1. How often should I be cleaning my windows?

How often you should be cleaning your windows really depends on where you live. Factors to consider are: wind, road location, dust and dirt in the air, proximity to the ocean, construction in the local area, etc. Your home is not in a vacuum. Pollutants in the air carried by the wind land on your house and windows. Over time, this grime accumulates leaving your building looking dirty and your windows looking hazy. For coastal dwellers, the marine layer adds extra moisture to the grimy mix. Salt in the marine layer also corrodes the screen and metal window frames. Building construction in the neighborhood, gardeners with their leaf blowers, pollution from vehicles on the road, all add to the contaminants in the air that end up on your house and windows.

Some homeowners find that after a thorough cleaning, it's about 3-5 months before their windows need to be cleaned again. We recommend quarterly window cleanings (at a minimum for the exterior windows) if you live by the beach where the marine layer is constant. This regular cleaning keeps your glass clean, your screens and window frames free from salt corrosion and your home looking spectacular.

2. Why do I need to have my screens on the windows?

Many clients choose to keep the screens off the windows during winter months. If your windows are shut and you won't be opening them for fresh air, take them off and store them in the garage! Screens get sun damage from the ultraviolet (UV) rays beating down on them daily. We recommend you put the screens on when your windows will be open, especially during the spring and summer months. This way, you extend the life of your screens as long as possible. As they stay in good shape longer, they can do their job as air filters for your home that much longer and more efficiently. Make sure to have your Window Technician clean them in the Aztec Screen Washer to maintain their structural integrity and keep the grime off them, especially if you will be storing them for the winter.

3. Do solar panels need to be cleaned?

You made a big investment in your solar panel array to save you money on your monthly electric bill. The solar panels also provide your household with security in case of power outages or rolling brown outs. How much electricity will they produce for you if they are covered in a thick layer of dirt, leaves, grime, fungus or bird poo??? Not much!!!

For solar panels to operate at maximum capacity and efficiency, they need to be clean. To keep them in prime shape and corrosion free when you live by the coast, they also need to be free of the salt buildup from the marine layer. Cleaning the solar panels with a soft nylon brush and lots of deionized filtered water every 6-9 months is a great way to keep them clean, corrosion free and generating electricity.

4. Is it ok to rinse the dirt off the windows with my garden hose?

Knocking the dirt off your windows with your garden hose is fine, so long as you IMMEDIATELY dry the window with a squeegee. If you live in Orange County, Ca, the hard water coming out of the tap - if left to dry on the windows - will leave a hard water mineral residue on the glass. Over time, these deposits harden and obscure the glass, leaving deposits that look like fish scales. Once embedded in the glass, it literally takes hours of work and a window polish consisting of diamond dust to remove it.

5. I took off my screen and found black mold on my windows. What should I do?

Black mold is nothing to take lightly as it can cause serious health issues. We recommend two things: vinegar and steam. The proprietary window cleaning mix that we use to clean windows has a high concentration of white vinegar. The vinegar kills germs and mold on contact and leaves the windows streak free. Spray this solution on the glass and wipe with a paper towel and dispose of the towel in the trash.

If there is mold on the glass, then there is mold in the window casing, window frame, jambs and tracks. A steam cleaner can disinfect and kill the mold and clean the window casing to keep the mold from coming back. Use the steam and a scrubber to get rid of all visible signs of the black mold. Steam all residue away and leave windows open to dry.

Spray the screens with the vinegar solution to kill the mold then wash through the Aztec screen washer. Allow screens to dry in the sun prior to installation as ultraviolet (UV) rays also kill the mold. Make sure to wear protective gloves and an appropriate mask for protection.

6. My windows are double paned and there is moisture and clouding in between. Can they be cleaned?

Maybe. There are window systems that open like clamshells which can be cleaned inside and outside. These can be returned to their original crystal-clear like new appearance.

Sealed windows that have this issue have had their rubber gaskets dry out, crack and have let the argon gas in between the panes escape. This is now allowing moisture, dirt, bugs, etc. into the space between the glass panels and creates the clouding. These windows can be cleaned inside and outside but NOT in between the panes These windows must be replaced to get back to like-new condition.

7. My patio concrete has a green discoloration to it. How can I get rid of it and prevent it from returning?

You possibly have green fungus, mildew and/or mold growing on your concrete. Excessive moisture is the reason for the growth. Your gutters may not be moving the water far enough away from the building, keeping it in a permanent state of wet.

To permanently eliminate the green, we recommend the following course of action: 1. Spray all green areas with white vinegar and let dry. This kills fungus, mildew, mold, mold spores and will penetrate the brick, concrete, etc. 2. Power wash all remaining debris away 2-3 days later to give the masonry that fresh, clean look. 3. Spray all masonry with vinegar after you have power washed the area and let it dry. This will help in preventing the green from returning. 4. Find the source of moisture creating the problem and direct it away from affected areas. Chop back plants that could be creating problems or at least thin them out to allow for airflow. This will help dispel the trapped moisture and keep the green discoloration from coming back.

8. What is the best DIY mixture to keep my mirrors and windows looking great year-round?

We recommend using vinegar, salt, Dawn dish soap and water as your window and mirror cleaning mix. 3 gallons of water, 3 cups of vinegar, 3 teaspoons Dawn dish soap and 1 teaspoon salt. This mixture will break up grease and grime while leaving your windows clean and disinfected. It will also kill mold and mildew growth.

9. My window technician uses a water-fed pole system to clean my windows outside. Is it as good as cleaning them by hand?

Yes! The water-fed pole system is creating de-ionized water from your tap and using it to wash the grime off the windows and then rinsing it away. The water-fed pole water filtration system removes all minerals from the water, creating de-ionized water. This structured water strips the glass (almost like a magnet) of all contaminants down to the pores of the glass. The nylon brush scrubs everything that is still on the glass off. The window technician then rinses the glass and leaves it to dry, spot-free as there are no minerals to create water spots. A window technician cleaning your glass by hand is using the vinegar/water/Dawn soap/salt mix to do essentially the same - stripping the grime from the glass down to the pores, then removing the leftover water with his squeegee and a dry towel.

10. Why is there such a difference in price to get my windows done from different companies?

Pricing boils down to the time it takes to get your windows ready to be cleaned. Our window technicians call this the "prep work". The window cleaning step is practically the last task the window technician completes. Prior to this, the time-consuming steps that are typically overlooked by other companies are what makes all the difference in the world for perfect windows. These pre-washing tasks include: scraping off paint overspray and gummy residue, scrubbing, brushing and vacuuming tracks, frames and sills, removing cobwebs, washing screens in a screen washer (not just brushing the screens). Next, washing the windows inside and outside and drying them, leaving the glass streak free. Wiping down the window frames and window sills after each window is cleaned and lastly, replacing the screens correctly - without bending or breaking the frames or tearing the screen material.

All these extra steps to make your windows perfect require more time for the window technician to complete successfully. The longer you defer the maintenance on your building and your windows, the longer it takes to make them like new. Once done, however, maintaining them is much easier and less time consuming therefore, cheaper.

A detail service for your home windows is comparable to a detail service for your automobile. Driving your vehicle through a car wash doesn't come close to dealer perfect. There is no comparison! The same goes for home windows.

11. My gutters are plugged up and water is overflowing from my second story. How do I clear it and keep it from plugging up?

First step is to get up on your roof and see where the plug is. (Be mindful of the roof pitch so you don't end up going over the side!!) It is typically a collection of leaves, branches, seed pods and the gravel coming off older shingles (tile roofs are different and can have the concrete/mortar mix coming loose and filling the gutters). Make sure to be wearing gloves before doing any removal of debris. Attempt to clear blockage of downspout by hand.

Second step is to use a small deck scrub brush to push the debris away from the ends of the gutter, away from the down spouts until you collect the bulk of the leafy materials into a pile that you can either collect in a bag or toss off the side of the house (hopefully into the garden or lawn). Remember, you are getting rid of the big stuff first.

Third step is to start pushing the silt/gravel in the gutters (from the shingles) to a place away from the down spouts. Having an assistant using a pressure-wash wand (hooked up to a garden hose, using the water to move the material) is incredibly helpful. Once piled up, use a gutter cleaning scoop to get the bulk of the gravel out. Toss over the side into the garden or collect in a bag. Make sure to keep it away from down spouts as it will collect at the bends and create blockages that are much harder to clear.

Fourth step is to use the pressure wash wand to rinse any remaining sediment down the down spout, leaving the gutters clear and free to do what they were designed to do - collect water and move it away from your building.

Lastly, collect all tools and trash from roof then get down, CAREFULLY. If you made a mess down below, use the pressure wash wand to clear the dirt and mud. Pick up any debris and dispose of it into the trash.

12. My screen door doesn't roll on the tracks anymore and is leaving rust stains in the track. What can I do to fix the problem?

A screen door not rolling on its tracks can be an easy fix - sometimes. After loosening the tension screws, use a scraper to pop the screen/wheels out from the bottom. Once out, turn the screen on its side so you can examine the wheels. Use a small paint brush to get rid of dirt, debris, cobwebs and anything impeding the rotation of the wheels. Next, grab the WD40 and spray a generous amount on the wheels and see if you can work them until they start to move freely. It may not roll as freely as a skateboard wheel but if it turns and frees up, reinstall and adjust the height with screw tensioners till the screen rolls smoothly.

If it is rusted beyond repair, you may need to replace the wheels and mechanism. Consider stainless steel wheels if you live close to the coast. Stainless will not rust out or corrode like regular wheels. The company we recommend for screens and wheel replacement is Mobile Screen Service in Orange County. They take extra, great care of our clients, so be sure to tell Scott, Eddie or any of their team that Five Star Window Detailing referred you. https://mobilescreenservice.com/santa-ana/

13. The marine layer rolls in and my screens and windows are wet in the mornings. Will this hurt them?

The marine layer contains a high concentration of salt. The closer you live to the coast the more the marine layer will envelop your home. The salt and moisture will wreak havoc on metal screens, non-stainless steel and non-bronze hardware. The salt build-up freezes screen wheels causing them to rust and corrodes screen frames and metal screen catches creating blisters, pits and holes. The key to protecting your investment is to wash your windows and screens regularly and often to keep them free of the salt. Secondly, be sure to lubricate all metal to prevent rust and corrosion. WD-40 is your friend for all things metal.

14. We just finished the construction of our home. I'm looking for window cleaning services. What should I expect?

Depending on how conscientious and thorough your other contractors were, and how meticulously they handled their clean-up duties in the areas they worked, will determine the amount of time and effort necessary to make your windows perfect. Protective plastic on both sides of the glass must be carefully removed to ensure the least amount of glue residue remains. Quickly tearing plastic off typically leaves most of the glue on the glass (a major bummer as you now have to remove this from the glass as well.)
How long was the construction? How long were the windows sitting in the sun with the plastic on them? Hot sun bakes on the plastic and glue that protects the glass, drying it out and making it difficult to remove.

Is there paint overspray on the glass? Plaster or grout on the panes and sills? Concrete or sand in the tracks? All of this will need to be removed in order to make the windows perfect.

Here's some questions to ask your window professional:

  • How much experience do your technicians have with this type of cleanup?
  • What is the step-by-step procedure they intend to follow to make your windows perfect?
  • How do they intend to get all that crud off your windows while not scratching the new glass, casings or frames?
  • How much time is it going to take?
Make sure your window professional is experienced in this type of work and has a planned-out strategy on how to handle the work in a timely fashion. Make sure they break the work down on a per-day basis, carefully going over each step with you so you know what to expect and when to expect it. Bottom line - have them tell you what the team is going to do and how. Then keep their feet to the fire until it gets done.

15. I just had my house painted and there is paint overspray on the glass. What should I do to remove it?

If your painter didn't do the best of jobs taping and covering your windows prior to his paint spraying, expect overspray on the windows as well as any other exposed fixtures (chandeliers, furniture, floors, etc.) If it is primarily in an isolated area, using some acetone (you can get this in the paint section of Home Depot) on a clean rag to rub it off should make quick work of it. If it is on every pane, you should call your window professional.

The window detailer's best friend: a Triumph scraper with a double-edged blade. This is what the professionals use to clear the paint, excess silicone, etc. from the glass. Make sure the window professional brings a lubricant to apply to the glass prior to scraping (WD40 works great). Make sure they are using a fresh blade on your windows to ensure they don't scratch your glass. After the paint is removed, make sure they do a great job degreasing and then cleaning the glass so you can enjoy the new painted interior in conjunction with the beautiful gleaming glass as well.

16. I have baked-on glue all over my glass from the protective plastic film my windows came with. The contractors just tore the plastic off and didn't remove the glue. What should I do?

Don't let the contractors fix the situation!! We have seen countless houses with the glass horribly scratched because of some overzealous contractor wanting to "fix" the situation he created. Call a window professional or follow our glue removal protocol:

  • Buy the gallon size WD40 at Home Depot.
  • Buy a Triumph scraper with extra blades.
  • Get some clean rags (they cannot be used for anything else afterwards).
  • Get a step ladder to stand on.
  • Pour WD40 into a clean spray bottle (Zep spray bottles- also found at Home Depot).
  • Spray the window with the WD40 (light mist).
  • Use a clean rag to spread it over the glass and dried glue.
  • Repeat on the remaining windows.
  • Do NOT start scraping!!!
  • Allow 30 minutes from application to the last window before beginning.
  • The goal is to rehydrate the glue with the WD40 and then to scrape it off.
  • Go back to the first window.
  • Start with the edges of the glass, scraping with smooth, even strokes.
  • Place residue onto dirty rag, then move to next edge.
  • Once all edges are complete, do the middle with smooth even strokes.
  • Work through all windows methodically.
  • When complete, wash windows with a mixture of water, vinegar, salt and Dawn dish soap.
  • Squeegee off the mixture.
  • Dry with clean dry towels and remember to get the corners-no streaks!!!