Experienced exterior building cleaning companies use professional grade soaps and detergents combined with hot water and special low pressure cleaning equipment to clean building exteriors.
Depending on what the buildings exterior is made of the types of cleaners and the water pressure and the temperature of the water will vary, especially on Limestone, painted surfaces, aluminum, wood siding and EIFS. Building exteriors made from these types of materials require special cleaners to remove surface dirt and an Algae called Gloeocaspa Magma from the surface.
Maintenance Schedules For Exterior Building Cleaning
On average exterior building cleaning should be done every 3-5 years to properly maintain the structure. By creating a maintenance schedule for exterior building cleaning the building will not only have a more appealing look, it will also prevent heavy biological growths which hold moisture and slowly break down the buildings structure.
Identifying And Removing Stains Commonly Found On Buildings
When biological growths form on sealants they can break the bond of the material and allow water to enter. Once water enters the exterior walls of the building, two things happen. Mildew starts to grow inside the walls which is unhealthy for the occupants, and as the water penetrates back out to the exterior of the building, it brings mineral deposits with it, leaving staining behind on the exterior of the building as the moisture dries. This photo shows Lime Run, otherwise known as Carbonate Staining. It is 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.
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 are usually caused by Hydrocarbons from vehicles and Jet Fuel, or from a Bacterial based algae called Gloeocaspa Magma. Gloeocapsa magma is a species of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria, which photolyze water generating oxygen gas. Ancient cyanobacteria were ancestral to the chloroplasts of all plants on earth. Gloeocapsa magma has gained notoriety in the Southeastern United States, but, it is also spreading throughout the Midwest. This particular type of cyanobacteria is responsible for creating black stains and streaks on roofs. The bacteria accumulate over time as it feeds on moisture and calcium carbonate. This accumulation begins to show the black stains as the cyanobacteria develop their dark and hard UV-protective outer coating.
If you see uneven yellow or gold stains on the brick faces and in mortar joints like in this photo, it’s probably Acid Burn This is caused by cleaning the surface with Muriatic acid. The impurities in the acid are rapidly absorbed by porous masonry and when they are not properly rinsed off, the acid attacks the mortar and bricks.
Uneven white or gray stain on brick face or mortar joints. Often appears as vertical run marks. Does not disappear when wet. Cause: Inadequate prewetting or rinsing when cleaning with muriatic acid or other acidic solutions. Mortar dissolved
by the acid is absorbed by the dry wall surface to produce insoluble silicate salts commonly referred to as “scumming.”
Tan, brown or gray staining concentrated along mortar joints of brown, gray or other manganese-colored brick. Cause: Manganese dioxide dissolved in rainwater, construction water or
Muriatic acid. As water evaporates, manganese reacts with the alkaline mortar joint to create an insoluble brown stain.
Yellow, green or green/brown stains in the heart of light-colored brick units common in new or water-saturated construction. Cause: Water-soluble vanadium salts dissolve in
rainwater, construction water or muriatic acid. As water evaporates, salts form on masonry surface to create unsightly stains.
Loose, powdery surface deposit that disappears when wet and may reappear as drying continues. Cause: Water-soluble salts dissolved in rainwater, construction water or groundwater. As water evaporates from wet bricks, it leaves the crystallized salts on the surface.
Our Exterior Building Cleaning Process
After inspecting the building as closely as possible, Commercial Restorations will use man lifts, hot water pressure washers and professional grade environmentally friendly soaps and detergents to clean the exterior of the building using our proven low pressure cleaning system to remove Gloeocaspa magma, mold, mildew, hydrocarbons, pollen and surface dirt using a special exterior building cleaning process that we designed over the last 25 years to ensure the best results.
- Locate exterior water sources on the building to replenish our tanks.
- Caution tape off the work area as needed.
- Wet down the building exterior and all adjacent areas with water and cover plants as needed with water proof tarps.
- Pre-treat stained areas with bio-degradable cleaners at 20 PSI – 25 PSI.
- Clean stained areas using 400PSI – 600PSI, 120 degree water at 8GPM with a stainless steel, 40 degree fan spray nozzles.
- Apply specialty stone, wood, siding, EIFIS, Stucco, brick or concrete cleaners to surfaces as needed.
- Apply bio-degradable soaps and detergents on the rest of the surfaces to be cleaned.
- Clean all surfaces using 400PSI – 600PSI, 120 degree water at 8GPM with a stainless steel, 40 degree fan spray nozzles.
- Apply our Polymer Wet Wax solution to add a light luster to the siding, and reduce mildew growth.
- Final rinse of the buildings with our SoSoft water conditioner and water softener to reduce streaks on the windows.
- Remove tarps, rinse down plants and surfaces adjacent to work area.
- Inspect the building for quality assurance and perform a final clean up of the area.
Our system for exterior building cleaning is extremely detailed and will remove all surface dirt, mold and mildew. But regardless of the methods we use for exterior building cleaning, some stains may have penetrated the surface and they may not come completely clean or they might leave a shadow behind. Of course Commercial Restorations will always attempt to remove all staining, and in 99% of our projects the building owner is amazed at what we are able to accomplish.
Our Company Policies For Exterior Building Cleaning
Commercial Restorations will not risk using strong acids, hazardous chemicals or high pressure methods that may damage or stain the surfaces being cleaned. This is what we consider “responsible building cleaning practices” which we created in order to protect the structure of the buildings that we clean.
All of our exterior building cleaning services will be done in compliance with Federal and Local Clean Water Act regulations by using our specially designed water reclamation pumps and vacuum systems as needed to stop water runoff from exterior building cleaning from entering the storm drains. All runoff will be directed into grassy areas for bio-remediation, pumped into water storage tanks or pumped into sanitary sewer systems for treatment according to the Clean Water Act.
All work will be completed in a professional manner by uniformed employees. Areas that are being cleaned will be roped off with caution tape as needed during the process for the safety of pedestrians, our employees and our pressure washing equipment.
Commercial Restorations will bring water to the job and use water from the buildings or from Fire Hydrants (with our permit) to replenish our tanks during exterior building cleaning jobs. If we are unable to access water from the building, we can bring in a water tanker if necessary at an additional charge.