Be Prepared for Old Man Winter

PROs up north should follow these recipes to prevent restroom holding tanks from turning into blocks of ice.

Be Prepared for Old Man Winter

Jeff and Terri Wigley

With winter and the end of the year upon us, we had the following questions to discuss:

Question: What are the various ways I can keep my units from freezing?

Answer: Depending on your location, winter can vary in intensity and so should your methods of keeping units from freezing. The Portable Sanitation Association International certification program was initiated in 1992. One of the primary objectives of this program has been to quantify the methods of effective winterization of units. There are several methods to consider:

Salt: Ordinary salt can be mixed with water to lower the freezing point of the unit to the following levels:

  • 1/2 pound of salt per gallon of water protects to 26 degrees F.
  • 1 pound of salt per gallon of water protects to 19 degrees F.
  • 1 1/2 pounds of salt per gallon of water protects to 11 degrees F.
  • 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water protects to 0 degrees F. This is the maximum amount of salt that can be dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

Methanol: More expensive than salt and also requiring more attention to detail due to potential flammability, methanol and water can protect units to lower temperatures:

  • 5 percent or 6.4 ounces of methanol per gallon of water protects to 28 degrees F.
  • 10 percent or 12.8 ounces of methanol per gallon of water protects to 22 degrees F.
  • 20 percent or 25.6 ounces of methanol per gallon of water protects to 11 degrees F.
  • 25 percent or 32 ounces of methanol per gallon of water protects to 4 degrees F.
  • 30 percent or 38.4 ounces of methanol per gallon of water protects to 4 degrees below zero. Safety note: This is the maximum amount of methanol that may be used, as any higher concentration is flammable.      

Salt and Methanol Combined: Beginning with a previously mixed solution of 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water, methanol may be added to the mixture in the following amounts:

  • 5 percent or 6.4 ounces of methanol per gallon of salt water protects to 6 degrees below zero.
  • 10 percent or 12.8 ounces of methanol per gallon of salt water protects to 11 degrees below zero.
  • 20 percent or 25.6 ounces of methanol per gallon of salt water protects to 21 degrees below zero.
  • 25 percent or 32 ounces of methanol per gallon of salt water protects to 30 degrees below zero.
  • 30 percent or 38.4 ounces of methanol per gallon of salt water protects to 40 degrees below zero. 

While this is the most effective combination of winterization, it is also the most expensive. 

Rock Salt and Calcium Chloride: This method involves using 200 gallons of water and mixing 100 pounds of crystal rock salt and 100 pounds of calcium chloride. The resulting solution can then be used to fill the units. This combination can be used when temperatures begin to average around 30 degrees F.

Antifreeze: Before using this method, check with your local wastewater treatment plant to ensure antifreeze is accepted in its system. If so, you need to use antifreeze with ethylene glycol as the main ingredient. Other additives are not needed and only raise the price. Based on a 5 gallon charge of solution, use 2 ounces of deodorizer and the following combinations:

  • 1/2 gallon of antifreeze and 4 1/2 gallons of water makes a 10 percent mixture that will protect to 31-35 degrees F.
  • 1 gallon of antifreeze and 4 gallons of water makes a 20 percent mixture that will protect to 16-20 degrees F.
  • 1 1/2 gallons of antifreeze per 3 1/2 gallons of water makes a 30 percent mixture that will protect to 6-10 degrees F. 

Choose the method you are most comfortable with and that will serve your needs. Monitor your results based on temperature, keep the additional cost in mind and charge for this service. A winter service charge is certainly a reasonable addition to the customer’s invoice in the winter months.

•••

Question: Why should I consider an end-of-the-year inventory?

Answer: Conducting a thorough inventory is important from an accounting, as well as a sales planning, standpoint. Fixed assets are a key component of your company’s financials due to the fact that depreciation is based on these numbers. Fixed assets are also a component in the net worth of your business.

As a sales planning tool, your year-end inventory can be used to determine if additional units must be purchased before the spring busy season begins. Comparing and projecting the following year’s sales objectives will reveal any areas where units or specialty equipment may be needed to meet upcoming demand.

Other intangibles in conducting a thorough inventory at this time include:

  • The greatest number of units are typically on the yard in the winter months.
  • With fewer deliveries and pickups, personnel are more available to conduct the inventory.
  • While inventorying, units can be assessed for needed repairs. Again, with more personnel available, winter is an excellent time to repair and refresh your equipment.


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