How to Be a Custodian in Your Home

His first name was George. His last name was Greek, something that none of the students could pronounce. He was a fireplug of a man, short and squat and powerful looking, but he walked with a slight limp. He wore a gray uniform with his name sewed onto the front. He was always chewing on the stump of a cigar. You could catch a glimpse of him between classes or when you were heading for the lunchroom. He was the custodian of the school building. It was important not to confuse him with the janitor. He never carried a broom or a mop, just tools sometimes. Nowadays he would be called the maintenance man, or if he was hired from some outside company: a service man. I always preferred custodian myself. The custodian looked after the building. It was in his care and custody, something akin to adopting a child. If there was a leak, he fixed it. He looked after the boiler, making sure that the school always had heat. He kept the fans running when it was warm outside. Squeaky chairs in the auditorium were no match for him. The only other staff member who came even close in importance was the lunch lady.

Now that it’s in the middle of winter and there’s not a lot to do outside, here are a few tips that will allow you to be your home’s custodian, just like George:

Organize your home improvement files. Look at warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances and tools.

Inspect furniture, cabinets, and vanities for loose knobs, pulls, and hinges. Lubricate squeaky door hinges with a little WD 40. Free up sticky doors by trimming the edges or shimming the hinges.

Look for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Make a room-by-room inventory of your house to see what you need.

Don’t close off vents to crawl spaces. If you live where pipes can freeze and the floor becomes very cold, insulate pipes and underneath the floor.

Double check insulation around exterior pipes that are exposed to the elements to be certain that water cannot seep under the insulation.

Remove drain traps under sinks and clean then thoroughly. Clean the pop up drain plugs.

Inspect calk and grout around tubs, sinks, and showers. Stained or mildewed caulk can be cleaned with trisodium phosphate or an oxygenated bleach type cleaner. If this doesn’t work, then replace it with fresh, mildew-resistant caulk.

Musty closet odors can be reduced or eliminated by removing the closet’s contents and washing the walls with a diluted solution of bleach. You might even consider replacing solid doors with louvered ones to promote better air circulation.

To keep valves from sticking and to check for leaks, turn all of the faucets in your home on and off including the ones on the outside.

Check the operation of all ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets by pushing the “test” button. The “reset” button should pop out, indicating that the receptacle is operating properly.

Check inside bathroom vanities and kitchen sink cabinets for moisture and other signs of leaks. Inspect the pipes for condensation or slow leaks.

Now would be a good time to review family safety plans and what to do in case of a fire.

Unpack and test all holiday decorations. Repair or discard any that do not work properly. Watch for sales on tools or summer yard equipment before and after the holiday season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 − = zero