Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.

I’M MELTING, MELTING… Dealing with Frozen Pipes

This winter is far from over, but between the Bomb Cyclone and record-setting low temperatures, things have gotten very, very cold.


Those subzero temperatures could return at any time. And you can either wish that you’d properly prepared your properties to deal with the freeze last fall, or do something about it now while you have a lull between blizzards. We checked with the American Red Cross about the best ways to deal with one of the most destructive problems in severe weather: frozen pipes.  Here’s what they told us:


Water is unique in the way that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever’s containing the water, including metal or plastic pipes. It doesn’t matter how strong the container is; expanding water can cause pipes to break.

The most frequent freezing takes place when exposed pipes are in:

Outdoor areas during bitter cold, as with water sprinkler lines, outdoor hose bibs and swimming pool supply lines.


Unheated interior areas like crawl spaces, basements, attics, and garages.


Uninsulated or under-insulated walls.


Keeping Pipes From Freezing


In late fall, and before the first snowfall:


Drain both the water sprinkler’s and the swimming pool’s water supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Adding antifreeze to these lines can be dangerous, and is not recommended.

Drain, and store all outdoor hoses. Close any inside valves attached to hose bibs, and open up the outside hose bibs for draining. Leave the outside valve open so the pipe won’t break when the water expands.


Insulate crawl spaces, basements, and attics.


Check for other areas where water lines are in unheated areas. Look under bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and in garages. All of these water pipes in these areas will need insulation.


Think about installing specific insulation products, like pipe sleeves or heat cable. Using newspapers as a wrap can provide some degree of protection for exposed pipes in locations that don’t normally endure subzero temperatures.


If practical, move exposed pipes indoors for the most protection.


Easing the Freezing


Open cabinet doors in the bathroom and the kitchen to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Move cleaners and household chemicals out of children’s reach.


When the weather is severely cold, open the faucet served by the exposed pipes and let the cold water drip. Running even a trickle of water through a pipe helps prevent pipes from freezing.


Set the thermostat and then leave it alone. Use the same temperature setting around the clock. This is worth a slightly higher heating bill because it can prevent a very expensive repair job if pipes freeze and burst.


Going away during the winter? Leave the heat on, but don’t set your thermostat for lower than 55° F.


Thawing Your Frozen Pipes


If your faucet works, but only at a trickle, that could indicate a frozen pipe. You’ll usually find frozen pipes against exterior walls. Other likely places for frozen pipes include the foundation, where the water supply enters your home, and exterior walls.


Keep the water running. As the melting begins, some drips of water will start coming through the faucet. Running water will speed up the melting process.


Heat up those pipes, but safely. Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, or use a portable space heater or a hairdryer. Another effective wrap option would be towels plucked from a tub of boiling water. No open flames, please. That means you, charcoal stove. No blowtorches, heaters that use kerosene or propane, or any other open flame device.


Apply heat to the pipes until full water pressure is back to normal. If the ice keeps winning the battle and refuses to melt, call a professional plumber.


Make sure all the other faucets are functioning properly. When one pipe freezes, others will, too.



Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Lower Bills with Efficient Cleaning Equipment

Of course, you have to clean your home. But the amount of resources you use for house cleaning can balloon if you’re not careful.  Team Clean, the Philadelphia-based janitorial service, points out that your automatic dishwasher likely uses between three and fifteen gallons per load of dishes. Your washing machine takes 16-40 gallons for every load of dirty clothes. To use them in an environmentally friendly manner to reduce the amount of water, energy and other resources being used requires efficiency, which in turn requires a plan.

The Plan

Step One would be listing your cleaning chores that use resources, including water and energy used by appliances and water used for mopping floors. Where are time, energy, water or other resources being wasted? And can you reduce the waste with more efficient cleaning?

The Prep

The goal here is to not intentionally waste your time or resources. So before any cleaning task is undertaken, set yourself up in a cleared area, without the clutter that can slow things down, and with the tools you’ll need at hand (that includes buckets, cleaning products, squeegees, rags and so on).

The Fine Print

With cleaning products, the label is your best friend. It has the instructions on how much to use for the best results.  Following them will help prevent wasting the product or getting less than the cleaning power you need.

Step By Step

To take your cleaning seriously, plan your cleaning progress methodically. If you’re wet-mopping a floor, plan your route so you don’t cross your own path and mop over where you just mopped, wasting water. You’ll use less cleaning materials if you clean methodically instead of impulsively.

Cleaning Ideas That Save Resources

Kitchen: Fun Fact: Dishwashers use less water and energy than you do when you hand-wash a load of tableware. So the green thing to do here is to run a dishwasher only when it’s full. If your washer has an air-dry feature, use it and save the energy needed to heat your dishes dry. And please, just scrape the plates and put them in the washer. Pre-washing your dirty dishes only wastes time and a great deal of water.

Laundry: Take a little longer to stare at your washing machine to figure out what green options came with it. Make sure you’re selecting the right load size—running a full “Heavy Load” cycle for three socks and a pillowcase wastes detergent, water, time and electricity. Some clothes, like jeans and good shirts, can benefit from cold-water washing, which also saves energy. Use only the manufacturer’s suggested amount of laundry detergent; more won’t get your clothes cleaner.  Once your things are out of the washer, hang-dry them if you can.

Floors:  The more often you sweep up, the less mopping you’ll have to do. And when you do finally mop, the already-cleaner floor won’t require excessive amounts of detergent or water.

For countertops: Brush crumbs and other table debris off your kitchen surfaces before you spray or wipe them. You won’t need as many towels or rags to get the surfaces clean. So you won’t have to do as much laundry, and you won’t need to buy more paper towels as frequently.

Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Cleaning Ice Melt

It’s another brutal winter, one where unusually large snowfalls are blanketing the country. And that means hardwood floors will not only get wet (which they shouldn’t), but the rain and snow that’s tracked in on them will likely be mixed with salt or ice melt, leaving streaks and puddles on your floors.  Here’s how to keep them clean and protected during this snowy, rainy, icy winter:

Be Prepared.

Keep an abundance of rags, old towels, and other clean wiper-uppers near your doors to use immediately. The faster you clean the floor up, the cleaner you’ll get it—don’t give the moisture and chemicals time to soak into the wood.  Keep a broom or vacuum handy to sweep away granules of salt or ice melt that could scratch your floors’ surfaces. And, if you can, lay down mats on every walking surface to keep the moisture from touching your floors at all, as well as a large, absorbent mat by the front door for shoes.


One More Tip: Consider spreading kitty litter on your sidewalks and steps instead of salt or ice melt. While it won’t melt snow or ice, it will vastly improve your visitors’ traction while being safer for your floors.


Know Your Chemicals

Most ice melt products use essentially the same calcium chloride (i.e. salt)-based recipe, with variations and blends that can also include potassium chloride, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and urea. The makeup of most ice melt products is based on calcium chloride because (a) it melts snow and ice effectively and (b) it’s cheap.

One More Tip: The downside with salt is its high pH levels, pretty much the same levels you’ll find in, say, floor strippers. These pH levels break down your floor’s finish, leaving the wood underneath defenseless. Immediate cleaning action is recommended.

Wiping Out the White

Once the salt starts breaking down your hardwood floor’s finish and the moisture dries, you’ll note how it leaves a white residue or film on the floor. That’s the alkaline salt residue, which should be neutralized.  Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and gently wipe in a circular motion. After the floor has dried, if there’s still a white residue, dilute one cup of white vinegar in one gallon of warm water, and wipe the area, again with a circular motion. Buff-dry the spot immediately.

One More Tip: There’s most likely a commercial floor cleaner made specifically for your home’s floors. Determine what that cleaner is and add it to your anti-snow arsenal before the next blizzard hits.


Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth during its first two decades. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in that metropolitan area.

Is Your House Making You Sick?

Cold and flu season is hitting hard this winter, and your challenge is twofold: First, making sure that cleaning your house isn’t making you sick.  Second, if you’re feeling ill, figuring out if your symptoms originated from the flu or from your house.


After all, many of the symptoms of the flu—coughing, sneezing, fatigue, congestion, runny nose, sometimes a fever—can also be the result of allergies from dust being kicked up or commercial cleaners being used improperly.


But yes, your indoor environment and its microscopic inhabitants could be making you sick. Here’s where they’re hiding:


1. Heating and Cooling Systems


Problem: When your HVAC system cools your home, it also leaves traces of water in the ducts, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. That microbial growth can trigger respiratory issues like headaches and coughing.

Solution: Stay on top of your monthly air filter replacements. Hire professional cleaners to clean out your air ducts every couple of years, and ask for their suggestions for your heater’s cleanest and most efficient operation.


2. Indoor Leaks

Problem: You can’t see the leaks in your HVAC system that are causing mold growth in your home, and that’s bad news for anyone in your household susceptible to asthma and allergy-based breathing problems.

Solution: Moisture is your enemy. Think dry, dry, dry. Dry closets, dry pipes, dry basements, dry attics. Clean and dry where any moisture, even a little drop, has accumulated. Remember, you’re only seeing, and cleaning, surfaces; what’s not visible can make things even worse. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a professional. A good plumber or roofer has been through this situation many times.


3. Furniture

Problem: The comfy upholstered chair you’ve had for decades. That big pillow your sister gave you when you bought what became your kid’s go-to TV couch. The only mattress you know you can sleep on. These are a few of your favorite things. Especially if you’re a dust mite. Microscopic dust mites see us humans as large, soft bags that provide them with warmth and humidity. Dust mites live everywhere people live. Most people can safely ignore them, but each dust mite is a little time bomb for someone with asthma or allergies, triggering strong, debilitating reactions.


Solution: Cycle your linens every week. Sheets and towels should be washed in the hottest possible water, and thoroughly dried. Give furniture, throw pillows, carpeting and curtains a weekly vacuuming and dusting. If your household includes someone who’s sensitive to dust mites, look into specialty mattress and pillow covers specifically designed to keep dust mites out.


4. The Bathroom


Problem: If an older mattress is like Times Square for dust mites, the bath mat in front of your shower is Hawaii.  Bath mats provide a warm, wet breeding ground for bacteria, mold and dust mites. When your shower’s over and you step on that bathmat, you’ll be drying yourself off while standing on dust mites. Oops.

Solution: First, towel off while you’re still standing in the tub or shower. (Slippers might come in handy here.)  Don’t sprinkle cornstarch on yourself—dust mites love the stuff.  And make sure washcloths, towels and bathmats get nice hot baths of their own in your washer, followed by a thorough drying, at least once a week.

5. The Refrigerator

Problem: Frost-free refrigerators have an electric coil in each freezer that melts frost every four hours. The melted water drips into a pan and then evaporates, thanks to warm air from the refrigerator’s compressor. But if that pan is filled with dust, your refrigerator will blow that dust into your home.

Newer refrigerators may not have a tray, but the coils on the back of the machine need to be dusted off regularly. Shut off the refrigerator’s power before undertaking this, and be sure to wear gloves to avoid injury from the sharp edges of the coils.

Solution: Give your refrigerator a regular cleaning, along with the wall and floor behind the refrigerator. Check your manufacturer’s instruction manual to determine whether there is a tray and to learn the best cleaning methods.


6. The Vacuum Cleaner

Problem: We all need a vacuum cleaner to suck up the allergens.  But your vacuum could be spewing them all back into the air. The best vacuums have HEPA filters (for High-Efficiency Particulate Air). These filter more than 99 percent of the particulates in the air. But beware of the “HEPA-like” filter, which doesn’t do much more than release particles into the air without filtering.

Solution: Double-check your vacuum for a HEPA filter. Make sure your cleaning service uses a HEPA-filter vacuum, as well, so your home isn’t being contaminated from allergens in previous houses.

7. Cleaning Products

Problem: Conventional cleaning products, like the ones you’ve been buying for years, may cause eye irritation, headaches, breathing problems, and at worst, be carcinogenic.  Many people clean with them, but they don’t take precautions against the harmful effects of commercial cleaning products.

Team Clean, the Philadelphia-based janitorial service, offers Green Clean solutions, which employ green cleaning best practices, including the use of safer and Earth-friendlier cleaning products.

Solution: Clean glass with a mixture of water and vinegar. Toss your abrasive scrubbing product and use baking soda instead. Soap and water can work just as well as a commercial cleaner for most surfaces. Alternatively, look for cleaning products marked “green” and be careful not to confuse “natural” products for those that are safer to use.




Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth during its first two decades. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in that metropolitan area.

Removing Graffiti

BAG THE TAGS: Why Removing Graffiti is So Hard

Removing graffiti is still one of the toughest building maintenance chores to deal with.  Soap and water usually won’t do it. But a lot of harsh chemicals and sharp scrapers might. However you choose to deal with graffiti, the cleaning-off process is a long, messy one if you choose to do it yourself. And your results are not guaranteed.

To save time, money and the agony of defeat, a professional cleaning firm like Team Clean, which has successfully dealt with graffiti for decades, is probably the best way to go.

But if you’re determined to do it yourself, here’s what you’ll need in your graffiti fighter’s tool kit:

1.          Aerosol solvent
2.         Clean cotton painters’ rags
3.         Trash bags
4.         Inexpensive paintbrushes, rollers and paint containers
5.         Paint matching various surfaces around your neighborhood
6.         Paint scraper
7.         Dust mask
8.         Safety glasses
9.         Kitchen cleaner and water in spray bottle

Solvents and Cleaners
There are a number of graffiti removal products on the market. It can help to become familiar with each one. Learn about safe use and safe handling. Some of the better-known solvents available at major hardware stores can be hazardous to your health. Using a respirator is probably safer than using a dust mask. Breathing this stuff is obnoxious and NOT healthy.

You need to be aware of wind conditions. You need eye and breathing protection when you use it. Rags used with solvent should be discarded properly. DO NOT KEEP FLAMMABLE RAGS IN CONTAINERS in your vehicle or garage.

Know the product you are using and HOW TO HANDLE AN ACCIDENTAL INJURY when using the product.

Some of the markers the vandals are using are not permanent. We’ve been able to clean some signs with soap and water.

Safety Glasses 
Safety glasses keep paints, solvents, and dust from entering the eyes. Always use caution. Never compromise eye safety.

Cleaning Smooth Surfaces
Test an inconspicuous area of the surface with your cleaning material. Most modern signs clean quickly. Start by cleaning with soap and water first then proceed to solvents.

Cleaning from Rough Surfaces 
Many times paint on a rough surface causes permanent damage. The character of the surface will change because, in some cases, it is virtually impossible to remove all of the paint from a porous surface. A perfect example is a cinder block wall. You may be forced to paint the wall—the entire wall. Simply framing the damaged area leaves you (and the vandal) with an ugly blotch.

We have found that pressure washers, using sand, can actually etch a cinder block wall, further hastening the wall’s demise. A wire brush is somewhat limited in effectiveness as well. Our city, instead, uses a power washer with a biodegradable emulsifier approved by our sewer department. In most cases, we have been able to completely remove the vandalism. However in some cases, because of the porous surfaces involved, a slight hazy remnant of the graffiti still remains.

Elbow Grease and the Wire Brush
An inexpensive wire brush is excellent for removing paint from many surfaces. The surface will look like someone has wire brushed it but the vandal’s message will be history. Any surface where you use a wire brush should be a surface, that will over time, weather back to the original color or texture. Every graffiti fighter needs a wire brush in his or her tool kit.

Use the wire brush on: 
Telephone poles
Street curbs
Some rough metals
Smooth stone surfaces
Decorative rocks
Wood fences

1. When you engage in graffiti removal, you become very aware of how much more difficult it is to remove it than it is to apply it. This is especially true in the case of rough, unpainted brick surfaces. Painted surfaces are probably best repainted, though it would be wise to have a supply of graffiti removal solvent ready for rapid response. This is also true because recent graffiti seems to be easier to remove than old graffiti.

2. For surfaces like mailboxes, utility boxes, steel roll-up doors, lampposts, etc., liquid graffiti removal solvent (Savogram) is the way to go. This graffiti should be removed as soon as it appears. This requires only some light duty steel wool, a small spray bottle of solvent, and a cleaner like TSP to wash the area down after removing the graffiti. Very little solvent should be used if the graffiti is recent. Just spray on some solvent, lightly rub with steel wool (or even heavy duty paper towels) and then wipe clean. You’ll want to use rubber gloves and lightly wash the affected area after removing the graffiti. Spray solvent such as Jasco, is not recommended for mailboxes or other painted surfaces since it will cause so much paint to bubble up that the “cleaned” area may look worse than it did with the graffiti.

3. For a brick surface, especially red brick, we recommend a professional cleanup, using a biodegradable emulsifier. This method minimizes the toll on the surface. It is generally too difficult to tackle a very rough surface with wire brushes and solvents, and the finished job will still bear a fair amount of the evidence of the graffiti.

4. For routinely painted surfaces like fences and some wall, it would be wise to have plenty of matching paint available for immediate cover-up within a day or two of the appearance of graffiti. In a business district, we recommend that some standard colors be employed in locations that are graffiti-prone and that an understanding be developed among property owners and business managers to allow for painting over graffiti quickly without having to secure permission from all affected parties. Rapid response is the key and this is only possible if the job is made as easy and automatic as possible.

Graffiti removal is not always a simple “spray it on, wipe it off” affair, especially when it involves brick or other rough surfaces or when paint has been there for a long time. You should expect to encounter examples where the best you can do is reduce the graffiti to an unrecognizable fade, even if it is not possible to completely remove it. Try both solvents if one doesn’t seem to do the trick. Don’t give up too soon. Sometimes, several applications of solvent or allowing to sit for a longer time will take care of things.

5 Ways Cleanliness Helps your Business

5 Ways Cleanliness Helps your Business

Unsanitary office, let us count the ways you sicken us: Keyboards, telephone receivers, photocopiers, shaking hands with potential customers, reheating lunch in the microwave, dropping a pen on the floor and picking it up, a visit to the restroom—if there are germ-infested surfaces to touch, you’ve probably touched quite a few of them on your way to doing other things. And by the way, you’re not looking well. Time to call in sick?

Germs can spread like wildfire, hiding on unexpected surfaces, just waiting to give you and your co-workers various levels of illnesses. And it’s not just in office environments; it happens in warehouses, retail stores, and of course, healthcare facilities. So, yes, a clean workplace is important. Here’s why

1. Healthy employees = fewer sick days: It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out. Check out the stats. Sick days cost businesses more than $225 billion dollars each year and result in 54% loss in productivity. Keeping your work environment clean keeps your employees healthy and lowers the number of sick days. Your janitorial team should focus on the daily disinfecting of surfaces, vacuuming carpets, washing floors, and sanitizing restrooms to minimize the spread. Hand sanitizer wall dispensers help too.

2. Cleanliness breeds satisfaction: When you walk into a spotless room that smells lemony fresh, it can make you light right up because you’ve walked into a clean space. Some people get absolutely giddy, and some feel an improvement in their energy levels as well as their overall satisfaction. A dirty office, on the other hand, affects morale. Honestly, would you want to put your lunch in a grimy fridge with a dead-food smell? Or not be able to look outside without dirty windows, ledges, and blinds degrading your view? For an employer, keeping the workspace clean lets employees know that their work is appreciated and respected.

3. Improved productivity: Coughing, sneezing or just feeling out of sorts are the calling cards of a dirty work environment. Employees might not even make the connection between their impaired performance and the effects that lingering dust and germs can have on their breathing, energy levels, headaches or skin. They may be feeling a lack motivation or initiative due to the unhealthiness of the workplace. Improved cleaning practices and quality janitorial cleaning supplies will positively impact the overall health of employees, improving their productivity.

4. It’s your image at stake: It’s not just your employees who interact with your spaces each day. It’s also your suppliers, potential and current clients, business partners and prospective hires. Do you want them leaving with the next communicable illness and an impression that your workplace is filthy? Of course not. Word spreads almost as fast as germs, so make sure you have the right cleaning strategies in place, from the front door to the forklift, restrooms, and boardrooms.

5. Cleanliness preserves assets over the long term: You have expensive assets in your building, particularly carpets and hard floors. If they’re not getting regular cleaning with the right cleaning products, you can kiss those pricey carpets and scratch-free, shiny floors goodbye. A good janitorial service will have commercial carpet cleaning equipment and/or commercial floor scrubbers that can make the cleaning process more effective and efficient. Your carpets and floors will last longer, and the professional equipment used to clean them makes the job much quicker. If your company has an in-house janitorial staff, consider equipping them with commercial cleaning equipment.

Speaking of cleaning efficiency, your company can follow all the suggestions above and still stay environmentally friendly. Philadelphia corporate janitorial service Team Clean notes, “The cleaning products we use are formulated to achieve maximum cleaning effectiveness while exceeding all environmental and safety requirements. We use Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals for general purpose, restroom, glass, and carpet cleaning, or recommended products for those not covered by the Green Seal Standard but do go beyond current, industry specifications. Our walk-behind carpet extractors and floor scrubbers reduce water consumption by 70%, along with a corresponding reduction in chemical usage.”

And, as part of any Green Clean program, Team Clean can also create an effective recycling process for your company, including the collection of materials, separation of recyclables from non-recyclables, and the removal of both.


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