Maintenance & Care
Cleaning the glass in your structure, windows, and doors will keep the view clear and maintain the aesthetics, but it will also help keep the aluminum clean by eliminating another outlet for dirty run-off to streak the finish. It is recommended to clean the glass on a cloudy or mild day to minimize streaking.
Maintenance of your Glass Products
Solar Innovations® personally uses and recommends a mixture of vinegar, detergent, and water as a green solution. This solution greatly reduces streaks and will not harm the environment or the aluminum finish.
The mixture includes:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 ounces of vinegar (more or less may be needed based on the mineral content of your water)
- 1-2 drops of dish detergent (adding more will make the water too foamy and will not provide the desired result)
Apply the mixture with a soft sponge, and wash away the dirt. Use a rubber squeegee once washing is finished to remove excess moisture. It is not necessary to rinse the glass after washing, as this will only create streaks.
Build-up of dirt and pollutants on the surface can accelerate the weathering and corrosion of your structure’s aluminum finish. Keeping the finish clean can help limit further and more costly maintenance in the future.
Cleaning the aluminum should be done on a cloudy, mild day and preferably at the same time as the glass. First flush the surface of the structure with clean water to remove loose debris and assist in loosening debris that is adhered to the structure. Once the surface is flushed, wash the aluminum using a sponge and mild soap or detergent that is safe for bare hands. A nylon cleaning pad may be necessary if the metal is heavily soiled. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water after washing.
Mineral spirits may be used to remove grease, sealants, or caulking compounds from the painted surface. Use a diluted solution of under 10% muriatic acid to remove concrete that has spilled on the aluminum. Excess silicone can be removed with a razor blade, followed by an isopropyl alcohol wipe down to remove residue.
Preventing Moisture Damage
Properly maintaining a system can help eliminate the presence of moisture. Regularly checking and replacing the sealant within the system can ensure moisture remains outside the structure and prevent moisture issues before they occur.
Regular lubrication with a silicone spray or white lithium grease can help lubricate actuators and hinges in operational equipment. Tracks for operable doors and windows should be vacuumed out when dirt collects in the track and then lubricated with a Teflon or silicon spray.
*Note: Before beginning any maintenance on your greenhouse growing accessories, you MUST disconnect the power to the accessories!
Fall – Reservoirs should be drained and all pads should be removed and air dried for the winter.
Spring – When units are turned on for the season, assure all mist nozzles and reservoirs are free of debris for proper operation.
Annual – Check the internal sump pump for free float operation. Clear all parts of residual water build up and mineral deposits with a small brush. These deposits may be common as foggers atomize water and blow it throughout the greenhouse to maintain humidity and aid in cooling by evaporation.
Annual – Use a small brush (ie: toothbrush) to remove any mineral build-up.
Annual – Clean the exposed surfaces of the grow lights with a damp cloth.
Annual – Use a damp cloth and small brush to remove any particulates, as air-moving devices are subject to any debris floating through the greenhouse.
Annual – Inspect for debris build-up. The application of any upholstery grade silicone in the track housing will ensure trouble free operations. A visual inspection of the draw strings will help ensure they are properly wrapping on the tube rollers. Make adjustments as required to enhance performance.
Annual – Inspect to ensure proper seals exist. DO NOT operate your ridge or eave vents that have snow or ice accumulation, as the weight can cause severe damage to operable parts and distress the motor.
Annual – Review the temperature setting for your greenhouse before the winter weather hits, especially if you intend to keep plants in the greenhouse during the winter months.
Annual – Be sure to review all of your environmental control system settings to ensure they are properly set to keep your greenhouse in the right state year round.
How to Control Moisture and Mold
Preventing mold and mildew in a building can prevent several environmentally-controlled illnesses from becoming a greater problem. Asthma and allergies are the direct result of environmental conditions.
Mold can be further controlled by taking the following precautions:
- Fix all leaks and seepage
- Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawlspaces to prevent moisture coming from the ground
- Use exhaust fans to move moisture to the exterior
- Turn off appliances, such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters, if moisture is present on glass
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce moisture in the air
Care for your Finishes
A structure’s finish requires cleaning and maintenance prior to, during, and after installation. The buildings themselves are highly durable and constructed to withstand severe environmental elements; however, their surface finishes can become tarnished and deteriorate over time. To prevent this, Solar Innovations® has compiled the following care and maintenance guide for the preservation of your finish.
Anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration, and wear; however, its surface finish can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse, or neglect.
The aluminum should be cleaned as soon as the product is installed to remove construction and environmental soils and discolorations. All exterior surfaces collect varying amounts of soil and dirt, depending on their finish and environmental conditions of their location. These factors determine the type and frequency of cleaning required.
To clean your anodized structure, start at the top, and proceed downward. Rinse areas the width of the stage or scaffolding with a forceful water spray.
Specifications for removing light and heavy soils are as follows:
Removing Light Soils
Washing should be done using uniform pressure, first horizontally, then vertically.
- Flush the surface with water using moderate pressure.
- If soil is still present after the surface dries, scrub the surface with a brush or sponge while continuously spraying it with water.
- If dirt persists, use a mild detergent with a brush or sponge.
- Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.
- Use MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) or a similar solvent to remove oil, wax, polish, etc.
Removing Heavy Soils
Removing heavy surface soils may require the use of an abrasive cleaning pad.
- Thoroughly soak the pad with clean water or mild detergent.
- Hand scrub the surface with uniform pressure in the direction of the metal grain.
- Scrubbing with a nylon-cleaning pad impregnated with a surface protecting material is also recommended for stubborn stains.
- Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.
- Let the surface air dry or wipe it down with a lint-free cloth.
Remove Extreme Soils
You may need to use power-cleaning tools for unusually heavy soils on large areas.
- When using power tools, the surface must be continually flushed with clean water or a mild detergent to provide lubrication and a medium for carrying away the dirt.
- Rinse the area with clean water, and thoroughly scrub it with a stiff bristle brush after it has been washed by a machine.
- The surface may be air dried or wiped dry.
Certain precautions must be taken when cleaning anodized aluminum surfaces. Aluminum finishes must first be identified to select the appropriate cleaning method.
- Never use aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners.
- Avoid cleaning hot or sun-heated surfaces, since chemical reactions will be highly accelerated and cleaning non-uniformity could occur.
- Strong organic solvents may extract stain-producing chemicals from sealants and may affect the function of sealants.
- Do not use strong cleaners on glass and other areas where the cleaner may come in contact with the aluminum.
- Excessive abrasive rubbing should not be used, since it could damage the finish.
- Never use MEK or similar solvents on anodic finishes protected by clear organic coatings unless the coating has deteriorated and should be removed.
- Be sure to exercise extreme caution when using solvents, because they have the potential to damage organic sealants, gaskets, and finishes.
Over time, powder coatings may show signs of weathering, such as loss of gloss, chalking, and slight color change from being exposed to the elements. These structures must be cleaned according to the outlined specifications in order to maintain their finish.
Regular cleaning is required at least once a year. A simple regular cleaning will minimize the effects of weathering and remove dirt, grime, and other build-up. Regular cleaning frequency depends on factors including location, atmospheric pollution, and building protection.
The products should be cleaned as soon as installation is complete to ensure construction materials, such as concrete, plaster, and paint splashes are removed before they have a chance to damage the surface. Failure to remove these materials at this early stage will require the use of potentially damaging aggressive cleaning materials and techniques.
Cleaning should be executed according to the following guidelines:
- Use clean water with slight additives of neutral washing agents (pH 5-8) with the aid of non-abrasive soft cloths, rags, or industrial cotton.
- Use mineral spirits free of aromatics (chemical compounds) and alcohol to remove greasy, oily, or sooty substances. Adhesives, silicone cartouche, and adhesive tapes can also be removed this way.
- Joint sealants and other aids that come into contact with coated surfaces must be pH-neutral and free of paint-damaging substances, and they must first be subjected to a suitability test.
- Rinse with clean cold water immediately after every cleaning process.
- The entire cleaning process can be repeated if necessary after 24 hours.
- A suitability test must be taken for metallic powder coatings due to the danger of changes in a color tone.
- Avoid strong rubbing when cleaning the surface.
- Detergents must not be used at temperatures higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The maximum exposure period of detergents must not exceed one hour.
- Do not use solvents containing ester, ketones, alcohol, aromatics, ethylene glycol, or halogenated hydrocarbon.
- Do not use scratching or abrasive agents.
- Do not use strong acids, alkaline detergents, or similar products.
- Do not use detergents of unknown composition.
- Do not use stream-jet devices/power cleaning tools.
Kynar 500 ® or Hylar 5000 ® Fluoropolymer Spray Coatings
An annual cleaning of fluoropolymer spray coatings is necessary to extend coating life and remove build-ups of resins and other residue.
Cleaning should be executed according to the following guidelines:
- Wash with plain water using hose or pressure spray equipment.
- Use heavy duty dry powdered detergent combined with 1/3 cup of water when surfaces are heavily soiled.
- Use soft bristled brush to make cleaning easier.
- Rinse with clean, cold water immediately after cleaning.
Areas subject to high humidity levels can experience mildew growth, which should be removed using the following solution:
- 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent
- 2/3 cup tri-sodium phosphate or TSP
- 1 qt. sodium hypochlorite 5% solution
- 3 qts. water
- Avoid strong solvent and abrasive-type cleaners.
- Remove heavy soils, such as oil, grease, tar, wax, etc., by wiping with a cloth soaked in mineral spirits. Wipe only contaminated areas; follow with detergent cleaning and rinse thoroughly.
Each coating is different; therefore it is essential to follow the exact specifications outlined for each type of finish. Properly cleaning and maintaining your structure’s surface will minimize the need for touch-ups in the future and extend the lifetime of the building.