home
Window Care
Glass Facts
faqs
About Us
Contact Us
Pay Your Invoice
 


Window Cleaning
When it comes to construction window cleaning, it is important to realize it is a very specialized form of window cleaning. There are substantial challenges in removing construction debris from glass without scratching, and it is therefore not something that should ever be attempted by anyone not specifically skilled in this area. This section illustrates some of these challenges and discusses the major topics involved in this area.

The Environment
In theory, windows in a construction environment would be covered at all times, protecting them from paint, plaster, and other construction debris. Unfortunately, in practice this is rarely the case, where the protection is usually incomplete, damaged, or nonexistent. Given this reality, choosing a skilled construction window cleaner is vital.

Common Myths
There are many commonly held ideas about what is, and what is not, safe to use to clean windows. Unfortunately, many of these ideas are not valid. Below is a list of the most commonly spread falsehoods about glass scratches.
Window cleaning scrapers scratch glass: If used properly, a scraper will not scratch glass. This includes any size or style of metal scraper.
A nick in a scraper will scratch glass: This is also incorrect. Aside from leaving sections of the glass inadequately cleaned, and nick in the scraper with not adversely affect the glass.
Steel wool (#0000) will scratch glass: This is also false. Experimentation has shown repeatedly that #0000 steel wool with not scratch the glass surface.

The Facts
With some of the myths exposed, what are some facts about construction window cleaning? Construction window cleaning carries a very high risk of glass damage if excess construction debris is present or if the window cleaner is not properly trained. Here is a list of what can cause scratches.

  1. Construction debris.
  2. Construction debris behind a scraper, or rust on a scraper.
  3. Construction debris or rust in steel wool.
  4. Construction debris in a strip washer.
  5. Fabricating debris fused to the surface of low-quality tempered glass during the tempering process.
Proper Training and Techniques
Given the magnitude of the challenges faced in construction window cleaning it is clear that proper training and techniques are vital to minimizing the amount and severity of glass scratches. Listed below are some basics of construction window cleaning that, when followed, can greatly reduce scratches.
  1. Always keep the glass wet when scraping construction debris from the glass.
  2. Use only newly sharpened scrapers.
  3. Never move the scraper backwards on the glass. Construction debris caught behind the scraper can scratch the glass.
  4. Notify the project manager at the first sign of excessive construction debris on the glass. The offending party should be held responsible for any extra cost or liability for removing the construction debris.
  5. Never attempt to clean the glass unless you are sure it can be done without causing damage.
  6. Know Your Glass
In order to be able to properly clean windows in a construction environment, or to be able to manage those who do, one must know the basics about the glass fabrication process. For example, one should know the difference between tempered and annealed glass. Just as important is the ability to distinguish between high and low-quality tempered glass. Standard construction window cleaning techniques on low-quality tempered glass can result in major scratching.

When glass scratches are noticed, it is helpful to observe the direction of the scratches. Many assume that if the scratches are in the same direction as the path taken by the window cleaner's scraper that he is to blame. Often times these types of scratches result from excessive construction debris or defetive tempered glass, and are not the result of the window cleaner's scraper. Upon closer examination, it is often seen that the scratches do not extend from the beginning of the scraper's path to the end of the scraper's path. On defective tempered glass, as the scraper passes over each glass defect, it dislodges the defect and creates a scratch as it is dragged across the glass surface. For a more extensive discussion of this topic, see the Glass Quality section of this site.

Plastic Scrapers
Metal scrapers have always been highly suspect for causing scratches. As a result, it has been occasionally suggested that the use of plastic scrapers would be a safer alternative. In an attempt to test this theory extensive testing on new clean tempered and annealed glass samples was done. These tests showed most tempered glass with excessive fabricating debris were scratched by the plastic scraper as well. The experiments also showed that as a result of their use on the defective glass, the plastic scrapers were contaminated with embedded fabricating debris. If this scraper was then used on quality glass, it would result in scratching every window it touched. These tests conclusively showed that the use of plastic scrapers is a destructive alternative to safe metal scrapers.



Scratched Glass

Some tempered glass surfaces have what are known as fabricating debris defects on the surface, including microscopic glass particles, which become fused to glass as it rolls through some tempering ovens.

This presents a problem when you or your window cleaner try to use a window cleaning scraper. Though virtually invisible to the naked eye, bits of abrasive fabricating debris can be trapped by a moving scraper, causing visible scratches to appear.

When fabricating debris is present on tempered glass, it can usually be felt, and a distinct gritty sound can be heard when a window cleaning scraper - or the edge of a credit card - is moved very lightly over a clean surface.

Test all of your new tempered glass this way, because if you can hear that gritty sound, you know that you will never be able to use a window cleaning scraper to remove paint, caulk or any other goop, for the life of the window.

Fabricating debris is preventable. Talk to your building or remodeling contractor beforehand about getting tempered glass that can be scraped without suffering the effects of fabricating debris.

Construction window cleaning includes the removal of several types of construction debris from glass surfaces, including plaster, stucco, concrete, paint, texture, taping mud, mortar, silicone, stickers, and tape. Removing this debris without scratching the glass is the real challenge of construction window cleaning. This article covers techniques and recommendations in meeting this challenge (it does not cover ladder use, which may be required).



Soaps, Chemicals, and Acids
The use of soaps and chemicals can greatly assist in the window cleaning process. However, it is important that you know which product to use in which situation. Listed below is some information to assist in this selection.

Soaps
The selection and use of soaps in window cleaning applications is often misunderstood and overcomplicated. For most window cleaning projects, soap is not a key issue. Only use soaps that you know will help in the process. Sometimes, no soap is better than too much soap or the wrong soap. Rarely is more soap better. It's important to first select which type of soap to use, and then determine the amount to use. At Fields CSI we use Fields WPR, a soap that is manufactured for us. However, many window cleaners use dishwashing soap, which is usually sufficient for normal paint removal.

Chemicals and Acids
When encountered with more than just paint and dust on the window, many times it is necessary to use chemicals to aid in cleaning the glass. We use Fields Scale Remover, a product that is manufactured for us. It is used to loosen plaster, stucco and concrete from the glass surface, prior to scraping. This product will also remove the film (effervescence from cement) that runs down the glass during and after plastering exterior walls. Fields Scale Remover contains phosphoric acid, a key ingredient in the removal of concrete, plaster and mortar from glass. Products containing phosphoric acid help dissolve the cement in construction debris and make it much easier to remove. Any chemicals or acids you decide to use should be tested to be safe for human use, the building exterior, and the IG (Insulated Glass) seals.

The Construction Window Cleaning Process
Start off by filling your bucket 2/3 full with water. The more water you have in your bucket, the cleaner the water will stay. If you have sponges that have soap in then from a prior use, now is the best time to remove it. The best way to accomplish this is by squezing the sponge a dry a possible. Then, while still squezing the sponge, submerge it in the bucket of fresh water and release. Once the sponge has filled with water, remove it from the bucket and squeze it out, making sure that the water does not go back into the bucket. Repeat these steps as needed. If your application requires the use of soap, add the soap after the bucket is filled to prevent suds.

If you have chosen to use a broadknife rather than a razor knife, now is a good time to sharpen the knive. When sharpening a broadknife, the goal is to create a smooth, squared-off end. The knife should not be sharp to the touch, but the faces of the knive should come straight down and meet the edge at a 90 angle. Using a towel under the file can help smooth out the sharpening. Next, sharpen the small angled putty knife for cleaning window frames. Always clean scrapers prior to sharpening to prevent rust and debris from contaminating the file. Keeping the file clean can greatly increase the life of the file.

Note: Razor scrapers can be used in place of a broadknife.

Cleaning Inside Windows
Whenever possible, the inside windows should be cleaned before the outside windows. This is advised because the cleaning of the inside window will require opening and closing the window, which could result in leaving streaks on the glass. It is also advised that the window tracks be vacuumed prior to cleaning the window. With this in mind, here are the steps to cleaning the inside windows.
  1. Wet entire window, frame and track with window brush.
  2. Remove any stickers with a small razor blade, while glass and frames are soaking.
  3. Clean window frames and tracks with the little angled knife in one hand and the green nylon pad in the other. The green pad should be kept wet at all times. It is important that the green pad never touch the glass, as it will scratch. Also, avoid contact between the green pad and textured window jams so as not to remove any of the texture.
  4. Remove all excess texture and taping mud (if any) from glass with scraper. Use single upward motions and throw into empty bucket.
  5. After excess texture is removed, rewet glass with window brush.
  6. Start scraping the glass with the window brush in one hand and the scraper in the other. Scrape the glass nearest to you first to prevent splash back. When scraping, have a pattern or system to cover every inch of the glass. The method we use starts with a stroke across the top, and then down the right side. We then go back to the top of the window, where we work down in rows, from right to left.
  7. After glass is entirely scraped, rewet glass with window brush.
  8. Sponge down window frame and tracks. Touch up the frames with green pad and angled knife, if needed.
  9. Sponge down perimeter of glass, prior to squeegeeing.
  10. Squeegee the window nearest to you first. If you start with the window farthest from you, it is likely you will splash water onto the finished pane while squeegeeing the window nearest to you. On hot days, you may need to rewet the window. In construction window cleaning we choose not to fan squeegee our windows because the windows are usually too small. Also, sand and other debris could be a problem with this method.
  11. Sponge out window track, if there is one.
  12. Touch up glass and frames with rag as needed.
Cleaning Outside Windows
If the outside of the building is stuccoed, we recommend using Fields Scale Remover (or any suitable product with phosphoric acid) to assist in removing stucco and concrete from glass and frames. The process for cleaning exterior windows is similar to that for cleaning interior windows. The process is listed below.
  1. If stucco is present on the glass, run a stream of Fields Scale Remover (or other phosphoric acid) across the top of each window before wetting the glass. As it runs down the glass, spread over entire surface with a slightly wet window brush. DO NOT let acid run down stucco.
  2. Wet your window brush again and wet the entire glass, and frames if needed.
  3. Remove any stickers with razor blade, while glass and frames are soaking.
  4. Clean window frames and tracks with the little angled knife in one hand and the green nylon pad in the other. As discussed above, make sure that the green pad does not touch the glass.
  5. Rewet the glass and start scraping the glass with the window brush in one hand and the scraper in the other. Again, scrape the glass nearest to you first to prevent splash back.
  6. Rewet glass with window brush.
  7. Sponge down window frame and tracks. Touch up the frames with green pad and angled knife, if needed.
  8. Sponge down perimeter of glass, prior to squeegeeing.
  9. Again, squeegee window nearest to you first to prevent splash back. On hot days, you may need to rewet the window. In construction window cleaning we choose not to fan squeegee our windows because the windows are usually too small. Also, sand and other debris could be a problem with this method.
  10. Sponge out window track, if there is one.
  11. Touch up glass and frames with rag as needed.
Common Causes of Scratched Glass
Although a hands-on examination of the actual scratch is required to conclusively determine the cause, there are several commonly occuring trends. Listed below are some of the more frequent causes of scratched glass.
  1. Windows being delivered to the project with scratches already on the glass are rare, but this does occur. This damage usually occurs during window fabrication, in transit to the project, or during the installation of the window. At times, scratches are present between the glass (inside the IG unit). Obviously, this type of defect occured before or during the fabrication of the IG unit.
  2. Sheetrocking crews at times scratch the glass while removing splattered taping mud from the window. If they use a contaminated or rusted broadknife to remove this excess mud, scratches often result. The fact that the window is usually dry at this time also contributes to the resulting scratches. Touch-up crews doing texture patches are at times guilty of the same type of scratches.
  3. Texture crews, when sanding the walls and jams, can scratch glass if they let their sanding block hit the glass. This usually happens when a sanding block is used to sand the corners around the window jams where the wall meets the jam. The scratches are usually 4 to 6 in. from the sides of the window and 4 to 6 in. from the top. Rarely are scratches of this type found along the bottom of the window, as this area usually doesn't require sanding. This type of scratch is also rare if the walls are framed with 2 x 6 studs (instead of 2 x 4), as the sanding block is not as likely to come into contact with the glass.
  4. Painters and other tradesmen can cause scratches by resting their ladders and other tools against the glass.
  5. Unqualified window cleaners can scratch glass by not using proven construction window cleaning techniques to remove construction debris safely.
  6. The most devasting scratches are caused by tempered glass defects. Often there is fabricating debris from the tempering process on the glass surface, which will cause scratching over the entire surface of the glass during normal construction window cleaning.
Exterior Scratches
  1. As stated above, windows being deliverd to the site with scratches are rare, but this does exist.
  2. Scratches can be caused by lathing wire being dragged across the glass during the installation of lathing wire and black paper.
  3. The application of plaster and stucco around the window, as well as plasterers attempting to remove plaster and stucco from the glass, can cause scratches.
  4. Painters and other tradesmen can cause scratches by resting their ladders and other tools against the glass.
  5. Unqualified window cleaners can scratch glass by not using proven construction window cleaning techniques to remove construction debris safely.
  6. The most devasting scratches are caused by tempered glass defects. Often there is fabricating debris from the tempering process on the glass surface, which will cause scratching over the entire surface of the glass during normal construction window cleaning.

Our Staff | Glass Facts | Clean References | Window Care | About Us | Pay Your Invoice | FAQ's | Home

©2017 All Rights Reserved Peeper Corp    e-mail: joe@peepercompany.com

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact Us
Proud Member of the WE LOVE TEXAS Network, Supporting Texas-based Small businesses!