The Ultimate Property Manager’s Guide To Window Cleaning (2020 Edition)
The purpose of this guide is to provide property managers with tips, insights, and recommendations. We also cover things to know before hiring a window cleaning company to reduce the complaints from tenants, allowing property managers to focus on more critical tasks.
Cleaning windows is essential to the success of any condominium or commercial building. If the building has magnificent downtown views, dust from the traffic can quickly form on the glass and make it difficult to see beyond the grime. Next thing you know, the tenants who were originally drawn by the view are thinking about moving.
Left uncleaned, dirt, salt, pollution, and hard water stains will accumulate on the surface of the window glass. Not only are they unsightly, but they are also harder and more expensive to clean and can affect a windows longevity. Windows with metal-framed screens can also get rust stains due to oxidation, which are also challenging to remove if the sun bakes them into the glass.
Regular window cleaning can enhance building value and make your property a place where people want to live and work.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How Does Weather Affect Window Cleaning?
The windows on your condo or commercial high-rise are dirty, but it’s raining, snowing, or simply freezing cold out. Does this mean that your window cleaner is going to call you to cancel?
Not quite. Windows can be washed safely and effectively in temperatures ranging from -10 °C to +40 °C. Although 0 °C and up is recommended, the cleaners can use windshield wiper fluid to prevent the water from freezing.
What you need to be concerned about the most are high winds. High winds create hazards; for example, it can knock down ladders, blow the window cleaner around, and even cause the rope to whip around, causing potential harm to a pedestrian. It can also be risky to put the cleaning poles up because they can cause property damage and even injure someone if the technician loses control of the pole.
For reasons such as these, cleaning should not be done in winds blowing at 40 km/h or higher. Even milder winds can cause problems because they can blow water drips from the bucket or squeegee onto cleaned windows, causing staining. If a windy day has been forecast, expect your window washer to postpone the project, or it can create problems like this in Edmonton:
Although bright and sunny days are ideal, there is a catch if you have tinted windows. Water that collects on tinted windows evaporates more quickly in the sun and can leave watermarks, so make sure you hire a window cleaner with technicians who work fast enough to dry the windows before the water can evaporate.
What Equipment Is Needed?
There’s a big difference between professional window cleaning and DIY jobs, and not just in the number of windows that need to be tackled.
Most homeowners use a sponge or rag with a bottled window cleaning solution like Windex and clear away residue with a dry rag or paper towels. While this approach can get rid of a lot of build-up, it doesn’t quite give you the streak-free shine that professionals can deliver.
At High Rise Window Cleaners, we use Glass Gleam 4, a liquid detergent formulated specifically for windows. Unlike traditional detergents, it doesn’t leave a film that can attract dirt. In terms of tools, we use the following, all of which are secured to avoid dropped object hazards:
● Scraper: If there’s any paint or sealant stuck to the glass, a scraper can be used to carefully remove it before cleaning. There are different sizes available to meet the requirements of a particular job.
● Cleaning Wand: Also known as a window mop, a cleaning wand spreads the detergent liberally on the window surface, cleaning it quickly and delivering better results than a sponge or rag. Microfiber sleeves are the most common, as they hold a lot of water and include scrub pads for stubborn dirt. Bronze wool attachments are also available to tackle more hardened build-up on non-tinted windows.
● Bucket: Not all buckets are suitable for window cleaning. The buckets we use have sturdy handles to accommodate working at height.
● Squeegee: Drying the freshly-cleaned windows with a squeegee gives them a streak-free finish. Squeegees are fitted with a sharp rubber blade that should be replaced if they become nicked or worn. For high windows on buildings that aren’t tall enough to require a ladder or lift, we use extension poles with easy locking mechanisms and ergonomic grips.
If the window cleaning company you work with is not equipped with professional-quality tools, the results may be less than stellar. When you’re interviewing providers, ask them about the equipment they use and be wary if they use standard detergents.
What Safety Measures Are Involved In Window Cleaning?
Professional window cleaning, like all work done at height, can involve significant safety hazards. Below is an overview of the practices, certifications, and coverage that are indicative of a reputable cleaning company.
Professional window cleaners carry out hazard assessments by visiting the worksite to identify what risks they may be exposed to and how to manage or avoid them. Common areas of concern include:
● Parapet height (how close to the edge we can go without being tied off)
● Sharp edges
● Rooftop Obstacles
● Other workers in the area
● Proximity to the general public
Performing a hazard assessment and developing a work plan to address the potential hazards will reduce risk for everyone- the window cleaners, your tenants and staff, and the general public.
Job Scope Analysis
No two buildings are 100% alike. A good company will review your window cleaning needs to identify the work that needs to be done, the conditions under which it will be carried out, and what qualifications will be necessary. This analysis, also known as a method statement, always includes a rescue plan in case an incident occurs while the technician is working at height and needs to be retrieved from their position.
Tool Box Talks
Tool Box Talks are informal meetings that discuss safety topics specific to your cleaning job. They include an overview of safe work practices and site hazards as well as last-minute safety checks. All bases are covered, leaving nothing to chance.
It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of having full WCB coverage. Not only does it protect an injured worker, you are also protected from a potential lawsuit. At High Rise Window Cleaners, we are covered under WCB. We are proud to state that we have a safety track record of 100%, with no incidents occurring during the entire time that we’ve been in business.
The Certificate of Recognition program (COR) verifies that a company has a fully implemented health and safety program that meets national standards. In other words, you’re not dealing with amateurs! Window cleaning companies that hold a COR certificate are usually dedicated professionals who know how to prevent accidents.
In the event that an accident occurs, liability insurance covers you (as well as the window cleaning company). If you work with a business that is not insured, you could end up in an expensive lawsuit over an incident that wasn’t even your fault. Check and see if your window cleaners have insurance coverage for $5,000,000, protecting you from the financial ramifications of most incidents.
IRATA/SPRAT Certified Technicians
Certification by the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) proves that the professionals you’ve hired can safely use rope access cleaning methods, which are both minimally disruptive and environmentally friendly.
Emergency Procedures Policy
When rope access work is involved in your window cleaning job, only work with companies that have an Emergency Procedures Policy. This ensures that the supervisors know what to do if a cleaner runs into difficulties and needs to be safely retrieved.
Rope Access vs. Bosun Chair: What’s The Difference?
We briefly touched on rope access in the previous section. If you’re also familiar with the use of bosun chairs in window cleaning, you probably wonder what the difference is. There are actually a lot of differences, and they’re mostly safety-related.
Anyone can use a bosun chair without needing to be trained beforehand. An outdated form of working at height, they’re classified as elevated work platforms, making it only necessary to have fall arrest gear to tie off.
On the other hand, technicians who are IRATA/SPRAT-certified go through a rigorous training program that includes rescue techniques. They also wear harnesses that prolong the time before suspension trauma kicks in, so the risk of injury is significantly reduced.
Rope access supports a more thorough cleaning job because the technician can ascend, descend, and even move horizontally if necessary, making it easier to reach places that would otherwise be too hard to access. Less manpower is involved, yet the time needed to complete your windows is much shorter, which translates into lower costs. Rope access systems can also be set up and dismantled faster than traditional window access methods, which also reduces costs.
How Often Should You Clean Your Windows?
How often you need to clean your windows will depend on a number of factors, but in general, getting windows professionally cleaned twice a year will prevent the glass from staining. You can even get discounts for scheduling biannual cleanings.
If construction work is being carried out in the vicinity of the building or it is located in a high-traffic area, It is recommended to stick to biannual window washing. Inner-city windows, in particular, are exposed to pollution, bird droppings, and other contaminants every day and will need extra attention. A professional cleaning company can assess your needs based on location and environment and recommend a suitable schedule.
What Anchors Are Required?
While engineered anchors are the ideal situation for window cleaning, rope access technicians can work with other types, such as structural anchors, which are permanent anchors secured to the building structure, like the roof or I-beam. In addition, a rope access technician can attach tension lines to certified anchors and reach areas that were formerly inaccessible, saving you the cost of installing new anchors.
What You Should Know About Quotes And Pricing
Although you probably don’t have an unlimited maintenance budget, price isn’t the only thing you should consider when hiring a window cleaner. What’s more important is what level of service and professionalism you’re actually getting for the amount you’re quoted.
When a window cleaner’s services are especially cheap, it’s usually because their quality or adherence to safety is lacking. What you may be left with are windows that are dirty, spotty, and streaked with soap residue and water.
Below are some ways that we’ve seen high-rise window cleaners cut costs:
● Giving up on and even skipping windows that take more effort to get clean due to excess grime or other factors.
● Using dirty water instead of switching to fresh when needed.
● Cleaning the glass only and skipping window frames and sills
● Not detailing or scrubbing in order to save time.
● Using cheap cleaning products instead of professional-quality window detergent
● Using worn or ineffective cleaning materials and equipment.
You’ve likely heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” It’s a famous saying for a reason. The cleaning company that represents the cheapest option is likely cutting corners somewhere, whether it be on the quality of their cleaning materials or how closely they observe safety standards. At best, you end up spending more money to get the job done properly. At worst, you could be dragged into a lawsuit because the company skipped safety procedures.
When you’re collecting and comparing quotes, bear in mind that some companies quote per window while others have an hourly rate or a fixed rate based on how long they believe the job will take. Beware of ‘one size fits all’ pricing: a good window cleaner quotes per job for a reason. Each building has its own structural challenges and specific requirements based on how many windows they have and the size of those windows. Fixed-price specials rarely account for these variables.
Ways to Avoid Tenant Complaints
Once you’ve hired a reputable window washing company, it’s time to alert your tenants. If they wake up late and find a cleaner at their bedroom window, they’re going to be embarrassed and complain- and with good reason.
Post a notice in advance with the time and dates the window cleaner will be at the building. Make sure that it’s posted in multiple prominent locations, such as the mailroom or lobby in a condominium or near the elevators on each floor of a commercial high-rise.
In addition to the unwelcome surprise factor, tenants will complain if the window cleaners leave extra squeegee rubbers around or garbage lying around after they leave. When you’re collecting quotes, read the online reviews to confirm that the company you hire will be professional enough to keep the work area clean at all times, be pleasant and respectful during interactions with tenants, and smoke in designated areas. You can also help by letting the window cleaners know beforehand if there are any specific rules for the condo or commercial building.
Over time, dirt, pollutants, and other contaminants can collect on your windows, causing them to lose their transparency and even become more fragile. Cleaning them adds more value to the property and increases the longevity of the building. Regular cleaning also prevents the window frames from weathering and needing more frequent replacement.
At High Rise Window Cleaners, we know that the appearance and condition of your windows make a huge difference in how your tenants and the public perceive your building. We provide competitively-priced condominium and commercial window cleaning services and offer scheduled contracts to ensure that your windows are clean all year round. For more information or to receive a quote, email High Rise Window Cleaners at firstname.lastname@example.org.