Frequent Questions About Window Cleaning
In our years of experience at Freedom Window Cleaning working with both residential and commercial customers, we have found that the same questions crop up again and again — they are, indeed, Frequently Asked Questions! At the same time, there are other questions that as professionals, we think are important — but that customers rarely, if ever, ask. Before you hire a professional window cleaning service for your property, check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and our list of Questions You Should Ask (SAQs). Knowing what to look for and getting our answers will save you time, effort, and money, while providing you with peace of mind. Just click on any of the questions to view the answer.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is best to use a mild, environmentally-friendly, and biodegradable soap that is tough on dirt, grime, grease, and oil, but easy on sills and wood or vinyl frames. At Freedom Window Cleaning, we use a plant-based formula that is made from bio-renewable sources and is cruelty-free (never tested on animals).
As an option, at the customer’s request we also offer a protectant barrier. This is applied to the glass following cleaning. It helps keep your glass clean longer by placing an artificial hydrophilic coat on the glass. This facilitates a sheeting action for any moisture or condensation.
Our basic or routine window cleaning service includes:
- cleaning of the inside and outside of all glass window and door surfaces;
- basic cleaning of window and door tracks, removing all loose debris, dust and dirt, and dead insects;
- and cleaning of all screens and borders or frames that are within 3 inches of the window pane.
The basic cleaning will remove dust and dirt, spiderwebs and cobwebs, pollen, bird droppings, and dead insects (and their splatters) from all glass surfaces. Additionally, paint overspray, adhesive residue, and other hard-to-clean particulate can be removed.
If your glass has been stained by hard water, mineral deposits, or oxidation, it requires restoration which is not part of a routine cleaning. Both remediation of the cause and repair of the glass is required immediately.
If your tint is an aftermarket tint — meaning that rather than being part of the glass itself, a film was applied to the glass to help shield your home from harmful sunlight — additional caution is required. This film can be nicked or scratched if proper care is not taken. The age of the tint is a factor as well: Older film is often faded, can be peeling, and is thinner now than it was when it was new, making it more susceptible to damage.
When cleaning factory-tinted glass and other ‘specialty’ types of glass, damage from cleaning is not typically an issue so long as no razoring of the glass is required (e.g., to remove adhesive residue). Due to fabrication issues with tempered (heat-treated) glass, razoring this type of glass is not recommended.
Interior cleaning of windows that are difficult to access is often a concern, as it means more equipment needs to be brought in — which often worries customers, due to the increased risk to their furnishings and belongings. We use extra caution in such situations. While our technicians always wear booties to protect your floors from any dirt or debris being brought inside, booties are also placed on the feet of the ladder to avoid any scratches or catching the feet in carpet. A bonnet is also placed over the top of the ladder to keep its edges from scratching or otherwise damaging walls and paint.
The exact time required for window cleaning service varies depending on what exactly the property requires. As a rule of thumb, a well-trained, professional crew member should take 2.5 hours to clean a 2,000 square foot, two-story home. Larger properties will require multiple crews, but this allows the duration of the cleaning to be kept to a maximum of 4-5 hours. We want to clean your property as thoroughly and efficiently as possible, minimizing disruption and distraction for you.
Though what most customers want to know is the price, what you should really consider — and what you need to find out from a window cleaning company — is how is the price determined. This will help you make a more well-informed decision.
Ultimately the price is determined by what exactly is being purchased, as well as what the service provider is delivering. It’s not just clean windows you’re purchasing — in addition to the labor, the price also includes travel to the property, the peace of mind that comes from having a professionally trained and insured (both liability insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance) cleaner, and the comfort of having a professional, presentable and trustworthy technician inside your property.
Though we don’t have much rain here in sunny San Diego county, precipitation isn’t out of the question, and it is a good idea to ask what plans are put in place to accommodate weather. Although rain does not actually make windows dirty — only dirt can — ideally you should be able to count on one of two things from your window cleaning service. One option is that your service provider actively monitors the 10-day weather forecast, and can advise you accordingly should the service need to be rescheduled (all with your convenience in mind). Alternately, a rain guarantee of at least 7 days should be in place.
Cleaning windows is about more than about appearance, beautification, or even cleanliness. It is also key to your windows’ maintenance and function. Here in San Diego county, particularly in the coastal regions, the main threat is the corrosive impact of salt. Even more than the glass itself, other elements — including the frames, sills, and molding, as well as any moving parts like hinges or locks — need to be kept free from damaging elements. A detrimental level of buildup can occur in just a matter of months, so we recommend no more than a maximum of six months between professional window cleanings.
This is a matter of your personal preference, and the service to be performed. If only the window exteriors are being cleaned, the property owner does not need to be present. For interior cleaning, you need to trust your judgment and your familiarity with the company. While it is not a catch-all security provision, hiring a professional window company that is bonded is strongly recommended whether or not you will be present while the service is being performed.
Most window cleaning companies will accept payment in the form of cash or a check at the time of service. Today, many service providers accept credit cards — something you might look for even if you intend to use a different payment method, as this speaks to the credibility of any business and may indicate viability as well. Ideally, you should be able to pay on the terms that are most convenient for you, the customer.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK
You should ask this question not only of a window cleaning service, but of any contractor coming to do work on your property. You want to be sure the company you’re hiring is insured for your protection. A general liability insurance policy serves two key functions. First, it protects you in the case of property damage. At the same time, it also protects you should a third party (for example, your next-door neighbor) experience a loss or damage. If that’s not enough to convince you insurance is crucial, this should: California state law stipulates that if you hire a contractor without insurance, you then effectively become the contractor and bear any and all responsibility should anything occur.
That said, a simple “yes” to this question really isn’t enough. Anyone can say they have insurance or print it on a business card — but that doesn’t mean they actually do carry the insurance. Ask the contractor to provide you with proof of coverage.
This is an important follow-up to the first question. Unscrupulous companies may say they have a general liability insurance policy when they actually do not, or when they have purchased a different type of policy (like a janitorial policy) to shave down their costs. If that’s the case, the work done by the window cleaners is not covered (and with different policy types, is often specifically excluded), exposing the property owner to risk. Your best bet: When working with a new service provider, always ask that a copy of the insurance certification be faxed or emailed to you prior to scheduling any service or work.
Service providers that use employees or ‘helpers’ — including window cleaning companies — are required to have a workers’ compensation policy for each employee. This policy protects both the employer and the customer. Should an employee experience an injury — in particular, one that means time away from work (and hence, lost wages) — the employee can legally bring suit against both the employer and the customer for that lost income. Workers are safer — and you don’t have to worry about a potentially very expensive lawsuit — if an appropriate workers’ compensation plan is in place. As with insurance, it’s best to ask that a copy of the workers’ compensation certification be provided to you via fax or email before any work is ordered.
This might seem obvious — you assume that, when you hire a window cleaning company, its own workers will be coming to do the cleaning. But if the service provider is a ‘referral’ service, the crew coming to clean could be, well, anyone. They are likely to be subcontractors, and consequently would not be covered under the providers’ general liability insurance policy or workers’ compensation (and we’ve already gone over the importance of having those in place!). If your job is subcontracted, there is nothing binding the technician who actually comes to do your cleaning to the company you ostensibly hires. This means that in addition to the insurance concerns, you have no recourse in the event of poor workmanship, damaged property, or property loss. For all of these reasons, you want to hire a service provider you can trust — and be sure that who actually comes to do that work is a member of their team.
Additionally, a trustworthy company will only hire employees that their customers can depend on. If, for example, you’re having interior residential services performed, you shouldn’t have to wonder if the technician coming into your home — around your children, belongings, and more — has had trouble with the law, or has any ‘recreational’ activities that might cause you concern. You should be able to insist upon — and your window cleaning company should provide — technicians who are well-referenced, have undergone background checks, and are regularly screened for drug use.
When it comes to window cleaning, property and casualty risks are less about the window cleaning itself and more related to other aspects of the job — for example, using ladders, walking on roofs, or using razors. To ensure your financial wellbeing (and the workers themselves!) are not facing undue risk, ask whether the technicians are safety conscious: Have they been trained in the fundamentals of safety, as well as the safe use of the tools of their trade? Who performed the training? A proactive company will be compliant with OSHA and ANSI I-14, and have an ongoing safety program.
California has no state licensing requirements for window cleaners, so in theory literally anyone can go to the local hardware store, spend $200 on basic equipment, and call themselves professional window cleaners. While it may be true that window cleaning itself is not particularly difficult or technical, a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the tools and equipment (and when and how to use them), as well as a familiarity with glass and its properties is paramount. The absence of these fundamentals can lead to poorly cleaned glass at best and damaged glass at worst. Additionally, part of proper training is education in the safe execution of window cleaning services, including ladder usage, fall protection requirements, and high reach considerations — all potential risk areas. Poor, incorrect, or simply nonexistent training is a hazard for all concerned, so it is important to know when, where, and by whom a contractor was trained.
The International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) is the only governing body that has a certification process for window cleaning firms and technicians. The IWCA has experience requirements, as well as written and oral exams that must be passed. IWCA certifications are valid for three years, after which time re-certification is required. There are three separate qualifications that can be pursued — two commercial and one residential. This certification and proof (which is a laminated card with a photo I.D.) can provide you with an additional measure of assurance that you have hired a professional.
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” is an easy promise to make, but its fulfillment isn’t always easy. At best, it can mean the inconvenience of a return visit by the technicians to “get it right.” At worst, these are just empty words uttered to give customers a false sense of certainty.
Given a contract with a mutually agreed-upon and clear understanding of the specifics of the service to be performed, a thorough cleaning should be followed by an inspection of the work either in total — or if time is short, one or more windows randomly selected by the property owner — prior to signing off the work. This should preclude the occurrence of less than optimal results. Should there be any unfortunate incidents resulting in damages, with the certificate of insurance in hand, all the necessary details for what to do next should be at your fingertips (since carrier, their contact information, and so on are all included in the document). We’ve already said it a few times, but just to be completely clear — make sure you receive proof of insurance!
Have a question that hasn’t been answered here, or want to hear our answer to one of the SAQs? Call Freedom Window Cleaning today at (760) 598-5510!