[SIZE=2][B]A Beginners Guide to Water-Fed-Pole
[COLOR=black]Courtesy of: [/COLOR][/B][/SIZE][COLOR=black]Jeff from the Uk WFP Training Academy[/COLOR][SIZE=2] [B][COLOR=black]
Please check out Jeff’s site here:
This guide is written for the soul purpose to help those individuals or company?s contemplating or seeking to invest time and money, into to the new water-fed-pole system, they are the author?s views and the author?s views only, they are based on his own experience, unto which he except?s no responsibility to which ever method you employ or accidents caused to or by you, using the water-fed-pole method or this guide.
The Water-Fed-pole system is increasingly becoming more and more popular within the trade of window cleaning; it is a method that can not only have the potential to increase your turnover, but its has also been recognized by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as one of the safest methods of cleaning windows from the safety of the ground.
Where do we begin?
The first thing I personally did was to join some of the many forums available to window cleaners on the internet. There are forums that dealt with all types of cleaning, some included window cleaning sections, weather it was using the Traditional methods or the water-fed-pole method, now increasingly the water-fed-pole method is creeping in more and more, as more individuals and companies alike realise, the way forward is by using the water-fed-pole method.
Before I changed over to the wfp method a very good friend and I, decided to create a forum dedicated solely to the water-fed-pole method and so the water-fed-pole-Training Academy was born.
After nine years of window cleaning my body decided a change was in order, So I began by asking lots of questions on the forums, the vast knowledge and experience these guys?s have is over whelming, ask a question and you will get a string of truthful answers, based on there own experience?s and findings, now you can?t take everyone?s views and advice, so you have to gather together all the information you feel is relevant to your own needs, at the end you should have enough information to help you decide the best way forward.
Each and every window cleaner or company have many different clients (customers) each of these clients have different needs and access issues, so we will have to address the issues as to which method will best suit us and to serve these clients needs.
Some of our clients won?t even like the new method, now theses are normally within the domestic market, our commercial clients aren?t always to fussy how there windows get cleaned, but some are heath and safety conches, and insist we use the safest method available, and providing the building isn?t above our reach, then the water-fed-pole method is the safest way.
Let?s take a look at our needs for the Domestic market first?
Will we need a van mount for these?, or will a simple backpack or trolley system serve our needs? Again the choice is going to have to be yours, based on your funds available, and also any access issues you may have including your client base.
Backpacks and Trolleys
The backpack is by far the cheapest means of entering into the world of water-fed-pole.
If you have a lot of clients in rows of terraced houses, where you have access issues around the back, or worse still you have to gain access to the back, by going through the client?s house, then most certainly a backpack or trolley is by far your best means, you don?t really want hose pipes trailing through your clients house, there are health and safety issues to take into account if you do, apart from the fear of a burst or leaking hose and an insurance claim being made against you.
A backpack system is also useful, as an additional item that is kept in your vehicle, for the odd and occasional awkward access problem you may encounter, if carrying the weight of a backpack on your back is not possible, you can always move your backpack around by putting it onto a small sack truck/trolley the shurflo backpack has a capacity of 4 us gallons or 15.14 Liters.
When filling your backpack the level indication marks should be taken as a guide only as the volume of the tank can vary in the molding process.
A purpose built trolley system is also the same, but has the added benefit of being able to operate as a van mount system; and can carry one or even two water containers, it can also be attached to a larger water tank in your vehicle and a longer hose attached to it, and when needed for the odd awkward property it can simply be detached and converted back to a trolley system.
The disadvantage of the backpacks and trolley mounts is the need to keep returning to your vehicle to refill with water, if you have quite a few clients in one road, you can drop water containers off at certain points along the way, to save the trouble of returning to your vehicle, again place the containers safely, so as not to cause a trip hazard to members of the public or clients.
The refilling of a backpack from a tank or containers from your vehicle can be achieved using different methods; the simplest and cheapest method is by siphoning the water from you main supply into the backpack, if you have smaller containers you can simply just pour from the container into your backpack, other methods employed are by transfer by an 12v electric pump that is connected to your auxiliary battery.
A trailer system is useful if you have only the use of the family car, or no call for purchasing a van mount system…
A Trailer mount system can be built professionally or by doing it yourself, I built my trailer and my complete system myself, the trailer its self has to be capable of carrying the weight of the water weather it be in a tank or containers, also the added weight of the hose reel and hose, also the 12v pump, pole/s, safety signs, and any traditional window cleaning equipment you may use.
In my own trailer I have a 250ltr tank along with all the other equipment I need, so there is a considerable weight issue, therefore my trailer is fitted with brakes, (not all trailers need brakes) so check the law on weight restrictions before taking this option, also on the rear sides of my trailer, I added a set of legs that I could drop down when the trailer was unhitched from the car, this stopped the trailer tipping up when taking it of the car.
Other considerations to take into account when thinking of the trailer option is the skill needed to reverse your car with a trailer on, take it to a car park and spend a few hours practicing your reversing skills, this still won?t be enough to make you proficient, and this only comes with time and experience.
You may also have to consider the storage and parking of your trailer when not in use; you may also want to think about the security of your trailer, hundreds of pounds worth of equipment just sat there for the taking,. My own trailer has a tow hitch lock on it, and an independent alarm system and a lockable metal lid.
Other issues with trailers are insurance ones, you will have to insure your car for commercial use with a trailer, and the trailer itself should be insured separately, along with its contents.
This has to be the most popular route taken by window cleaners, it will be a mobile work station complete with Tank, pumps, hose?s and in some cases its own water purifying equipment and just about everything else the individual needs to complete a days work.
There are many issues to consider when thinking of a van mount system and most of them will be governed by finances.
There are purpose made vans systems by manufacturers, with lease options; there are options to lease just a van on its own, and you can add the water-fed-pole system yourself, or have one of the many suppliers fit a full and professional system for you. A list of some suppliers who fit these systems is listed at the end of this guide.
Different methods are employed by window cleaners in the way they set up there own van mount system.
The are an increasingly number of window cleaners now installing there own system after purchasing all the parts from various suppliers, an excellent system can be built by the competent Diy?ers amongst us, there is a specific forum dedicated to Diy options.
There are 3 types of systems available, the first we will mention is the DI (de-ionised) system the DI range is based around the same delivery structure as the RO systems but uses high capacity DI canisters to purify the water, this allows almost unlimited water production on the job, the cost of replacing the resin in the DI canisters all depends on the water softness in your area, soft water and the resin will last longer than it would in a hard water area.
RO-Systems, RO technology is capable of consistently producing millions of litres of pure water at minimal cost. These units will produce from 200-300 litres per hour, day after day, month after month, with only 20% waste water. These systems are Simple to maintain and operate.
Finally we have the water transfer method were the pure water is produced at home or on other premises by any of the methods used above, only on a smaller scale, the water is then held in a storage tank on the premises, the water is then transferred from the holding tank, via a transfer pump directly into your vehicles tank so the size tank you choose for your vehicle should be large enough for water for a days work, unless you are close enough to the premises to enable you to return to refill your tank.
When choosing a tank for a van mount please be advised to check your vehicles hand book for the maximum gross weight and take into account things like a full tanks of fuel, driver and passenger weight, hose and reel/s ladders and other equipment you may carry, use a local weigh bridge if your unsure.
Fitting a The Tank into a Van or Trailer.
Most System fitting suppliers, fit there tanks into a cage; this is by far the best way to ensure safety if funds allow then take this route, you wouldn’t want a tank full of water come flying at your in the event of an accident in your van.
Flat and upright tanks are available in different sizes, from 125ltrs and above, Some tanks are fitted with baffles at the manufacturing stage, there are also custom made tanks available should you need one.
Your systems will comprise of a Water storage tank, this Tank must be bolted to the floor of your van, or trailer if the trailer doesn’t have a lid, making sure the bolts holding the tank go through the chassis of the van/trailer, and not just the floor, the floor of a van/trailer does not have enough strength to hold the tank in position in the event of a collision, also high tensile steel nuts and bolts should be used along with star washers, on installing these nuts and bolts, the bolt its self should be turned to tighten the system and not the nuts, this has the affect of pulling the star washer into the metal to give a good grip, if the nut is turned instead of the bolt, it will create a groove in the metal thus providing no or very little grip on the star washer.
Tanks should be fitted with straps made of metal bands or the strong webbing straps with a suitable breaking strain for the size tank you use, diy luggage straps are unsuitable and will not hold in the advent of a collision, don?t be tempted by this cheap and dangerous option. You will put your own life and that of any passengers at risk of death or serious injury.
For safety reasons, 4 straps should be installed if you?re not fitting your tank into a cage, 2 straps on each side of your tank this will help prevent movement of the tank, in the event of front, rear and side impacts.
What else do I need and how do I fit it?
You will need to transfer your water from your tank to a hose pipe; microbore is now becoming the most popular type of hose, other types of hose are available, depending on your needs it is all supplied in several different lengths.
On your main tank there will be a fitting to connect a hose; this hose will run up to an in-line filter from this filter, will run another short piece of hose, this will connect to the inlet side of your 12v supply pump, from the outlet side of the pump will run another length of hose, this one connects to your hose reel by means of a quick release coupling.
This completes the simple method of connecting a tank, pump and hose?s, complete with filter, the filter its self is a very important part of your system, they can be purchased at a very reasonable cost, and gives your pump vital protection, they have a built in metal strainer, that is removable and washable.
If you use the above method without a way of diverting or controlling your water flow, this will result in high water usage, the flow can be helped by using a couple of different methods, one way is to divert water back into the tank, instructions for this method can be found on the diy forum and the link is given in the list of forums at the end of this guide.
The other method is by fitting an electronic controller, once wired in it?s a simple case of turning the dial to the desired setting.
Wiring in your pump to a 12v supply
The most simplest method is directly to a auxiliary battery via crocodile clips, Red wire goes to the positive terminal (+) and the black wire goes to the negative terminal (-) if you want you can then add a 12v electrical switch, these are available from most car spare suppliers, with a single pole switch its just a case of cutting the red wire and adding in the switch, on a double pole switch you cut the red and black wires and add these to both sets of terminals.
You can install it to the vehicles own electrics but I would advise against this.
Wiring in a varistream pump controller
There are 2 different types of flow controllers currently available, the first was the varistream controller followed by the Echoflo controller, I personally have the varistream, so the instructions below are for this controller and not the Echo controller, as far as I am aware the echoflo continues to use the pressure switch unlike the varistream.
The varistream takes the place of the pressure switch that is fitted to most pumps, so pull and unplug the 2 wires going to the pressure switch and remove them.
Take the red and black wires that are coming from the pump these 2 wires are wired to the varistream that say + to pump (red) ? to pump (black) join the wires using suitable connectors.
The other 2 wires coming from the varistream are connected to your 12v supply, i.e. your auxiliary battery, these 2 wires from the varistream are marked Supply + (red) and Supply ? (black)
Check you have the connections connected to the correct wire or irreparable damage can be caused to the controller; if in any doubt consult a qualified auto electrician.
You varistream is now installed.
Connect your hose and pole and make sure any valves or taps are open to allow the water to flow. This allows the pump to start when the varistream is switched on.
Push the knob on the varistream once to ensure the green lamp is constantly on, and turn the dial around to its maximum position, initially wait for ten seconds for the pump to start working, if the pump has not started after ten seconds then push the knob again to switch it on and wait another ten seconds. The pump should now start working.
A bi-colour light is visible on the front of the varistream unit- this has the following functionality.
GREEN = Pump Running
GREEN Flashing = Battery Voltage Low
RED= Power is on but Pump has Stopped (for example when user disconnects hose)
OFF= Varistream Switched Off.
If you?re using just a backpack as your main system, you would be well advised to purchase at least one spare battery, two if funds allow, this way you can always have one on charge whist carrying a spare with you.
If your using a trolley system, manufacturers are now adding a reasonable size battery that should see you through a normal days work, if you find the battery failing you during the day, then a wise choice would be to buy a spare as adding larger batteries to a trolley mount only serve to increase the weight you have to pull around all day.
For the Van and trailer mount a decent size battery would be a 100amph, Leisure battery, but again it depends on the hours your system is in use, and a smaller one can be used for less use, these can be charged at home via a battery charger, I would recommend the intelligent one, as this can be left switched on for days on end, with no fear of overcharging your battery, available from places like Halfords, and places alike, or they can be charged directly from your vehicles electrics, via a split charge relay, this will require a small amount of vehicle electric knowledge, follow the manufactures installation instructions, if you don?t have the confidence or necessary skills to under take this task yourself, leave it to an auto electrician as a vehicle fire can result with incorrect wiring.
Comprehensive Battery maintenance and charging topics, along with split charge relay installation instructions, I wrote are available on a few of the forums that will be listed at the end.
The amount of poles available to the window cleaner is so comprehensive it cannot be covered by this guide but a brief outline is included.
Poles are available in so many different lengths ranging from 12? to 60?and made of different materials such as Glass fibre, carbon fibre and the new Hybrid and carbon fibre X-Tel range, your choice of pole is governed by a couple of different things, the first as usual is finances available to you, and the second is the type of accounts you have, if you have mainly domestic accounts then universal range of glass fibre is going to be your cheapest option, an 18?- 24? pole will cover most domestic accounts, if you have accounts with 3rd floor windows a 24? can reach some of them, any higher and you have to start looking for bigger poles.
Bear in mind and buy the right size pole for the type of work you are doing, working with the wrong size pole all day long can lead to muscle strain and possible injury.
If finance allows then go for the lightest poles possible, all the suppliers will give you good sound advice as most of them are themselves, window cleaners.
For continued or high level commercial work then the carbon fibre pole is by far the best option, to save fatigue and injury.
Matching Pump to Hose to Jets.
This is a simple technique which means that you couple together the right specification products to match the output of the pump.
Basically the following setups will be matched allowing you to use just the pump with no form of electronic switching control or external bypass system.
Flojet 60psi pump, with 60 metres of Microbore, 6mm ID pole hose and twin 2mm jets.
Flojet 100psi pump, with 1 or 2x 100 meters or 2x 60 meters of Microbore, 6mm ID pole hose and twin 2mm jets.
Both of the above set-ups will provide a perfect flow rate for WFP work. By either using a control valve on the pole or the end-stop on the hose you will be able activate the pressure switch on the pump when you wish to stop the water flow.
Once you have set-up your system as above you will then be able to ‘fine-tune’ the pressure switch on your pump (this is not always needed). On the Flojet pump you will need to remove the square plastic cover from over the 2 orange leads, in between the connectors you will see another cross head screw. This screw controls the sensitivity of the pressure switch, tightening the screw increases the pressure at which the pump switches off, loosening the screw will lower the pressure at which the pump switches off. To see if you need to adjust this screw plug your hose reel in (both if using 2) and connect your pole (both if using 2) turn on the pole flow and the pump will start pumping. Turn off your pole flow and if the pump turns off within 1-5 seconds then you do not need to adjust it, if it takes longer then you will need to gradually loosen the screw so that it turns off within 1-5 seconds. Turn on your pole flow again and the pump should start again, now you will need to check that you have not reduced the pressure switch by too much. Your pump should be running constantly with the pole flow on if it cycles (turns on and off every so often) then the switch is set too low and will need tightening gradually. Using this method will ensure that your pump and switch are set to match your system. This will not need doing with all set-ups as some pumps/pressure switches will fit your system set-up as standard.?
What do I need for home Based Water Production?
This is a guide for the smaller scale production of pure water, but there is nothing stopping you from buying the systems that are fitted to vans/trailers for high water production.
If you live in a soft water area, you may just get away with the use of a DI system only, were DI canisters are filled with a product called mixed bed resin; the resin is used to turn ordinary tap water into pure water and the higher your tap TDS (Totally dissolved Solids) the shorter your resin will last, the lower your tap TDS the longer your resin will last.
It is highly recommended you purchase a TDS meter to enable you to find the TDS reading of your tap water and pure water.
RO-Systems are another different method and best used for the harder water areas. They are very compact and easy to install, the more water you require the higher GPD (gallons per Day) will be required, they range from 50gpd up to 300gpd, the water pressure in your area plays a part in water production as does the temperature, if you have low water pressure then it is more than likely you will need a booster pump, this has the affect of boosting your water pressure into the RO-System and increasing your water production, My own system was operating on low pressure (35psi) for some time and it took nearly 24hrs to produce just 210ltrs into a water butt, once a booster pump was added it boosted my pressure to 75psi and increased my water production to 210ltrs in just 8hrs.
My mains water feeds my 5 stage RO-System boosted and is boosted by the pump, out of the RO it then feeds into a resin cartridge to give the water a final polish, this takes my TDS reading down to 000 tds.
If you start as you mean to go on and keep your water reading at 000tds then any problems you may encounter with clients, you can quickly eliminate your water as a fault. Change the three pre filters as the manufactures suggests and also change you membranes (the little white canisters on top of your RO-System) there may be 1, 2, or 3 depending on the system you have. At the manufacturers recommended suggestions, the membranes also need to be reversed flushed by a little control valve (tap) that is fitted to the system, again read and follow thee instructions that come with your system, look after it and it will serve you well, as with any other system you may buy, look after them and don?t neglect them.
Water storage at home can be into rain water butts available from most diy department stores; these are good if space is minimal in a shed or garage, there are also available larger tanks like the 1,000ltr IBC Tank, shop around, places like trading estates for company?s that use them, most will be happy for you to take them away or some may charge you a minimum fee, other outlets for them are silage farms, and ebay. Be careful of delivery charges if purchasing from ebay. Unless you purchase a brand new one, then assume it has been used and try to find out what for, they will certainly need a very good clean out, with copious amounts of tap water, and then a short rinse with puree water should see it good for pure water storage.
There are so many systems available, it would be impossible for me to include them all, at the end of this guide will be links to suppliers that have web sites, with all the supplies you will ever need, with all the systems and equipment you will ever need, take time before you purchase to study these sites and the equipment available to you. As mentioned previously many of the suppliers also do a full fitting service into your own vehicle. Some also include a pre-coating service, this is a special paint applied to the interior of a van/trailer to help prevent rust.
If you are an existing window cleaner that uses the Traditional method and are now thinking of changing to the water-fed-pole method, Study all the forums and ask lots of questions, you will get all the answers you need from the professionals.
This is how I went about changing when I decided I wanted to change from Traditional to water fed.
The first thing I did was to study my own client base to see if it was reasonably practical for my clients and myself to convert my whole business over to water fed pole,
I didn?t do this over night it took weeks to study all the property?s, to see what type of windows they had, some windows are just not suitable for water-fed pole, I was lucky and all but the odd couple were suitable and access issues were checked out, this enabled me to choose the system that I thought would suit me and my business best.
During all the above and in the evenings, I studied all the websites that sold the equipment, I checked and studied prices, until I was happy,
I emailed six suppliers, but I was very disappointed to the amount of replies I received, considering I was going to spend a fair amount of money with them I received replies back from just half of them.
I then visited window cleaning forums and asked question after question, there will be such a variation on replies you will receive, it will be impossible to take all there advice, but with the studying you should have already completed, you should know the correct questions to ask, you can then put all the answers that suit you?re needs into practice.
After I had all the information to hand I decided not to jump straight into water fed pole work until I was 100% sure it suited myself my company and my clients, I then began to explain to my clients the importance of changing from Traditional to water fed,
I must admit I mostly blamed the European laws that were brought in to restrict the use of ladders, I found that by mentioning the European law it tended to divert there attentions into Europe and not onto the conversion of water fed, But I never told any lies to my clients, they all knew I was changing my methods and quite often asked me when I was making the change, But by asking questions on the forums I knew it would be easier on my self to prepare the frames especially the top of the frames while I was still using my ladders, I cleaned these frames thoroughly, this did make my life so much easier when the final change came.
When I built my system and was ready to try it out, I first cleaned my own property waited for it to dry and began to clean the insides, this way I was able to see any errors in my cleaning using the new system, I then offered my friends and family a free clean on the out side only, I had a cup of tea with them all and waited for the windows to dry, once dry they were checked, any errors were logged and rectified to enable me to do a reasonable Job for my clients.
When I leashed my self and new methods on to my clients, I handed each and every one of them a letter of explanation about the new method I was using, this letter helped explain it better than you could verbally, as the client has time to sit down and read what the new method is about, this letter can be obtained from most of the window cleaning forums, I should also point out that my chosen method does not mean you have to do it, Its just my own prepared method that worked best for me.
By changing over the way I did, I prepared not only myself but my whole client base and as a result, I never lost one customer, this included all of my commercial work, there was only one commercial I found unsuitable for wfp work. And since the change over, I have gained several more commercial jobs due to the fact more and more commercials are looking for water fed pole operators, at least in my own area they are.
I have now been operating my own water fed pole system for nine months using a trailer mount complete with a backpack system for the awkward ones.
My own domestic round took me 6 weeks to complete; I can now complete it in four weeks and earn the same money, giving me room to either expand my client base, so as to increase my takings, or I have the option to have two weeks holiday in every six, I personally chose to add another weeks work to my round with a mixture of domestic and commercial work, this still gives me one week off in every six, to spend with my family, with a very good increase in earnings.
Fatigue and Stress
The use of a water fed poles all day long can lead to fatigue and stress, especially if the wrong type of pole/s are used, the size and weight of a pole plays a big part.
If you use a pole that is to big and heavy for all of your work, it may well lead to stress and injury, stress aloan can lead to accidents.
Speak to your supplier and let them know the type of accounts that you have and the work you intend to do, they will then guide you to the correct type of pole to use, there are many suppliers whom are them selfs window cleaners, its these guy’s who you need to speak to, as they will know exactly what your talking about, they also know its in there best interest to give you the best advice and help, a few of them frequent the window cleaning forums and one or two offer some excellent help and advice.
Ok so you have already been using the incorrect pole for some time and one or both of your arms feel like there about to drop off? also your neck aces.
so what can we do about it, first and most important of all, replace your pole for the correct one, check your stance especially when doing upstairs windows, standing to close to the building can lead to neck strain, I know I have done it myself, after checking for obstructions behind you,move back if possible, until you don’t need to strain your neck to see what your doing, try not to take the full weight of a vertical pole for to long without some sort of support.
On sunny days wear sunglasses, you’ll need them, I never wore sunglasses until I changed to water fed pole work, but now I do, it also helps to cut down on headaces.
If the muscles in your arms and/or neck aces? try these tips that I was given by a senior physiotherepist, and ones I now do everyday.
Lets say the muscles in your right arm are Acing? (the same method applies to both arms) place your right hand over your right shoulder and reach back as far as possible, now with the palm of your left hand, place it on your right elbow and push your elbow upwards, until you feel the strain on the muscle on the bottom of your arm, hold this posture for 10 seconds then release.
Now put your right arm straight out in front of you (Palm up) with your left hand, grip the fingers of your right hand and bend your fingers downwards, whilst at the same time gently push your elbow upwards then hold this posture for 10 seconds, now do the same for your left arm.
This has the effect of streching your muscles on the top and bottom of your arms, do this each morning before work and it will lessen the chances of injury, this can also be done at anytime of the day.
This is a quick one, but helps against strained muscles in the back of the neck.
Tuck your chin into your chest, clasp the fingers of both hands together and put your hands on the back of your head, gently pull your head forward , hold down your head for 10 seconds, you should now feel the muscles in the back of your neck beginning to stretch, this is good as it is loosening these muscles, again do this exercise each morning and/or anytime of the day.
Health and Safety
This is a short extract taken from the FWC health and safety Guide it lists some of the potential hazards we face each day when using the water fed pole method.
Hazards associated with the use of water fed poles
Trip hazard to the general public when using trailing hoses.
Slip hazard presented from wet pathways.
Slip hazard for operator when concentrating on work
Falls from height when working on flat roofs.
Electocution from poles coming into contact with overhead power source.
Injuries to others from falling poles or fabric of the building that may be dislodged.
Injury to others from falling poles caused by incorrect handling or failure of pole.
Injury through incorrect manual handling of poles and other equipment.
Spread of legionella disease through poor maintenance of system.
Hazards from carrying Tanks, systems and equipment that are overloaded, unstable, unsecured or incorrectly installed within a vehicle.
As with all trades and industries health and safety is now beginning to affect each and everyone of us, the new legislation that has been brought in from Europe in its restrictions of the use of temporary work stations (ladders) Ladders are not banned, H&S do state that if you do use ladders as a temporary work station then a safety device must be used in preference to someone footing your ladder, and I tend to agree with this statement, as I my self had someone footing my ladder, when there phone rang and they walked off chatting on the phone,
Even window cleaners that use the water fed pole method still use and carry ladders for access purposes or even to clean guttering, I myself still use ladders today for gutter cleaning, but I now always fit a safety device, I have included a link at the end, were such a safety device can be purchased, I myself have three sets of these safety devices.
There is also a link to the FWC safety guide, I recommend you take a little of you time to read it.
More and more about health and safety will be added to this guide so please keep your eye on it, although it may sound boring it might just save your life.
Removing stubborn stains from windows.
You may come across some windows were clients have watered hanging baskets etc, or there are salt deposits were they live in seaside resorts, this leaves white mineral deposits on the windows, now these deposits can be removed with elbow grease, but my personal choice is something you can wipe on and just swill off, and for this reason, I use a product called Crystal Clear 550 Glass Restorer, When I use this method I also charge a little extra for it.
Cleaning Conservatory Roofs.
When I clean conservatory roofs that are coated in green algae and Lichen
The first thing I do is to look to see if the client has an outside tap (most do now) I spray the entire roof section including the finials and trim with a product called ecover that is echo friendly and the clients seem to like this product, I leave it to do its Job for 5-10 minutes, I then just use there own tap water to wash a roof down, ordinary tap water will easily remove the green algae, the lichen can be a little more troublesome, I tend to turn my brush on its side to remove the lump, on the upvc type roofs and then continue to wash normaly.
Once the roof is clean you can give it a swill with pure water if its a glass roof, if its the plastic type roof, there really isn’t any need to waste your pure water on it
I have used this method for 10 years without a problem.
When doing a complete conservatory cleans, a higher price can be charged for all the extra work involved.
Again I check the availability of an outside tap and begin by soaking the roof and all the trims fitted to the roof and any fancy trim work thats fitted.
With a good pressure vessel, available from most Diy outlets for around ?20/?30, I use a mixture of 70% water and 30% ecover truck wash (available from Gardiner pole systems) I spray all trims including the roof and give it a good soaking. Leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes and then brush off, any bad area’s then repeat the above, swill all the trim with pure water to give the whole roof and trim a looking like new affect.
You can now do the same for the rest of the conservatory and bring it up like new.
You may come across sills that you are unable to clean, no matter what you try, One tip a plastic surgeon gave and showed me, was to use water and a sheet of 2000 grade wet and dry and rub along the length of the sill, this will bring it up like new and does work, a month ago I did a small sill of my own and this sill was bad, once I used the above method the sill looked like new, and a month later it still looks like new and has not dulled in this time.
For all my conservatory cleaning work, I use a seperate brush to my window cleaning brush, this prevents your good brush becoming contaminated.
If you over load your vehicle, you are not only putting yourself and others in Danger, but you are breaking the Law?
Make sure the size of Tank you carry and all your other equipment you may carry is taken into account, and don’t forget to add the drivers and passengers weight and the weight of a full Tank of fuel is also added.
I have provided a couple of links at the end, so you can read the Law on vehicle overloading and its Consequences, if you overload your vehicle.
There is also a link, so you can find the make and model number,colour etc, Just type in your vehicle registration number, you can also find spare parts for your vehicle with this link.
Getting more Work
(1) Presentation: smart van/car preferable sign written/mag signs stating your company name and what you do, clean fresh uniform, can include t-shirts, polo jumpers, hats et. Nice printed flyers/cards, again stating what you do (other services besides window cleaning)
(2) Canvassing: go door knocking looking smart and be polite at all times even when turned down, do not apply pressure as this will never work, if a potential customer is humming and harring leave them a card and tell them to call you if and when they decide (this works better) if you drop leaflets off prior to calling this is fine but make sure that you follow up all leaflet drops by knocking a day or so later failure to do this will result in less jobs as the majority of people will put the card/flyer to one side and it will eventually get binned. If the person states they already have a w/c then thank them for their time and walk away DO NOT give them a price undercutting the other w/c as this is totally out of order and will not win you any friends.
(3) Pricing: have in your mind an hourly rate that you would like to achieve (e.g. ?30 per hour) and stick with it DO NOT underprice as you will regret this later and DO NOT get into a price war with the customer, if you price this house @ ?12-00 then stick with it DO NOT let the customer knock you back a few quid as you will also regret this.
(4) Canvass on the move: this is a tried and tested system that my son and I use and works well, if we get a call to give a quote on a house and that is agreed then I proceed to clean whilst my son knocks the other doors in that same road. E.G. We had a call from one road where we had no other calls, there were 30 houses in this small road and whilst I cleaned the first my son knocked the others gaining 9 more calls all @ ?10 each so we now have a third of that road covered.
(5) Buying work: this always a dodgy one, I personally would never pay more than 2 times it?s worth, I.e I would buy ?100 worth of work for ?200 and not a penny more. Make sure if you buy from a previous w/c that you are introduced to the calls and have something in writing to state that you have bought the work and that the seller will not go back to the calls to try and regain them at a later date (I?m talking from personal experience here as it happened to me once)
(6) Employing a canvasser: there has been a lot of threads on this forum with this reference (some good some bad) again tread carefully and be sure to set up agreed terms before parting with your money. I have a canvasser getting some work for me within the next week or so I will be able to keep you informed as how this goes as I have never used 1 before.
(7) Setting your target/goals: each week we set a target of gaining at least 5 new customers, this week alone we have already gained 8 new calls without even trying, we have also moved fast this week and have a free day tomorrow so we will go canvassing to hopefully gain a few more. Lets assume you set a goal of 5 new ones every week @ ?10 that would generate an extra income of ?200 (approx) per month, if you kept this on going within a year you would be either turning work away or employing someone to help you out.
(Being professional: it goes without saying that at all times conduct yourself in a professional manner whilst at a customers house or on the phone and you will be surprised as to how many recommendations you will receive.
(9) Advertising: I personally use yellow pages and it works well for me especially with the cleaning of gutters/facias etc. Although it can be costly I find that I get about 5 leads a week from it most of them generating into monthly calls. I have tried the shops windows card etc but this failed for me (perhaps you know differently)
A beginners Guide to using Waterfedpoles
As with anything else, there is a learning curve to using a waterfed pole system and getting consistently good results. This guide is based on my own findings and mistakes; I hope you will find it useful.
First and foremost, as long as the water you are using is totally pure, any spotting of the glass is going to be down to user error, so test your water at regular intervals - at least once a week. If the reading goes above a couple of parts per million, change the DI resin.
Spotting is going to be down to one of a few of things, which I will list here, along with the solutions to overcome them.
This is one of the main causes of spotting. On first cleans ensure you wash the top frame well before attempting the glass. If possible do all the house frames first, then go back and wash the glass once they have either dried or stopped dripping. Once this has been done, subsequent cleans are easy. Dirt hides on the top frame and pure water will seek it out and leave runs on the glass while they are still dripping.
Soap residue in the window seals will cause spotting, the only way to avoid this is to rinse well, it may take a few cleans to completely remove the years of [detergent] from these seals.
Poor Quality Paintwork
Poor quality paintwork on the window frames will cause real problems. The best way to test the paint is to run your finger along the paintwork. If it leaves a white dusty mark on your finger you are going to have problems. [Wash the frames thoroughly first and then once they have dried go back to clean the glass, taking great care not to touch the top edge of the window frame.]
Very Dirty Glass
If you are doing a first initial clean and the glass hasn?t been cleaned in years, then firstly you should price accordingly. (Double for the first clean) Wash all windows and frames. Then go back to the beginning and do them again. However, just the glass this time, not the frames.
A Dirty Brush Head
Make sure that the brush heads are kept clean, where possible. Leave them soaking in pure water overnight or between jobs. It can help to add just a couple of spots (and I mean spots) of GlassGleam 3 to the water the brushes are left to soak in. Make sure you get rid of all GlassGleam soap residue when using on the first couple of windows, the glass will require a good rinse. Don?t leave brushes propped up against brick walls, it will pick up dust and transfer it to the glass. If you must leave it against a wall, make sure the head is turned away from the brickwork.
This can be a problem to remove, especially if it?s baked on the glass. My advice is to do these windows first, soaking the offending stuff well. If it doesn?t come off on the first clean you can come back to it once the water has softened it a bit. You can always tilt the brush head a bit and use the edge of the brush to rub it off or get an extension pole with a scraper attached to it to remove it. (Never scrape dry glass, always wet it first ).
These can cause problems as the water runs off the top sash onto the bottom window. I have found that the only sure way of preventing runs is to do all the top sashes, then when they are either dry or stopped dripping then do the bottom sashes.
These can cause problems, especially if they are the painted sort and the paint has oxidised. (again do the finger test). If there is oxidisation I would decline to do them with WFP as the water runs off them looking like milk. [If you do them using WFP, Wash the frames thoroughly first and then once they have dried go back to clean the glass, taking great care not to touch the top edge of the window frame.]
These vents are often situated directly above the glass and contain large amounts of dust and dirt. Avoid vents like the plague. If water gets inside these vents it will drip for ages leaving your nicely cleaned glass with dirty streaks. Well that?s the scarey bits over with.
There are two types of glass, hydrophilic and hydrophobic. Hydrophilic likes water the other doesn?t. Hydrophilic glass will allow the water to run off the glass as a sheet, the other just beads up and sits there! With hydrophilic glass, wash as normal along the top edge, down the sides and then all over. Finally take the brush to the top of the glass and lift it away by an inch or two, this allows the water jets to rinse pure water over the entire glass, rinsing away any remaining dirt. With Hydrophobic glass wash and be sure to rinse well. Some windows come out really well every time, others just never seem to dry without leaving spots.
You should aim for a flow rate of about a litre per minute from the brush head, this is enough to wash thoroughly and rinse well. An average 3 bedroom house should take about 20 litres of water (More on first cleans). Remember that pure water is what is making you your money, so don?t waste it by leaving brushes connected and spraying the precious stuff over the customers garden.
- Beware of the wind blowing an unattended pole over.
- Be aware of electric cables.
- Be aware of your surroundings, its easy to step back into fish ponds or fall down steps whilst looking up.
- Be aware of hoses trailing over footpaths etc, Joe Public will trip over anything - and then sue you. It?s a good idea to place a couple of high visibility cones [or matting] over you hoses.
- Don?t use WFP on front doors. (If the customer opens the door whilst you are working, water will go all inside their hallway.)
They have a mind of their own, they will get wrapped around everything, caught under everything and mysteriously get tied up when reeling them in. Use good quality stop connectors on the end of your hose, that way when you disconnect your pole the water gets shut off without having to run back to the van to switch everything off.
I hope this helps. Once mastered the waterfed pole will greatly speed up window cleaning and make you more money than traditional methods. The big plus though is safety, you can?t fall off the ground!
Safe and Happy Cleaning
Finally if any other old hands would like to add to this it would be helpful to the newbies
This guide was written by a window cleaner for and on behalf of the water fed pole training academy and in no way excepts responsibility for loss or damaged what so ever, caused by incorrect use or installation of any equipment mentioned in this guide, it is simply a guide to help any new comer to the world of water fed pole work and to give a guide on what is available this list is not exhaustive, and where to look for more comprehensive information and help.
If you would like to contact the author directly you can email me at Reflectionswfp@yahoo.co.uk
Below is a list of forums,suppliers and other links of interest and again this list is not exhaustible, if you would like your forum (window cleaning only) added then please send details to the author also if your name is not amongst the list of suppliers and you would like it added please send your details to the author as this guide will be updated from time to time.
This is not strictly wfp work, but there are a number of w/c’s who use there wfp equipment for cleaning the exterior sections of guttering.
When I first decided to give up my ladders for gutter cleaning and after reading so many posts on forums that w/c’s were using there wfp to clean them, I thought I would give it a try myself.
I tried it twice and found that dipping your brush into a bucket of detergent and then brushing it onto guttering, waiting for the detergent to do its Job and then using your pure water to wash the sections of guttering hard work and tiring and not producing the results I was used to, I also never liked the idea of not being able to clean the internal section again something I had been used to for years.
The idea of buying a very expensive vac system was not on the top of my priority list, I looked for idea’s of finding ways to clear the guttering from the ground, I came up with a couple of ideas but they failed to work and again was working out expensive, I had an idea one day when working in my workshop, the idea was to use a small section of an old Aluminum pole I had and set about making it, I used a band saw to cut one end and shape it into a spoon shape, the other end I was able to leave as it was and fit it directly to my angle adaptor, I called it my Mk1 gutter scoop.
I fitted it to my pole and tried it on my own workshop and was pleased with the results, I then put it to what I thought to be a real test, by cleaning my own house guttering, Now I’m getting more and more impressed, when I started to scoop out lots of rubbish from the guttering and decided to leave the design as it was until I could test it to the limit.
One Sunday morning I had 2 guttering Jobs to do, I decided I was going to try my Mk1 Gutter scoop on them because I knew they had deep rooted weeds growing in them, (I like to call them and extra Gardens)
I connected the Mk1 to my pole and raised it up to the guttering, and began to slide the scoop under the weeds, I was amazed at its effectiveness at clearing deep rooted weeds from the guttering, a 25M section of guttering took me 50 minutes to complete, another smaller Job on the opposite side of the road took the Mk1 10 minutes to clear the deep rooted weeds from it, 2 Jobs plus clear up time took me 70 minutes, So the Mk1 stays as it is with no changes planned at the moment.
(Look for the links in the menu below for topics regarding my Mk1 gutter scoop)
I now use what is known as a gutter lance connected to a pressure washer and this is my preferred method that blasts the muck out giving the internal and external sections a deep clean and leaving the guttering looking as new as the day it was installed, again a little clearing up may be needed but you have a pressure washer in your hands and this takes a few minutes to complete.
pictures of the gutter lance are available on my web-site, listed below.
My web site
There are several window cleaners who happily use the gutter vac system, some have bought a very nice but expensive factory made one with CCTV while others have built there own and happily earn good money with them.
Guttering Like conservatory work can be a very good add on service to window cleaning, other window cleaners like to add on drive and patio cleaning, This type of work I have only done for relatives, there are certain types of drives/patios that will need to be re-sanded and resealed afterwards so this type of work I steer clear of, but don’t let my methods put you off, find out more details from the many forums available as this work can also be a good earner. [/SIZE]