Day cleaning — or anytime janitors are brought on to clean in the presence of tenants — has its challenges. Unlike nighttime cleaning programs, cleaners must take into consideration how their tasks affect fellow building occupants.

One of these challenges includes vacuuming facility floors. While it is recommended that day porters vacuum common areas, floor matting, lobbies and other carpeted areas during so-called “slower periods” of building traffic, loud vacuums remain a common source of complaints from building occupants.

According to one vacuum manufacturer, the single “most annoying factor” to consumers while vacuuming or being in the same room with an operating vacuum, is a machine’s noise level.

The average noise level of a vacuum is between 70 and 85 decibels, the unit used to measure sound pressure. That’s more than the decibel level of a typical conversation (60 decibels) and comparable to the sound of a large truck barreling down a roadway (85 decibels).  

That level of sound is not only “annoying” to building occupants, but also has the potential to inhibit employee productivity.  Work disturbances are one of the strongest aversions to implementing a day cleaning program within a facility.

For some companies, however, there isn’t an “ideal period” during which to vacuum building floors.

Some of Janitronics’ largest clients include call centers for national phone, cable and insurance companies that, similar to global firms, operate 24/7. These buildings contain up to 60,000 square feet of floors, and can be occupied by more than 200 customer service employees in a single shift.

Because these employees are constantly on the telephone, it was of utmost importance that janitors kept noise levels to a minimum during cleaning. But, despite Janitronics’ best efforts, vacuuming still proposed a “noise pollution” problem.

“For all your daily cleaning, vacuuming is most important because you’re taking contaminants out of the air,” and removing dirt and soil from facility floors, says Fragomeni. “But, traditional vacuums were a distraction to our customers. So, we started using equipment that was more conducive to the work environment.”

Besides following daytime cleaning protocols, such as alerting occupants that janitors have arrived to clean their workspaces or waiting until an office was vacated, Janitronics purchased a fleet of low-decibel backpack vacuums to quietly clean facility floors.

“Presenting change in any building is always a challenge, especially when the building occupants are not accustomed to having their workspace cleaned during business hours,” says Fragomeni. “We typically ask our customer to first communicate internally describing to their employees the change. We also address the fact a low-decibel vacuum will be used with minimal, if any, disruptions.”

Janitronics’ employees use the cordless, low-decibel backpack vacuums to perform daily “detail vacuuming” tasks, such as traffic areas, under trashcans, chair wells, and other visibly soiled spaces. Detailed, wall-to-wall vacuuming tasks are completed about once a week, Fragomeni says.

Using a cordless vacuum eliminates potential trip hazards that can arise while vacuuming around occupants, he adds.

Though Fragomeni says people will always be acutely aware that someone is vacuuming around them, he says occupants have been satisfied about the noticeable difference in noise levels since the low-decibel vacuums were introduced.

“The backpacks we used to use were around 68 decibels,” he says. “On the [new] backpack vacuum, the low-speed setting is 51 decibels, and on the high-speed setting, which increases power, it’s 55 decibels. It’s been very successful.”

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