First rate façade maintenance

by FM Media
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ERROL GOLDBERG, managing director of Pall Mall Manufacturing, offers advice on cleaning and maintaining exterior building materials – from windows to solar panels – and how to achieve the best results.

First impressions count. It’s an accepted fact in all walks of life. House buyers won’t rush to view a property if they are faced with rotten windows and an overgrown front garden, and potential employers are more likely to hire a smartly turned out candidate than one clad in jeans and a scruffy T-shirt.
The same goes for the image of a building. Whatever its function, keeping its premises pristine, both outside and in, is crucial. A building’s exterior is the public face of the organisation, so if it looks neglected, chances are that both existing and potential clients will be less than impressed and take their trade elsewhere. Whereas, a smart, clean façade presents a professional face to the world.
Making sure that an effective and regular cleaning regime is in place is, therefore, a must, but there are many different issues that need to be taken into consideration when cleaning the façades of buildings.

Advances in technology have a big part to play in influencing how an industry sector evolves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the most obvious and visual manifestation of façade maintenance – window cleaning. The ‘traditional’ days are long gone – thanks to advances in design that have made window cleaning faster, safer and more efficient.
As with any cleaning job, site surveys and risk assessments will help to establish the best equipment to deliver the results required. They can also identify gaps in knowledge or training, and how frequently the façade needs to be cleaned.
The different materials that need to be cleaned must also be taken into consideration. For instance, is it primarily glass windows that need to be cleaned, or are there other materials on the exterior of the building that will also need attention, such as metal signage?
With an increasing awareness of environmental issues, companies are also thinking about incorporating energy saving into their business activities, and energy creation is a hot topic. Installing solar panels represents a big investment in both time and money, so businesses need to ensure that they are kept in tiptop condition to reap the expected rewards.

No matter where a building is sited, solar panels are exposed to the weather and environmental influences 24/7, 365 days a year. Dust, dirt and other deposits not only look unsightly, they affect the performance of the panels. Traffic fumes and soot can build up quickly, especially on systems that are located near roads, railway stations or on industrial parks, where there is a constant stream of trucks, vans and cars.
The angle at which the panels are placed can also have an impact. It’s widely agreed that if the panels lay very flat there will be more deposits to deal with. A steeper angle will help to a certain extent, but dirt may still have a tendency to collect in lower corners. And, although rain removes some of the existing dirt, it also deposits new dirt on the surface.
Soiling left on solar panels stops sunlight from getting through, meaning that less energy is produced, in some cases resulting in a decrease in efficiency of 30 percent. Thus, regular cleaning should be put in place to ensure this investment is protected.
With further developments in technology and training in response to market forces and customer needs, façade maintenance and cleaning can only continue to become easier, quicker and more professional.

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