How to Empty Your School Indoor Pool

Sometimes it’s essential that you completely drain your school’s indoor pool. In our case, the pool needs to be drained so that workmen can erect scaffolding, to replace the swimming pool lighting. This guide is not the same as an outdoor pool winter closing down procedure, as we will be completely emptying the pool of water. Winterising involves blowing out the return pipes and emptying the sand filter. Neither are needed in this case.

The first job is to use your pool net to remove any objects that may be in the pool. I would also recommend using your pool vac, to clean the bottom of the pool before we empty it. Next, I removed the baskets from the pool skimmers. removing the baskets isn’t mandatory but I removed them anyway. Our next thing to do is to work in the plant room, to physically drain as much of the water as possible. This uses the floor drain in the deep end of the pool.

OK, now we are in the Plant Room, where all the tech that keeps the pool in order is kept. Most pool Plant Rooms look a bit like the image below. It is the beating heart of the pool, cleaning and  maintaining the water, 24 hours a day. The Plant Room usually has the pump, the large sand filters, the heater and alot of pipework.

Swimming Pool Plant Room

Our first job is to shut down the heater. Depending how your system heats the water will depend on how you shut your heating system off. Ours is gas, so as well as switching off the heating system, I also switched off the gas isolation cock as well. As we are working on a indoor pool, which won’t be empty for long, (about a week) there is no need to drain down the boiler. Now we can get the pool emptied.

Now go to your pump and at the side of it, you need to close the valve to the return pipe for the pool. You will also need to open the drain valve for the pool as well. In our case, the swimming pool drain goes into the main drains, so we do not need to connect a hose.

Your pump should have a setting called “drain”, you need to turn the controller on the pump to this position, to drain the pool. If your pump does not have a drain setting, switch it to “backwash” instead. I also opened the inspection chambers as well to make sure the pool is draining correctly. any water left in the return pipes will drain out into the pool, during this process. The water level should now of completely dropped, but there may be some residue of water around the drain. I use a hard brush to make this go down the drain, once the cover is removed. Now go back to your plant room, switch off the pump, close the drain cock. The pool return valve should remain closed, to prevent water from the filter entering the pool while work is carried out. I also Lockout-Tagout the main switch for the plant room, to prevent anyone switching on the power to the plant room, while the pool is empty.

Finally, I have put a sign on the doors to the pool area, saying that the pool is closed. As entry to the pool is via PACS System, I used a chain around the handles of the door and attached a padlock, to make sure no one can get in, while the pool is out of use.

And that’s it, one emptied pool. Once the work is completed, (in 1 – 2 weeks time) I will do a guide on filling and setting up the pool.

Fire Alarm Activation

I have just got back from School, due to a Fire Alarm Activation. The Fire Alarm was set off by staff burning toast, but still required a site visit from myself, to reset the system.

Lets have a look at how a Fire Alarm System works.

At the heart of the system, is the Control Panel. The Control Panel is the main interface for the system and can be used for various functions. For instance, you can reset the alarm, silence the sounders and access system event logs. 90% of Control Panels are coded, so you have to type a four digit code to be able to access the “Supervisor Functions.” Our system requires a key, to be able to access system functions. Some systems have repeater panels, which also provides information on a fire condition, such as the location and zone. Our system is addressable, which means it can detect what dictator has been activated and the exact location.

EG: Smoke Detector, J Block (Jets Unit) Room F23 or Break Glass, J Block (Jets Unit) Lounge

Detectors come in 2 types, Heat and Smoke. Smoke Alarms detect smoke, which causes a beam to be broken, which sends a signal to the Control Panel and causes the sounders to activate. Heat Detectors on the other hand, detect heat build up. Once the heat reaches the alarm threshold, it causes the alarm to be activated.

The Sounders can either be electronic sounders or bells or a combination of both. We have bells in the Main School and electronic sounders in J Block. These are backed up by the Flashers, which give a visual warning that the alarm is sounding. Also, the Magnetic Door Holders will de-energise, causing doors that are held open, to close on a fire alarm condition.

The Lift Interface is a clever bit of kit, as it causes the lift to automictically go to the re-call floor. (Usually the Ground Floor) However, if the alarm is sounding on the floor that is used as a recall floor, the lift will go to the next level. Once on that level, the doors will open and the controls will lock, preventing the lift from moving.

The Auto Dialler does exactly what it says. Most auto diallers call the Fire Brigade automatically, but this has flaws, as false alarms can cause the Fire Brigade to be called out unnecessarily. We have ours set to automatically bleep me, via my Pager. (Yes, I still use a Pager!) The system automatically sends me a message with the location of the fire.


So when I attended School, I had to put my Fire Alarm Key into the Control Panel and turn it to “Controls Enabled”. Next, I press the Silence Alarm. This stops the sounders from sounding. Finally, I press Reset, to reset the system. If there is still smoke or fire, the alarm will sound again. This is a failsafe operation.

By the main Fire Alarm Panel for each building, (or in the case of the main school, next to the repeater panels by each block entrance) is a cabinet with a phone in it. This is for the phone for the “Refuge Area”, which connects a disabled person using the refuge area, to the person in charge, at the main panel.

Each week, I test the system, by activating one of the manual call points and also by making sure the sounders \ bells go off. This is a legal requirement, under the he Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Also under the act, each time there is a “Fire Alarm Incident”, it must be logged in the Fire Alarm Log Book, as well as every time the alarm is tested.

Once a year, we also have a Contractor come in, who tests the Fire Alarm System. During this test, the smoke \ heat detectors are checked, using specialist tools, the panels are thoroughly checked and the break glass units are also thoroughly checked.

Pissed Off Is a Understatement!

Sam and I have had to remove most of the content from the Blog for now, due to someone using our identities and information about our work and our family. Odiously, Sam and I are very concerned about this and have taken the decision to remove the content from the website and review what information we post.

Stealing someone’s Identity and basically fabricating a life, from information posted on this website is sick and twisted. Who ever is responsible has used this information to cause upset and distress to others. Thankfully, we were told about this and Sam and I both want to thank the person who alerted us to this situation. If we hadn’t, this person would still be at it. Thankfully, he’s been caught out and with us removing the content on the website, will hopefully prevent something like this happening again.

Sam and I are shocked that there are nasty people out there on the world wide web, who only want to cause trouble. This has really upset both of us and we hope that we will not have any further problems from this person.

Sorry for the inconvenience

Kyle x

Dealing with Body Fluids

I have just come back from dealing with someone on Sick Bay, who had vomited all over the floor. Our school policy is to bleep Domestic Services during the day (7am – 3pm every day) or page me out of hours on a body fluid spill. So being that it was 11pm that this happened, I got paged to come to Sick Bay  to clear it up.  (I only live round the corner from school.)

So, I attended and needed the following kit:

  • Body Fluids Kit (We have one on each unit, including Sick Bay)
  • Blue Mop Bucket and a Blue Mop
  • 2 Bleach Tablets dissolved in 5L of water
  • Blue Paper Roll
  • Disposable Apron
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Wet Floor Sign

Once, I had everything I needed and I had the correct PPE; (Personal Protective Equipment) I put up a yellow “Wet Floor Sign and  sprinkled the absorbent powder onto the vomit. Using the paper roll, I slowly  scooped it up. and then used the spills kit hazardous waste bag to dump the blue roll and the vomit. Then using a socket mop and bucket, I washed the area of floor with diluted bleach solution, leaving the wet floor sign in place; until the floor has dried. The mop head went into the red infected laundry bag in the sluice room and will be taken down to the laundry, by the Unit Housekeeper in the morning.

Remember: When dealing with any body fluid, (regardless if it is urine, vomit, blood, faces or semen) you must wear PPE. It is safety first. – Wear disposable \ thick rubber gloves, an  apron and goggles. (when working with chemicals) You must also remember to stick to the correct colour coding of equipment. Please read this post, to find our  more information about colour coding when cleaning.

Cleaning Colour Coding

In a school or professional environment, it is important that we use the correct colour coded equipment when cleaning. This helps to stop cross contamination of germs and pathogens from getting to other surfaces in other parts of the building. This isn’t currently law, but is common practice in most workplaces.

So roll on the many colours:

Red Bucket \ Mops \ Cleaning Cloths: Red coloured equipment must only be used in bathrooms, (Including bathtubs,  taps, shower fixtures, Shower curtains, taps, sinks plugholes, pipes, mirrors, tiles, window sills, window frames, door handles, locks, and floor)  toilets, (Including the inside and outside of the bowl, cistern, chain, pipes, seats, basins, window frames, window sills, sink, taps and pipework, mirrors, tiles and the floor. Also red mops can be used in changing rooms too. )

Yellow Bucket \ Mops \ Cleaning Cloths: Yellow coloured equipment must be only used in areas of isolation. We only use those in single rooms in Sick Bay or in the event that Sick Bay has a Nova Virus outbreak. (This doesn’t happen often.

Green Bucket \ Mops \ Cleaning Cloths: Green coloured equipment must be only used in a kitchen on all surfaces.

White Dish Cloths with a Red Trim: x These cloths must only be used for washing up in a kitchen environment.

Yellow Dusters with a Red Trim: Dusters can be used universally, but must not be used in a kitchen \ bathroom \ toilet or isolation areas.

We also use colored Tabards too:

Red: Toilets \ Bathrooms

Blue: General Purpose

Yellow: Sick Bay Ward Areas \ Isolation Areas

Green: Kitchens

These guidelines are not law, (Apart from the use of green equipment being used in kitchens. ) but are recommended by the British Institute of Cleaning Science. These guidelines apply to cleaning cloths, mops, buckets, brushes, gloves (unless the gloves are disposable) and sponges. You will also need to change your PPE, (Personal Protective equipment) every time you switch areas. (IE: if you go from a bathroom to a general low risk area, such as a office.) This helps to reduce cross contamination.

So that’s Sam’s guide to cleaning colour coding for cleaning. 🙂

A Day In The Life Of Kyle McLaughlin


One of the Boarders asked to interview me, about the job I do. (For the School News Paper) Of course, I was glad to give an interview, which is written from my perspective. The Interview is quite interesting and tells you about my job and the responsibility I have as Head of Care. (I have edited the interview for obvious reasons)

We caught up with Mr. McLaughlin, who is Head of Care at our School. In this interview we will find out about Mr. McLaughlin and find out about the responsibilities he has as Head of Care.

My team provide 24 hour specialist care to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society. We provide safe, holistic and compassionate care, to everyone who comes into our care. All this is provided in bright, friendly, safe and secure environment.

I’m Kyle McLaughlin, I am 36 and am known around school, as “the man in a skirt!” (Actually, it is a Kilt) I am Scottish and was born in Aberdeen, but now I have settled for County Durham, where I live with Sam and we have our own family. I have been working at the school for the last 10 years and started as a Carer on the Birds Unit. Soon, I worked my way up to being the Unit Leader for the Jets Unit. I enjoyed running the Jets Unit, as it kept me on my toes. Being an an Assessment Unit for  Adolescents, it kept me on my toes!

In 2018, I was made Acting Head Of Care and then earlier this year, was made Head Of Care as a full time position. I love my job, but when I am not walking the units and am sat in my office; I don’t have the luxury of casual clothes. To be honest, I hate to wear a shirt and tie, but it goes with my job description. Of course, I wear my kilt and was granted special permission to have it as part of my uniform. These days, I wear my kilt, if in a shirt and tie, or in a t-shirt and hooded top. I get the occasional skirt comment made, but it does not bother me!

When I first came into care, I was so scared, everything was new and I was unsure if I could cope. Kyle put my mind at ease and really helped me to settle in. To me, he’s part of the family – he’s great! A Border on the Jets Unit

My job is mainly administrative, (meaning that I sit behind a desk, doing paperwork and making lots of calls) but I do enjoy working on the Units. You will see me on the units throughout the week and I enjoy talking and spending time with the Boarders. (Especially when asked to play pool!) I work mainly during the day and into the evening, but you will also see me working once or twice a week at night. I do both a sleep-in shift, (where I go to bed on one of the units and am available should there be an emergency or if there is a problem at night ) On a Friday, I do a Waking Night shift, where I stay awake all night, keeping an eye on the boarders while they sleep. I use this time as a chance to catch up with paperwork and assist with laundry. I work with a large team of staff, who provide “care with a smile” (most of the time) to the young people we care for. We are lucky to also have 15 volunteers, who help with teaching the kids to read, playing football, learning to play a instrument or just being there when the kids need a listening ear. To sum up my job in one sentence, I am overall responsible for the care of every child that is placed within our residential service. (that’s 50 boys and at time it can be quite daunting!

All Boarders live in J Block, which is the large 4 floor building at the back of the school and is often referred to Junior House. This iconic building, with it’s “Mock Tudor” front was built in the 1980s and replaced the previous  building. This 4  story tower block was to be the new home for boarders and  would be home to 45 boarders on a full time basis. It was officially opened by Baroness Thatcher (Then Prime Minister) in 1989. Originally, the building had  5 units occupy the 1st – 4th floor and the ground floor was used as a recreation area. In the 90s, the building was refurbished and the layout changed. The units were altered, so that there would be 2 units on each floor, complete with their own communal areas. Sick Bay was enlarged, so that we could look after children who were too unwell to learn in a classroom and the Care Offices were also moved to the 4th floor of the building and the portakabin office space was demolished.  In 2017, the cladding was removed on the walls of the building, after the Grenfell Fire.

When my Nan died, Kyle sat with me for ages, making sure that I was OK. Even though I was very sad, Kyle helped me and even went with me to Nan’s funeral. I can’t imagine what our school would be like without Kyle! A Boarder on the Squirrels Unit

No day is ever the same, but normally it starts with me waking up at about 6am. The house is usually very quiet, as Sam will have gone to work by then and the kids will be still sound asleep. I usually grab a shower and a coffee and then Jenny and I (Our Live In Carer) start to wake the kids up, get them ready for school and make sure they get their breakfast. Breakfast is a bit mad in our house, with the kids squabbling over boxes of cereals and Jenny burning toast. I drive a couple of the boys to school, if I am working 9 – 5. They don’t go to my school, but go to school not far from work. I usually end up  getting rather annoyed with parents of day pupils, as often they park in my space and have to be politely told to “MOVE IT!” By the time I get parked and take the lift to the 4th floor of J Block, it is 9am.

I always go and see Kyle if I am feeling down, as he listens to you, doesn’t judge you, he won’t tell you what to do, but instead; he explores the problem with me and then helps me to make a choice on how to move forward.  A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

Usually, the first job I do, is to check my emails. I get a lot of emails and it takes a while to sift through them. By then, I will have probably had a couple of coffees and am usually late for a meeting. I go to lots of meetings, with Social Workers, CAMHS Professionals etc. I also meet with the School Leadership Team, parents and pupils too.  once I’ve been to a couple of meetings, it’s back behind my desk and I begin updating care Plans, finishing assessment paperwork and typing up reports for review meetings. these can take ages to complete, as I often have to sift through files to to find the right information and update paperwork as needed. By then, it is lunchtime. In our school, most of the staff bring their lunches into work with them or go to town and go to Greggs or Subway. I have a hot dinner at work and enjoy sitting with the kids, rather than on the Staff tables.  Our Caters prepare fresh food on a daily basis, which the kids and staff enjoy.

Once we were playing football and I kicked the ball through a window on the Foxes Unit. When asked who broke the window, Kyle took the wrap and said that if anyone sequels, they will get rat poo in their cereal tomorrow morning! (He was joking about the rat poo though!) A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

After lunch, it’s back to paperwork or I attend more meetings. Once a month, I hold a meeting with the Boarder’s Steering Group. The Steering Group is a sub-committee of the School Council and is made up of 6 Young People from the various units. We talk about a wide variety of issues, from activities, food and events, to maintenance issues, laundry and policy. These meetings are really interesting and I get a lot of feedback, which then I pass to the Senior Leadership Team. (As Head of Care, I am on the Senior Leadership Team for the school) On some afternoons, I work on the Units themselves, so I have to finish work before half 2 and head down to the Unit I am on shift with. Once I get to the unit, we have a handover meeting. This is where we talk about all the borders on the unit I am working on. We talk about behavior, health, appointments boarders may need to attend and afternoon activities.

Finally, the bell rings at 3:15 and by 3.25, weary boarders make their way to their units. Once the boys have got changed and put their clean laundry away, we have a quick unit meeting; (with healthy snacks) where everyone signs out for activities for the afternoon. This could be swimming,  rollerblading, arts and crafts or a off site activity. Even though I have my deputy (Bev) I usually hold back and stay on site, just in case I normally end up swimming or trying to Rollerblade with the kids. (I am not as good as they are!) At half 5, the boarders come back to their units. They have half a hour free time, before tea, which comes up on hot trolleys. After tea, the boarders have to do a hour of homework which we help with if needed. At around 7, we have another activity on site. This could be cooking, using the computers and the Internet etc. On a Wednesday, we also have clubs (held locally) which the boys can join in with. (Scouts, D of E etc) At about half 8, the boarders come back to their units and take baths or showers. A few boarders need help with this, as some of them are disabled and usually end up with me getting soaked when it is my turn! (We have 3 Parker Baths and 2 Walk In Baths for disabled boarders) After baths, we provide supper and we put put a film on, while beginning to put people to bed 9pm comes and we have another handover and I can finally go home! I’m normally knackered when I get home and our wee ones are normally in their beds by then. But I get to spend some time with Sam, which is good.

Mr. McLaughlin is so cool! He wears his Kilt to work and he can even play the Bagpipes! A Year 8 Day Pupil

When I work nights, everything changes. The units are eerily quiet and it is darker than usual (We only leave the wall up lighters on at night) Care staff are usually whispering while they sit at the desks on the corridor and there is the odd cough from boarders who are fast asleep. Occasionally, someone will cry out in the night or will press their call buzzer. This may be because someone is not very well, or they may have had a nightmare. Often a bit of reassurance and a cuddle does the trick, while in the case of a poorly boarder, it may mean a trip to Sick Bay on the 3rd floor. However, this is not always the case. All Units have basic medication, such as Paracetamol, in a locked cupboard in the unit office. If it is clear that they are not well enough to be looked after on their unit, we take that boarder to Sick Bay, which is nurse lead. They can also call the School Doctor out as well, if needed. (We are one of the few specialist schools in the UK to have 2 GP’s!) If they are taken very ill, one of the carers can use the school car to take the poorly boarder to A&E. (Or if needed, we can call an ambulance) During the night, we also write up notes about how the boarders are progressing and this is kept in their files in the office. Boarders files are updated on every shift, providing clear and accurate care records.

Kyle is my favorite member of staff. He’s a great laugh, he never gets cross and hardly ever has to shout! A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

Laundry is another job I love to do when working nights. Our school Laundry, (based in F Block) operates nearly 24 hours a day and handles thousands of pieces of laundry a week! 9 Commercial Washers and 7 Commercial Dryers are always on the go, washing everything from towels, to sheets, boarders clothes and even kitchen whites. During the day, the Laundress (Dorothy) and her assistants do most of the laundry. However, this is mainly bedding, as we go through quite a bit of it on a daily basis. So it is up to the night staff to wash, dry and press boarders clothes, to prevent a serious backlog in the laundry system. We try to get everything washed dried and pressed in the same night, but with the amount of laundry, this often is not the case and is often completed by Dorothy and her team. Thankfully, by now it is around 5am, so not long left to go until I finish work. I probably will get another few loads pressed, put into baskets and taken up in cages to the units, before it is time for handover and I can finally go home and get some sleep! 🙂 However, sometimes it doesn’t work like that, as sometimes the fire alarm may go off or something may happen, which means I have to stay longer. (once, I had to stay until 10am and was really really tired by the time I got home. Apparently I looked like a zombie!)

I know no matter what I am going through, if I need someone to talk to, I know I can trust Kyle. He always knows the right thing to say when I am feeling low, because I  am missing home. A Boarder on the Jets Unit

I will admit my job hasn’t been easy. I have had my fair few “hellish” shifts. From kids getting onto the roof of the 3rd floor, lift emergencies, countless evacuations, Cardiac Arrests and many more! I have had to talk kids out of suicide and I have had to deal with intruders coming into the building. Keeping a level head is key to this job. You do not know what will happen on each shift. One minute everything is fine, then suddenly, the kids could start to kick off, or the fire alarm could go off. I always have to keep my wits about me and my eyes as sharp as a eagle. Sometimes you can spot and prevent a problem, before it escalates; but often this is not always the way.

I love it when Kyle brings Sox (the School Pets as Therapy Cat) onto the unit. I love it when he jumps up on my knee and purrs. A Boarder on the Birds Unit

When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with the family We often go out bowling or we go to the park and sometimes we stay in and watch movies or bake. In our house, the number one rule is to have fun and we certainly do that! I am lucky to have such a great family and a job where I think I make a real difference. If I was offered a job elsewhere, I’d have to turn it down; as I am happy in my job. I have great colleagues, the kids are great, (even though at times they don’t show it!) and I am doing something good in the community.

Laundry Machine Maintenance

So today is the the day that I put all the washing machines in the School Laundry on a self clean. Remember, our school washing machines are going 24 hours a day, Monday – Friday and every evening on weekends. The machines get their fare share of wear and tear, washing over Ten Thousand items a week! that’s is why I maintain the school washing machines on a monthly basis and the dryers on a weekly basis.  (Remember, our machines are large capacity commercial machines and not like the ones you have at home.

My monthly itinerary for laundry maintenance is as follows:

Washing Machines (monthly)

  • Run the machines on a 60°c cycle with Washing Machine Cleaner in the drum
  • Clean the filter and the propeller
  • Inspect and clean the seals around the door
  • Clean the Dosing System
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

Tumble Dryer (weekly)

  • Empty the Lint Tray
  • Clean the outlet from the drum and the external outlet from the machines
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

OK, lets crack on…

My first job is to switch off the pumps behind the machines. (So it doesn’t dose laundry detergent and Conditioner) Then I put Miele Dishwasher & Washing Machines Cleaner into the drum. (It’s a powder so it is quite easy to use.) Finally, I put the machines onto a 60°c cycle and leave it to it.

Meanwhile, I turn my attention to the dryers. They also must be maintained weekly, to prevent a buildup of fluff, that can cause a fire. To do this, I remove the side panel and pull out the fittings the lint traps sit in. Once it is removed, I can manually remove the fluff for disposal. I also shove the pole for the Henry in there and give the area round the outlet as well. I also clean the inside of the drum on each machine, using a cloth and a spray bottle of disinfectant.

Once the washing machines  have finished, (which is around 45 mins) I put a bowl in front of the machine and open the filter flap. (Be careful if you are cleaning the filter, as water will pour out! It is best to use a old washing up bowl for this job) It is amazing what gets clogged ion the filter, I have found gum, hair, paperclips and even a few 20p’s. (I put these into the School Charity Box) Opening the flap, lets loads of water out of the machine and is why I have a large bowl below it.

It’s easy to remove the filter, just twist and pull to release it from it’s compartment. To clean it, I take the filters to the sink in the laundry room and use a stiff brush and running water to clear the filters. Pushing my bowl aside, I then use my Mag-light to  inspect the drain pump propeller. Using a screwdriver, I check the blades can turn and that nothing behind it is blocking the pump. (By using a screwdriver to yank out any debris. Next, in between the rubber seals in the drum gets a clean with a old toothbrush and disinfectant. It also allows me to inspect the seals for signs of perishing.

Time to re-assemble… So first I push the filter back into it’s compartment and check it is in fully. (Push and twist, then close the flap) Once I have cleaned up, I inspect the pumps behind the washing machines; which dose and pump the detergent and conditioner into the machines. Remember: Safety First,  switch off the pumps first. I unscrew the front panel of the pumps and inspect the pump mechanisms. If they are clogged up, a can of compressed air and a screwdriver to remove the gunk. Finally, I give the motors a good lubricating with WD40, before replacing the cover and screws. 

Finally, after cleaning the glass and the aluminum doors, I attach a sticker which has the word “I am Clean” and the date the machine was cleaned.

It is a good idea to clean your machine every month. After a month, the machine will begin to smell and will make your clothes smell. Also it is essential to keep the lint tray clear on your dryer, otherwise; it may catch fire! The machines at school automatically switch themselves off when the lint tray is full and will not start until the lint tray is emptied. 

However, the dryers that you have in your home are not Commercial Tumble Dryers, like the ones we have at school. (We have 8 Commercial washing machines and 6 dryers) So your lint trap is usually inside the door. For your sake and your family’s sake, do not forget to check the lint trap; before you switch on your dryer on. (Kyle and I do every time we start the dryer) A fire can kill and cause severe damage, so before it is too late, check the lint trap!

Deep Cleaning


What is Deep Cleaning? Well, Deep Cleaning is when we do a more thorough and more intensive clean of part of the buildings. This could be a classroom, a communal area, a office or on one of the boarding units.  Full deep cleans of the entire site are carried out every summer, once the end of the summer term arrives and is planned way in advance.  During the Easter Break, we do a partial deep clean of the communal areas in Junior House, Sick Bay and the gym and Swimming Pool Changing Rooms.

We use stronger chemicals than are used during term time. These are either Germicidal Cleaners, which are extremely destructive to pathogenic microorganisms, steam, (Which is another way of killing pathogens) Finally, there is good old Sodium Hypochlorite, aka Bleach. Bleach is rarely used. However, there are some situations where I need to use it. (Tonight for example) 

A couple of the Junior Boarders have caught the Noro Virus, (Sickness and Diarrhoea bug) and have been taken to Sick Bay. (They are both being barrier nursed in side rooms) So their rooms have had to be deep cleaned, which involved using a diluted Bleach solution:

  • Removing and changing the curtains
  • Removing and changing all bedding
  • Wiping down the walls, window sills, ceiling, skirting boards, beds, mattresses, wardrobes, light fittings, window frames, light switches, sockets and door handles
  • Steam cleaning the carpet

The toilet they had both used, which includes:

  • Using a diluted Bleach solution, Wiping down the walls, cubical partitions, cubical doors, ceiling, window sills, window frames, sinks, toilets, pipes, bins, tiles and light fittings
  • Mop the floor and remove slurry with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Once I had completed the deep clean, I took the buckets to the Sluice room and washed them out using boiling water and  Germicidal Cleaner. I also washed the inside of the wet and dry out in the same way and also the hose and head. I took the boys bedding and curtains, idrty clothes and all the cloths I had used and the mop heads to the laundry, in red infected laundry bags. (They will be washed in separates machines to the normal laundry and will be washed on a “hot wash cycle”. Finally, the apron, gloves and foot protectors used went into the clinical waste bin in the sluice room.

After 8pm, we do not have any housekeepers on site, so it was up to me to get the job done. It is not nice working with runny poo, believe me! 😦

Operation Deep Clean!

It’s been a very busy few weeks for the Domestics Team and I, as we have been preparing the school for the new school year. This is a task that should not be taken lightly,  as it is the only time of the year, we can perform a deep clean of the school. It takes me and 15 Housekeepers, with the help of a fgew volunteers (Mum, some of the Teaching Assistants and a few off duty Care Staff) to perform the yearly “blitz” of the school.

Towards the end of the Spring Term, we begin planning a deep clean operation. It takes a team of cleaners to get our school deep cleaned and to leave it fresh and clean for the beginning of term. Below are some statistics of what has to be deep cleaned every year, which gives you a flavor of how big a job deep cleaning really is!

  • Around 8 miles of carpets have to be steam cleaned every summer. (This includes classrooms, Corridors, stairwells and boarding units.
  • 275 windows were cleaned internally and externally
  • Over 600 desks, tables and chairs were steam cleaned through the site
  • All surfaces in the kitchens were deep cleaned, using high pressure water, mixed with heavy duty cleaner.
  • Over 500 light shades and light fittings are deep cleaned. (This includes florescent lights)
  • 200 toilet bowls, cisterns and urinals deep cleaned, along with 110 sinks, 30 showers,  and 8 bath tubs!
  • We used 20L of chewing gum remover to remove chewing gum from the bottoms of tables, chairs and other fixtures.
  • We used around 50L of descaler on sanitary fittings
  • We used a fleet of 20 vacuum cleaners, made up of “Henry’s” and Serbo’s, as well as 3 industrial wet and dry machines
  • We used over 200 hoover bags, during deep cleaning
  • We use over 50L of water to steam clean the corridors, offices, boarding units and classrooms
  • Every mattress on the units and Sick Bay were taken outside and are sprayed for bedbugs.
  • To deep clean a unit, takes around 8 hours. Once the borders are up, dressed and had breakfast, they are asked to vacate the unit. There personal possessions are noted down and carefully put in boxes and then the unit is cleaned top to bottom. By evening, when the boarders return from their activity off site, the unit is fully cleaned.
  • To deep clean the Residential block from top to bottom, takes around 8 days to complete. Sick Bay is the hardest area to clean, as it is constantly in use. So top deal with that, one side is closed while deep cleaning is carried out. Once on side is done, we close the other side and repeat the process. The unit deep cleans have to be planned carefully as well!
  • Several pairs of socks and other items of clothes were uncovered while cleaning the school and Junior House
  • 15 miles of pipework is thoroughly cleaned during the deep clean, including  water, radiator and drain pipes!
  • Talking of drainpipes, we used 20L of sink & plughole unblocker to remove hair and grease from several sinks, showers and bath waste traps and plugholes.
  • I repaired several plugs on sinks and bathtubs, where the chain had come loose.
  • I fixed 13 “Pull & Clank Iron Bell” High Level Toilet Cisterns, which were in need of attention, due to the kids pulling the chain too hard and causing the flush handle to fall into the cistern. (You can’t beat the sound of a “pull and clank” cistern when it is being flushed!)
  • 200 vertical blinds are carefully dismantled, cleaned and put back up.
  • Even the swimming pool does not get away with not being deep cleaned! The pool was drained in July, the tiles checked and the whole interior of the pool jet washed before refilling! The poolside also was jet washed, as well as the changing rooms being deep steam cleaned and the plant equipment serviced.
  • The laundry machines were disinfected, along with the floor and drainage channels
  • The 5 sluice rooms in Junior House were deep cleaned, using high pressure water. This included the sluice sinks, the interior of the Macatator machines (with disinfectant) and the walls, which were manually washed down.
  • All ventilation vents were cleaned and any dust harboring round the vents removed.
  • The curtains in the Hall were all taken down and sent for dry cleaning. The curtains require scaffold towers to take down and put back up; so it is good they only need a clean once a year!
  • The majority of furniture from classrooms were put either in the corridors or in other classrooms while deep cleaning was carried out.
  • Over 1000 electrical items got PAT Tested (Portable Appliance Test) while we were deep cleaning. (We had a company come in to do this)
  • Finally, the chandler in the entrance hall of the school had to be cleaned while in situ. Again, we had a specialist company to come in and do this for us and meant that for 6 hours, the front entrance to the school could not be used, as we had a scaffold tower erected.

So we are nearly finished with deep cleaning. I just have a little bit of painting to do and a few cracked tiles to replace, but it has been an exhausting few weeks through August, to get the school spick and span. I know I only just had a holiday, but I could do with another – I am knackered!

How to Refill your School Indoor Pool and Prepare It for Use

In this guide, I will be walking you through the process of refilling and preparing your indoor pool for use. (Our pool at school had to be drained, while new LED lighting was installed) In this guide we will look at:

  • Making sure the pool surface is clean and surfaces are in a good working order
  • Pre-Checks in the Plant Room
  • Backwashing the Filters
  • Refilling the pool
  • Shocking the water with Chemicals and Checking the PH of your pool
  • Backwashing the Filter (Again)
  • Starting up the Heating

1. Making sure the pool surface is clean and in good working order

As we had workmen working on the lighting, the pool has to be checked to make sure that the surface is clean and to check the integrity of the tiles. Thankfully, I laid sheets down on the bottom of the pool, which caught most of the dust and objects, which dropped while the Electricians were working. I also checked the tiles, to make sure none had come loose or broken.

2. Pre-Checks in the Plant Room

I then went to the Plant Room, so that I could open the inspection hole on the top of the pump and allowed me to pour neat chlorine in, to make sure that if anything was growing got killed off right away.

3. Back Wash The Filters 

Backwashing the filter allows us to drain any remaining gunk out the filter. To do this, make sure the drain cock is still in the open position and the return valve is in the closed position. Using the inspection cover, put a hosepipe in and run at full pressure. Now turn the dial on the pump to Backwash and run for a few minutes. Once done, switch off the water, open the pool return cock and close the drain cock.  Finally, turn the pump to the off position.

4. Refilling The Pool

Usually refilling the pool takes ages, as most schools use a normal hose connected to the tap at mains pressure. Not us! I connected a large diameter hose to the “Wet Riser“, thus giving us a high pressure water supply. It takes me few days to fill the pool from the wet riser.

5. Shocking the water witch chemicals \ Checking the PH Levels

I use liquid chemicals to shock the pool. I use a machine that doses it through the filter. (Which does this through the inspection chamber on the pump) Once dosed, use your PH Kit to check the PH of the water. (It should be PH 7 – PH 7 and a half.) If your pool is too acidic, add Bicarbonate Of Soda mixed with water and test again)

Sam Says Safety First!

Always use cation when handling Chlorine. To protect yourself against accidental burns, wear Personal Protective Equipment. (Goggles, Thick Rubber Gloves, Protective Clothing, Thick Rubber Soled Shoes and a Face Mask) Always follow the instructions on the bottle and do not mix Chlorine with any other chemicals.

If you accidentally spill chlorine, use the hose to rinse it away make sure the area where the spillage has happened, is thoroughly rinsed. If you get chlorine on your skin, rinse under running water for 10 minutes and then attend Accident & Emergency at your nearest hospital. If you release a chlorine cloud by accident, evacuate the building, by sounding the fire alarm, then call 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade. State that there is a chlorine cloud and request assistance.

6. Backwashing the Filter (Again!)

You will need to backwash the filter again, just to make sure that anything in the pipework is flushed out. Close the pool return valve and open the drain cock. Run the filter in the “Backwash” position for 2 minutes. Now close the drain cock and open the pool return cock. You can now run the pump in it’s normal operating position.

7. Starting up the Heating

You now need to go and switch on the pool heating system. Ours is Gas, so I opened the gas valve, switched on the boiler isolation switch and watch to make sure the boiler ignites properly. For around a week, the pool will remain out of use, while I run the heating system constantly for a week. (To heat the water) I also put the pool skimmer baskets back and switched on the Air Handling Unit, giving our pool a bit of a tropical feel!

So that’s it, the pool has been drained, maintained and refilled! Swimming can resume by the end of next week.