|• Care for Pavers|
|• Cavity Wall Moisture Management|
|• Cleaning and Removing Stains Outdoor On Outdoor Pavers|
|• Mortar & Restoration|
|• Protecting Pavers From Stains|
|• Stone Veneer|
|Learn More About Sponsored Topics|
The Official Publication
of the Mason Contractors
Association of America
The Elements of Cleaning
Cleaning – every kind of cleaning – involves three elements: temperature, agitation and cleaning agent. Different jobs require different measures of each element to be successful.
Cleaning hard surfaces is quite the same. You need the right combination of temperature, agitation and cleaning agent. The right combination depends on the composition of the surface and substrate, the nature and extent of the unwanted matter, and the temperature of the water supply. Often, you can have a pretty good idea of the issues surrounding the cleaning job to be done. However, using a little caution as a starting point is wise.
Trial and error on a relatively concealed section of the surface will give you the knowledge required to understand what combination of pressure, agitation and cleaning agent will yield the best results without unnecessary risk. You may have cleaned similar surfaces in the past and think you know the limits and requirements. However, when dealing with surfaces like brick, stone, cement block, marble and faux stone, nature and manufacturing variances and, yes, mistakes will change the conditions and requirements.
Let’s take a look at some specific cleaning situations you might run into with new construction. In the discussion, we will talk about water pressure. If you can apply the cleaning agent with hot water you, increase the temperature element. Since the other elements don’t change, you will reduce the amount of chemical agent needed and, thereby, reduce your cost of cleaning.
It is important to remember when using a high-pressure water sprayer that the actual pressure of the water hitting the wall is a function of how close the wand is held to the surface. As the distance from the wand to the wall increases, there is a dramatic reduction in the pressure when using a fan-shaped nozzle. For example, when using a 15-degree nozzle, which is the smallest fan available, when the wand is held 12 inches from the surface and the water sprayer gauge mounted on the machine indicates 3,000 psi, the water is actually hitting the wall at less than four psi.
Restoration and Rehabilitation
Restoration cleaning involves two additional variables, which require you to reevaluate the three elements of cleaning – temperature, agitation and cleaning agent – and to make different choices depending on additional considerations. You not only have to consider the composition of the surface material but also the nature of the stains and the environmental impact of the cleaning agent.
Often, it is necessary to assay the composition of the original surface and mortar, the composition of any previous repairs and modifications, and the nature of the stains and to consider the surroundings of the project. It would be quite normal to have other structures in close proximity, stringent regulations on runoff, and an occupied structure. Stains will range from carbon black to acid rain and rust from deteriorating ornamentation and structural elements.
The only way to determine the best cleaning methodology and process is to involve material analysts and building preservation experts. Specialized restoration cleaning agents are available to treat a variety of stains. Chemical manufacturers will give guidance with regard to which chemicals they formulate for particular types of surfaces and stains. It may be necessary to limit agitation from water pressure, if the surface is particularly soft. In most cases, temperature and the proper cleaning agent will need to combine to provide cleaning power as agitation will need to be minimized and may be limited to hand brushing.
There are some generalities that you can consider when balancing agitation, temperature and cleaning agent.
Increasing the temperature of the cleaning agent and the surface to be cleaned, either by using hot water and heating the cleaning agent with the water or creating friction by brushing, will increase the power of the cleaning agent. If you want the cleaning agent to be less powerful, decrease the temperature or use less.
Generally, agitation is accomplished either by water pressure or manpower using brushes or even rags. It sure is easier to let water pressure do the job, if the surface will tolerate it.
Chemicals represent the greatest variable cost in cleaning, so it is important to identify the chemical with the right balance of power and cost. There are seemingly unlimited choices in cleaning agents. Sometimes the choice comes down to what you’ve had the best experience with and what is most available to you. Sometimes the choice is made by the designer, who perhaps made the choice based on what specification happens to be most available on his computer. Other times, it is important to choose the right formulation for the job at hand and to vary the amount of agent being used to get the job done in an acceptable amount of time and at an acceptable cost.
In short, you need the right balance of temperature, agitation and cleaning agent to get your cleaning job done. Varying any of the elements will impact the others, and reducing the power of one of the elements can be compensated for by increasing another. You will have an important cost advantage if you increase the temperature of the cleaning agent and, thereby, decrease the amount of agent needed.
Ronald W. Baer is President of Kem-O-Kleen. Kem-O-Kleen has manufactured equipment for all kinds of masonry cleaning for more than 40 years. He may be reached at 800-274-4121 and welcomes your comments.
|Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 18:03|