We’ve all heard it before, window cleaning isn’t rocket science! While that is true it’s not as simple as it once was. We can run into issues like hard water stains, fabrication debris, tin etch haze, low-e coating reactions, and other things that require us to be educated on a variety of techniques and tools. To further complicate matters what if “we” happen to be an employee and “we” have to explain these potential issues to a client? Let’s discuss a few issues from the employee’s perspective.
Forewarned is forearmed
An old adage comes to mind – to be forewarned is to be forearmed. In other words if we are prepared for the potential problems we can be prepared to deal with them. This means that we need our employer to have procedures in place that we can start with so each issue is dealt with consistently.
But for simplicity here are some basics that will allow an employee to give a simple explanation about how to deal with them, depends upon your companies policies–
Fabrication Debris – annealed glass must go through a heating and cooling process to become “tempered”. It is cut to size before this process and if not cleaned properly it can become contaminated with glass fines (as well as other particulates from the factory) which can become fused to the surface during the heating process. When doing a standard cleaning using a razor, the defects can be moved across the glass surface causing scratches. The options here are – 1) a signed waiver explaining that identifying the defect isn’t possible and clean as usual, 2) not using a razor and trying to use white pads, 3) cleaning only the loose debris off the glass, or 4) using heavy chemicals to remove stubborn debris (this option can void the insulated glass unit warranty).
Tin Etch Haze – architectural glass today is called float glass which means the liquid glass comes out of the oven, floating on a layer of molten tin. For the life of the glass it will have a thin layer of tin embedded in one side. When removing hard water stains from that side, if a hydrofluoric acid solution is used it will react with the tin and cause an odd colored haze. There are ways to test for the tin side but if the stain is on that side there are two options – replacement or mechanical removal of the stain with a scratch removal system.
Hard Water Stains – beyond regular debris on the glass, you can run into stains from different minerals on the glass. Each stain is different and takes different chemicals or techniques to remove and is no longer cleaning, but restoring the glass. Depending on the stain you can use 1) bronze (steel) wool, white pad and/or chemicals, 2) a polisher and chemicals, or 3) a scratch removal system for more severe stains.
Low-E coating reactions – in order to increase the energy efficiency of a window a metallic sputter coating (called low-e) is applied on one interior surface of an insulated glass unit. Sometimes the coating reacts in spots to different contaminants. It will show up as a rainbow colored haze that you can’t touch with your finger (because it’s in between the glass panes). The only option here is replacement of the affected unit.
Blown IG seals – when you see fogging or white river like stains between the glass you have a blown seal in the insulated glass unit. If it’s just fogging you can, in some instances, have the moisture removed in a defogging process (usually you need to specialize in this service or know of a company in your area that does). If the fogging has turned into staining on the interior then replacement is the only option.
Preexisting Scratches – when doing a new job you can find yourself being blamed for scratching a window when it was done by someone else and usually at a different time. Here a waiver that covers preexisting scratches and/or a thorough walkthrough identifying and taking note of preexisting conditions are your only real protection.Before discussing any of these situations with a client, make sure you are authorized to do so by your employer or direct the client to the person who is.
For more educational topics go to A New View Exterior Cleaning