Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
October 2012 Maintenance Matters

First Impressions In Façade Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining the exteriors of buildings is about more than just bricks and mortar.

October 1, 2012

Technological advances and customer needs are shaping a part of the cleaning sector that, despite its obvious necessity, is often not performed with much frequency.

First impressions count — it’s an accepted fact in all walks of life.

If you want to sell your house, for example, a tidy garden and freshly painted front door will help.

Cordon bleu chefs often say that we eat with our eyes, so they go to great lengths to make their dishes look beautiful.

And, if you want to get that new job promotion, a smart suit will go down better than jeans and a scruffy T-shirt.

The same goes for your company or brand image, making keeping your premises pristine, both inside and out, crucial.Window Cleaning - Image courtesy of Unger Enterprises Inc.

Outdoor areas are the public faces of your organization, and if their appearances are subpar, chances are that both existing and potential new clients will be less than impressed and take their business elsewhere.

A smart, clean façade to your buildings — be them offices, manufacturing facilities, retail outlets or storage depots — presents a professional face to the world, stating that your business really does mean business.

Making sure that effective and regular cleaning regimes are in place is, therefore, a must; but, there are many different issues that need to be taken into consideration when cleaning the façades of buildings.

Safety is arguably the most important, and there have been significant changes in this area in the last few years.

Design And Technology Provide Safe Solutions

Advances in technology have a big part to play in influencing how an industry sector evolves.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the most obvious and visual manifestation of façade maintenance: Window cleaning.

The “traditional” days are long gone thanks to advances in design that have made window cleaning faster, safer and more efficient.

Water-fed poles have become the equipment of choice for professional window cleaners, allowing them to clean high buildings and windows safely from the ground, alleviating the need to work at height.

Pure water is used in this type of cleaning because it leaves glass and like surfaces spot-free and without streaks — all without the need for chemicals.

Pure water is, as the name suggests, water in its purest form.

To get to this state, the water is processed to remove the minerals and impurities that would otherwise dry and lead to spots and streaks.

These impurities are known as total dissolved solids (TDS) and are measured in parts per million (PPM).

Water is considered pure when its TDS is measured at 0 PPM.

The two water purification methods recognized by the cleaning industry are deionization and reverse osmosis.

  • Deionization:The water is filtered through ion exchange resin that attracts and removes 99 percent or more of the minerals.
  • Reverse osmosis:The water is passed through a series of membranes and filters that retain and flush away most of the minerals and impurities.

Water-fed poles continue to evolve, incorporating new design features and materials that make these systems even easier to use, with the added bonus that they deliver even better quality results in a fraction of the time, which also saves companies money.

The “next generation” water-fed poles provide a better balance between weight and rigidity than those of the past.

Because the poles are lighter, it makes the cleaning worker’s job easier and more comfortable.

But, this reduction in weight does not compromise rigidity, meaning that the poles are still responsive and easy to control, allowing brushes to get right into every corner.

Advances in brush head design, water delivery via multiple jets, angled adapters and pole extensions that allow workers to clean to heights of up to 65 feet while keeping their feet firmly on the ground all make this sector of the industry a fast-changing and exciting place.

Assess The Risks

Unger MontageAs with any cleaning job, site surveys and risk assessments will help to establish the best equipment to deliver the results you require.

It can also identify gaps in knowledge or training and how frequently your façade needs to be cleaned.

The different materials that need to be cleaned must also be taken into consideration.

For instance, is it primarily glass windows that need to be cleaned, or are there other materials on the exterior of your building that will also need attention, such as metal signage?

With an increasing awareness of environmental issues, companies are also thinking about incorporating energy-efficiency upgrades into their business activities, and energy creation is a hot topic.

Solar panels are becoming more and more popular — for residential and commercial applications — but they need regular cleaning.

Exposure to rainwater does help to wash off some dirt, but it also adds new dirt particles to the panel.

A buildup of dirt and other soils can reduce the light absorption of solar panels, making them less efficient and effective.

Water-fed pole technology is now stepping up to the mark to provide solutions to this particular problem by developing larger brushes with soft bristles specifically designed to clean and prevent damage to solar panels.

With further developments in technology and training in response to market forces and customer needs, façade maintenance and cleaning can only continue to become easier, quicker and more professional.