Frozen Assets

Typically, when you hear the term “frozen assets,” you might think that a criminal act of some kind has been committed. This is not the case, however, in the portable restroom industry.

As October rolls around in a large portion of the United States and all of Canada, restroom operators begin to gear up for what winter brings: frozen assets. It’s inevitable that at some point during the winter months, those of us in the industry miss the target winterization temperature, and we end up with frozen water lines, tanks and toilets—frozen assets.

I have always thought that when coming into this part of the business cycle, it is best to be proactive in as many ways as possible. The following suggestions and remedies will provide you with ways in which you, too, can be proactive.

  1. Prepare and distribute a flyer that can be mailed (via regular mail), e-mailed or distributed by your service technicians. In plain and easy-to-understand terminology, explain that the winter months are difficult, and all cooperation is appreciated in helping to winterize and avoid potential problems. Ask that contractors refrain from plowing or piling up snow by restrooms and, better yet, that they clear a path for the driver and users.
  2. Have a plan and coinciding method for winterizing your units. Make sure that your technicians are onboard with the plan and understand that a lack of winterizing only makes the situation worse.
  3. Common products used in the winterizing process are rock salt, calcium chloride, methanol and Hot Flakes (available from PJ). Most need to be blended with water in advance, but some can be dispensed directly onsite.  Be certain, however, to wash your trucks as often as possible, as these products are all highly corrosive.
  4. Be sure to use a “salinometer” to measure the salinity level of any salt solution; this step will help you to be sure you’re using the right amount of the solution when it’s cold and that you are not overusing during winter thaw times. Eight- to ten-day temperature projections are readily available and should be used to determine the target amount. Measuring can and should be precise.
  5. Use rock salt in the urinals so that when the “stream” goes through the urinal, the rock salt dissolves and maintains the salinity level in the waste tank. A perforated, plastic golf ball works great as a strainer when filled with rock salt and placed in the urinal.
  6. Use windshield washer fluid as a base for your spray bottle cleaners instead of water. The chances of it freezing are greatly diminished.
  7. If possible, implement a “winterization” surcharge but only for the months that you actually winterize. This should not be used as a profit center but to simply cover your added expenses.


The winter months can be frustrating for your service technicians. Support them as much as possible with the necessary tools to do their jobs most effectively in difficult conditions.

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