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Window Cleaning Issues - Canvassing, pole systems, pricing, problems, etc.

Bad product or bad workmanship?

Posted by (, 29 November 2003

I don't normally post in this board, but maybe you could answer a question for me.

I'm a School Caretaker who's school is built like a green house. Glass everywhere. The architect had no thought about cleaning the windows. It was built just before legislation came in.

We have used various companies to clean our windows and price varies from £800-£1500.

Everyone we ever use starts off by manually cleaning our windows and we get a very good job done. However, after a few visits out come the long poles and the van. I appreciate that this has got to be a faster method but the windows never seem very good afterwards. The design of our windows means that water runs out from the frames and leaves runs all down the glass.

Is this just down to bad workmanship (or should that be workpersonship these days) or is it the equipment at fault?

Or is it a case that the companies I use don't want my custom due to the challenges and are doing a cr@p job in the hope I find someone else?
Posted by fez (fez), 29 November 2003
How long does it take them doing the normal method? If it's less than a few days for a couple of blokes(for that sort of price), it sounds to me like they may be cutting corners. I don't use water fed poles (yet!) but the results I see are really good. There should be no marks at all, otherwise what would be the point?

Oh, and welcome to our section of this fine forum! Grin
Posted by (, 30 November 2003
Well, we used to have 2 or 3 men for about 4 days and then on the last day, they seem to get a team of about 8-10 men in to do all the high stuff on ladders. Then after a few cleans, they get the poles out to do the whole job in a few days with just 3 of them.

I must admit, the chap I've got at the moment spends almost 2 weeks at it single handedly (and we have added internal glass to the contract). He sometimes bring a friend in to help him on the last few days if he's behind and he does a splendid job. He's a real perfectionist. Only even this chap is thinking about buying a pole system to make it easier now, hense my question about it.

I wish our place wasn't so difficult to do. Huh

Thank you for the welcome!

Posted by sham33 (sham33), 30 November 2003
Are they using water fed poles or simple extension poles where they attach applicators and squeegees on the end of the pole?

If its the latter sounds like there just rushing it a bit. If its water fed poles well it should be ok but I'm still not convinced how good water fed poles are, keep getting story's of mixed results thats why i wont invest in one.
Posted by (, 30 November 2003
Yes, it's a water fed pole. They have to have their van nearby with a pump and water supply on it which they have to keep topping up.
Posted by The_Fed_Man (The_Fed_Man), 30 November 2003
Mr. Caretaker,

I've been using Waterfed Poles (ours is the Reach & Wash) for coming up 4 years.  We have a lot of contracts with it and have not lost one over the use of the system.  It appears at first to be window cleaning on a stick, but there is a learning curve, also the building has to get used to being cleaned this way, 3 cleans before good results in some cases.  The reason for this is the frames have to be flushed clean and old soap removed.  And it has to be cleaned this way regularly.

We have invested in window cleaning this way not because we like spending thousands of pounds (they are not cheap) but because of Health & Safety legislation.  YOU or your boss as building owners are responsible for the safety of any workers that work on site and as such can be sued in court and made to conform to standards by the Health & Safety Executive.  Inspectors now make regular visits to sites.

Now there are some windows that do not clean as well with the system.  Paintwork in poor repair or badly done, some glass that repels water so the water doesn't rinse properly, window in a high dust area etc or too infrequent cleanings are all a problem.  Some can be overcome, some not.  How often are the windows cleaned?  If it's 6 monthly this could be the problem.

If the results are consistantly poor the other option is a Mobile Work Platform or Cherry Picker.  This would mean the glass would get done by hand as required and you would conform with Health & Safety.  Although a more costly option it's not that expensive, especially as I suspect you are having, infrequently.

By the way, current Health & Safety legislation for ladder use is up to 6 meters unsecured, 6 to 9 meters secured by means of stabiliser or eyebolts (you could have these installed but at your cost and load tested with a certificate once a year) above 9 meters Cherry Picker or Scaffolding.

If you require any more information on this telephone the National Federation Of Master Window & General Cleaners on 0161 432 8754, they are very helpful, I am on the board.

Posted by (, 30 November 2003
Thanks for the reply. We live right on the coast, so our windows get lots of salt sea spray. All our glass is  very small (18inch x 8inch approx) but there are 1000s of them. We also have a glass roof and I am aware of the H&S aspect and they have never been cleaned because of that.

Only one section, a new phase built a few years ago has eye bolts and we do have them tested annually. The original building which is 10yrs old now does not.

Architects don't seem to consider window cleaning as they should.

One problem for access is a 3 story section which is made up of 100s of sections of curved glass from floor to roof. And it's very wide. Nowhere to get a purchase with a ladder and after requesting eye bolts being told there is just nowhere to put them either.

I accept all the limitations and difficulties with the building and make allowances for that.

You may have a point with frequency, we have the windows done 4-6 times a year. As you can appreciate, schools don't have much spare cash and windows is way down on the agenda when it comes to allocating funds.

Thanks for the advice.
Posted by The_Fed_Man (The_Fed_Man), 30 November 2003
One last suggestion, why not tailor the frequency to your budget? By that I mean have high profile areas cleaned more often, low profile like roofs etc or out of eye level cleaned less often. That way you might see the results you want and control your budget.
Posted by paul (paul), 30 November 2003
i think your quite lucky to be able to afford to have your school windows cleaned that many times all the schools my company cleans is once maybe twice a year if were lucky as there budgets are really tight

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