Maintenance & Care

Maintenance & Care

Maintenance & care of 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. We recommend cleaning the glass on a cloudy or mild day to minimize streaking.

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.

Glass Maintenance

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.

Maintenance &  Care of cleaning your glass and finishes will vary according to your geographic location. Dirt and pollutants are more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas and require more frequent cleaning. Avoid cleaning in extreme weather conditions, such as intense heat or intense cold.

Read the AAMA’s Cleaning and Maintenance Guide to Glass Products

Preventing Moisture

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.

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

Mold thrives when an organic food source is present, such as dirt, dust, or moisture. When mold becomes apparent, the first step is to find the source of growth and eliminate it. Mold can grow back in 72 hours under the right conditions. Controlling the moisture level in your environment will control mold growth and other unsightly conditions, such as condensation and water marks.

Aluminum Cleaning

Maintenance & Care of 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 on the structure.

After flushing the surface, 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 surface. Use a dilute solution of under 10% muriatic acid to remove concrete that is on on the aluminum.Remove excess silicone with a razor blade, following an isopropyl alcohol wipe down to remove residue.

Read the AAMA Aluminum Cleaning and Maintenance Guide

Care for your Finishes

A structure’s finish requires cleaning and maintenance prior to, during, and after installation.  The buildings themselves are highly durable to withstand severe environmental elements; however, their surface finishes can deteriorate over time. To prevent this, Solar Innovations® has compiled the following care and maintenance guide for the preservation of your finish.

Anodized Aluminum

Anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration, and wear; however, its surface finish can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse, or neglect.

— Cleaning Schedule

Clean the aluminum 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.

— Cleaning Procedures

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.

— Removing Light Soils

  • 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

  • Thoroughly soak the pad with clean water or mild detergent.
  • Hand scrub the surface with uniform pressure in the direction of the metal grain.
  • Scrub with a nylon-cleaning pad with a surface protecting material for stubborn stains.
  • Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water.
  • Let the surface air dry or wipe it down with a lint-free cloth.

— Removing Extreme Soils

  • When using power tools, continually flush the surface 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.
  • Air dry or dry wipe the surface.

— Cleaning Precautions

  • 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.
  • Be sure to exercise extreme caution when using solvents, because they have the potential to damage organic sealants, gaskets, and finishes.

Powder Coatings

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. Cleaning these structures must be according to the outlined specifications in order to maintain their finish.

— Cleaning Schedule

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.

— Cleaning Procedures

Clean the product as soon as installation is complete to ensure construction materials, such as concrete, plaster, and paint splashes are gone 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.

— Clean 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 subject 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.
  • Take a suitability test for metallic powder coatings due to the danger of changes in a color tone.
  • Avoid strong rubbing when cleaning the surface.
  • Do not use detergents 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.
  • Scratching or abrasive agents.
  • Strong acids, alkaline detergents, or similar products.
  • Detergents of unknown composition.
  • Stream-jet devices/power cleaning tools.

— Cleaning Precautions:

  • 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.
  • 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.

If you have any questions about the care of your Solar Innovations® system, please contact customer service for more information.