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Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures

Spectitle:

Routine And Periodic Cleaning Of Walls And Ceilings

Procedure code:

0180004P

Source:

Cyclical Maintenance For Historic Buildings - J. H. Chambers

Division:

General Requirements

Section:

Maintenance

Last Modified:

12/03/2012

Details:

Routine And Periodic Cleaning Of Walls And Ceilings



ROUTINE AND PERIODIC CLEANING OF WALLS AND CEILINGS


PART 1---GENERAL

1.01 SUMMARY

    A.   This procedure includes guidance on the routine and
         periodic cleaning of painted and varnished wall and
         ceiling surfaces using wet and dry methods.

    B.   Unless covered with fabric or paper, most walls are
         likely to be coated.  The coating may be durable like
         paint, or it may be water-soluble and fragile like
         calcimine or whitewash.

    C.   Although most of the dirt entering a building is brought
         in on footwear, a part of this becomes airborne,
         particularly if mats and floors are not cleaned promptly.
         The volume of airborne dirt which comes to rest on walls
         and ceilings is a small part of the total, but it builds
         up slowly on all surfaces and is often unnoticed except
         around radiators and air grills.  Other dirt is deposited
         on walls by the touch of people, objects or furniture.
         Walls and ceilings are cleaned by both dry and wet
         methods.

    D.   Historic Structures Precautions:

         1.   Personnel should review maintenance manual for
              building before proceeding with work.  Manual
              should indicate which surfaces have historic
              coatings and which have been repainted with either
              reproduction or modern paints.

         2.   HISTORIC MATERIALS SHOULD BE CLEANED BY A
              CONSERVATOR OR OTHER KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSON.

         3.   Contact Regional Historical Preservation Officer
              (RHPO) before working on or around known historic
              fabric.

         4.   RHPO shall be notified of any visible change in the
              integrity of the building's fabric whether
              environmental, such as biological attack,
              ultraviolet degradation, freeze, thaw, etc., or
              structural defects, such as cracks, movement, or
              distortion.

1.02 DEFINITIONS

    A.   Dry Methods include brushing, wiping or blowing to remove
         dust from building surfaces, and to keep the soil from
         becoming embedded in these surfaces.  

         1.   Painters' brushes may be used on window sills,
              cornices and ledges.  

         2.   Feather dusters or bellows on walls are recommended
              after covering any furniture with cloths.  

         3.   Walls were swept with a broom used only for that
              purpose.  Sometimes a broom was covered with a
              cloth or a specially prepared cloth bag.  Cobwebs
              were also removed by broom.

    B.   Wet methods include washing the surfaces with a solution
         containing a cleaning agent, such as soap or a fine
         abrasive, and a liquid, such as water or ammonia.
         Sponges and cloths should be used to control streaking.


PART 2---PRODUCTS

2.01 MANUFACTURERS

    A.  Proctor and Gamble
         www.pg.com

2.02 MATERIALS

 

Reference: See the EPA website for "Design for the Environment" for list of products and other guidance.

 

http://www.epa.gov/dfe/

    A.   Non-ionic detergent such as "Ivory Liquid", "Joy", or
         approved equal.

    B.   A cleaner containing soda ash zeolites and/or citric acid. 

         -OR-

         Mild detergent such as "Tide" for painted surfaces.

    C.   Two sponges, one for cleaning solution and one for rinse
         water

    D.   Dry wiping cloths

2.03 EQUIPMENT

    A.   Vacuum cleaner with dusting brush attachment

    B.   Two buckets, one for cleaning solution and one for rinse
         water

    C.   Round, soft, long-haired brush for dusting

    D.   Dust mop

    E.   Ladders

    F.   Drop cloths


PART 3---EXECUTION

3.01 PREPARATION

    A.   Protection:

         1.   For dry wall cleaning, move furniture away from the
              walls and cover with drop cloths or plastic
              sheeting.  Three feet should be ample.  For wet
              cleaning, provide additional coverings to protect
              floors.

         2.   If ceilings are to be dusted, furniture should be
              set compactly near the center of the room so that
              it does not have to be moved again for ceiling
              cleaning.

         3.   Wall hangings, decorations, pictures, drapes,
              curtains, roller shades, etc. must be removed.

3.02 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION

    A.   Select method of cleaning based on type of wall or
         ceiling material.

         NOTE:  FOR WALLS AND CEILINGS COATED WITH LEAD-BASED
         PAINT, TAKE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS.  CONSULT RHPO FOR
         GUIDANCE IN UNDERTAKING A RISK ASSESSMENT TO IDENTIFY
         LEAD HAZARDS BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH WORK.

         1.   Oil-based and latex paints, varnish, and modern
              coatings may be washed safely using both wet and
              dry cleaning methods.

         2.   Surfaces finished with calcimine or whitewash are
              water soluble and should be cleaned ONLY with dry
              methods.  NO WET METHODS ARE PERMITTED.  

              NOTE:  Some conservators and architects use an
              imitation whitewash that can be washed with care.  

         3.   Shellacked or oiled wood surfaces should NOT be
              washed with wet methods.

         4.   Wet methods for other materials may be tried after
              receiving advice from a conservator.

    B.   Dry Cleaning Methods:

         1.   Routinely (on a regular basis):

              CAUTION:  TAKE CARE WHEN DUSTING NOT TO RUB
              ADJACENT VERTICAL SURFACES, LEAVING DIRT RESIDUE
              AND ABRASIVE MARKS ON WALLS OR SMEARS ON GLASS.

              a.   Dust using a vacuum cleaner and a round, soft,
                   long haired brush or a treated dust cloth.

              b.   Dust all ledge-type horizontal surfaces, tops
                   of baseboards, window sills, door panel
                   moldings, tops of mantels, tops of door and
                   window trim, and tops of doors.  

                   NOTE:  DO NOT LEAVE LEDGES ABOVE EYE LEVEL FOR
                   PERIODIC CLEANING.  THE  RATE OF DIRT
                   ACCUMULATION IS MUCH FASTER THAN ON WALLS OR
                   VERTICAL SURFACES.

              C.   After a heating season check areas above
                   radiators or wall grilles for dust build-up.
                   If build-up is light enough to be handled with
                   a vacuum wall brush without objectionable
                   light spots appearing on the wall, periodic
                   wall dustings may be spaced further apart.

         2.   Periodically:

              a.   Dust cobwebs from walls and ceilings
                   especially at corners.  Lift cobwebs outward
                   and upward so that they do not smear.

              b.   Dust walls and ceilings using a vacuum cleaner
                   with a dusting brush attachment.  Start in a
                   corner at the floor and move upward to the
                   cornice.  A light, even touch with overlapping
                   strokes provides the best cleaning.  Keep the
                   brush clean to avoid streaks.

    C.   Wet Cleaning Methods:

         1.   Routinely (on a regular basis):

              a.   Spot clean to remove smudges and marks left by
                   hands and bumps from furniture and other
                   objects.  

                   NOTE:  The areas requiring the most frequent
                   spot cleaning are around light switches,
                   thermostats, doors, the wall side of stairs,
                   bell pulls, wall sconces, etc.

                   1)   Rub spot gently with a clean sponge,
                        dampened ONLY with clean, clear water.

                   2)   Dry with a clean wiping cloth.  

                   3)   If water alone does not remove the spot,
                        mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of detergent in 1
                        gallon of warm water.

                   4)   Rub the spot gently with a clean sponge
                        dampened with solution.  Blend the spot
                        into the remaining surrounding surface.

                   5)   Rinse with a clean sponge dampened with
                        clean, clear water and allow to dry.

              b.   Inspect and dust areas around radiators and
                   air grilles.

         2.   Periodically:

              a.   Dust walls as described above.

              b.   Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent in
                   1 gallon of warm water.  

              c.   Wash walls beginning at a lower corner of the
                   room, including the baseboard.  Moisten an
                   area approximately 5 to 10 SF. and rub with a
                   clean sponge dampened with the solution.

                   NOTE:  To prevent water from streaking the
                   wall, the sponge used for the cleaning should
                   be wet but not dripping.  

                   NOTE:  THERE IS SOME DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AS
                   TO WHETHER IT IS BEST TO WASH A WALL WORKING
                   FROM THE TOP DOWN OR FROM THE BOTTOM UP.
                   BOTTOM UP IS SAFER BECAUSE SOLUTION STREAKS
                   RUNNING DOWN ON A DIRTY WALL CANNOT BE
                   REMOVED.  THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO WORK DRY
                   ENOUGH TO AVOID DRIPS.

              d.   Rinse the area thoroughly with clean, clear
                   water.  Two rinsings may be necessary to
                   remove all the cleaning solution and dirt from
                   the wall.  Change rinse water frequently.

              e.   Dry the area with a clean cloth.  

              f.   Continue the process of wetting, rubbing,
                   rinsing, and drying around the lower portion
                   of the room with each section overlapping the
                   preceding section slightly.

              g.   Proceeding up the wall, wash the upper
                   portions of the room and the ceiling in the
                   same manner, working from a step ladder.
                   Painted woodwork should be washed with the
                   walls.

                         END OF SECTION
 


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