Using Ladders for Cleaning Windows
Using a Ladder for Cleaning Windows
Cleaning windows effectively involves using ladders. In this article I’ll share ladder types, applications, accessories, and safety tips. Let’s get started.
Ladders are necessary for cleaning second floor windows and higher. (Unless you have a water-fed pole window cleaning system.)
If you’re just starting out cleaning windows, you may be able to get by without a ladder at first. Especially if you are mostly cleaning commercial storefront windows, since most storefront windows can be reached using an extension pole.
Once you begin cleaning residential windows, you will need to at least have a combination ladder.
Types of Ladders
Although it is possible to squeegee clean some high windows with an extension pole (usually commercial glass), this can be very challenging to do a good job of detailing them by pole (residential).
So ladders typically become necessary when cleaning windows 2-3 story’s high.
What type of ladder is best for my application you may ask?
Ladder 1: Stepladder
Stepladders can vary in design, height, and weight. They can be made of aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. Aluminum is generally the lighter option.
Stepladders are generally a good choice for reaching up to 8-10 feet vertical.
Ladder 2: Combination ladder
Combination ladders have become more popular due to their versatility. They can have many different configurations that enable user accessibility in a variety of applications.
A combination ladder is very compact and can even fit in a car. It’s a strong ladder and because it comes in multiple lengths, it can be a good choice for reaching windows up to 24 feet vertical (22 foot ladder).
This is a great choice for a first ladder purchase when just getting started in this business.
Ladder 3: Extension Ladder
If you’re planning on cleaning windows up to 2-3 stories vertical, it would be a good idea to purchase a quality extension ladder.
A 24 foot ladder should give you enough height to reach most 2 story windows. A 28-32 foot ladder should be enough to reach most 3 story windows.
Remember that the longer the ladder and the better the grade, the heavier the ladder becomes. When choosing a ladder to purchase/use make sure it is one you are strong enough to confidently/safely carry & maneuver on the job.
It’s a good idea to accessorize your ladder for safety reasons and to avoid damaging clients gutters, stucco, or siding. Here’s a couple accessories I recommend for the window cleaner pro.
For uneven ground, it’s best to have a ladder equipped with a ladder leveling system. You can find ladder levelers in some hardware stores and on most window cleaning suppliers websites.
Ladder levellers go on the bottom of your ladder and are used to “level” your ladder so your ladder isn’t on an angle & doesn’t tip sideways.
Be sure to properly install the levellers onto your ladder and test them before you go on the job so they work properly when you need them.
There are multiple brands and types of ladder levellers in the market. Here’s an example of one brand of ladder leveller that can usually be purchased at Home Depot:
Stabilizers (AKA: stand-offs)
There are a variety of ladder stabilizers in the market. You should be able to find some in the ladder section at your local hardware store.
Ladder stabilizers go on the top of your ladder and assist in stabilizing your ladder at the top. Because they cause the ladder to stand off the building they are sometimes called “stand offs” by people in this business.
Here’s an example of a stand off type stabilizer you can find in the ladder section at hardware stores.
Practice Ladder Safety
This is not a comprehensive article on ladder safety. A entire book could be written on ladder safety and it probably even exists.
It is absolutely imperative that you learn how to use ladders safely before using one. Improper ladder use can result in injuries such as broken bones, cuts, scrapes, bruises, compound fractures, and even death.
Know that you are responsible for your safety and loss of life can still occur even when using a ladder safely. Know the risks before use and assess whether or not you will use ladders.
I would recommend googling terms such as “ladder safety”, “ladder safe angles”, “proper ladder use”, etc. Watch ladder safety videos on YouTube.
You never want to have a ladder that is too heavy for you to safely handle. If you accidentally drop a ladder, it can damage anything it falls on. If a ladder falls, it will bend and be rendered unsafe to use, which can be a costly lesson.
Be sure to always, always, always practice caution when using ladders. Move slower. Always be cognizant of where the ladder ends are when carrying them so they don’t do any damage.
When placing a ladder, be sure the rungs are level so it won’t tip side to side. It’s also super important that the angle of the ladder is at the correct angle against the building before ascending so it won’t slide out.
NEVER place a ladder on ice or any other slippery surface. It will slip and you will fall.
Use caution using ladders on windy days. If wind speeds are too strong it will blow the ladder over. The ladder will fall and cause damage and/or injury.
In conclusion, if you choose to start using ladders in your window cleaning business remember the following key points.
- Always practice safety
- Move slowly & confidently
- Only carry/use a ladder you are strong enough to safely use
- Always use a ladder leveling system for uneven ground
When it comes to cleaning upper windows by squeegee, you will likely need to have and learn how to safely use ladders to do so. If you would like to avoid using extension ladders, you may wish to invest in a water-fed pole system for brush washing upper glass and frames.
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