Skyscraper Window Cleaners … A Unique Breed

The very moment you set foot on the topmost part of Scotia Plaza – the roof – the first contact you make is with bugs.

Perhaps, you’re seventy stories from the ground. It’s an entirely different environment. The temperature there is very different. It’s 7C cooler than it is at the ground. And during this specific period of the year, the place is full of aphids. If you make a mistake and just stand still you’ll be troubled with the insects all over you.

Again, matters could be worse…

“Two weeks from now, it’ll be spiders. Lots of them and big ones,” these are the words of a seasoned window cleaner. And by his body language, it’s an indication the numbers will be overwhelming.

This window cleaner is having a conversation and two of his co-workers are adjusting their safety equipment. They’re getting set to take off from the edge and land onto a narrow platform standing 285 meters from the ground where they’ll clean the windows from.

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There has been an increase of 70% of the number of tall residential buildings in the GTA, during the past 8 years. Roughly 1,300 buildings are 4 stories or higher.

It’s wrong to say the people who wholeheartedly undertake the job are suicidal. That’s how they’re equipped to get ready for the task.

Ropes are tied on them and right away they proceed.

The window-cleaning period typically runs from May to November. There’s a different type of thrill-seeker this job attracts. It requires two earthbound weeks to know everything regarding window cleaning and become an expert. Three days are solely for safety training. After that you’ll be out on the platform or hanging on a bosun’s chair. Highrise cleaners usually specialize in either of these methods.

For some, it gets hard when it’s time to step off the edge. For those few who can’t bring themselves to step out, groundwork becomes their responsibility.

On the Scotia Plaza, cleaners work on a platform that’s 15 meters long. It’s usually hinged at the right angle to fit the building’s crenelated design. A large motor that could be mistaken for a locomotive is used to suspend the platform. The motor can chug around the roof through a rail system, strategically positioning the platform for lowering.

The platform cleaners usually grind in pairs.

They work until the wind gets unbearable or when they can’t proceed and the only option is quitting. They’re paid per the job they complete – lots of dollars for cleaning a large part of the building. Covering about 80 vertical feet of frontage in a day is their target.

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Cleaning this tower is done throughout the year. To do everything it consumes 6 to 10 weeks. Firstly, the washers clean the windows. After that, the cleaning of the reddish granite cladding follows.

What’s very dangerous is the wind. As you proceed down the tower there are four different layers of the wind, the same as currents in the ocean. Not forgetting, the wind is capable of shifting. Before lowering the platform, the cleaners do some experimenting using water. They pour down a few drops of water. The turbulence of the water as it moves down, clearly shows them what’s ahead of them.

Some cleaners say the best part of the job is the quietness.

The wind and the sirens made below are the only sources of noise.

Observing from the below, the process of window cleaning appears to be a slow one. From a closer view up there, it appears to be terrifically fast, a swirling attack that’s refined by lots of repetitions.

For all of your high and low-rise window cleaning needs, contact Excel Projects today!

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