Skyscraper Window Cleaning

High Rise Window Cleaning | RayAccess, Inc.

Proudly Serving Los Angeles And The Surrounding Areas

Since 2011, the mission of RayAccess has been to provide the best high rise window cleaning services available to the Los Angeles market. RayAccess window cleaning technicians enable tenants of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers to enjoy the breathtaking views of Los Angeles. We believe the cleanliness & clarity of your windows reflect directly on the quality of your business.

RayAccess employs the full spectrum of high access methods by using suspended scaffolding, boom lifts, waterfed poles, and industrial rope access. We perform the most appropriate window cleaning method safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.  

As a licensed and fully insured contractor, RayAccess technicians are highly accomplished in the window washing trade. Each member of our crew has completed thousands of hours working at height. RayAccess employs industrial rope access certified technicians, and our affiliations include the International Window Cleaning Association, and Scaffold & Access Industry Association.

RayAccess Inc. is a fully insured and experienced High Rise Window Cleaning Contractor

Service Area for High Rise Window Cleaning:

RayAccess proudly serves the constantly changing skyline of Los Angeles. Over the past decade, LA has experienced a growth spurt and RayAccess has been there to make skyscrapers and high rise buildings shine – with sparkling clean windows!

From the hundreds of new apartments & condos in DTLA, Koreatown, vertical development is happening all over LA. RayAccess provides high rise window cleaning to the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether you need curtain walls cleaned on a Century City hotel or windows cleaned on a Santa Monica office building, RayAccess can help.

RayAccess technicians have earned five stars from clients by focusing on quality, safety, and efficiency in window washing.

High Access Window Cleaning Methods: 

There are 5 commonly used methods to access and clean window glazing on high-rise or mid-rise buildings. Which method is used depends on many factors including building height, architecture, established facade access system, dirtiness of glass, protruding obstacles, and traffic. 

Furthermore, we’ll demonstrate the advantages and limitations of each high rise window cleaning method below. It’s the window cleaning contractor’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Thus, window washing contractors are ultimately responsible for choosing a method that is both feasible and safe.

Waterfed Poles: 

Telescopic poles can extend up to 60 feet but require a straight path to reach each and every window pane.

Advantages:

  1. Waterfed poles allow workers to wash windows up to 4 stories while staying on the ground.

Limitations:

  1. Limited by height. Maximum pole reach is about 60 feet, or 5 floors.
  2. Window screens, if there are any, will need to be removed from the inside.
  3. Not appropriate for cleaning very dirty windows as applying direct pressure or use of “elbow grease” is not available.
  4. Large trees and/or electric lines can substantially limit this method. 
  5. Recessed areas may be unreachable. 

Man Lift: 

An aerial lift powered by a hydraulic system that lifts workers to a predetermined height based on the lift’s range. There are various types of man lifts such as scissor lifts, articulated and straight boom lifts, compact crawlers and spider lifts. Each type of lift has its own advantages and limitations. 

Advantages: 

  1. Cleaning windows using man lifts can be a very effective way to access/clean windows of buildings between 3-10 stories. 
  2. Man lifts require minimal setup time and can move workers horizontally, vertically, and under large overhangs. 
  3. Compact man lifts are one of the most effective ways for atrium and high interior window cleaning.

Limitations:

  1. Man lifts have operating limits. For example they need leveled ground capable of sustaining loads of 10,000-20,000 lbs. 
  2. Man lifts also need a substantial amount of space to maneuver around the building. The larger the lift the more space it needs to drive around and operate. 
  3. Using a lift over a sidewalk or from a street requires obtaining permits and barricades. Traffic management comes with additional cost and project complications.
  4. Large trees, electric/communication lines, and other obstacles limit the ability to reach and clean high windows safely.

Suspended Scaffolding/Powered Platform/Swing Stage: 

This is a conventional access method used by window washers. The movable platform also known as a swing stage, provides a window cleaner a stable place to work while cleaning high-rise windows. Using a swing stage or suspended scaffolding platform requires building infrastructure with roof anchors, stable power source and specifically designed facade access system. Cal-OSHA has specific standards[1] for using suspended scaffolding in scheduled maintenance and window washing.

Advantages: 

  1. When working on longer drops, Suspended Scaffolding (aka a Swing Stage) provides more stable and convenient support than other access methods. 
  2. On simply designed buildings with no architectural obstacles, powered platforms most effectively cover the largest area per drop. They reduce labor time and cost, compared to use of RDS, CDA, Boatswain Chair, Man Lift or Industrial Rope Access.

Limitations:

  1. These systems consist of many components such as anchors, davits or outriggers, power outlets and cords, wire cables, hoists, platform modules. They shall be annually inspected and certified by a SIT (Scaffolding Installation & Testing) licensed engineer. Unfortunately, the more complex a facade access system is the higher chance of failure or operator mistake
  2. Facade access system consists of heavy and quite cumbersome metal components including davits/outriggers, platform, long wire cables and power cords. Moving and setting these systems up require a great level of worker’s strength and control to avoid property damage or injury.
  3. Suspended scaffolding is prone to be quite in-effective and create greater risk on buildings with complex architecture and design. Balconies, canopies, overhangs, pitched or multi-level roofs, recessed sections, uneven landings create obstacles for power platforms and swing stages.
  4. Due to complexity, powered platforms has a limited application for high interior window washing. It is extremely rare that powered platforms can be used to clean interior atriums.

Building Maintenance Unit (BMU):

Mostly used on skyscrapers and towers, BMUs have similar advantages and limitations to Powered Platforms but they are easier to setup and operate. BMUs are fully automatic. 

Advantages:

  1. Automated system that requires much less rigging time with boom moving basket in the required drop location.
  2. Just like powered platforms, BMUs provide stable support and cover a large area per drop.

Limitations:

  1. Very expensive to install and maintain.
  2. Mostly used for tower type buildings and skyscrapers. Multi-level buildings might require several BMUs which is cost-ineffective.
  3. Time-to-time BMUs are prone to malfunction, leaving workers stranded in mid-air for hours.
  4. Requires operator training specific for each particular BMU.

Rope Descent Systems, Controlled Descent Apparatus, Boatswain Chair:

Rope Descent System (RDS), Controlled Descent Apparatus (CDA) and Boatswain Chair (mistakenly called Bosun’s Chair) are conventional ways to clean windows using ropes. They often get confused with each other, and Industrial Rope Access. However, RDS and CDA are pretty much the same. Boatswain Chair was originally used with a manually operated pulley system to go up and down. Since, it has been modernized with a powered hoist similar to a powered platform. RDS and CDA utilize main and safety ropes, and a descent apparatus which is manually used by workers to rappel down themselves. RDS/CDA and Boatswain Chair have their own Cal-OSHA regulations [2] to be followed.

Industrial Rope Access is very different from CDA/RDS and Boatswain Chair in safety standards, equipment, and techniques. Comparing to RDS/CDA and Boatswain Chair, Industrial Rope Access has an impeccable safety record, and we’ll review it below.

Advantages:

  1. All of these systems are much more versatile than powered platforms when it comes to working in tight spaces and around obstacles.
  2. They are not disruptive and do not block public space around the building like a boom or man lift.
  3. They usually are a very cost-efficient method for window cleaning since they require less people and equipment to operate.

Limitations:

  1. CDA/RDS and Boatswain Chair all require approved and certified anchorage for use.
  2. In contrast with Industrial Rope Access, there is a lack of industry standards with respect to training operators, continuing education and a certification program. Learning skills from coworkers “on the job” is the most common form of education for these access methods. Most of the CDA/RDS/Boatswain Chair operators have minimal training in safety standards, rigging, access equipment inspection and maintenance, self-rescue and rope rescue. Unfortunately, this lack in safety training results in accidents.
  3. Personal equipment rarely gets inspected and is used way beyond its expiration date. Often,  incompatible equipment is mistakenly used as a result of the low training level.
  4. Per Cal-OSHA, CDA/RDS can only be used to a maximum of 130 ft. A document outlining building drop locations and rigging is required, called an OPOS (Operating Procedures Outline Sheet).
  5. With exception to a powered Boatswain Chair, CDA and RDS techniques and equipment only allow for descending down. Ascending, traversing, climbing and positioning maneuvers are limited.

Industrial Rope Access: 

A extremely versatile high access method that features climbing techniques along with anchors and two-line rope systems. It allows technicians to move both horizontally and vertically. Used in  industrial applications around the world, industrial rope access was developed for work on bridges, smokestacks, towers, theme parks, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities. 

In addition to international governing bodies (IRATA/SPRAT) that provide standards for industrial rope access industry, Cal Osha has regulations for rope access equipment [3}. 

Advantages:

  1. Rope access fills a void where conventional access methods fall short. It is the most versatile access system which can be safely used in many areas where use of powered platforms, man lifts, and Boatswain Chair are unfeasible or unsafe.
  2. It’s cost-effective as it does not require heavy and cumbersome equipment, engineering support, special anchor points, and traffic management complications.
  3. Rope access technicians can effectively work around architectural building features, and other obstacles on and around a building.
  4. With Rope Access, there is less need for the use of scaffolding or heavy equipment. Rope access is a safer, less disruptive, and a faster alternative to conventional access methods. 

Limitations: 

  1. Rope access is not very effective for tall buildings higher than 15 floors. Rope stretching and wind becomes a factor if the work requires solid support. 
  2. Rope access drop coverage is much less compared to a suspended platform where up to 30ft can be covered.
  3. There is an ongoing regulatory debate if Rope Access is approved by Cal-OSHA for window cleaning.

Cal-OSHA Regulations:

RayAccess technicians perform window washing services in compliance with Cal-Osha for access methods with standards and regulations including:

Safety Record on Rope Access:

Industrial Rope Access has the lowest accident rate compared to all other access methods in working at height.  The main reason is that Industrial Rope Access has stringent standards guided by SPRAT and IRATA which require a very high level of training for each technician with independent assessment as well as the implementation of Rope Access and Safety program on the company level.

Rope access continues to gain regulatory acceptance after 30 years of exemplary safety records. In fact, Rope Access is being written into American Society of Safety Professionals ANSI Z359 Standards [4].

Safety and fall protection is a top priority for RayAccess. We train our front-line workers in fall protection and the most advanced safety protocols. RayAccess employs certified technicians at industrial rope access level 3. This is the highest level of certification.

5 Facts About High Rise Window Washers:

  1. It’s safer than driving a Taxi: Once regarded as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, the high rise window cleaning profession has much less fatalities than the taxi or rideshare industry. The stats speak for themselves. In 1932, 1 out of 200 New York window cleaners were killed on the job. Whereas, only one high-rise window cleaner died on the job annually between 2010 and 2014, according to the International Window Cleaning Association.
  2. It’s a silent job. When you are 15 stories above the ground, you can’t hear sounds from the street. It’s usually very quiet up there. Many window cleaners say it’s the most peaceful part of their day. “However, you always have music playing in your head,” one veteran window washer said.
  3. Wind can be a nuisance. High winds and upward drafts can drive water from a mop sideways or across the glass. This can ruin the work of clean windows that has just been completed.
  4. Window washers often get called to clean glass splashed with coffee that is tossed by tenants from a higher floor. Besides coffee, bird turd is another common request a window cleaner needs to remove. 
  5. There is an art to the window cleaner’s “sway.” This movement requires a light touch and a smooth, s-method or serpentine glide. The idea is to keep water across and down without your squeegee blade leaving the glass. This motion is followed by a final flick of the wrist to remove dirt, water, and your squeegee off the window. Most window cleaners inadvertently leave a mark somewhere on the glass. This is known as a window washer’s “signature,” and different for everyone.

How Long Does It Take To Clean Windows On A Skyscraper?

The duration of commercial window cleaning jobs vary depending on a few variables. Project duration depends on project scope, dedicated crew, access method, and last service. 

Some high rise buildings request different parts of their building to be cleaned at different times of the year. For example, a hotel might want the south and east sides of the building to be cleaned during Spring and the north and west sides during fall. In this case a duration of 20 days for the entire building can be divided in half. Another job might ask to perform pressure washing and window cleaning. These two services together account for more time than just window cleaning. Project scope is an obvious factor in determining job duration. 

Another variable is the number of workers assigned to the job. RayAccess window washers work in teams of two. The more teams we assign to a project the quicker it will be completed. During our busy season, we typically assigned one or two teams to each job. In this case, projects take longer to complete than when we can assign more workers to a job in our slow season. 

The third variable that determines project duration is the access method used. Some access methods require licensed engineers to certify the equipment and roof anchors. The certification process can take several weeks depending on the SIT engineers availability. Other access methods such as industrial rope access do not require cumbersome components thus are much quicker to deploy.

Last but not least is the dirtiness of the windows. If a long time has gone by since the last service, windows take longer to clean. 

Alternative Services:

Benefits Of Hiring RayAccess:

High Access Expertise:

RayAccess employs the full spectrum of window cleaning methods to meet your needs, no matter your buildings height or access difficulty.

No-Risk To You:

Since we are a fully insured window cleaning company, the building owner or property management company is not liable when RayAccess is hired for the job.

Your Satisfaction Is  Guaranteed:

RayAccess labor guarantee means that if there are any issues with our work, our technicians will return to fix them at no additional cost.

References:

  1. The California Department of Industrial Relations. General Industry Safety Orders, Article 6. Powered Platforms. https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sb7g1a6.html
  2. The California Department of Industrial Relations. Manual Boatswain’s Chairs and Controlled Descent Apparatus (CDA). https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3286.html
  3. The California Department of Industrial Relations. Use of Rope Access Equipment. https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3270_1.html
  4. Inspectioneering journal. March/April 2015. Taking Inspection and Maintenance to New Heights with Rope Access. https://inspectioneering.com/journal/2015-04-21/4540/taking-inspection-and-maintena

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Our Clients

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What People Are Saying

  • On behalf of 1033 Ocean Ave HOA, I would like to thank RayAccess for a great job in cleaning and restoring the exterior of our building. Utilizing your rope access system saved our Association much in costs and we are glad to have avoided the need to erect scaffolding to perform the work. Sergey and his crew were very professional and communicated well during the project.

    Susan L. 1033 Ocean Ave HOA Board
  • "Great job in washing our building! Very professional team."

    Luis P. DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles / Director of Engineering
  • "Thanks so much for the great work! The windows look perfect"

    Alex R. Fisch Properties / Property Manager
  • "Great job at a great price! Had them come in to clean our building and were able to reach the high windows with no problem! Called for a free estimate, they came that same day and then came to clean to the next day! Friendly staff as well!"

    Sugar B. Playa Vista Community
  • Thank you so much for cleaning windows at our building. The tenants are so happy! They can finally see what's outside their windows!

    Ismael S SouthPark Group/ Property Manager
  • I'm really happy with work RayAccess did for us on painting the exterior of Loews atrium. At first, I though it would be a nightmare project because of old paint condition and difficult access to some areas. But it turned out to be a very professional and smooth job! Thank you.

    Rex U. Loews Hotel/ Director of Engineering
  • RayAccess painted our outdoor movie screen on a high-rise building in Downtown LA. With their Rope Access method, they saved us thousands of dollars in bringing a huge lift and blocking almost entire street. The job was done perfectly! Thank you so much!

    Emily W. Rooftop Cinema/ Head of Design & Production

High Rise Window Cleaning Service Area

RayAccess, Inc. provides High Rise Window Cleaning Services at following areas: Los Angeles County (including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles, Glendale, Santa Clarita, Burbank, San Fernando, Pasadena, Culver City, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, El Segundo, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, City of Commerce), Orange County (including Anaheim, Santa Ana, Fullerton), Riverside County (including Ontario, Riverside, Cabazon, Palm Springs), San Bernardino County (including Fontana, San Bernardino), San Diego County.

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