The Role of Pressure Washing in Maintaining Your Building’s Exterior

Adding pressure washing to your routine building maintenance strategy is a simple yet effective way to achieve a clean and attractive facade. In spite of its simplicity, pressure washing is an often-neglected strategy for maintaining a building’s exterior thought to be reserved for the toughest of stains or addressing years of neglect. 

Pressure washing revitalizes surfaces by cleaning and removing pollutants such as oils, mold, graffiti, and rust, thus making your building appear years younger. However, removing all those pollutants also contributes to your building’s structural longevity and can make walkways safer. In this article, we will walk you through the ins and outs of pressure washing, including what you should pressure wash and what you shouldn’t, along with the benefits of adding pressure washing to your routine property maintenance and spring cleaning

The Dual Benefits of Pressure Washing: Aesthetic and Structural

In spite of its deep roots in physics, pressure washing is fairly straightforward. A water pump accelerates water creating a high-pressure stream. The water is then directed through a hose and out a spray wand. Users can tackle different levels of cleaning tasks by adjusting the pressure and changing the nozzle. 

Getting the most out of your commercial property requires proper maintenance that addresses its aesthetic appeal and structural integrity. Pressure washing shines in this facet, as it supports both of these goals. Leveraging this type of facade maintenance will improve your curb appeal, thus adding value. In addition, pressure washing can also remove harmful pollutants capable of breaking down sealants and other vital materials designed to protect your property. 

Can You Pressure Wash Your Building’s Facade? 

The type of material being pressure washed, the level of pressure, and the nozzle all factor into whether or not you can pressure wash your facade. The pressure or water flow is measured by pounds per square inch (PSI) or gallons per minute (GPM). To better understand this, let’s take a look at the three levels of pressure washers

  • Light-duty pressure washers – up to 1900 PSI (2 GPM) and are designed for residential requirements. 
  • Heavy-duty pressure washers – top out at 2800 PSI (3 GPM) and can tackle most commercial requirements. 
  • Industrial pressure washers – max out around 7000 PSI (5 GPM) and are more efficient at taking on the toughest tasks. 

To put that in perspective, an automatic car wash operates at 1,000 – 1,200 PSI, while a pressure washer up to 7000 PSI can remove graffiti and paint and cut through wood. The U.S. General Services Admission (GSA) advises against pressure washing porous materials (red brick, marble, stone, etc.) due to the risk of severe damage. 

The nozzle on the pressure washer determines the cleaning pressure. Without the nozzle, you would just have a motor-powered garden hose. The lower the angle of the nozzle, the more intense the spray pattern. For instance, a 0o spray pattern produces a laser-esque stream useful for tough jobs, while a 40o spray pattern is wider and softer, making it ideal for more delicate surfaces. Turbo nozzles rotate and, when combined with a 0o spray pattern, have more power and cover more ground which can speed up the cleaning process. 

You must also factor in the materials you are pressure washing, as using the wrong combination of pressure and nozzle can damage them or produce poor results. Companies providing professional pressure washing services often have specialized equipment to transport pressure washing equipment to hard-to-reach spaces or where water is inaccessible. 

So, the answer is “Yes”, you can pressure wash your facade if you do it correctly. This is where leaning on professional expertise can make all the difference. Professional pressure washing companies know what PSI, nozzle, and technique each job requires without damaging your property. Next, we will cover which technique works best in various situations. 

Choosing the Right Technique: High PSI vs. Soft Washing

Soft washing offers a gentler approach through low-pressure water, often combined with specialized cleaning solutions. This technique effectively removes dirt, algae, moles, and other contaminants and is ideal for those porous surfaces we mentioned. High PSI pressure washing harnesses the power of high-pressure water to tackle tough stains and build-up on durable surfaces. It’s an excellent choice for areas that endure heavy use and require deep cleaning.

Ideal Applications for Each Method

High PSI Pressure Washing

  • Sidewalks and curbs: Removes gum, stains, moss, mold, and grime effectively.
  • Walkways and retaining walls: Cleans deep-seated dirt and revitalizes the appearance.
  • Loading docks and dumpster pads: Essential for sanitation, and removing oil, grease, and debris.

Just like doing dishes at home, hot water works best for the toughest jobs. When high PSI isn’t enough, hot-pressure washers may be required to achieve the desired results. Rusting, for instance, is extremely difficult to remove. It’s also a good sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, or that same rusting will return.

Soft Washing

  • Exterior facades: Protects against damage while cleaning, especially those made of materials like vinyl, wood, Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), or certain types of stone and brick.
  • Roofs and gutters: Removes mold and mildew without risking structural damage.
  • Landscaped areas: Using harmful chemicals to speed up the cleaning process can easily create a costly landscaping problem. Areas above sensitive vegetation require a mix of gentle psi and the proper chemical that gets the desired result while taking avoidable damage out of play. 

With the right technique, pressure washing keeps your property clean and well-maintained, preventing costly repairs. 

Revitalize Your Property with Pressure Washing Services from AwnClean

Pressure washing revives your property, improves safety, and removes harmful contaminants capable of causing damage. It’s an effective way of keeping your property looking its best and a must-add for most property’s year-round upkeep. We take on pressure-washing projects of all scopes and sizes, including facades, parking garages, loading docks, and more. Here are some features that help us stand out from the crowd. 

  • Pressure Washing Expertise: Our pressure-washing team knows precisely what technique, nozzle, and angle to use on various building surfaces. 
  • High-Rise Pressure Washing: We understand what it takes to pressure wash the highest heights with the utmost safety precautions. 
  • Sustainability Mindset: When jobs arise that require chemicals, we leverage our expertise to choose the appropriate chemical cleaning solution to restore your facade’s appearance without harming your facade or the environment. 

At AwnClean, our pressure-washing team is ready to rejuvenate your property. Contact us today for a quote, and let our team exceed your expectations.

Prioritizing Safety of Building Façade Access and Fall Protection

Your building’s façade conveys the first impression of aesthetics and serves as your first line of defense against environmental factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires you, as a building owner, to mitigate risks and provide a safe working environment for those performing work on your building, including general maintenance. This article covers the essential role of safety measures in mitigating risks through safe building façade access and proper fall protection. 

The Significance of Safe Building Façade Access

Building collapses are rare. The risk of that happening poses a significant threat to public safety. For this reason, many of our major cities in the U.S. have façade ordinance laws that require inspections. Here are some examples

  • Chicago is home to the Willis Tower, the treasure of the Windy City skyline. Our nation’s third-tallest building, including antennas, reaches 1,750 feet. Depending on the type of building, Chicago requires façade inspections to occur between four and 12 years for buildings over 80 feet tall. 
  • Philadelphia was home to the world’s tallest building from 1894 to 1908. Nowadays, Philly boasts nearly 60 skyscrapers. Façade inspections are required every five years for buildings exceeding six stories or with an appurtenance taller than 60 feet. 

Safe building façade access facilitates inspections while allowing you to maintain and repair your façade, addressing minor issues before they become big problems. Window cleaning, pressure washing the façade, and leak repairs allow you to extend the life of your building, preserving its value while protecting the public. In addition, safe access is critical to creating the safe working environment OSHA requires, along with proper training, equipment, and protocols. 

Overview of Building Façade Access Methods

Accessing the façade, especially on taller buildings, is not for the faint of heart. Workers need to feel physically and psychologically safe when performing façade work. This environment allows them to maintain their focus, keep safety at the forefront, and actively speak up about safety concerns. The equipment they use to traverse the façade has many shapes and forms. 

  1. Rope Descent Systems (RDS): Think of rappelling, but for work! Workers use ropes to descend the side of the building for window cleaning or minor repairs on high-rise buildings. 
  • Pro: It’s quicker to set up, less bulky, and more cost-effective than scaffolding. 
  • Cons: There’s a height limit of 300 feet by OSHA standards due to the combined risk of lengthy rope and wind. 
  1. Suspended Scaffolding: When scaffolding from the ground up isn’t enough, scaffolds can suspend from an overhead structure, allowing workers to move to the desired level. 
  • Pro: It’s stable, can handle a lot of weight, and allows multiple workers and equipment to operate on the platform at once. 
  • Con: It takes time to set up and take down and can be expensive and obstructive.
  1. Lifts (Aerial Lifts and Booms): Because they offer mobility, aerial lifts provide more flexibility than ladders and scaffolding. In extreme cases, boom lifts can reach a couple hundred feet but mainly provide façade access for the first few stories of a building. 
  • Pro: They’re fast and flexible.
  • Con: They can only reach some places, are costly to rent, and are limited by the ground around the building, such as uneven surfaces or space constraints.
  1. Building Maintenance Units (BMU): These are permanent setups on the tops of the tallest skyscrapers. They’re like a little car on a track going around the roof, lowering a platform down the side. 
  • Pros: They can cover the entire building and are reusable.
  • Cons: They are expensive to install and maintain and are only financially viable with tall or complex buildings.

Every method requires specific training and routine inspection to ensure safety and meet OSHA fall protection regulations. 

Identifying Your Building’s Façade Access Needs

The primary goal is to create and maintain a safe working environment for anyone accessing your building façade. Begin with assessing your building’s architecture, safety incidents or concerns, and recent façade inspections. 

Valcourt Safety Systems assesses your façade access needs with a full inspection and a customized plan to achieve compliance. You can rest easy, as our expert team takes the worry of non-compliance off your plate. Our end-to-end solutions cover design and installation, followed by post-install support for testing and certification. 

Elevating Safety for Building Façade Access

Whether you are a building owner, an employer, or a worker at heights, you have a role in fall protection. Each role relies on the other to carry out its respective responsibilities to ensure safety and reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from falls. 

Leveraging Building Facade Maintenance to Beat the Odds in a Challenging Market

In the face of reduced office occupancy post-pandemic, increased vacancies, and a cooling residential rental market, building managers and property owners must once again prioritize their efforts to attract tenants. Strategic façade maintenance enhances aesthetic appeal, attracting tenants and buyers; improves energy efficiency, reducing operational costs; and ensures safety, mitigating costly legal and repair liabilities. This comprehensive approach ensures that every dollar spent on facade maintenance not only preserves but also adds value to the property, making it a wise and fruitful investment in today’s competitive real estate market.

Current Market Challenges for Commercial Buildings

In today’s uncertain economic landscape, characterized by escalating costs and a squeeze on capital, commercial property owners face a crucial need to adapt. The commercial real estate sector is navigating a turbulent period marked by significant challenges:

Impact of High-Interest Rates: Rising interest rates have reduced commercial real estate lending activity. With fixed and floating-rate loan costs increasing, property sales are facing financial pressure. Higher interest rates have raised debt service payments and tightened underwriting criteria, impacting loan proceeds and necessitating additional financial safeguards.

Low Office Occupancy Rates: The aftermath of the pandemic has brought about a notable change in work patterns, resulting in decreased office occupancy rates. This change has directly influenced buyer perceptions, making it challenging for property owners to maintain or increase the value of their office spaces.

Navigating a Perfect Storm: High interest and low occupancy rates create a perfect storm. Experts predict an outcome that lands somewhere between manageable and plunging values worse than The Great Financial Crisis. Building managers must showcase their properties as attractive investments with tangible value.

In light of evolving market dynamics, including heightened interest rates and evolving office occupancy trends, savvy building management is more crucial than ever. Leveraging a building facade maintenance repair and inspection checklist is one proven method to stay on top of your building’s needs.

First Impressions: The Importance of Facade Maintenance 

First impressions can influence long-term tenant satisfaction and retention, impacting the property’s profitability and reputation. A well-maintained façade immediately conveys a sense of quality and care, making the property more appealing to potential tenants and buyers. A building’s exterior reflects its overall value and the quality of maintenance it receives.

Building façade maintenance balances the demands of aesthetic modernization, energy efficiency, and safety. This approach is not just about preserving assets; it’s about enhancing property value, ensuring cost efficiency in an environment of rising costs, and delivering a solid first impression to potential tenants.

Financial Benefits of Façade Maintenance

The financial advantages of façade maintenance are significant and multi-faceted, directly impacting the long-term fiscal health of commercial properties.

Long-Term Cost Savings: Preventive maintenance is cost-effective, preemptively addressing minor issues before they escalate into major facade repairs. We’ve seen cases of minor facade work being put off only to result in significant repair at ten times the cost and contribute to other damage.

Enhanced Property Valuation: Consistent and thorough façade maintenance increases a property’s valuation. Property owners preserve and potentially elevate the building’s market value by conducting regular facade assessments and modernizing the exterior, contributing to a higher return on investment.

Energy Efficiency: Sealing windows and glass restoration can significantly enhance a building’s energy efficiency and deliver lower energy costs.

Mitigating Safety Hazards: By addressing safety-related issues through façade maintenance, property owners can avoid the potential legal and financial ramifications associated with accidents or hazards.

The financial aspects of façade maintenance are integral to sustaining a building’s structural integrity, energy efficiency, and overall market appeal.

Enhancing Curb Appeal Through Façade Maintenance

This first impression often goes two ways: enhancing curb appeal conveys the message that the building is well cared for while lacking curb appeal brings a heightened acuity to other issues.

Window Cleaning: Including stain removal and glass restoration, these services ensure clear, sparkling windows, enhancing the building’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Facade Cleaning: Utilizing pressure washing and other cleaning techniques, Awnclean effectively cleans various façade materials, from brick and concrete to synthetic stucco and EIFS.

Metal Cleaning: Specialized metal mullion polishing services restore and maintain the luster of metal components, contributing to the building’s visual appeal.

Retail/Lobby Storefront Cleaning: Clean and well-maintained storefronts and lobbies create welcoming environments for visitors and potential clients.

Bird Proofing: This service helps maintain the cleanliness and integrity of the façade, preventing unsightly and damaging bird-related issues.

Incorporating these services into a regular maintenance routine addresses visible wear and tear and enhances the property’s perceived value.

Strengthening Property Value through Strategic Facade Maintenance

Protecting commercial property through facade maintenance is an ideal strategy for property managers and building owners to employ in the face of commercial real estate headwinds. Prioritizing services like window cleaning, pressure washing, metal mullion polishing, and bird-proofing collectively contribute to a stronger, more attractive, and financially sound property.

With over 35 years of experience, Awnclean’s team is adept at servicing various façade types, offering tailored solutions like facade repair & restoration and emergency leak repairs. Our comprehensive services ensure that minor issues don’t escalate into major concerns. Contact Awnclean for a quote tailored to your building’s facade maintenance needs.