Experienced exterior building cleaning companies use hot water, special low-pressure cleaning equipment, and professional grade soaps and detergents to clean building exteriors effectively without damaging the surface. The temperature and pressure of the water, and types of professional cleaners used vary based on the type of building exterior, such as limestone, aluminum, wood, EIFS, and painted surfaces. Building exteriors made from these materials require specialized cleaners to remove surface dirt and tough stains.
Maintenance Schedules For Exterior Building Cleaning
Exterior building surfaces should be cleaned every 3-5 years on average to properly maintain them. Creating a maintenance schedule for pressure washing walkways and exterior building surfaces will not only grant buildings a cleaner, more professional, more appealing look, but will also prevent biological growths such as gloeocapsa magma – a type of algae that slowly breaks down the structure of buildings.
Identifying And Removing Stains Commonly Found On Buildings
Exterior building surfaces should be cleaned every 3-5 years on average to properly maintain them. Creating a maintenance schedule for exterior surfaces will not only grant buildings a cleaner, more professional, more appealing look, but will also prevent biological growths such as gloeocapsa magma – a type of algae that slowly breaks down the structure of buildings.
This photo shows Lime Run – otherwise known as Carbonate Staining – a hard white or gray surface crust concentrated along a mortar joint or running down from a hole or separation crack between bricks and mortar joints. These stains are both unappealing and can eventually threaten the structural integrity of buildings.
One of the most common problems we remove during exterior building cleaning jobs are black stains like the ones in this photo. These black stains often caused by hydrocarbons from vehicles and jet fuel, or from bacteria-based algae called gloeocapsa magma. Gloeocapsa magma is a type of cyanobacteria, which is an ancient species of photosynthesizing bacteria that photolyzes water to generate oxygen gas. Gloeocapsa magma has become notorious in the southeastern United States and is rapidly spreading throughout the Midwest. It latches onto exterior surfaces and accumulates over time as it feeds on moisture and the calcium carbonate from buildings. Once enough of the bacteria accumulates, it develops a tough and dark UV-protective outer coating that shows as black stains on exterior surfaces.
Uneven yellow or gold stains on brick surfaces and in mortar joints are usually acid burns, which are caused by improperly cleaning surfaces with muriatic acid. If muriatic acid is not properly rinsed away after cleaning surfaces, the impurities in the acid penetrate porous masonry like mortar and brick, resulting in tough and unappealing stains that gradually damage the surface further.
Failing to adequately pre-wet or rinse surfaces when cleaning with muriatic acid, or other acidic solutions, results in uneven white or gray stains that often appear as vertical run marks. This occurs when mortar dissolved by the acid solutions is absorbed by the dry wall surface, which produces insoluble silicate salts commonly referred to as “scumming.”
Brown manganese stains consists of tan, brown, or gray marks along the mortar joints of similarly-colored bricks. Brawn manganese stains result from manganese dioxide dissolved in rainwater, construction water, or muriatic acid. As the water evaporates on the surface, manganese reacts with the alkaline mortar joint to create an insoluble brown stain.
Green vanadium stains are yellow, green, or brownish green marks in the heart of light brick surfaces. These stains are caused by water-soluble vanadium salts that dissolve in rainwater, construction water, or muriatic acid, and thus are common in newly constructed or water-saturated exterior surfaces. As the water evaporates on the surface, salt is deposited on the masonry to create unsightly, penetrating stains.
White efflorescence stains are loose, powdery surface deposits that disappear when wet and reappear when the surface dries. These stains are caused by water-soluble salts that dissolve in rainwater, construction water, or groundwater. The water evaporates on brick surfaces and leaves dry salt that crystallizes into loose, powdery deposits.
Our Exterior Building Cleaning Process
Commercial Restorations first carefully inspects the building to determine the safest and most effective cleaning processes. These processes often involve construction lifts to reach surfaces high off the ground, hot water and high pressure washing equipment, and professional-grade, environmentally safe soaps and detergents. Our low-pressure cleaning system safely removes stains resulting from surface dirt, mold, mildew, pollens, and hydrocarbons, and has been optimized for safety and effectiveness over the last 25 years.
Our exterior cleaning process is broken down as follows.
1. Locate exterior water sources on the building to supply our water tanks.
2. Block off the work are with caution tape, as needed.
3. Thoroughly wet down the building exterior and all adjacent areas with water, including plants and nearby cars.
4. Cover exposed plants with water proof tarps, as needed.
5. Pre-treat stains with bio-degradable cleaners at 20 PSI – 25 PSI.
6. Apply specialized surface cleaners to stone, wood, siding, brick, stucco, etc., as needed.
7. Apply industry standard, bio-degradable soaps and detergents to remaining surfaces.
8. Wash all surfaces with water at a temperature of 120 degrees and a pressure of 400 – 600 PSI.
9. Apply our Polymer Wet Wax solution to surfaces, which adds a light luster to siding and reduces mildew growth.
10. Perform final rinse of all surfaces with our SoSoft water conditioner and water softener, which reduces streaks on windows and other glass surfaces.
11. Remove tarps from plants. Thoroughly rinse plants and all adjacent surfaces, including those of cars.
12. Inspect the building for quality assurance. Thoroughly clean debris and residue from the surrounding area.
Our exterior building cleaning system is extremely detailed and consistent, guaranteed to remove all surface, mold, and mildew. However, even our refined method may fail to entirely remove stains that have had time to penetrate the surface, leaving residue or a shadow behind. These cases are rare, as Commercial Restorations will always attempt to remove all stains from surfaces and will succeed in the majority of cases. Building owners are amazed by what we accomplish in 99% of our projects.
Our Company Policies For Exterior Building Cleaning
Commercial Restorations employs what we call our “responsible building cleaning practices,” which we created to protect the structure and surfaces of buildings that we clean. Commercial Restorations will not risk using strong acids, environmentally or medically hazardous chemicals, or excessively high-water pressure, as these methods may further damage surfaces and endanger employees or civilians.
We perform all our exterior building cleaning services in compliance with the Federal and Local Clean Water Act, by using our specialized water reclamation pumps and vacuum systems to prevent water runoff from entering storm drains. Runoff is instead pumped into water storage tanks, directed into grassy areas for bio-remediation, or pumped into sanitary sewer systems for treatment in accordance with the Clean Water Act.
Employees of Commercial Restorations will complete all work in uniform and in a professional manner. Areas that are nearby to cleaned surfaces will be blocked off with caution tape as necessary for the safety of pedestrians, and for the security of our employees and pressure washing equipment.
Commercial Restorations will bring a large reserve of water to exterior surface cleaning jobs, and replenish this supply as needed using the exterior water sources of buildings or using nearby Fire Hydrants with a professional permit. Jobs that prevent water replenishment on-site may require the use of a water tanker at additional charge.