Why would these windows not come clean?

Okay - I’m really frustrated right now. I just got back from a fairly large gig. The home is only a few years old, and has Pella casement windows. Cleaned the interior first per request of the Homeowner. Everything seemed to be going as planned. I did notice while cleaning the inside, that the exteriors were not REAL dirty, but they weren’t dirty in the way that most windows are. They almost looked like they had some type of sealer on them. Well I didn’t give it much thought, but we proceeded to do the exteriors. After we were finished, and we went to put the screens back in and do any touch ups, the outsides looked horrible!!! I’m talking streaks, smudges, smears, you name it. I could not believe what I was seeing. So I would go outside to try and detail out the smear, and it would only get worse. Also note, while cleaning the outs - I occasionally noticed that my hands were sticky - although I just thought I had some crap on my ladder.

I’m beginning to think either the HO knew about the problem and is lying to me, or I am going crazy here. Told him I would stop out tomorrow after work, and rewash the exteriors.

What went wrong??? Here are some variables that come to mind:

  1. Humidity/Heat/Sun - (it was hot and muggy here today)
  2. Too much soap??? (my partner made the soap but swears he used the normal amount)
  3. I washed all my towels and scrubbers yesterday, maybe they didn’t rinse well enough or got some fabric softener on them?
  4. Some type of sealer, coating, or self cleaning glass???
  5. _______________________ Fill in the blank?

The homeowner did say that when they first built the house, the construction co’s window cleaners did a poor job, then said they did an okay job, then later said that they did a perfect job. He also mentioned that he tried to clean them himself last year, but that they turned out like crap. Now that I look back at everything, I think this guy is trying to screw me over…

Mind you we have never been called back for streaks, smears, smudges. We have great referrals and references & repeat business.

Is it possible that a bug spray was sprayed on or around the house, or over spray from an arborist spraying the trees? I have dealt with tree over spray before and it was not fun to clean up.

It could be a number of things
1 pella windows suck to clean, for any number of reasons
2 Rhino seal, a sealant that supposedly dries like polyurethane and negates the need for painting. I dont know why but sometimes the application just ends up a sticky mess
3 Some self cleaning glass reacts with almost everything, a fingerprint from years ago shows up like it was yesterday, it breaks down your soap and leaves smears and squeegee marks (mostly in the sun)
4 Grease from outdoor grills although would probably not be everywhere
5 Waterproofing, usually only on brick buildings, leaves spots everywhere

I wish this owner would be straight with me. Why would a contsruction company hire a glass cleaner to clean self cleaning glass? Why would there be any sealer when the home is painted siding? I’m going insane here trying to figure this one out. So much for my early tee time tomorrow, guess I’ll be struggling with this instead…

I did a house like this last year, I don’t believe they were pella, but outside cut ups and there was a section of windows that no matter how many times scrubbed and squeegeed and detailed still had smears.

I talk to the HO and she said thats no problem. Even though IMO it looked HORRIBLE.

Buy there was nothing I could think of or do that would get these 10 windows streak free.

Have you contacted Pella yet?

Why bother really? Sit on the phone being transferred between extensions for three hours?? No thanks. I am going to have to bite the bullet and get these damn windows clean no matter what. After contemplating all of the factors at hand, I believe the HO knows something that I don’t.

See if alcohol will work.

I’m with Larry on this one, I would tell the client that you are going to contact Pella and please be patient, that you want the glass to turn out “right”. Why go back and do what you did already, what if they turn out crummy again…your really going to be bummed…Find out the model/type of Pella that is installed and see what they have to say as far as cleaning instructions and or any coatings that may be on the glass, If they are just standard glass and no special instructions, then i would play with chems., and or some alternative method of cleaning.

So I visited Pellas website, they recommend a vinegar based solution for cleaning their glass. They also state not to use alcohol based cleaners.

This time I will test a few windows to make sure they are clean before doing the whole damn place. The crazy thing is that they do look clean nose to glass. Its almost like from the outside the ins look dirty, and from inside the outs look dirty. But nose to glass everything looks good. Arghhhhhhhh

Have you tested with Oil-Flo yet?

No - wish I had some. I think another good cleaning will take care of this problem. But to make sure, I rewashed all my towels and scrubbers with no soap, and made sure there were no leftover softener sheets in the dryer. I am also going to skip dawn in my soap and just use straight gg4. Then I am going to choose a cooler time of day, and then I am going to squeegee ever so carefully as to leave very little detailing work behind.

I have a house that I’ve done 4 times now and a few windows are selfcleaning glass… The first 3 times was using dishsoap only and never had an issue. The last time I used Unger’s Easy Glide (has alcohol in it) and the windows came out streaky no matter what I did. Dumped my water and and got fresh with a drop of dishsoap (I was out of GG4) and all was right again. I haven’t tried GG4 on these but I will next time.

You ever use a degreaser? Everytime my soap doesn’t work, say on fingerprints on frosted windows, degreaser cuts through it awesomely. Just don’t use it on tint or graffiti film.

I think your doing the new pella designer seris. Man they suck. Yes don’t use dawn or any dish soap. I use gg4 or apc 100.

last year i came across a house where the lower windows just wouldnt clean good- my cloth glided over them unusually easy and i came to the conclusion the woman owner had been using wax furniture polish on the frames or sills .

Believe it or not I have seen some maids swear by using wax furniture polish on mirrors. I saw a woman do it once to a mirror and she said it leaves a nice sheen to it. I was like I bet it does:) I couldn’t stop laughing when she left the room and I just peaked down and saw all sorts of swirl marks. I wouldn’t have the slightest doubt that homeowners use all types of chemicals and crap to clean their windows. And believe me they won’t tell you out of embarrassment or they are just afraid to say anything because they ruined their own windows from harsh chemicals!

One job though that perplexed me was a very nice log home with brand new Pella windows. I used GG4 to do the job and it turned out nice. Then I get a call form the homeowner that their were some windows with marks running verticle in a very consistent pattern. I assumed it was maybe my squeegee blade so I agreed to come and look at it. I brought some Oil flo with me just in case it was some type of organic matter. I got their and cleaned both sides and it was still on the window. I wish I had a pic because I have seen this pattern before on heat tempered doors. It looked as if it in between the panes on the 2/3 side. But I could not fix the problem no matter what i tried. The oil flo actually made it look worse until i cleaned that off and used straight GG4. He did mention that he used vinegar to clean the windows but I doubt that was it.

I ended up telling him to call Pella and gave him their phone number since he had a warranty on them. The Owner was very pleased I actually came out and stayed over an hour to try to fix the problem. A representative came out and the only thing he could think of was that the window cleaner used a harsh chemical and ruined it. The homeowner knew better because he watched me the whole time. He ended up saying it was just a defect in the glass and in the end I got a referral because I went the extra mile to try and fix it. I still think though that some chemicals were used but never figured it out. That’s why it’s important to ask the homeowner if there is anything that was sprayed around the windows or if they used pledge to clean their windows!!!


So after another rewash of these windows, they looked clean - but they definately were not. And after much study, rethinking, and figuring…I think we now know what the culprit is. Anyone ever heard of “fogging” treatment to kil bugs or mosquitoes? Well this homeowner has had this newer franchise out to fog for mosquitoes. I called the company and started asking questions, found out that the fog around the entire perimeter of the home, including all shrubs and landscaping. Then they treat the rest of your yard. This stuff the spray has some type of additive that makes it adhesive. They even advertise that once the fog discipates, there is a film left behind that will kill mosquitoes if they land on it. This would explain why when we went back to rewash the exterior, there were live bugs with their legs stuck to the glass. I also recall my hands feeling sticky when washing these, and I noticed that there looked to be a film on the windows, not so much dirt. So now I am going to be in talks with the owner, and see what we can come up with. Keep your eyes out for this issue, as it can be a real PITA when you come across it.

Any health risk to us humans?

Great… a sticky fog. As if messy painters and cluster fly spray weren’t enough!