Liability and safety issues are among building service contractors’ top concerns when cleaning exterior windows on high-rise residential and commercial buildings. To ensure the safety of workers suspended from the rooftops, BSCs must invest in special equipment, such as cleaning platforms, powered lifts and bosun chairs, and adhere to local regulations for use of this equipment.

To avoid the risks and costs associated with window washing, many BSCs outsource window cleaning to professional window washing companies. However, recent technological advancements in the window cleaning industry have increased worker safety and improved productivity. As a result, new tools may have some BSCs rethinking their position.

“One of the things the window cleaning industry would agree on is water-fed poles have dramatically changed the window cleaning world,” says Jack Evans, president of the International Window Cleaning Association and owner of 20/20 Window Cleaning of NC in Raleigh N.C.

These extendable wands have water running through them, allowing window washers to stand on the ground yet still reach windows up to about six stories high.
While the European market has been using water-fed poles for years, the United States has been slow to catch on.

“Once people realized what you could do with water-fed poles they became more popular,” says Evans. “These poles eliminated some of the safety risks of putting people up on ladders.”

Recent improvements have made these tools even more efficient and user friendly.

“The older telescoping poles were made of aluminum, so they were heavy and unwieldy,” says Paul Condie, vice president of operations for KBM Facility Solutions in San Diego. “The newer ones are made of carbon fiber so they are durable and lightweight.”

Instead of telescoping out, these carbon fiber poles are extended by adding on sections as needed, allowing the operator to clean windows with ease up to heights of approximately 50 to 60 feet.

Evans uses a modular water-fed pole that is capable of reaching heights of approximately 80 feet.

“When you have it up to 40 or 50 feet, you can take two fingers on the bottom of the pole, even with water in it, and lift it up and down,” he says.

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