RO/DI = goodbye Squeegee... Or does it?

Hello everyone, let me preface this article by letting all the seasoned professionals know how truly greatful I am for their years of experience and countless YouTube videos.

I just started my company this week. I am a Veteran so I went through our Texas State’s veteran resources to assist me in getting it established.

I started my first job today, my own house. I used the traditional method with brush and squeegee. I realized right away all the videos I watched over the past month didn’t prepare me well enough for the reality. One bent screen later I am back to watching videos and taking a moment to appreciate all your words of wisdom.

So I am now looking at the RO/DI systems.

My question is, how well have they been working for you and what have been some personal hurdles?

I realize the squeegee will have its place on some store fronts and quick in and out places. But the water fed poles with RO/DI and squeegee free system seems to be great!

RO/DI systems are great. Depending on the tds of your local water you may even be able to use only DI. I used DI only for 15 years. As with squeegees there is a learning curve for wfp. It’s good to check your work from the inside to see what you might have missed or where drips are happening.

Water fed systems are great and can and do save time/energy however the biggest thing when getting into window cleaning is actually the squeegeeing. 90% of the people who come into this industry think “how hard can it be” well its really not hard its one of the easiest things to do once you understand what you are doing, instead of trying to copy someone’s video. would you learn martial arts from a video?

When I used to do high rise, many times I would get to the bottom and someone walking past would ask" How do I get a job doing that?" my reply was always “Can you clean windows?” they would always respond with “how hard can it be” I would reply " well you will be on the ground and doing ladder work for 1 year before you would get on a rope!". They were always astonished it would take them a year before they got on a rope, the reason is lets say you have 4-5 guys working on a full glass building, in order for them not to drip on each others work they have to basically descend and the same rate.

Personally I would get some time with another window cleaner in your area to shadow, that can teach or help adjust your technique. When I first started I worked for a guy who thought he was the best WC, he showed me his flawed ways after I while I thought I was pretty good too. Then I moved state and got a job with a commercial WC company I learned very fast what I thought I knew was all wrong and I needed to relearn the very basics.

Thanks for replying and I truly appreciate your feedback!

In my opinion, the greatest hurdle of water fed pole has nothing to do with whether it rinses well or dries clear. In that respect it kicks traditional cleaning’s booty. The problem is when you encounter certain things on the glass you can really struggle to get enough scrubbing power to remove it effectively. In my experience this is because you have so much surface area on the brush or scrubby pad on your pole that you just can’t compete with a scrubby pad in your hand where you’re able to exert maximum pressure on a small surface area and get the debris off. This is things like tree sap or baked on bugs/flies/fly poop.

The other major hurdle can be hydrophobic glass that can be a bear to deal with. I’ve have some jobs that I have to have a squeegee on a pole and do straight pulls after doing my best to rinse the windows because otherwise I simply can’t get it rinsed well and it is spotty.

The truth is that it’s really great and can do wonders for certain jobs and open up a new level of jobs that you can make good money on in short time (I can confidently quote big lake houses with 3 stories and do all of it from the ground in half the time traditional would take and it will look better), but there are some jobs that traditional will simply be faster and easier. If you have the capital to invest a few thousand dollars in a good system then do it.

I started out with just a DI tank, but not too long after I built a RO/DI system and got a Gardiner V3 and put a 60 gallon tank on the back of my truck that i fill up at night. I’m currently working on a van build for my new van, not sure if I’ll keep using the Gardiner as my main pump or not, but it has served me very very well and I recommend it as a cheap way to get into cleaning. In-between hating my DI tank and getting my system built in bought 20 gallons of distilled water at the grocery store and stacked them in my passenger seat. Not fun, but I had to do what I had to do!

Congratulations on starting your new business! I understand your pain! Similar experience when I first started, and that was after shadowing a friend who cleans windows. First time I cleaned my house I broke all the springs on the screens (in my defense, they were really brittle). What was the difficultly you encountered? Were you getting streaks? Was it difficult to get the screens out?

First off, I started out squeegee only and bought a DI system about two months in. Best investment of my life. The biggest advantage for me is that I can clean two- or three-story buildings (mostly) without ladders, which is so much safer I don’t care about the time savings. But since I mentioned it, when I use it correctly, I can easily make double or sometimes even triple what I make cleaning by hand. And when used correctly, WFP can do a shockingly amazing job. Something I’m sure you’ve heard a lot on YouTube that I’ve found to be 100% true with WFP is that they absolutely, cannot, and probably never will replace trad tools in every situation. I get a lot of residential jobs where the windows are covered in paint or fungus. Trad tools are way easier in that case. And I still have to take out the screens, which is, by the way, one of my least favorite things in the world. I did a house yesterday where I used the WFP on about 80% of the outside, but the other 20% had to be done by hand for one reason or another. Personally, I feel that being able to use a squeegee well is something that really gives you a leg up, especially in residential. It lets you accept jobs that a person who only does WFP can’t take. The customer’s love it because it looks so hard. And of course, we still have to clean the inside of houses by hand.

Something that took a really long time for me to come to terms with is that new window cleaners will not earn $75-125/hour (or maybe you can, I hope you do!). For us new guys to do a good job, we just have to accept that it’s going to take longer than we think it will. Taking your time, doing it right, it won’t be too long before you are amazing at what you do.

As for scrubbing with wfp I really like the Maykker handy sleeve on the 6" t-bar, with a scrub pad or steel wool… Far better than the flat scrubbers because it has so little surface area and all the pressure I can put on it gets more concentrated.