Winter Service Procedures

In this lesson, we'll review the proper steps required to service a portable restroom clean and odor-free during the winter months.

Step 1: Sign & Date

Prior to conducting a service during the winter months, it’s important that we confirm that we were onsite by signing the date sticker. Remember, without initials and date, there’s a good chance the customer will call back and request that we return to re-service the unit. As you can imagine, can be quite frustrating after we’ve already done the work.

Step 2: Prewash

Next, we’ll suit up in our PPE and grab our urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster solution from the side of our truck. Using these products, we’ll spray down the urinal with the urinal cleaner and any graffiti on the inside or outside of the unit using the graffiti blaster solution. We’ll let these chemicals penetrate for a few seconds and then wipe them off so that the liquids don’t freeze.


Step 3: Pump

While the urinal cleaner and graffiti blaster work their magic, we’ll then proceed to evacuate the waste tank. This is done by utilizing the PTO powered suction hose located on the side of our truck. 

Beginning in November, the yard will add a methanol mix, or a salt-water brine to your truck’s freshwater tanks. This unique blend is adjusted each week in the yard based on the upcoming 7-day forecast. It’s also only usually effective for the first 7-10 days after it’s mixed. Knowing this, it’s important that we always pump a unit on its scheduled service day. One week without service in cold temperatures will often lead to a unit freezing up. When pumping a tank, it’s always important that we break up any ice that may have accumulated inside the tank by using the end of the wand or a steel stake from the side of our truck.

  • Completely Frozen: If we come across a restroom that is almost full and frozen solid, we’ll need to contact dispatch to have this unit exchanged by a P&D driver. It’s important to note that fully frozen units will need to be exchanged only by those who are driving a hybrid or stake bed truck, equipped with a lift gate. Frozen units should never be hoisted onto a trailer or tailgate rack by hand. They are extremely heavy and could cause injury without an assisted lift.
  • Partially Froze: On occasion, we may come across a restroom that is partially frozen with minimal use. For situations like this, we can sometimes add a small amount of salt and some winter mix to the top of the waste to the tank to help thaw out so it can be pumped out effectively the next time we come around. Use the trick sparingly and always note it on your tablet.

 Step 4: Prime

Continuing with our service procedures…. Once the waste tank has been evacuated, we’ll need to prime the unit and get it ready for new use. To do this, we’ll need to first fill the waste tank with about 5 gallons of methanol water or pre-mixed salt water, depending on which is on your truck. Never, I repeat, never fill the waste tank with regular fresh water during the winter months unless instructed to do so on your work order.

Next, we’ll first add 6-8 ounces of liquid blue to the tank. Finally, grab a bottle of windshield fluid and a towel. We’ll then spray the walls and all major surfaces including the top of the seat, tank, and lid, using the towel to wipe down all of these major surfaces. Never use methanol water or salt brine for this step in the winter.

When using the windshield fluid, always do your best to keep usage to a minimum. This will help prevent excessive runoff which can eventually turn into ice, causing a slip hazard for future patrons. We’ll also want to avoid spraying the floors for this reason as well. Instead, we’ll want to use a “dry-brush” to keep the floor debris free. "If there is excessive build up on the floor, a small amount of water may be used but always use a rag to dry the floor before leaving the site"

As an additional step in our winter cleaning procedure, we’ll need to add one scoop of rock salt to the urinal as an added precaution to help keep the units from freezing until their next scheduled service. This salt will slowly dissolve as the urinal is being used, further aiding in keep the restroom from freezing.

Step 5: Dry

Now that we’ve properly washed and primed the unit, it’s important that we get used to towel-drying the top of the waste tank, toilet paper dispenser, and the toilet seat as a courtesy to the patrons who can (and often) will use the unit right after service. No cabana spray is required during the winter months.

Step 6: Restock

With the previous steps complete, it’s time to restock the supplies as needed. This includes toilet paper for basic restrooms with the addition of soap and paper towels for deluxe or standard units.  A simple 2 roll TP dispenser must have a minimum of 1.5 rolls, while a 3 roll TP dispenser must have a minimum of 2.5 full rolls.  Some customer accounts will also specify that you fill the hand sanitizer. On these accounts, you’ll need to inspect the hand sanitizer dispenser bag and change when it’s less than 1/4 of the way full.