Proper procedures for cleaning architectural glass products

Prior to beginning a cleaning project, it is strongly recommended that window cleaners test clean a small area of one window, then stop and examine the surface carefully for any damage to the glass and/or any exposed coating. The ability to detect certain surface damage, such as light scratches, may vary greatly with the lighting conditions. Daylight conditions are needed to properly evaluate a glass surface for damage. Scratches that are not easily seen with a dark or gray sky may be very noticeable when the sun is at a certain angle in the sky or when the sun is low in the sky. In addition, because different backgrounds may yield different observations, cleaning methods should be tested on all glass constructions on the building, including both vision and spandrel units.

Cleaning should begin by soaking the glass surfaces with clean water and a mild, non-abrasive glass cleaning solution. Apply generous amounts of solution to the glass surfaces with a brush, strip washer or other non-abrasive applicator, and lightly agitate to loosen the soil and debris. Immediately following the application of the cleaning solution, a window-cleaning squeegee should be used to remove all of the cleaning solution from the glass surface. During routine cleaning care should be taken to avoid metal contact with the glass surface; razor blades and metal scrapers should not be part of routine cleaning. The use of sufficient water will help prevent abrasive particles from being trapped between the glass and the cleaning tools being used. However, the window cleaner needs to be diligent in keeping all abrasive particles from scratching the glass.

Glass Association of North America (GANA) and The International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) recognizes an additional glass cleaning technique being utilized by some professional window cleaning contractors. This technique employs the use of pure water delivered to the glass surface using a specialized extension pole. Gentle agitation with a non- scratching (non-abrasive) brush is followed by the final pure water rinse. Rinse water is generally allowed to evaporate from freshly cleaned surfaces. Therefore, the pure water used in both the wash and rinse must have a total dissolved solids content (TDS) of 20 parts per million (PPM) or less to prevent spotting and streaking of cleansed surfaces. The use of tap water is not acceptable. Effective water treatment, via ion exchange and/or reverse osmosis equipment, should be used in conjunction with delivery & rinse methods at all times. Water quality can be monitored with a hand held TDS or conductivity meter. A reading of 40 micro-Siemens/cm (0.025 Me ohm – cm) represents a TDS level of 20 PPM.

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