Keeping it Clean Guide to Exterior Maintenance and Upkeep

Living in New Jersey can be something of a dirty job. And because of the task of cleaning off months (or years) of accumulated grime and dirt from the exterior of a building takes much more than a scrub-brush and a bottle of Windex; it requires professional help. The work is not just a labor-intensive job, it also calls for extensive knowledge of building materials, cleaning products, and cleaning methods.

Removing Mess

For residents of condos, townhomes and co-ops, knowing when, how and why—or why not —to have the exterior of their building cleaned could be a matter of dollars and cents, but it also should be about what makes common sense. Most associations would find it unnecessary to clean their building’s entire exterior each month, but some might want it done semi-annually, while others could allow the façade to darken for years before tending to it. It all really depends upon a community’s perceptions, needs, and budget.

Knowing the causes of exterior dirt and the cleaning methods used to deal with it can enable residents to take a realistic approach to the problem of keeping their building’s façade looking spiffy. It’s hard to say what creates the most stains and grime on buildings: air pollution, soot from oil-burning furnaces, or car exhaust. Facades are soiled by atmospheric conditions like air pollution and acid rain and the buildup of dirt on a building over time can dull architectural details and lessen the beauty of the structure.

“The most common types of stain and grime found on New Jersey buildings are algae,” says John Doherty, president of Garden State Powerwash in Manalpan. “So the cause is environmental. You see it more on the north side of buildings because that gets the least amount of sun.”

Colm Fidgeon, president of Precision Powerwash in Somerdale agrees with Doherty that environmental pollutants is the number one source of most grime and grit on New Jersey buildings. “Mother Nature is the problem,” he says. “It causes all of the mold and algae, especially on roofs. I see lots of algae, the black streaks on New Jersey rooftops.”

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