Building Facade/Siding Cleaning
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Large Projects In The Cleaning World are Different – Critical to put the contractor through a selection framework

It can be a tough process for a Strata to undertake a large cleaning project. Their requirements often involve significant complexity, much of which may not be apparent to the residents when they first set out.

When the strata receives quotes back, they are confused when contractor submit prices and scopes that are wildly different. Moreover selecting the lowest cost often leads to an unsatisfactory outcome, as key facets of the job are unaddressed. This can lead to essential work being uncompleted or a second vendor being called in to complete the job.

How to avoid this situation? First is to grapple with number of essential questions.

  1. Why? Is the project required? what needs to be done?
  2. Clearly defining Specifications – Scope Of Work are not clearly defined
  3. What approach to cleaning? What are the industry standards for
  4. Vetting Contractors – are they reputable? Do they have the capacity and technical ability?
  5. What is the proposed workflow? How disruptive will it be for the location’s residents.
  6. What is the deficiency plan?
  7. Is there a clear point of contact and management structure for both the location and vendor.
  8. Is there a clear communication pathway and approach for providing project update.

When sourcing a contractor for a large cleaning project best results are achieved when you consider above and not simply engage the lowest bidder.

Water Restrictions – The Facts

So this week has seen a return to the hot summer weather in the Lower Mainland. While we are in better shape than last year, its still likely that we’re going to see water restrictions later in the summer.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 8.59.16 AMLast year there was immense confusion on what the water restrictions actually meant for the different types of exterior cleaning: window washing, pressure washing and building facade cleaning. Two of the three require significant amounts of water, which means we are subject to the water restrictions (sort of, more on that later.) With this in mind, a number of our clients cancelled work that was legally permissible to occur. Certainly they should be applauded for their proactive approach to water conservation, but it was done without understanding the regulations that govern this area, or the safeguards we have put into place to redress any problems we may encounter.

As you are probably aware, water restrictions are based on a four-stage system. As of last month, we are at the Stage 1 restrictions: the most tangible aspect for most people is watering lawns only on specific days. However, as the summer moves along, it is likely that we will see Stage II and perhaps even III restrictions. This gets a little more complicated. At Stage II, there are actually no restrictions on commercial cleaning of residential windows, driveways, patios or other features.

This changes once upgraded to Stage III, where there can be no pressure washing, however window washing of all types is permitted to occur. That however does not mean we can’t clean buildings: we just cannot use water from the public system. Last year we invested in large portable water tanks that we can bring on site to store water for our cleaning tasks. Since they are filled with water from private sources (including potable recycled water sources), they are not covered by the restrictions. A number of buildings were cleaned this way last year without any problems whatsoever. Moreover using public water for building façade and pressure washing is permitted if it is in preparation of applying a treatment or painting. For example, we completed some water proofing and caulking last August.

So as we enter into the hot months of the year and you are concerned that your building’s exterior won’t get cleaned, don’t be. We’re already on top of it, ensuring that you get the work done when you needed and with a minimum of fuss. That’s the ServiceMaster Clean difference.

Building Envelope / Facade Cleaning

Along with windows and the roof, the building façade is an important element of a location’s appearance and long term maintenance.

yellow sprint mid riseOils, dirt and soot buildup tend to be cosmetic issues that are comparatively easier to resolve. However, the wet west coast climate is an ideal climate for biological growths such as algae and moss.

Left unchecked, they can become a serious issue. Biological growth can release chemicals that can bleach a surface or weaken vinyl siding, concrete and mortar, which leaves them brittle and easy to damage. Wood siding is equally affected, as molds and mosses feed off their surface and accelerate rot. Left untreated, any of these issues could become a serious problem, leading to costly repairs and major inconveniences for residents.


There are three approaches to façade cleaning.

Hand Cleaning/Soft Wash

o These generally involve an individual cleaning the surface with mechanical action. This usually includes a water brush of some sort, with soap or some other agent used to loosen dirt and growths.
o This can be the most thorough approach to cleaning the façade but it is also the most time consuming. It is best used in cases where other techniques are unavailable or there are particularly stubborn issues on the surface.

Pressure Washing.
o Very effective and efficient: will remove almost everything from a surface.
o The high-pressure spray can damage wood, old vinyl and even certain types of brick. Thus it is critical that the façade is tested beforehand for its durability.

Cleaning Solutions
o Solutions are used often in conjunction with hand cleaning or pressure washing. They help to break down hardened grime that can’t be removed through either option alone.


As with other areas, the cleaning frequency may vary, but issues can start to emerge in less than two years. Residents should remain vigilant of these issues, and once contamination emerges cleaning is recommended. In general, spring and summer are the best times of year to undertake facade cleaning. The hot and dry weather weakens the growth and makes it easier to remove.

Building Facade Cleaning (BFC)

Building Facade cleaning.

BFC as we often shorten it to, is a major area of work that we offer. Its vitally necessary too. Our high moisture weather patterns, particularly in the spring, are ideal  growing conditions for a number of surface growth. This can include algae, moss, lichen and mold. However buildings can also be affected by oils, greases and soils, which present their own problems. All of these issues can start to become apparent in under two years.

At first, dirtied surfaces are only a cosmetic issue: it can give a prematurely aged look that drives down property values and potential rental income. Left over time, growth and soiling can leave lasting damage to the building.This can take many forms. Some forms of algae and molds release chemicals that can bleach a surface and cause weathering. At its worse, it can be a source of serious damage. Algae and molds can weaken vinyl siding, concrete and mortar, leaving them brittle and easy to damage. Wood siding is equally effected, as molds and mosses feed of their surface and accelerate rotting. Left untreated, any of these issues could become a serious problem, leading to costly repairs and major inconveniences for residents.

We employ a number of techniques to clean these surfaces effectively. Perhaps one the one that is most familiar to people is pressure washing. However its limited in what it can clean. The high pressure spray can damage wood, old vinyl and even certain types of brick. For these areas, we use the tried and tested brush scrub. This is a gentler approach, but it takes significantly more time. For particular tough areas we also apply a specialized cleaning solution that breaks down hardened grime that can’t be removed by regular soap and water. These can be applied separately, or as part of an in-line spray system.

In general, late spring and summer are the best times of year to undertake facade cleaning. The hot drier weather aids in two ways. The first is that most biological growth are weakest in these months due to a lack of water and are easier to remove. Second, the weather allows for quicker drying, which prevents streaks from forming and prevents any further growth from coming back.

Is your building showing some growth, or looking dirty? Call us today to get a quote.

Algae and Moss Cleaning

Algae.  Moss.  It feeds.  It grows.  It takes over the shady sides of your buildings and becomes more than just an ‘uglifier’.  It can eat into the surface of the building and do permanent damage.  It erodes paint, wood, and even concrete, the roots biting into surface and deteriorating that surface as it grows and spreads.

So what can you do about it?  Start by cleaning it off.

  • Pressure washing on vinyl siding is possible, if you have a skilled worker doing the task.  Washing must be performed in a downward motion, so as not to force water up and under the siding.  Care must be taken not to force water into the building envelope.
  • Hand scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush, soap, and algaecides also works, if you can’t pressure wash.
  • To help prevent it coming back year after year, using an algaecide with your cleaning will diminish the problem over repeated cleanings, lessening the return of growth over time.  There are types available which won’t damage plants around the area in which you’re working.
  • Trim back the landscaping; if you have algae growing on the shaded sides of your building, have the landscapers trim in ways that let more light into the shaded areas.  This will help reduce algae growth.
  • Clean the buildings in mid-summer.  The long, hot, dry days help in the cleaning process, by evaporating the water used in the cleaning process.  Also, this ensures you’ve waited until after the algae growth season (rainy, short winter and spring days), but you’ve cleaned and killed it before those conditions come back.
  • Paint an algaecide preventative coating onto troublesome surfaces.
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