Window Cleaning: What You Need to Know About Self Cleaning Windows

Window Cleaning: What You Need to Know About Self Cleaning Windows

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An alternative to traditional windows that require conventional window cleaning, self-cleaning glass has become a popular option in skylights, conservatories, and residential windows. While in theory self-cleaning windows can reduce maintenance costs, are they worth the extra expense? Self-cleaning windows are considerably more expensive, typically around 20{c8f0bd29eee558107b82fbcea509087520306d94155679ec326c92b5517e8ef3} more than conventional glass says Bob Pergolotti of Fairfield Window Cleaner.  Important to mention is that their “self-cleaning” claim to fame isn’t always accurate, depending on the situation.

What is Self-Cleaning Glass?

Self-cleaning glass is glass that has had an ultra-thin coating of titanium dioxide added to it. Titanium dioxide is a substance that triggers chemical reactions when exposed to water and ultraviolet (UV) light. This type of glass comes in a number of tints and thicknesses. Self-cleaning glass is also available with additional inner coatings for energy savings and heat reflection. The following 2 stages are involved in the cleaning process of this type of glass.

The Photocatalytic Stage (light activated)

UV light that strikes the titanium coating produces a chemical reaction that cuts up dirt and organic matter into little pieces, making it easy to wash away during the hydrophilic stage.

The Hydrophilic Stage (water activated)

When rain strikes self-cleaning glass, it evenly spreads out across the surface and, similar to what happens with a squeegee, wiping down the glass. The problem is that this action depends on the right amount of water and sunlight – a shortage of either can cause problems.

Problems with Self Cleaning Glass

There are several problems related to this kind of glass. For instance, the “self-cleaning” advantage is limited if there isn’t enough sunlight or it is blocked by obstructions including overhanging trees, buildings, etc. Dry periods can also create problems and prevent the hydrophilic stage from going into effect. If there isn’t enough rain, you’ll need to hose down the glass to trigger the second cleaning stage. The problem is that you can end up spraying hard water deposits on the glass. Sure, you’ll be able to wash dirt and debris away, but the glass will be left looking “spotty”.

The Window Cleaning Process

The cleaning process involved with this type of glass is ongoing and slowly takes place over time. As a result, the windows are never as sparkling clean and crystal clear as they are after a professional window cleaning. As mentioned above, the effectiveness of the process also depends on the amount of rain and UV light available. If the windows are in shaded areas the efficiency of the cleaning process will be significantly affected. Also, if a building is exposed to large volumes of inorganic materials, like sand or salt, deposits are left on the glass that won’t break down. Consequently, they’ll remain on the glass until water is applied to the surface to flush it off. If this is the case, it’s highly recommended having a professional window cleaning company clean the windows to prevent scratching the glass.

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