Water-Fed Pole Window-Cleaning Basic Operating Instructions
This section will provide a basic guide to using a WFP set-up. Please note that it is only provided as a guide and is not definitive as there are many variations in methods.
Having purified your water and filled the vehicle tank, you are now ready to start cleaning windows -
1. Pull your hose end out of vehicle. Plug in hose reel and reel out your hose to the furthest point first and then work back.
2. Ensure your pump is switched on. Plug pole in. Extend pole.
3. Turn on flow valve (if fitted).
4. Always start by brushing the whole window first with your water flow on, concentrating on the top edge of glass first as this is where most dirt collects. This is where you start rinsing so you want to get it really clean. Brush entire window at least twice. If this is a first clean you may need to brush and rinse several times.
5. Once the window pane has been brushed, you need to rinse the glass off. There are two methods of rinsing the glass – 'rinsing off' the glass or 'rinsing on' the glass. Which is best? This will depend on the work being done and the height working at.
If it is possible, rinsing off the glass will give the easiest way to achieve best rinsing results. However when working in difficult situations or at greater heights often rinsing on will become the easier and quicker way to work and still provide good results.
We tend to rinse off the glass at about 25ft and under. If you wish to rinse off the glass, hold the brush head 10-12 inches from the window pane. Your aim is to achieve a 'water-curtain' effect from the top of the pane down. Always build up a 'head' of water at the top and then follow it down the pane with the water jets. Never try to rinse too wide a section of glass at a time, ie, you may have just brushed down a 10ft wide window but rinse it off in 2ft strips down.
Over about 25ft, we use one of two 'rinsing-on' methods:
1. Partial rinsing on the glass - tilting the brush on to one side of the bristles, rinse strips of the window across the glass supporting the weight of the pole on one edge of the brush bristles. Great for working at height where the glass needs a really good rinse, such as with heavy salt deposits.
2. Full rinse on the glass - Working in about 2ft wide strips down the window, fully scrub the window. Then starting at the top, move the brush back and forth across the glass in the 2ft wide strip building a little head of water and then rapidly slide the brush down the glass in a slight zig-zag pattern allowing the head of water to follow the brush down the pane of glass. This way the last thing to touch each area of glass is the water not the bristles. Once the brush is at the bottom move it across at the bottom to the next strip of the glass slide it up to the top and start again.
However if we only have a few high levels panes of glass to do we will still rinse off the glass as we find it slightly quicker. Of course if you are working with any kind of physical impairment or injury it would be best to look at perfecting rinsing on the glass as this will greatly affect how much strain your body is under during the day's work.
- It is worth bearing in mind that rinsing on the glass is very difficult to achieve with a fully flocked or a full natural bristle brush.
- If cleaning Georgian windows, only rise two panes width down at a time. Check your window after rinsing for any bits that need an extra rinse or even another scrub.
Frequently Asked Window Cleaning Questions
How much of the frame should I clean?
It's up to you. However, when it comes to the top edge of the frame, it is important to either completely leave it or thoroughly clean it as what you do on the top frame will affect the rest of the glass below it. If you decide to clean the top frame make sure you get it really clean, as any dirty water will work its way down onto the glass. The first clean will always take longer because more of the frame will need to be done – if you decide to thoroughly clean the top frame on the first clean, subsequent cleans may not need this as it will stay relatively clean.
Some people warn their clients that there might be the odd run down from the frames the first clean - if you get it right however, this shouldn't happen.
You will find that some windows are trickier than others - time will tell which windows play up!
I seem to be spending just as long as I used to - where is the time-saving advantage?
You will probably save no time the first month because -
1. You are learning as you go
2. You will have to explain the new system to your customers as you go and also every Tom, Dick and Harry who walks past
3. You are having to re-learn every window - it does take time
4. You are having to learn where to run your hoses around the building. Getting this right will save you up to 10 minutes on each job
It will improve, just be patient. As each day goes by, you will get slightly faster until six months later you will not believe how fast you are!
Some people say it will never do as good a job - is this true?
In many cases we find it actually does a better job. Correctly used WFP will always do a good job. We are still amazed at how effectively it cleans. A good way of checking the efficiency of your technique is to do your own house and then go and clean the insides - you will learn a lot. Of course, just as is true with traditional window cleaning, correct technique and use of equipment is vitally important to the finished result. A quick ‘splash and dash’ does not mean the windows are clean and we have seen many WFP window cleaners achieving terrible results due to poor technique or equipment.
What will the system clean off and what will it not clean off?
Bird mess - it is essential to pre-soak this with the purified water and leave it to soften. Sometimes you will have to do this several times. You will get used to looking out for it and giving a quick squirt of water when you first arrive. Then you will have to scrub. We use our Super-Scraper™ with abrasive pad attached to the gooseneck for such occasions.
Snail trails - every window cleaner knows how stubborn these can be, but with the brush it's straightforward. Your first brush down will highlight where they are then you can target your scrubbing area – a flocked or natural bristle brush will make this even easier.
Caterpillar trails - these are usually some of the hardest of things to remove with traditional window cleaning but pure water just melts them. A second scrub will easily remove them.
Fingerprints - your first brush down will highlight them then just concentrate your scrubbing on them.
Putty marks - a pre-soak and scrub will usually remove most putty marks on glass. Allow putty to harden for a few weeks before working on the window. We use our Super-Scraper™ with abrasive pad to make this even easier and quicker.
Fresh plaster and concrete - if it is only a few days old, pure water will usually dissolve even concrete (be careful to rinse brush head off afterwards). Do not use the Super-Scraper™ on this type of substance. If the brush and water do not remove it then it will need a proper metal blade and the correct technique to remove.
It will not clean off the following:
Dried on egg - trick or treat time! This dries like glue and the only thing that will ever remove it completely is a scraper such as our Super-Scraper™.
Silicone or masonry sealant – this will usually need a solvent along with a metal blade scraper
Paint – sometimes the Super-Scraper™ will remove this if it is fairly fresh. If not, a metal blade scraper will be needed.
How do I clean over a flat roof?
We virtually never have to get on a roof to clean the window above. If the pole is long enough, you can usually just reach over either straight on or from either side. Even if you have to do this from either side in two hits, it is still quicker than getting your ladder off your vehicle. Using one of our swivel goosenecks can help when cleaning from an acute side angle.
What happens when there are railings across the bottom half of doors and windows (Juliette balconies)?
This depends on the railing width. On most railings, you can wiggle your brush head between the railings and clean it a section at a time just as you would with a squeegee. Using our swivel gooseneck can help with getting the brush through the railings. You can also apply this technique to balconies with railings. If they are just too close together, you can clean the top half as normal and just rinse off the bottom half using the end of your brush to rub any stubborn marks off. On some commercial jobs, we have been asked to quote for all windows apart from patio doors with railings. Discuss what you are able to do with the customer first as most are very accommodating.
Many people, including our customers, say that the glass stays cleaner longer - why is this?
Firstly, because over a period of time, the frames gradually get cleaner, leaving no dirt for the rain to wash down onto the glass. Secondly, because it washes so efficiently with no detergents it leaves no detergent residue on the glass, which would otherwise attract particles of dirt.
Words of caution:
- Vents - be very careful on some modern windows with top mounted vents as these can hold a lot of dirt. When rinsing down be careful not to spray any water into these vents, as it will later run back down as 'dirty' water usually about 5 minutes after you walk away from the window! When cleaning windows with vents it is best to ether leave the area of frame with the vent or if the frame does need cleaning, turn the water flow down low, clean all around the vent without directing water inside the vent. Let the frame dry off - perhaps going to the next window and then coming back - then clean the window with cleaning the vent area.
- Old Windows - these will need a thorough scrub the first clean and careful rinsing afterward as they can hold a lot of dirt in the cracked putty.
That's it - it's simple. However, it does take quite a few months to master this technique properly and at least a year to be fully 'up to speed'. It is always advised to practise fully on your own property windows first and go inside to check the accuracy of your clean. For the first time on any job check your windows before leaving.