Understanding Glass

Dave Shares His Thoughts On Understanding Glass

Although it's smooth to the touch glass is actually very porous at a magnified level. This is how water can bead on what we perceive as a smooth surface. And explains why water runs on glass in channels. Gravity pulls on the molecules of the water which naturally takes the least resistant path. As the water molecules move across the surface of glass they fill the molecular pores of the glass until full and excess runs off. This is how droplets seem to cling to the glass surface. Without regular cleaning these pores collect dirt and debris as the pores of the glass naturally catch and hold the finest of dirt particles. They can and do build up. And hold in the pores. Which is how glass gets dirty. And why gummy substances stick so well to glass. And why after years of neglect can cause stains to appear requiring restoration. Or replacement.

Over the years I've given advice on a variety of glass maintenance issues. The most basic concept of all, is the search for an understanding of why we clean windows in general. Beyond the obvious reasons, the most important reason for glass maintenance is to avoid glass degradation. Glass will, over time, become permeated with a variety of contaminants:
  1. Hard Minerals (from sprinkler systems and building run-off)
  2. Oxidization (from windows encased in metal frames and screens)
  3. Over Spray (from paint, caulk, mortar, ect.) acid rain
  4. Sea Spray (coastal locations)
  5. Acid Rain
In most cases... unless situated next door to a baseball field or golf course...  item #1 from the list, Hard Minerals (or hard water), is the biggest threat to the windows of the structure of most home and business owners. And a great source of extra income for professional window cleaners! The need for basic glass restoration or window replacement can be avoided with proper, regular cleaning of exterior window glass surfaces. If you have a wood burning source in the home extra attention is required for inside window glass surfaces.

Another lesser known threat to the life of windows is using acidic cleansers. Ammonia is a popular cleaning agent and does cut many contaminants well. However ammonia is both caustic and hazardous. Even diluted for window cleaning it has the potential over time to cause painted surfaces and rubber seals to fail. Here is a picture of paint failure on both sides of the window due to a few years of window cleaning with an ammonia mixture. If you've seen insulated windows with moisture of a fog between the panes it is caused by seal failure. Rubber seals coming into contact with ammonia over time will cause these seals to dry rot and fail. The insulating gases escape allowing normal air pressure to get between the panes. Along with the moisture you see trapped in the pores of the interior glass in failed windows. Which over time stains the interior of the window and causes that fog in between the panes which obscures the view. Forcing a decision to replace or repair. A cost avoidable by proper maintenance by a skilled window cleaning technician.

Minimal Cleaning Recommendation
- Residential windows twice a year -
- Office buildings quarterly -
- Storefronts monthly -