 
building are cut off from the soil they seem to die and others 
will not reach the wood until new tubes are constructed. 

Other methods of elimination that are of value are the de- 
struction of old stumps near the building, and the removal of 
pieces of building wood in contact with the ground which 
might provide an easy means of entrance. Closing cracks in 
foundation walls and the painting of walls where tubes have 
been found with creosote, discourage termite entrance. In a few 
cases custodians have been able to locate the termite colony nest 
and to destroy them with chemicals or hot water. Termites 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 345 

usually have their nest outside the building. They travel 
through ground tubes to the building. If trenches are dug 
around the building at points of entrance and the soil treated 
with some chemical toxic to the termites further infestation may 
be averted. There are several such chemicals available. It is de- 
sirable to select a chemical that does not have an odor particu- 
larly obnoxious to man but which is obnoxious to termites. 
Kerosene, creosote, orthodichlorobenzine, and paradichloroben- 
zine may be used. The latter two seem to last longer than the 
kerosene-creosote treatment. In applying these treatments the 
kerosene and creosote are mixed in the ratio of 3 to 1. One gal- 
lon of the mixture will be needed for each eight to ten feet of 
trench. A part of it can be poured into the trench and the re- 
maining part mixed with the first soil returned to the trench. 
Orthodichlorobenzine is applied in the same manner, about one 
gallon to each ten feet of trench. Paradichlorobenzine is mixed 
in the ratio of one and one-half pound to one gallon of kero- 
sene. About one gallon will be required for each ten feet of 
trench. 

Janitors should remember that eternal vigilance is necessary. 
Adequate ventilation in damp basements and under floors may 
discourage entrance. Once infestation has been detected, imme- 
diate elimination should be brought about to prevent further 
damage. 

Miscellaneous Helps 

Metal polish A good metal polish may be made by using chip soap, 10 
parts by weight, silica dust 20 parts, tripoli (fine) 20 parts, pine oil 2 
parts, water 40 parts. Dissolve soap in hot water, add other parts. Don't 
fail to use some power in polishing. When leaving polished metal for 
summer, coat with vaseline. 

Warming up building Retaining fire (heat) over night saves time in 
morning firing. Firing up on Sunday may prevent a cold Monday with 
damp walls. Warm up boiler slowly. Avoid turning on oil or gas full 



346 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

blast at first. Lock window rails at night to save heat. Caulking and 
weather stripping also conserve heat. 

Saving water -Shut off water from automatic flushing tanks at night 
and over the week-end. Repair leaky valves. 

Removing oil stains from marble Make poultice of benzol or gasoline 
and a dry powder, or can use fullers earth. 

From wood soak cloth in hydrogen peroxide. Dip another in am- 
monia and lay over first. 

Javelle water Janitor can make by mixing % Ib. chlorinated lime and 
3 Ib. soda in warm water. Stir and add enough water to make ten 
gallons. Strain or draw off clear liquid. Keep in stone jar. When using 
dilute 1 part to 4 parts of water. 

Removing shellac Rub small spot at a time with denatured alcohol. 

Paint brush Clean in kerosense wash kerosene out with gasoline- 
rinse in water. 

Boiler Wasting hot water to sewer is fuel waste. Always open steam 
valves slowly. 

Paint It dulled by washing, sheen may be restored by rubbing with 
oiled cloth. Paint applied on green or damp walls will probably peel. 
Alkaline spots should be treated before painting. 

Light bulb tool An old plumber's friend with long handle may be 
used to loosen or to replace light bulbs in high sockets. A corrugated 
cardboard in hollow will take up slack space. 

Washing intyudls Place in pail of water with some T.S.P. Shake. Use 
brush if necessary to complete job. 

fire extinguishers Test to see that tube is not choked. Can use straw or 
can blow in tube. 

Treated mop Use brush block and two or more treated mop heads. 

Paste or glue On blackboards or walls use hot water to remove. Spray 
naphtha on waxed crayon to remove. 

Roaches and other pests Roaches eat garbage and sewer waste. Use 
borax or sodium fluoride to kill. Remove rotting wood as breeding 
place. Stop cracks. Mosquitoes oil pools watch for old cans con- 
taining water. Punch holes in them. 

Gas line Paint heavy soap suds and watch for bubbles to find leak. 
Test joints with feather suspended on string. Do not use matches. 

Machinery Oil is a wearing film on friction points. Use it. 

Steam and electric lines Tag or mark to show rooms served. 

Glass breakage Loose glass in doors breaks more easily than that se- 
curely fixed. Reset moulding and save breakage. 



MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES 347 

Carpet stains Ink can use ammonia on spots. Talc or cornmeal for 

blood. Can dissolve with ammonia. 
Paint Cornstarch film saves paint. Can wash off and replace as new 

finish. Will not absorb smoke. 

Fruit stain Warm water use ammonia if needed. 
Candy Use clear warm water. If chocolate use alcohol or ammonia. 
Grease spots, cloth Soap and water. Can use gasoline or carbon tetra- 

chloride. Work to center to avoid spreading. 
Glue dry Can use white vinegar to remove. 
Floors Sawdust instead of sand in play box will prevent carrying 

sand to cut floor finish. 
Walls A piece of cloth or felt, or paper towels cut into small rectangles 

and placed as a pad on a board by the mirror in girls' dressing room 

helps protect walls from lip stick smears from fingers of girls. 
Window glass Clean old putty out. Put new bed back of glass before 

setting. Knead new putty to make pliable. Hold pane with glaziers 

points, then apply new putty. Make neat job. 
Int( from wood Use Yz oz. oxalic acid, l / 2 pt. water apply with 

cloth, rinse. 
Inl^ from marble 2 tablespoons sodium perborate in 1 pint water. Add 

whiting to make paste. 
Iron stain from marble Dissolve J4 parts sodium citrate crystals in 1 % 

parts water, add equal part glycerine. Mix in whiting to make paste. 

Apply. Repeat if necessary rinse. 
Shovel Can extend shovel handle for removing ashes from ash pit 

by using 1 or iy 2 " gas pipe. 
Tools Keep separate hammer, saw, and hatchet if necessary to lend 

to teachers and pupils. 
Erasers An old bristle brush with bristles cut of! to 1" or less and 

nailed to board may be used as eraser cleaners. 
Floors If pupils won't clean mud off shoes, sawdust kept at the door 

mixes with mud and prevents it sticking to floor. Good, but cleaning 

shoes is better. 
Floor traps Anti-freeze or salt may prevent freezing. 



Chapter 17 



School Building Maintenance and 
Repair 



PROBLEMS CONNECTED with school building maintenance 
J. are so numerous and cover such a wide field that it would 
be impossible to describe here the various tasks that need to be 
performed. Hence, the discussion in this chapter will be de- 
voted primarily to the principles of maintenance, the organiza- 
tion of the maintenance force, and the recurrence of certain 
maintenance tasks. Some attempt will be made to list the major 
fields of maintenance and repair for public school buildings and 
to outline some of the general problems involved. It seems 
probable that more detailed instructions should be made up in 
the form of a separate volume or manual or in the form of job 
sheets. The type of detailed instructions necessary will depend 
in part on whether skilled or non-skilled workmen are used 
for many of the different repair tasks. In school administration 
there has always been some difficulty in determining the differ- 
ence between maintenance, repairs, capital outlay, and opera- 
tion. In the discussions outlined in this chapter, the word "re- 
pair" will refer primarily to the replacement of broken pieces 
or worn out parts, or to the mending of broken joints and con- 
nections. The term "maintenance" will cover all repairs and 
replacements and the general upkeep of the plant but will not 
include major remodeling jobs such as removing partitions to 

348 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 349 

make one room out of two, or to a change in the style of the 
building or roof structure. The term "capital outlay" as used 
here will refer to remodeling tasks that change the building 
structure, that provide new additions, or that replace a building 
with a new structure. The term "operation" will refer to the 
daily, weekly, and monthly activities necessary to provide the 
heat, ventilation, sanitation, cleanliness, and attractiveness so es- 
sential to the school organization. 

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the mainte- 
nance program. For many years schools have been expanding 
rapidly and most of the funds that could be provided were 
needed for program extensions. Most schools have been limited 
in the funds available for operation. This was particularly true 
during the depression years. The maintenance program is not 
one that is usually backed and supported by a group of inter- 
ested patrons. In addition, it usually includes tasks which can 
be deferred for a short period of time, so, maintenance pro- 
grams are often neglected because of demands for other activi- 
ties. In many cases maintenance tasks are deferred, and often 
the same tasks are deferred from year to year until the whole 
plant shows the results of neglect and the lack of suitable main- 
tenance. The large sums of money now invested in school build- 
ings may be dissipated too rapidly if the buildings are neg- 
lected. The lack of suitable maintenance may permit buildings 
to deteriorate to the point that public pride in these buildings 
lags. Pupil comfort and pupil safety may likewise be jeopard- 
ized through the lack of proper maintenance. 

We usually think of the life of a school building as about 
fifty years, yet many European and some American buildings 
are much older. In many cases, proper care with some remodel- 
ing to replace obsolete features will add many years of useful 
life to these school buildings. During the last few years in one 



350 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

state several school buildings, each less than twenty years old 
and representing a total original value of several hundred thou- 
sand dollars, had to be replaced because the maintenance pro- 
gram had been neglected. While it is true that most school dis- 
tricts need to limit annual expenditures, it is also true that build- 
ing neglect is oftentimes poor economy. The old proverb of "A 
stitch in time . . ." and that trade slogan used by one paint 
company of "Save the surface and you save . . ." are both ap- 
plicable to school buildings. In many cases minor repairs, re- 
placements, or improvements such as painting will prevent de- 
terioration which might later mean replacements or a lack of 
service. 

It is essential that some plan be followed in the maintenance 
program. That the program may be spread over a period of 
years; that funds may be made available at the proper time; 
that too many things will not be left undone it is desirable even 
in the small schools to have some regular plan of making re- 
pairs and replacements. One of the first steps in organizing the 
maintenance program is to determine how repairs are to be 
made. Several different plans are followed in various school 
districts. Under one plan the board hires all repair work done. 
In some instances the board supplies the materials and hires 
men by the day to make the repairs needed. This practice has 
not generally proved satisfactory. In many cases the men se- 
lected to do the repair work are not skilled mechanics and of- 
tentimes there is insufficient supervision and planning of the 
things to be done. Another plan that is sometimes followed is 
for the board to let all repair work on contract This probably 
has some merit over the selection of day laborers. However, 
most boards of education do not know how to make up detailed 
specifications setting forth the type of work and the quality of 
materials desired in the repair and maintenance program. One 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 351 

consequence is that bids are not comparable since the bidders do 
not have adequate information. Neither of these practices has 
proved fully desirable for the school districts. 

Some school districts maintain central repair shops and have 
a regular force of repair men who do all of the repair work 
needed in the district. These men are available on call for 
emergency repairs in any building. When not making emer- 
gency repairs they are making other changes set up in their 
regular maintenance schedule. This plan has the advantage in 
that trained men familiar with the buildings are available at any 
time. This method is not practical for small school districts. 
During recent years the plan of having a central shop with a 
roving mechanic or repair man hired by the rural schools of 
the county has been introduced. He is provided a shop and a 
truck. During part of the year he may have assistants who will 
help him in the repair work. These men visit all buildings 
needing attention in order to make the necessary repairs. They 
are also available on call for emergency repairs. In some city 
districts where a central shop is maintained, the repair men 
working out of the general shop make only those emergency 
repairs that cannot be handled by the local building janitor. At 
other times they are used on building alterations and on heavier 
repair tasks. 

In some districts the local building men do all of the repair 
work. It is often difficult for the district to obtain a man who 
can do all types of repair work and who is at the same time 
able to take care of the heating plant and to take care of the 
cleaning duties in the building. Probably the most satisfactory 
plan that has been developed is a combination of the central 
shop and the building janitor plan. School boards like to em- 
ploy well trained men for all buildings. It is realized that there 
is more possibility of holding a good man if he has year round 



352 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

employment. If the district selects men who have some ability 
to handle tools and to do repair work it is possible in the smaller 
towns and school districts to arrange the work so that the men 
can help each other. In this way, it may be possible for the local 
school janitorial force to do all of the repair work. This is now 
done in many school districts. In other districts, the local janitor 
does most of the repair work and a special workman is called in 
for occasional assistance. If a competent school janitor is em- 
ployed, any plan of maintenance that makes use of the local 
building men has some advantages. The janitor is on the job 
and can make repairs when needed. He has a definite interest in 
the building and in maintaining it in a satisfactory condition. 
As stated previously, one of the first requirements of a good 
maintenance program is that it must be organized. Repair work 
should be on a schedule. The janitor on the job should keep a 
list showing repair and maintenance tasks that need attention. 
It may be desirable for him and some of the school officials to 
make an annual or semi-annual inspection of the building to 
check other repairs and improvements needed and to make ar- 
rangements for the work to be done. If the local custodians 
neglect plant maintenance or fail to show results for their ef- 
forts they may find that outside men are called in for this work. 
The janitor should remember that many of the patrons think 
that summer months are a vacation period for the schools. 
Many of the patrons do not realize that the employee who 
draws salary during the summer will obtain results justifying 
the salary paid. The janitorial force doing maintenance work 
should have a schedule of activities so that the time of all men 
may be used profitably and so that satisfactory results may be 
obtained. While many of the building repairs and many of the 
maintenance tasks will of necessity be left until summer, not 
too many of these tasks should be left until the vacation period. 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 353 

In making up a schedule of the repair work in the system, 
the janitorial force should know about how often certain repair 
tasks will be anticipated. Some janitors have found that atten- 
tion must be given more often to the care of floors, the care of 
stairways, the drains, roofs, and doors than to any other parts 
of the building. However, it is probable that painting is one of 
the most costly maintenance activities. Cost of maintenance will 
depend somewhat on the type, age, and condition of the build- 
ing. In some buildings glazing or the replacement of broken 
glass will entail considerable cost each year. 

Typical Maintenance Problems 

It is not feasible to give here detailed instructions on all the 
repair tasks that the janitor may have to perform, likewise, it 
probably is not feasible to try to select a few tasks and to ignore 
hundreds of other problems that he must face each year. Main- 
tenance problems do, however, fall into several general groups. 
In the following paragraphs attention will be given to several 
of the groups or types of maintenance problems. In practically 
every case, those maintenance tasks which may be cared for 
by the building janitors or by some one in the janitorial or 
maintenance force will be stressed. In some instances, attention 
will be given to the importance of repairs and of adequate 
maintenance in some particular part of the building. 

Roof Repairs 

Leaky roofs permit water to enter the building in places 
where it may do much damage to the finish, to the structure, 
and to the equipment in the building. In many cases, the jani- 
tor cannot afford to wait for roofing specialists to come to make 
repairs and must make the repairs when they are needed. In 
fact, he probably should in most cases anticipate leaks before 



354 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

they occur and should make it a point to prevent the leaks if 
possible. There are several points at which roof troubles com- 
monly occur. The janitor should watch these points and should 
know what repairs are needed at each. He should know how to 
re-paste flashing up on the parapet wall and around ventilators 
and skylights. He should know how to set or reset and anchor 
counter flashing. He should not permit gutters and valleys to 
be choked with leaves, snow, or ice until water backs up over 
them and through the roof. Many janitors have learned how to 
re-level gutters and how to close broken or open joints in gut- 
ters or down spouts. Any janitor who is handy with tools can 
waterproof the inside of parapet walls. He can caulk the joints 
between the pieces of coping on top the wall. The janitor should 
know the composition of the roof and should have the material 
available that he may make repairs as needed. He should know 
how to slit large blisters and to paste down the pieces so that the 
roof covering will not be broken. Frequent attention to the roof 
may prevent later building damage. 

Building Structure 

School officials and school janitors have too often thought 
that after a masonry wall has been erected no further attention 
is needed. As a result, many walls have been neglected. The 
exterior walls of a building are no better or no more stable than 
are their component parts. Buildings settle, foundations and 
walls crack, making it possible for moisture to enter and ac- 
celerate the process of deterioration. Mortar in walls may de- 
teriorate, permitting water to seep through the walls. There are 
three major types of masonry wall repair to which janitors 
must give frequent attention. In some cases he has found it 
necessary to dig under the wall footings and to install new 
footings to prevent excessive settling. In many cases, the jani- 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 355 

tors have found it advisable to repaint cracks that have appeared 
in masonry walls in order to prevent water seeping into the 
walls. The third major problem in maintaining exterior ma- 
sonry walls is the prevention of seepage. Some janitors have 
found it advisable to dig a trench around the building and to lay 
farm tile to prevent excessive moisture coming through the 
basement and foundation walls. In other districts, janitors have 
removed the dirt from around the building and have coated the 
basement walls with a water-proofing. In some cases, the upper 
walls are treated with a transparent waterproofing in order to 
prevent moisture coming through the walls. 

Many janitors find it necessary to do some concrete work 
around the walls. Some of them lay walks or put in curbs and 
gutters. Others find it necessary to mix concrete for anchoring 
flag poles or playground equipment, and for the resurfacing 
of tennis courts or play areas. It requires only a short time for 
the janitor that is skilled in the use of tools to learn how to mix 
the concrete, and how to provide the surface desired on walks 
and play areas. Janitors also find it necessary to make repairs to 
the inner structure of the building. The floor screeds next to 
the ground or floor joists without sufficient protection may give 
way and the floor may have to be relaid. Door facings may be 
destroyed by termites or by rotting. In a number of the school 
systems janitors retread wood stairs, do all rough plastering, re- 
lay floors, and finish walls at a cost to the district which is 
much below that usually paid for helpers hired on an hourly 
basis. 

Care of Windows and Doors 

Janitors are called on frequently to loosen tight doors or tight 
windows. Some of them make the mistake of attempting to 
plane of! the door or window when other measures might be 



356 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

used, only to find that after the door or window has dried out, 
it is too lose. The janitor should know how to reset the latch or 
the strike in order to make proper contact. He should know 
how to reswing doors and how to tighten hinges. Unless the 
local regulations make it necessary for the janitor to call a re- 
pair man from the central shop, each janitor should be able to 
remove windows and to replace weight cords. Neglect or delay 
in caring for tasks of this type might result in pupil injury. The 
janitor should understand how to take window shades off the 
roller that they may be washed. He should be able to replace 
window stop nails with adjustable washers and screws that these 
stops may be moved as the necessity arises. One of the biggest 
tasks that the janitor has in the care of windows is that of glaz- 
ing. It is essential that the window openings be closed. The 
janitor who is not able to replace the glass may nail a cardboard 
over the window. This practice might be accepted as a tempo- 
rary measure provided the temporary measure lasts only a few 
hours. It is essential that the janitor know how to replace glass. 
He should know how to soften the putty, how to prime the 
wood so that the putty will not dry out too rapidly, how to lay 
a bed of putty before the glass is installed, and how to hold the 
glass in place while applying the last putty. Most janitors realize 
the hazards that might arise from broken glass in doors and 
cases. As a consequence, most janitors attempt to keep glass 
tight in these places. Glass in doors is usually fastened with a 
wood moulding and it is comparatively easy for the janitor to 
set these mouldings so that they fit snugly against the glass. 

Janitors often neglect the building hardware. Panic bolts fail 
to operate freely. Door checks have lost their tension. Door hold- 
ers fail to catch or lock and are not easy to operate. The janitor 
should understand that building hardware is placed in the 
building to provide service. Door checks should permit the door 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 357 

to close rapidly until the door is nearly closed, and then close 
slowly without slamming. Panic bolts which are developed for 
the purpose of permitting free and easy egress fail to satisfy this 
purpose if the panic bolts stick or do not work freely. While it 
is not possible to outline here each of the steps necessary in ad- 
justing building hardware, the building janitor should under- 
stand that this is one of his tasks. In a few school districts, extra 
checks are purchased and when one is out of commission it is 
taken off and sent to the general shop or to one of the janitors 
who is skilled in this type of work. He repairs the check and 
has it ready for use when needed. If all of the checks in the 
system are of the same make, he may not need to return the 
check to the building from which it came. It requires little at- 
tention on the part of the janitor to learn how to care for build- 
ing hardware. He should take the time required to study the 
problem. 

Electric Service Mo/nfencmce 

There is no general agreement on the amount of electric serv- 
ice repair work that should be done by the janitor. School jani- 
tors often find that if they do not make the repairs, replace- 
ments, and extensions necessary, that pupils and teachers with 
no electrical training may attempt to make them. The janitor 
who is careful and handy with tools can make a number of 
repairs on the electric service system. He may be able to repair 
and to adjust clocks, bells, and signals. He should make all fuse 
and lamp replacements in the building. He should know how 
to blow the dirt out of motors and how to clean motors and 
fans. Janitors can learn from the local electric service men how 
to make wire splices, how to make extension cords and fuse 
testers, how to repair and install lamp sockets, and how to make 
trouble lamps. While it does not seem desirable for all janitors 



358 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

to attempt to make extensive electric repairs, it is possible for 
each man to make some repairs and to make frequent inspec- 
tions to determine what repairs are needed. 

4 

Heating Plant Maintenance 

Many modern school buildings have as a part of the heating 
and ventilating systems, complicated engines and machinery 
that would have puzzled the old time janitor. Some of these 
machines are delicately balanced and do not give the best serv- 
ice unless given proper attention. Many parts of the plant may 
have automatic devices to provide definite mechanical controls. 
However, the present day janitor has learned that even with 
these newer systems much personal attention is needed. Heating 
and ventilation system regulation must be constant and the 
janitor cannot always call a repair man when something goes 
wrong. He must be able to make immediate repairs and adjust- 
ments on pumps and radiator traps, and in the replacement of 
broken water glass. He should be able to clean air filters and oil 
strainers. He should be able to replace fan belts, pump valves, 
and gaskets. He should be able to pack valve stems and to reseat 
leaky valves. At times he may find it necessary to plug, tempo- 
rarily, leaky tubes, to rebuild fire walls, install new grates, or to 
replace fire box baffles or linings. He should be able to replace 
insulation on pipes and on the furnace. He will have occasion 
to replace boiler flues, to adjust ventilating duct dampers, or to 
repair cracks in the furnace. Where the electric current is uncer- 
tain the janitor may find it necessary to install a by-pass around 
the pump. At other times radiators or steam lines must be re- 
sloped. 

It is not probable that the janitor can make all of the repairs 
and replacements needed to maintain the heating system. The 
janitorial force in many school districts do reset hot air furnaces, 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 359 

install bleeders on steam lines, and do all other ordinary repair 
work. However, unless some of the janitors have enough train- 
ing to enable them to supervise the alteration program, a skilled 
mechanic should be employed to make all major heating and 
ventilating system repairs. 

Plumbing Maintenance 

Some of the tasks connected with the maintenance of the 
plumbing system recur so often that the janitor comes to think 
of them as a part of his operation program. The cleaning of 
traps and the opening of clogged stools might be termed opera- 
tion. On the other hand, neglect of these duties might call for a 
maintenance or repair job. Many things can happen that make 
it essential for the janitor to know how to make plumbing re- 
pairs immediately. It is poor economy for the janitor to permit 
waste of water through leaky valves because of neglect in re- 
placing valve washers or fuller balls. The capable school janitor 
should be able to make all valve replacements. He should be 
able to adjust needle valves and to repair self closing valves. He 
should be able to make temporary repairs on bursted pipes or 
to place clamps around bursted hose. It is essential that he know 
how to replace parts in flushometer valves or in flushing tanks. 
He should be able to adjust the float control in lever or auto- 
matic flushing tanks. He should be able to open closed drains 
and sewer lines with a plunger, the wire auger, or the suction 
pump. If necessary, he should be able to take up and relay cer- 
tain sewer lines. It is sometimes necessary for him to take up 
and reset stools and urinals. He should understand something 
of the types of piping used in toilet rooms and should know 
the types of wrenches or clamps to use on each. During cold 
weather the janitor may find it necessary to thaw frozen pipes 
and traps. At other times he may find it necessary to use an 



3 6 o THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

anti-freeze of some type in exposed traps. He is frequently called 
on to adjust fountain valves or to replace broken toilet seats. 
The capable janitor will be able to maintain plumbing service 
in good working order without excessive cost to the district. 

Painting 

Since painting is one of the major tasks of school plant main- 
tenance and since it is one of the tasks most commonly done by 
the regular janitorial force, it seems desirable to give some atten- 
tion to the principles and problems involved in schoolhouse 
painting. Many school districts do not have a schedule showing 
when certain rooms should be repainted. Those which do not 
have a schedule seem to practice repainting exterior surfaces 
about every three to five years. Those schools having a schedule 
seem to repaint interior surfaces at about three to six year 
intervals. Of course, the frequency of repainting will depend to 
a considerable extent upon the use, the exposure, the location of 
the building, and the type of paint used. Many school districts 
now practice painting interior surfaces and immediately cover- 
ing the job with a coat of starch. Then at the end of a certain 
period of time, often two years, the starch coat is washed off 
and a fresh coat of paint remains. Other school janitors make 
it a practice to paint a part of the building each year. Some 
of them then wash the paint every first or second year, depend- 
ing on the amount of dirt, and repaint after two washings. If 
the janitor is to handle his painting program in an economical 
and sensible manner, it is desirable that he know something 
about paint and something about the method of handling paint. 
He should know the difference between water mixed paints 
and oil paints. He should understand that the paint is usually 
made up of pigment and of a vehicle or liquid which contains 
the drying oils and the thinners. The amount of dryer deter- 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 361 

mines the speed at which the paint dries. He should know the 
characteristics desired in an exterior paint. It should not soil too 
readily; it should have a good tint retention. When oil paint 
gives away, it should fail by slow, even chalking, leaving a good 
surface for repainting. Paints that check, scale, and alligator do 
not leave a good surface for repainting, and it may be necessary 
to remove old paints before new coats are applied. It is desirable 
that the janitor have some knowledge of the difference between 
lead, zinc, and lithopone paints. For interior paints, it is desir- 
able to have a surfacing material that will stand washing and 
which will provide the attractive surface desired. It should pro- 
vide the reflection factor desired for school use without exces- 
sive gloss. It should provide in schoolrooms a wall surface with 
a reflection factor of from thirty to fifty per cent and a ceiling 
reflection of not less than seventy per cent of the light which 
hits it. 

Usually it is not desirable to paint over masonry until the 
walls have thoroughly cured and until the mortar and other 
mixtures used in preparing the wall have become chemically 
stable. Any moisture that is in the wall will come to the surface 
and it may lossen the paint film when it reaches the painted 
surface. It is easy to test wall alkalinity (hot spots) with a 
mixture of one dram of phenol-phthalein and four ounces of 
grain alcohol. Alkaline mortar will show a bright tint when 
touched with this mixture. If the moisture has been taken from 
the wall, the wall alkalinity may be neutralized by a washing 
of zinc sulphate and water applied with a brush. At times the 
janitor will find paint peeling from knots in wood. He can 
overcome this by giving the knot a treatment of shellac or other 
substance that prevents bleeding from the knot through the 
paint. New paint should not be applied over old paint covered 
with blisters. In general, new paint should not be applied over 



362 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

old paint that is badly checked and cracked. Old paint that is 
chalked and dusted to an even texture may have new paint 
applied after brushing off the loose powdered paint. In general, 
light colored paint does not fully cover up older dark paints 
unless several coats are applied. 

Furniture and Equipment Maintenance 

The janitor is frequently requested to make repairs on school 
room equipment. Seats get loose or parts are broken. In many 
cases, he may be able to replace broken parts with a piece taken 
from his supply of parts from dismantled seats. He may need 
to sandpaper chair legs to remove rough spots harmful to cloth- 
ing. Movable chairs should be equipped with gliders. Loose 
chair legs should be tightened, and loose seats should be made 
secure. Opera chairs and other fixed seats on masonry floors 
may need to be reset. The janitor should be able to make all 
of these repairs. He should also be able to plane and sand rough 
spots off desks. If desk tops are loose he should reglue the parts. 
He should be able to apply acid proof coatings to laboratory 
tables, to resurface, and refinish table tops. The janitor who can 
maintain all school room furniture in an attractive condition 
ready for use is a real asset to the school system. 

Miscellaneous Maintenance and Repair Tasks 

In addition to the repair and maintenance tasks listed in the 
previous paragraphs the janitor will find many others that 
should be done. In most cases if he does not make the improve- 
ments, they will not be made. While it is not possible to describe 
the procedure to follow in making these improvements, some 
of the yard and playground maintenance problems, tool repairs 
and replacements, and other miscellaneous repairs will be listed. 

The janitor usually has the responsibility of caring for the 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 363 

playground and the playground equipment. He erects fences 
and barriers. He often has to set anchors and posts for giant 
strides and other fixed equipment. He can remove stones from 
around horizontal bars and ladders. He removes old stumps, 
and places shields on teeter boards. In some instances he paves 
or resurfaces a part of the playground. 

If the school has a work shop and suitable tools some member 
of the janitorial force may be assigned the task of making and 
installing storm doors and window screens, or of making track 
hurdles. Many janitors sand or resurface slate blackboards. 
Others make shelves, window boxes, and storage cases for room 
and closet use. In one school visited recently the janitors had 
made library tables, stage reading desks, and sand (saw dust) 
tables. The janitor should be able to reglue loose asphalt tile or 
linoleum floors. In many cases these items are not included 
when the building is erected. If the janitorial and maintenance 
force cannot make them they often are not provided. It is not 
anticipated that every janitor be a cabinet maker. However, 
many schools are now selecting men who are sufficiently skilled 
in the use of tools to make simple pieces of equipment. 

Making Too/5 

In many cases the janitor has need for tools that are not pro- 
vided by the school. In some instances these tools can be pur- 
chased more cheaply than the janitor can make them. If the 
tools are not provided the ingenious janitor often finds a way 
to make them. Oftentimes he can make some of these tools from 
scrap material that would otherwise be wasted. In a few cases, 
he can make tools that fit his need better than do those he can 
purchase. Below is given a partial listing of some of the tools 
that are made by some janitors. Many janitors make their own 
window jacks out of 2"x4" and I"x6" lumber. While these 



364 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

are often heavier than the ones purchased they do answer the 
purpose. Other janitors install hooks for window straps. Some 
janitors make their own ladders and step ladders. They also 
make nonslip feet for these ladders. 

Most janitors know how to make a mop pail screen out of 
hardware screen, and a mop pail scooter from scrap wood or 
tin and some small casters. Some men make grass trimmers for 
the edges of walks, and walk scrapers from a garden hoe. Some 
men make their own snow shovels if none are provided. Practi- 
cally all janitors replace broken handles in hammers and other 
tools. A few men have spliced shovel handles to enable them 
to clean the back of the ash pit with ease. Coal trucks for use 
in bringing coal to the furnace, or dump coal trucks for trans- 
porting coal to the stoker hopper may be made on the job. 
Foot scrapers, concrete tampers, miter boxes, and eraser cleaners 
can be made by almost any janitor. The janitor who can sharpen 
his own saws or lawn mowers will find this task easier than 
that of using a dull tool. It is not expected that the janitor will 
or should make all of these tools but, in many instances, it is 
better for him to make them than attempt to do without them. 

The various repair and maintenance tasks listed in the preced- 
ing paragraphs are only a part of those performed in a satisfac- 
tory manner by many janitors. The methods used vary as do 
the results obtained. It is probable that the janitor should not 
attempt tasks for which he does not have tools or the necessary 
skill. Poorly done work is often not economical. However, 
many janitors neglect maintenance and repair tasks that they 
can do. The janitor that does not have and will not develop the 
ability to do ordinary maintenance and repair jobs around his 
building may not be able to justify summer employment. He 
may be replaced by a man who does not neglect the building, 
or who does not need to call for outside help for minor repair 



SCHOOL BUILDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR 365 

jobs. It is understood that in some districts local regulations, 
city ordinances, or labor conditions make it advisable for him 
not to attempt certain repair or replacement tasks. In other dis- 
tricts all major repairs are cared for by a repair squad. Even 
in these districts the janitor is usually permitted to make many 
minor repairs and replacements. 

Tools 

If the janitor is to maintain his plant in an acceptable manner 
he should have the necessary tools. Some of the tools that may 
be needed are listed here: 

lawn mower 
lawn roller 
level spirit 
nail set 
oil can 

paint brushes 
paper fork 
pick 
planes 

smoothing 
pliers 

plumber's friend 
pump 

pressure 

suction 
punch 
putty knife 
reamer 
rulers and tapes 

folding 

steel square 

"T" square 

tape 50' 
sander 



axe 

blow torch 

brace and bit set (wood 

and metal) 
carpenters pencil 
crow bar 
chisels cold 
chisels wood 
drawing knife 
files 

8" 

3 cornered 
funnel 
gimlet 

glass gutters 
hammers 

ball pein 

claw 

stake or post 
hatchet 
hose 
knives 

wood heavy 

jack 
ladders 

extension 

step 

Not all of these tools will be required by each janitor, but a 
majority of them should be available for a complete mainte- 
nance program. These tools should be owned by the district. 
The janitor should be held responsible for their condition and 
preservation. He should provide a suitable case for them and 



cross cut (hand) 
hack 

"P 
screw drivers 

shovels 

No. 2 

snow 

spade 

spidering iron 
tin snips 
trowels 

plasters 

masons 
trouble lamp 
valve seating tool 
vise 

wheelbarrow 
window jack 
wire cutters 
wrecking bar 
wrenches 

monkey 

"S" set 

stillson 



366 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

should replace them each time after using. Many janitors paint 
the background of a hanger case with a diagram the shape and 
size of each tool to be hung on pegs. The tools are then put in a 
certain place each time they are stored. A hasty glance shows 
which tools are missing. As stated elsewhere, other tools may be 
provided for teacher and pupil use. 

Maintenance Supplies 

The janitor should have available supplies that are used often 
and which may be needed at any time. He should dismantle 
old seats and store the parts. Large sheets of glass should be 
saved to be cut and used later. Supplies should be sorted and 
stored in suitable boxes or containers. It is desirable to provide a 
case with some open pigeon holes and some drawers for sup- 
plies. Some of the supplies often needed are : 

bolts carriage nails assorted tubing copper 

bolts stove plastic wood tubing rubber 

candles sand paper washers 

glue screws assorted wicking 

gummed tape solder wire copper 

heavy cord sponges wire iron 



Chapter 18 

Improving Janitorial Service 

THE IMPROVEMENT OF janitorial service has not kept pace 
with the improvements made in the types of school build- 
ings or in the teaching methods. Many factors have contributed 
to this lack of improvement. There have been no generally ac- 
cepted standards of janitorial maintenance. In a few cases a 
man has been retained on the job many years because he was 
considered a good fellow but without rendering adequate serv- 
ice. Some of these men would have been willing to do a better 
job if they had known what was expected of them. On the 
other hand a lack of tenure has been a factor in the slow rate 
of improvement. Lacking adequate measures of proficiency 
men of ability found less incentive for improvement. At the 
end of each year some of them had to compete with untrained 
men on a price basis in order to retain their jobs. 

During these "dark ages," (dark floors, dingy walls, and 
grimy windows,) the school officials repeatedly expressed a 
desire for better building service. However, they, like the jani- 
tors, did not know how to set up proper standards, or to secure 
the service desired. The last fifteen or twenty years have brought 
a great change in janitorial work. Trained men are being em- 
ployed and retained on the job. The program of work is out- 
lined to give employment for the full twelve months of the 
year. Prospective janitors as well as those now employed are 
encouraged to make a study of the tasks to be done. 

367 



368 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

Training for Janitorial Service 

The older practice of learning by a trial and error method was 
slow, inefficient, and costly. The modern school building has in 
it costly and intricate machinery, as well as finishes that might 
be injured by some blunder by untrained men. The janitor 
plays such an important part in protecting the health and lives 
of the children that useless experimentation should not be per- 
mitted. The logical conclusion is that competent men must be 
trained for the job. Those now employed who can and will take 
training should be given an opportunity to secure such training. 
Those who will not train for the job should be replaced by men 
who will qualify. 

Training Methods 

Several methods have been tried in an attempt to improve 
janitorial training. One method that has found favor in the 
larger school systems is apprenticeship training. When a new 
man is selected he is required to serve as a helper with experi- 
enced janitors. He may work under the direction of several men 
before being placed in charge of a building. This system of 
training has proved to be more practical in schools where the 
men arc given an opportunity to meet occasionally to discuss 
their problems. 

Evening Schools 

In some districts evening schools are conducted for all jani- 
tors. Many of the janitors are required to work long hours and 
find it difficult to attend the evening sessions. In many cases 
evening activities in the school buildings are held at the same 
time the janitor classes are scheduled. The evening classes have 
at times been directed by instructors not skilled in janitorial 



IMPROVING JANITORIAL SERVICE 369 

work. The short time allotted for the classes has often prevented 
an exchange of ideas among janitors. This type of training may 
have value if properly directed. It has not generally proved 
popular with the janitors. 

Part Time Schools 

Probably the most popular type of janitorial program is the 
part time school. The men are given time off at stated periods 
each year when all can attend the school. This type of school 
overcomes to a great extent that handicap of isolation for jani- 
tors. Many janitors and administrators now realize that most 
janitors work in buildings where they have little opportunity 
to confer and to discuss problems with other men having simi- 
lar problems. This type of school where all men assemble for 
several days in training classes not only provides training in 
technique but also aids in building a desirable morale and a 
pride in the job. Most training schools of this type are con- 
ducted during the summer months when all janitors may be 
free to attend. Some city districts hold schools each year. 

Sfafe and Regional Schools 

During the last ten or twelve years many part time schools 
have been developed as regional or state schools. The Minne- 
apolis and Colorado schools were early examples of this type. 
In most cases these schools are directed by some one from the 
state department of education or from one of the state colleges 
or universities. In a few states one school is held each year at 
some central point and regional conferences are held during 
the year at various points in the state. These central state schools 
have proved popular. In some cases 500 to 600 men attend each 
year. (The Iowa and Oklahoma schools are excellent examples 
of the central school plan.) 



370 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

In at least two states (Missouri and Kansas) the state wide 
schools are conducted on a regional basis. At selected points in 
the state, schools are held each year. The regional schools prob- 
ably do limit to some extent the contacts that each janitor can 
make with other men in the state. They may also limit the 
courses that may be offered unless a minimum enrollment is 
required in order to obtain a school. They do offer an opportu- 
nity for men to attend without having to travel to the center of 
the state. They also offer an opportunity for the ambitious 
janitor to attend more than one school each year. 

Instruction and Attendance 

In a majority of the schools all instructors are janitors who 
have been trained in the methods of teaching. This instruction 
is sometimes supplemented with lectures by specialists on some 
technical points. Classes are usually held in school buildings. 
In most cases the classes are small so the instructor may aid in 
setting up the job to be done and then have the men do it under 
his supervision. This practice or laboratory period is usually 
followed by a general discussion. The classes are open to all 
school janitors and others who wish to attend. In many of these 
schools all costs of instruction are paid from state and federal 
funds and there is no cost to the janitor. Many school boards 
give their men time off with pay while attending these schools. 
In fact, some school boards pay all costs of transportation and 
lodging for their men attending the schools. A few host schools 
open their cafeterias and their buildings that the men who 
bring cots may stay in the building if they wish. The fact that 
many men travel one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles to 
attend these schools indicates something of the interest of these 
men in learning more about their jobs, and the more efficient 
methods employed in custodial service. 



IMPROVING JANITORIAL SERVICE 371 

Program of Study 

There is still a difference of opinion concerning the type of 
material that should be offered. In a few training schools, basic 
courses in arithmetic and English are offered. In general, most 
training school directors have found it desirable to limit the 
courses to specific janitorial problems, duties, and obligations. 
In some of the earlier janitor schools the men were taught a 
little about all of their duties at each school session. The newer 
courses are organized on a unit basis, and are so organized 
that each janitor may complete one unit during each session. 
Some of the schools now offer one or more courses in house- 
keeping and floor maintenance, and one or two courses in heat- 
ing and ventilation. One or two schools now offer courses in 
repairs, replacements, and maintenance, as well as one course in 
safety and fire protection. 

The courses should be so outlined that the janitor may com- 
plete at least one unit at each school held. The completion of 
certain units should be followed by an examination and an 
inspection of the work done by the janitor in his building before 
a certificate of proficiency in these units is awarded. The courses 
should be so organized that the janitor may proceed from one 
course to another. In one state an itinerant instructor is em- 
ployed to inspect the work done in the various buildings and to 
consult with the janitors on their problems. In another state the 
completion of all prescribed courses, plus inspections, and ap- 
proval of local school officials leads to a "Master Janitors'," 
certificate of proficiency. 

Evaluating the Work of the Janitor 

It is difficult to make a valid evaluation of the quality of work 
done by the janitor. Some men do a part of their work in an 



372 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

excellent manner and ignore other duties or perform them 
in slipshod manner. Some men are on duty long hours and 
have such a heavy work load that some duties must be neglected. 
On the other hand some men have no plan of work and because 
of a lack of system waste much time. Some of them who spend 
12 to 14 hours per day on the job could do all of their work in 
much less time. 

During recent years a number of score cards have been devel- 
oped for the rating of janitorial service. These have been of 
much value in calling attention to the various tasks to be done. 
At first their value was limited to school administrators since 
they were seldom placed in the hands of the janitors. Some of 
them were too complicated for frequent use. At the present time 
there is much interest in school building care and janitorial 
service. Janitors are making a study of their jobs. Because of 
these changed and improved conditions it has seemed desirable 
to develop a new type of check on the quality of janitorial serv- 
ice rendered. 

In developing a method for evaluating janitorial service, it is 
desirable to consider the work load, the age and condition of 
the building, the amount of community use, and the possibility 
of contamination from smoke laden air and muddy yards. It 
is also desirable to limit the number of items to be checked. A 
check list should probably give more attention to results and 
conditions found than to methods and materials used. However, 
certain practices that consume time without bringing satisfac- 
tory results should receive some attention. The check list or 
score card should be simple in form that all checking may be 
done rapidly. It should be so arranged that the janitor can 
check his own work without having to make minute evalua- 
tions of the quality of work done. It should be so arranged and 
developed that it is adaptable to any building or janitor. If any 



IMPROVING JANITORIAL SERVICE 373 

particular item does not apply to that building it should be de- 
leted without affecting the comparative score. It should be 
possible to fill blanks with a check (X or V) mark. Since cer- 
tain conditions may be very bad the check list should provide a 
penalty in the form of a minus or negative score for such con- 
ditions. 

The check list found on the following pages is one that is now 
in use. While it omits certain items, it does list many items that 
must be considered in evaluating janitorial service. It does pro- 
vide a penalty for poor work or conditions. It calls attention to 
'the necessity for planning the work and for certain necessary 
records. While it probably places too much stress on certain 
duties and conditions, it does place emphasis on results. 

Check List of Janitorial Service 

Place a check in the column that best describes the methods 
used, conditions found, or time used. In the first column, check 
items that are superior. In the second column, check items that 
are acceptable but are not superior. In the third column, mark 
with an those items which do not apply to this situation. In 
the fourth column, check inferior work or results. 

It is difficult to prepare a check list that serves as a rating 
scale for all janitors and all buildings. The number of items 
under each section does not in all cases indicate the importance 
of this item. On the other hand any attempt to give point value 
(such as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) may make the check list too complicated 
for regular use. However, several superintendents and janitors 
do use this check list as a score card by evaluating in the follow- 
ing manner. All items checked in column one are rated at jour 
points. All items in column two are rated two points. Items in 
column three are not rated, and for items checked in column 
four deduct three points each. They develop a comparative per- 



Check List 

.TOWN _ 
JANITOR _ 



.DATE 



.BUILDING 



Load for this janitor. 
Type of school 



Types of floors, cl. rm. . 
Corridors 



No. enrolled 
, aud 



No. cl. rms. 



Sq. ft. floor area for this janitor: cl. rms. 

auditorium , Total 

Yard, area sq. 

Does it get muddy 
Walks, sq. ft 



Corridors 



Condition 



surface material 



Plumbing fixtures, No. stools 

lavatories , sinks 

Blackboard, sq. ft 

Heating plant. Type of fuel 

automatic temp, reg 



urinals 



fountains 



., automatic feed . 



No. of motors 



No. monthly night meetings in building, is extra janitorial night 

help employed , total average number hours daily this 

janitor 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OR 

INFERIOR 


1. The janitor 










Health 










Training for job 










Dress 










Relations teachers and 
administrators 










Relations pupils 










Relations public 










Attitude toward work 





















374 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


Nor APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OR 

INFERIOR 


2. Safety and Protection 










Protects self from injury 










Exits open for egress 










Stair handrails, treads safe 










Corridor no obstructions 










Building protection theft 










Frequent inspections 










Fire hazards reduced 










In furnace room 










In store rooms 










In attics 










In electric service 










Part in fire drill 




















3. Daily cleaning 










Floors 










Tools used 










Methods of work 










Time done 










Time required 










Condition classroom 
floors 










Condition corridor floors 










Condition special rm. 
floors 










Dusting 










Methods 











375 





StJPEMOB 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OK 

INTEMOK 


Frequency 










Condition of desks 










Condition of walls 










Condition, doors, cases 
and windows 










Toilet rooms 










Methods used 










Odors present 










Condition of plumbing 
fixtures 










Condition of floor, walls, 
ceiling 




















4. Cleaning Special Rooms 










Tools used 










Condition, auditorium 










Condition, gymnasium 










Condition, offices 










Condition, shops 










Condition, dressing rooms 




















5. Occasional cleaning 










Glass 










Methods used 










Frequency 










Condition windows 










Condition doors and cases 











376 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


Nor APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASK 


NEGLECTED 

OR 

INFERIOR 


Blackboards and erasers 








Methods used 










Frequency 










Condition of blackboard 










Condition of erasers 










Furniture cleaning 










Methods used 










Condition 










Polish 










Wall cleaning 










Methods 










Frequency 










Condition 




















6. Floor Maintenance 










Floors sanded 










Floors sealed 










Surface treatment adapted 
to use 










Condition corridor floors 










Condition classroom floors 










Condition special room 
floors 










Color and sheen on floors 




















7. Work Program 










Has a schedule 











377 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OS 

INTERIOR 


Uses it 










Faculty aware of schedule 










Records 










Has supply record 










Has record of tasks done 










Has record of equipment 










Reports 










Supplies used and needed 










Of repairs made 










Of breakage or rule 
infractions 




















8. Care of Supplies and 
Equipment 










Supplies 










Storage of 










Use of 










Equipment 










Storage 










Condition 




















9. Yard Care 










Condition of lawns 










Condition of hedges and 
shrubbery 










Condition of walks 










Rubbish or paper on 
grounds 











378 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OR 

INFERIOR 


Washes and gullies filled 








Condition of fences 




















10. Miscellaneous duties 










Condition of window shades 










Care of flag 










Radiator cleaning 










Helps to teachers 










Care of toilet room supplies 










Care of electric service 










Fusing 










Switches protected 










Load per circuit 










Condition of lamps 




















11. Repairs and Replacements 










Plumbing valves and traps 










Furniture 










Condition of seats 










Condition of desks 










Condition of playground 
equipment 










Building hardware 










Condition panic bolts 










Condition door closers 










Condition locks and latches 










Building 











379 





SUPERIOR 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 

OK 

INFERIOR 


Condition of roof 










Condition of walls 










Leaks found 










Replacements 










Window cords 










Window glass 










Plumbing parts 










Work shop 










Storage of tools 










Condition of repair tools 










Rubbish in room 




















12. Heating and Ventilation 










Furnace room 










Clean 










Tools in place 










Firing the furnace 










Methods used 










Condition of fuel bed 










Amount of fuel used 










Care of ashes 










Clinkering 










Use of dampers 










Temperature control 










Care of heating plant 










Safety measures 











380 





SUPEKIOH 


ACCEPTABLE 


NOT APPLY 
IN THIS 
CASE 


NEGLECTED 
ox 

INFERIOR 


Condition of flues 










Condition of grates 










Condition of exterior 










Condition of pumps 










Condition of traps 










Condition of water glass 










Condition inside of boiler 










Condition breeching and 
chimney 










Pipe insulation 










Lines trapped pockets 










Condition thermostats 










Care of fans and vents 










Ducts open 










Fans used 










Dust in ducts 










Humidity supplied 










Condition of motors 










Condition of air washers 










Regulation of unit heaters 










Total checks in column 











Total score of column 


X4 


X2 




X3 



Grand total score 



Possible score (sum of checks columns 1 and 2, minus sum 
of checks in column 4.) 



381 



382 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

centage score by dividing the total score for each man by the 
possible score. 

This list shows a total of 133 items with a possible score of 
532, divided as follows: the janitor 28 points, safety 44, cleaning 
144, floor maintenance 28, work plan 36, supply and equipment 
care 16, yards 24, miscellaneous 36, repairs and replacements 64, 
heating and ventilation 112. If, in making a check of the work, 
60 checks are placed in the first column, the total score for this 
column would be 4 X 60, or 240 points. Forty checks in the 
second column would give 2 X 40, or 80 points. Eighteen O's 
in the third column would indicate that these items do not 
apply. Fifteen checks in the fourth column would give 3 X 15, 
or 45, which is to be subtracted from the sum of the scores of 
the first two columns. Thus 240 plus 80 gives 320. This, minus 
the score of 45, gives a final score of 275. If it is desired to obtain 
a percentage rating, multiply the number of checks in columns 
one, two, and four by 4 (in this case 115 X 4, or 460), to find 
the maximum possible score. Dividing the actual score (in this 
case 275) will give the percentage rating, which, in the example 
given, would be 60%. 



COLUMN 


ITEMS 
CHECKED 


SCORE FOR 
COLUMN 


1 
2 
3 
Total to date 
4 


60 
40 
18 

15 


240 
80 




320 
45 

Building score 275 

Items checked columns 1-2-4, 115 

Possible score 460 

Percentage 275 divided by 460 equals .60 



Bibliography 



American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, Code of Mini- 
mum Requirements for the Heating and Ventilation of Buildings, 
1929, Sec. I-XII. 

BARTRIM, WILLIAM, "Information on Boilers and Coal," a mimeographed 
bulletin, pp. 12. 

BROADY, K. O., IRELAND, C. J., and MILLER, E. L., A Handbook for 
School Custodians, Educational Monographs No. 4. The University 
of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, pp. 1-82. 

CHEASLEY, T. C., "Coal Production and Preparation," a mimeographed 
bulletin, lip. 

CHILLIS, H. E., Chairman, and committee. Building Operation and 
Maintenance, Frank Wiggins Trade School, Los Angeles, California. 

Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries, "Solid Fuels and 
Their Use in Hand Fired Plants," Education Bulletin No. 4, 
May, 1932. pp. 30. 

Committee of Ten Coal and Heating Industries, "Automatic Coal 
Heat with Mechanical Stokers," Educational Bulletin No. 5, Au- 
gust, 1932. pp. 41. 

DINSMORE, J. C., "The Selection and Care of Floors," School Manage- 
ment, February, 1935. p. 110. 

ENGELHARDT, N. L., REEVES, C. E., and WOMRATH, G. F., Standards for 
Public School Janitorial-Engineering Service. Bureau of Publications, 
Teachers College, New York City, N. Y. 1926. pp. 1-52. 

FIELDNER, A. C., "Fourth Standard Completes Classification of Coal," 
Industrial Standardization, December, 1939. pp. 303-306. 

HIGH, G. W., "Hand-Fired Grates and Their Care," A mimeographed 
bulletin published by, Committee of Ten Coal and Heating In- 
dustries, May, 1932. 

ITTNER, WM. B., "School Ventilation from the Viewpoint of the 
Architect," Journal of American Society of Heating and Ventilating 
Engineers. March, 1927. pp. 119-127. 
Journal of American Medical Research, March 28, 1931. 

383 



384 THE CUSTODIAN AT WORK 

LEE, J. F., "Janitorial Man-Power in a High School Building," American 

School Board Journal, 83:56, December, 1931. 
LITLE, ROY F., "A Study of Missouri School Janitors," an unpublished 

manuscript, The University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 1937. 
LONGSHORE, J. H., Floor Research, Continental College of Floor Effi- 
ciency, Brazil, Indiana, 1937. pp. 1-149. 
LOWRANCE, A. D., "Information Sheets in Heating and Ventilation I 

for Janitor-Engineers." Kansas Janitor-Engineer Schools, Kansas State 

Board for Vocational Education, Topeka, Kansas. 
MAHONE, L. W., Keeping the Schoolhouse Clean, Engineering Extension 

Service, Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa. Bulletin No. Ill, pp. 1-41. 
MARTIN, R. L., HUNDSON, N. S., and SHAVER, C. N., Instructors Manual 

for Training Public School Janitors and Engineers, State Board for 

Vocational Education, Austin, Texas, August, 1932. 
MYERS, J. A., "Fresh Air Faddism." Reprint from the Aerologist, 

October, 1939. 
National Building Maintenance System, Inc., "Scientific Studies in 

Building Upkeep" Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

1,000 School Fires, National Fire Protection Association, October, 1939. 
PARKER, LAURENCE, Job and Information Sheets in Housekeeping 

for Janitor-Engineers, Kansas State Teachers College. Pittsburg, 

Kansas, 1936. 

PHELAN, V. B., Care and Repair of the House, United States Depart- 
ment of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, March, 1921. pp. 1-117. 

Proceedings Annual Meeting, National Council on Schoolhouse 

Construction. 1930-39. Annual Reports. 
PYKASKI, CONRAD, "Methods of Calculating Public School Janitorial 

Engineering Man-Power." Board of Education, Minneapolis, Min- 
nesota. September, 1935. 
REEVES, C. E., and GANDERS, H. S., School Building Management, 

Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, New 

York City, N. Y., pp. 1-371. 
ROGERS, J. F., The School Custodian, The United States Department 

of the Interior, Office of Education, Bulletin No. 2, 1938. 
SCHERER, FRANCIS R., "Washrooms and School Health," The Nations 

Schools, January, 1939, pp. 36-39. 
SCHWARTZ, H. M., Improvement in the Maintenance of Public School 

Buildings, Contributions to Education, No. 240, Teachers College, 

Columbia University, 1928. pp. 1-57. 

Soap and Sanitary Chemicals, November, 1939. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 385 

United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, "Rubber 

Floor Tile," L. C. 270, October 10, 1929. 
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, "Reports 

of Service Tests on Concrete Floor Treatments." B. S. L. C. 139, 

October, 1920. 
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, "The 

Care of Floors," L. C. 388, August 8, 1933. 

United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, "Acid- 
Proof Coatings for Concrete Surfaces." L. C. 42 Rev. February 12, 

1923. 
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, Washing, 

Cleaning, and Polishing Materials, Circular C 424, August, 1939. 
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, Materials 

for the Household, Circular No. 70, December, 1917. 
WOMRATH, G. F., Efficient Business Administration of Public Schools, 

Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1932, 450 pp. 



Index 



Abrasives, 55 
Accidents 

Electric current, 149 

Falling objects, 149 

Playground, 147 

Prevention of, 144 

Protection of janitor, 145 

Slipping and falling in bldg., 146 

Special rooms, 148 
Acid proof finish, 340 
Acids, 59 

Carbolic, 63 

Muriatic, 59, 103 

Oxalic, 56, 60 

Sulphuric, 60 
Acoustical tile board, 2 
Air circulation, 264 
Air flow, 320 
Ammonium sulphate, 131 
Ash removal, 310 
Athletes foot, 64 
Auditorium units, Care of, 95 
Authority, Line of, 23 

Bakelite seals, 66 
Banking fires, 314 
Bartrim, W., 279, 286 
Blackboards, Care of, 112 

Cleaning, 110 

Cleaning methods, 111 
Bowl scouring powder, 55 
Broady, Dr. K. O., iv 
Brushes 

Counter, 46 

Floor, 44 

Radiator, 46 

Scrub, 45 

Toilet, 46 

Caustic cleaners, 60 
Potash, 61 
Soda, 61 



Chamois skin, 51, 107 

Check List of Janitorial Service, 373 

Cheesecloth, 106 

Chimney draft, 321 

Chlorine, 63 

Christmas lighting, 134 

Cleaning 

Blackboards, 110 

Brushes, 44 

Drinking fountains, 101 

Erasers, 114 

Floors, 74 

Glass, 104 

Glazed tile, 120 

Stone, 69 

Toilet rooms, 97 

Toilet stools, 102 

Tools, 42 

Urinals, 104 

Yard, 131 
Clinkers, 311 
Coal 

Anthracite, 278 

Bituminous, 277 

Cannel, 276 

Lignite, 276 

Peat, 276 

Semi-anthracite, 277 

Semi-bituminous, 277 

Sizes, 279 

Sub-bituminous, 276 
Coal and Heating Industries 

Committee of Ten, 278, 282, 296 
Code of ethics, 39 
Concrete 

Floor hardener, 65 

Floor maintenance, 243 

Seals, 243 

Cork floor, Care of, 247 
Cork tackboard cleaning, 121 
Corridors, Sweeping of, 91 
Crack filler, 68 



387 



388 

Crystallization of masonry floors, 209 
Current consumption, Control of, 139 

Damper control, 308 

Dance floor preparation, 67 

Degree day, 295 

Deodorants, 65 

Disinfectants, 62 

Door checks, 356 

Door mats, Location of, 75 

Down draft furnace, 302 

Draft, 307 

Drain pipe cleaner, 59 

Dust mops, 83 

Treatment of, 77 
Dust pans, 49 
Dusters, 48 
Dusting, 115 

Methods of, 118 

Time of, 116 

Tools for, 117 

Economies in firing, 315 
Electric Lighting 

Care of lamps, 137 

Principles, 137 

Records, 140 

Types of lamps, 138 
Electric service maintenance, 357 
Erasers, 114 
Extension cords, 134 

Fire 

Alarms, 161 

Classes of, 162 

Drills, 161 

Hose, 165 
Fire Extinguishers 

Carbon dioxide, 167 

Carbon tetrachloride, 166 

Foam type, 166 

Force pump, 167 

Location of, 164 

Soda acid, 165 
Fire Prevention 

Auditorium and dressing, 159 

Basement and attic, 157 

Careless housekeeping, 160 

Electrical, 155 

Furnace room, 154 



INDEX 

Fire Prevention Continued 

Home Economics, 159 

Laboratories, 159 

Roof, 160 

Shop rooms, 158 

Spontaneous combustion and lightning, 

157 

Flag etiquette, 142 
Floors, Care of 

Buffing, 230 

Conditioning, 228 

Dry cleaning, 224 

Mopping, 222 

Oiling, 231 

Reconditioning, 230 

Sanding, 228 

Scrubbing, 223 

Surfacing preparations, 240 
Floor Cleaning 

Auditorium, 95 

Classrooms with fixed seats, 85 

Classrooms with loose seats, 87 

Classrooms with tables and chairs, 88 

Corridors, 91 

Frequency, 79 

Gymnasium, 94 

Methods, 81 

Special rooms, 90 

Stairways, 92 

Time of, 80 

Tools, 75 
Floor cleaning compounds, 217 

Abrasives, 217 

Chemicals, 218 
Floors 

Concrete, 206, 243 

Cork, 211, 247 

Linoleum, 210, 246 

Magnesite, 208, 245 

Manufactured stone, 206 

Maple, 203 

Marble, 242 

Mastic or asphalt, 212, 248 

Natural stone, 206 

Oak, 204 

Rubber, 210, 247 

Soft wood, 204 

Terrazzo, 207, 245 

Tile, 208, 245 

Wood block, 204 



INDEX 

Floor seals, 66 

Penetrating, 234 

Surface, 233 

Terrazzo, 67 
Floor waxes, 67, 235 

Spirit solvent, 236 

Water emulsion, 236 
Flower planting, 126 
Foaming and Priming, 326 
Footscrapers, 53 
Furnace 

Down draft, 302 

Draft, 266, 321 

Frequency of firing, 301 

Grates, 322 
Furniture 

Care, 336 

Polish, 69, 336 

Refinishing, 338 
Fusing, 133 

Gas, 281 

Gas burners, 335 
Gas leaks, 346 
Glass cleaning, 104 

Agents, 108 

Methods, 106 

Time of, 105 
Glazed tile cleaning, 120 
Grease spot remover, 68, 347 
Gum solvent, 69 
Gymnasium floor maintenance, 248 

Hand firing, 297 

Alternate method, 299 

Coking method, 298 

Conical method, 299 

Heaping method, 300 

Layer method, 300 

Ordinary method, 300 

Ribbon method, 297 

Tools, 303 
Heating 

Direct, 254 

Hot air, 263 

Hot water, 262 

Indirect, 254 

Plant maintenance, 358 
Heavy duty units, 135 
Hot air systems, Care of, 333 



389 

Housekeeping in the school, 6 
Purposes of, 3 

Information sheets, 189 
Ink removal, 69, 347 
Inkwell washing, 346 
Inventory records, 191 

Janitor 

Age, physical condition, 10 

Character, personal qualities, 11 

Control of supplies, 40 

Dress and appearance, 12 

Education, 12 

Hours of labor, 33 

Plan of work, 36 

Protection, 145 

Public relations, 20, 22 

Pupil relations, 21 

Responsibilities, 17 

Responsibility for safety, 18 

Rules and regulations, 30 

Salaries, 33 

Salary schedule, 28, 33 

Selection and promotion, 26, 32 

Skills and abilities, 14 

Teacher relations, 20 

Tenure, 27 

Work load, 34 

Work program, 29 
Janitor Records 

Goods received, 193 

Information sheet, 189 

Inventory, 189 

Office, records of, 200 

Repair and job sheets, 194 

Reports on pupils, 197 

Requisitions, 192 

Room temperature, 198 

Service meter, 196 

Stock room, 200 

Work schedule, 176 
Janitorial 

Check list of service, 373 

Cooperation, 37 

Schools, 369 

Service training, 368 
Javelle water, 64, 346 
Journal of American Medical Research, 
63 



390 

Lawn 

Care of, 129 

Planting and seeding, 127 
Light and electric service, 132 
Light bulb tool, 346 
Linoleum floor, Care of, 246 
Litle, Roy F., 11, 27, 28 

Machine scrubbing, 51 
Magnesium silico fluoride, 66 
Mahone, L. W., iv 
Maintenance 

Program, 348 

School, 3 

Supplies, 366 

Maple Flooring Manufacturing Associa- 
tion, 203 

Marble floor maintenance, 242 
Marble surface cleaning, 120 
Marks on walls, 101 
Masonry wall repair, 354 
Mastic and asphalt tile maintenance, 248 
Materials, purchase and storage, 71 
Metal polish, 70, 345 
Meter records, 140 
Mold remover, 69 
Montgomery, Dr. I. J., iv 
Mopping, 216 

Methods, 222 

Tools, 221 
Mops 

Dry, 47 

Dust, 83 

Wet, 48 
Muriatic acid, 59, 103 

Nat'l Assn. of Engineers and Custodians, 
38 

Nat'l Board of Fire Underwriters, 170 

Nat'l Council on Schoolhouse Construc- 
tion, iv 

National Education Association, 28 

Odors, 98 

Office records, janitor, 200 

Oil (fuel), 281 

Oil burners, 334 

Oiling of floors, 231 

Organization, types of, 24 



INDEX 



Ousley, Capt. H. C., 170 
Oxalic acid, 60, 347 



Pails and wringers, 50 

Paint, cleaner, 70 

Paint remover, 68 

Painted walls, cleaning, 120 

Painting, 360 

Pans 

Dust, 49 

Pick-up, 50 

Plastered wall, cleaning, 120 
Plumbing maintenance, 359 
Polishing materials, 337 
Polishing of furniture, 336 
Principles of heating, 252 
Purchase and storage of materials, 71, 

193 
Pykaski, Conrad, 36 

Qualifications of janitor, 10 

Radiating units, 269 
Radiators 

Care, 330 

Installation, 265 
Record of Job Requests, 195 
Records 

Goods received, 193 

Room temperatures, 199 
Refinishing of furniture, 338 
Relative humidity, 266 
Repairs 

Electrical, 136 

Roof, 353 

Reports on pupils, 198 
Requisitions, 192 
Responsibility, teacher, 7 
Roach powder, 68, 346 
Roaches and pests, 346 
Rubber floor, Care of, 247 
Rugs and carpets, 213 

Safety 
Belt, 109 
Boiler, 329 

Electrical current, 149 
Janitor, 145 
Playground, 147 



INDEX 



391 



Safety Continued 

Slipping and falling, 146 

Special rooms, 148 
Sand tables, 347 

(Sawdust) 
Scrubbing 

Compounds, 219 

Methods, 223 

Tools, 220 
Shrubbery 

Care of, 128 

Planting, 126 
Smoke control, 312 
Soap, 57 

Sodium bisulphate, 62, 103 
Sodium hypochlorite, 64 
Sodium silicate, 65, 67 
Sprinkler systems, 165 
Stain remover, 347 
Stairways, sweeping of, 92 
Starting fires, 313 
Steam 

Generating boilers, 260 

Heating, 256 

Heating systems, 324 
Steel wool, 56, 224 
Stoker firing, 304 
Sulphuric acid, 60 
Supplies 

Cleaning, 55 

Control, 40 
Sweeping compound, 79 

Temperature control, 268, 318 

Termites, 341 

Terrazzo 

Floor care, 245 

Seal, 67 

Tile floor, Care of, 245 
Toilet 

Care of, 97 

Sanitation, 102 

Stools, 102 

Supplies, prevention of waste, 99 

Tools, 51 



Tools 

Supplies, Care of, 33, 76 
Cleaning, 42 
Construction, 363 
List of, 365 
Selection, purchase, 54 
Toilet, 51 
Yard, 52 

United States Bureau of Standards, 66 
United States Dept. of Commerce, 236, 

337 
Urinals, 104 

Vacuum cleaning, 77 
Varnish remover, 68 
Ventilation 

Control, 319 

Gravity system, 272 

Mechanical system, 273 

Window, 272 
Viles, N. E., 183 

Wainscots, 2 

Walks, 131 

Wall and ceiling cleaning, 100, 119 

Methods of, 121 
Waste paper, 131 
Weeds and pests, 130 
Whitewash, 70 
Whiting and oxalic acid, 56 
Window jack, 53, 109 
Window Shades 

Cleaning of, 141 

Control of, 141 

Types of, 140 
Wires and fusing, 133 
Womrath, G. R, 10 
Wood (fuel), 282 
Woodwork, Cleaning of, 100 
Work program and schedule, 175 

Yard cleaning, 131