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Care & Maintenance of your Aluminium Systems

To ensure the longevity and hassle-free operation of your Aluminium systems, the following cleaning and maintenance methods should be followed. The information offered here serves as a general guideline. The cleaning methods have been categorised according to the typeof material being cleaned.

  1. Aluminium
  2. Glass
  3. Stainless Steel Components

Aluminium

Always check the specifications or building plan schedules if you are in doubt as to type of finish. The two common finishes use in aluminium systems are Anodised aluminium and Powder Coated aluminium.

Cleaning Guidelines – Anodised Aluminium

Construction soils, including concrete and mortar, should be removed immediately. The method for cleaning will vary depending on the nature and degree of soil.

It is advisable to use preventative measures to avoid construction soils, such as protection tape or pealable coatings can be applied to aluminium, hardware and glass.

Warning:

  • NEVER use aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners on aluminium finishes.
  • NEVER use cleaners containing Trisodium Phosphate*, Phosphoric acid*, Hydrochloric acid*, Hydrofluoric acid*, Fluorides, or similar compounds on anodised aluminium surfaces.
  • Always, test clean a small area first.
  • DO NOT clean hot, sun-heated aluminium surfaces, as chemical reactions on hot metal surfaces will be highly accelerated and cleaning non-uniformity can occur. Surfaces streaking or staining can occur when the aluminium surface is cleaned under these adverse conditions. There is a possibility that surfaces stained or streaked in this manner cannot be restored to their original appearance.
  • DO NOT clean aluminium surfaces during freezing temperatures or when metal temperatures are cold enough to cause condensation.
  • DO NOT use strong cleaners on windows and other building accessories where it is possible that the cleaner cam come into contact with the aluminium.
  • DO NOT mix different cleaners
  • It is preferable to clean the metal when shaded.
  • Apply the cleaning solution only to an area that can be conveniently cleaned without changing position.
  • Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water before applying a cleaner. Minimise cleaner runoff over the lower portions of the building and rinse such areas as soon and as long as practically possible.
  • Cleaners containing strong organic solvents will have a deleterious effect on organic overlay coatings, but not on anodised aluminium.
  • The possibility of solvents extracting stain-producing chemicals from sealants and affecting the function of the sealants, however, must be considered. Test a small area first.
  • Solutions of water and mild detergents should be used on windows. If an aggressive cleaner is required for some other component of the building, extreme care must be taken to prevent the cleaner from coming into contact with the aluminium finish.

Disclaimer

This information is issued as a general guide only, and does not preclude the use of other methods, materials or equipment. However, the user should carefully evaluate and fully investigate the suitability of any alternative methods, materials, or equipment before using them. Specific cleaning instructions should be obtained from the product manufacturer. Veto Aluminium disclaims liability from any loss or damage suffered from the provision or use of this information.

Cleaning Guidelines for Powder Coated Aluminium

Construction soils, including concrete and mortar, should be removed as soon as possible. The method for cleaning will vary depending on the nature and degree of soil.

When choosing a cleaning solution and method, take other building components into consideration

(E.g. glass, sealants and painted surfaces). Make use of preventative measures to avoid contact with cleaning solution where necessary, such as protection tape or pealable coatings applied to aluminium, hardware and glass.

Precautions:

  • DO NOT use household cleaners that contain abrasives on painted surfaces.
  • DO NOT use abrasive materials such as steel wool, abrasive brushes, etc.
  • AVOID drips and splashes. Remove runoff as quickly as possible.
  • AVOID temperature extremes. Cleaning under these conditions may result in streaking or staining. Cleaning should be done in shade at moderate temperature.
  • DO NOT substitute a heavy duty cleaner for frequently used mild cleaner.
  • DO NOTscour painted surfaces.
  • NEVER use paint removers, aggressive alkaline, acid or abrasive cleaners.
  • DO NOT use Trisodium Phosphate, highly alkaline or highly acidic cleaners.
  • NEVER mix cleaners.
  • Restrict cleaning to mild weather. Cleaning should be done on the shaded side of the building, ideally on a mild, cloudy day.
  • Over cleaning or excessive rubbing can do more harm than good.
  • Strong solvents or strong cleaner concentrations can cause damage to painted surfaces.
  • Always do a surface test.
  • Follow manufacturers' recommendations for mixing and diluting cleaners.
  • To prevent marking and scratches, make sure cleaning sponges and cloths are grit free.

Disclaimer

This information is issued as a general guide only, and does not preclude the use of other methods, materials or equipment. However, the user should carefully evaluate and fully investigate the suitability of any alternative methods, materials, or equipment before using them. Specific cleaning instructions should be obtained from the product manufacturer. Veto Aluminium disclaims liability from any loss or damage suffered from the provision or use of this information.

Glass

Specific advice on the cleaning of glass should always be requested from a reputable glazieror professional window cleaner before any glass cleaning is undertaken. In terms of the cleaning guidelines glass is categorised into two categories, Ordinary Clear Glass and Low E Hard Coated Glass.

Cleaning Guidelines for (Ordinary) Clear Glass

Precautions:

  • DO NOT use acid products,
  • DO NOT use highly abrasive materials such as polish, blades or sandpaper
  • DO NOT use water containing abrasive granules (like cement, etc.)
  • Clean warm water containing a highly diluted mild household detergent is recommended.
  • Glass should be cleaned often enough to prevent heavy soiling (preferably monthly). If the glass surface is still soiled after normal cleaning, the supplier should be consulted for remedial advice.

Cleaning Guidelines for Low E Hard Coated Glass

Low E glass is an energy efficient product that has a very thin coating applied to one surface during its manufacture. The coating is also referred to as a pyrolytic coating. This coating is chemically bonded to the glass surface while it is still in a semi-molten state, which reacts to form a hard, durable ceramic coating. This coating provides improved control of thermal insulation over ordinary float glass.

The coated surface is ordinarily glazed to the inside of the building, except in Insulated Glass

Units where it is on the inner pane but facing to theoutside. This type of glass requires a different cleaning method to that of ordinary, uncoated float glass.

The following Guidelines are suggested when cleaning coated glass:

Warning:

  • DO NOT use abrasive, powder-based, ammonia-based, or alcohol-based cleaning solutions.
  • DO NOT use cleaners that contain any harsh acid or alkali (Hydrochloric acid is the exception to this, under certain circumstances only, and is covered under “Specialised Cleaning Guidelines).
  • DO NOT clean glass when it is hot, or in direct sunlight.
  • DO NOT use hot water on cold glass, or cold water on hot glass.
  • DO NOT use power washers or garden hoses to clean windows and doors.
  • DO NOT allow cleaning solution to contact the edges of any laminated glass.
  • DO NOT allow cleaning fluid to dry on glass, or surrounding surfaces.
  • DO NOT use squeegees, razor blades, scrapers, scourers, and metal or abrasive products.

Hand Cleaning

This procedure used to remove accumulated dust and fingerprints.

Cleaning Products

  • Clean water.
  • Clean lukewarm soapy water.
  • Solution of one part vinegar to ten parts clean water.
  • Commercially available vinegar based cleaners.
  • Commercial domestic glass cleaners such as Mr Muscle® Window & Surface Cleaner.
  • Clean, lint-free soft cloth.

Suggested Hand Cleaning Method

  • Always start cleaning at the top of the window or door and work your way down.
  • Flush with generous amounts of clean water to remove dirt and particles.
  • Spray with soapy water (and/or vinegar solution for more stubborn marks).
  • Remove all traces of cleaning solution by rinsing with clean water.
  • Remove the excess water with a cloth. To prevent streaking, do not dry completely but leave a thin film of moisture on the glass. This film will quickly evaporate, leaving a clean surface.
  • Repeat the process if necessary.
  • Note: Do not wipe with a dry cloth, or when the surface is dry.

Spot Cleaning Guidelines

This refers to individual spots or areas of stubborn dirt and foreign materials, such as grease, oil, tape adhesive, paint and even crayons. Regular glass cleaning solutions, as described for hand cleaning, may not remove these. First carry out the Hand Cleaning Method in order to remove all normal, less stubborn organic deposits.

Suggested Spot Cleaning Products

  • Acetone.
  • Denatured alcohol.
  • Mineral Turpentine.
  • Clean, lint-free soft cloth.

Suggested Spot Cleaning Method

  • Observe all of the chemical manufacturer’s handling and safety instructions.
  • Apply a small amount of the cleaner to a clean WET cloth.
  • Rub gently on the area requiring spot cleaning, taking care not to allow the cleaner to come in contact with any surrounding frame, surface or paintwork which may be damaged or marked by these solvents.
  • Wipe clean with a WET cloth.
  • Follow this with the Hand Cleaning Procedure.
  • Note: Do not wipe with a dry cloth, or when the surface is dry.

Specialised Cleaning Guidelines

Metal, or abrasive objects, such as blades, scrapers or steel wool should as a general rule never be used to clean ANY glass surface. The Low E coating on Low E Coated glass is hard enough that any metal object used on the surface may result in tiny metals shards being deposited on the coated surface. This appear as a “stain” or “scratch”. These cannot be removed by hand or spot cleaning methods. To remove these metal marks, it is necessary to use a hydrochloric acid based product or solution. Firstly, use the Hand Cleaning Method to remove all normal organic deposits.

Specialised Cleaning Products

A solution of 10% Dilute Hydrochloric Acid (such as swimming pool acid) to 90% clean water.

Clean, lint-free soft cloth.

Specialised Cleaning Method

Warning:

  • NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID, ALWAYS ADD ACID TO WATER. Adding the water to the acid could cause it to react violently and splutter, causing injury, burns, or damage to sundry surfaces.
  • Observe all of the chemical manufacturer’s handling, safety and disposal instructions.
  • Wear protective gloves and eyewear, and take care not to spill any acid or solution on clothes, skin, or surfaces. Even the diluted solution may be corrosive to any organic matter.
  • Pour the water into a container first, and then carefully stir the acid into the water, in the proportions indicated.
  • Apply a small amount of the prepared solution to a clean WET cloth.
  • Rub gently, only on the area requiring spot cleaning, taking care not to allow the cleaner to come in contact with any surrounding frame, surface or paintwork.
  • Wipe clean with a WET cloth.
  • Follow this with the Suggested Hand Cleaning Method.
  • Note: Do not wipe with a dry cloth, or when the surface is dry.

Disclaimer

This information is issued as a general guide only, and does not preclude the use of other methods, materials or equipment. However, the user should carefully evaluate and fully investigate the suitability of any alternative methods, materials, or equipment before using them. Specific cleaning instructions should be obtained from a reputable professional window cleaner or the glass manufacturer. Veto Aluminium disclaims liability from any loss or damage suffered from the provision or use of this information.

Stainless Steel Components

Stainless Steel is inherently a corrosion resistant material, which does not need additional surface protection to enhance its appearance and durability. Why is stainless steel so corrosion resistant? The alloying elements in stainless steel form a thin, transparent 'passive layer' on the surface. Although this protective passive layer is only a few atoms thick, it instantaneously reforms in the presence of oxygen from air or water, so even if the material is scratched or damaged the passive layer continues protecting the surface from corrosion. This is why stainless steel does not require any coating or other corrosion protection to remain bright and shiny even after decades of use.

However, routine maintenance and cleaning is required to keep stainless steel surfaces in a good condition, so that its aesthetic appearance and corrosion resistance properties are not compromised. Stainless steels are therefore not regarded asmaintenance free throughout its lifespan.

The following guidelines can assist in the efficient, cost effective cleaning allowing you to take full advantage of the corrosion resistant properties of stainless steel.

Initial Cleaning Guidelines

The first cleaning is generally done before the building is handed over to the owner. If the stainless steel parts have been protected adequately then simple 'maintenance cleaning' at the hand-over stage will probably be sufficient.

  • NEVER use mortar removers or diluted Hydrochloric acid on stainless steel.
  • Protective plastic films should be removed as soon as they are no longer necessary for protection during the installation.
  • Mortar and cement splashes can be treated with a solution containing a small amount of Phosphoric acid. Rinse with water (preferably distilled water) and dried.
  • Use fresh water to rinse off accidental mortar spillage on stainless steel products/finishes
  • If pitting attack has occurred, acid pickling treatments or mechanical rectification will be needed to restore the surface. Pickling agents in paste form are available for localised, on-site application. Please use these products in accordance with the supplier's directions so that there is a safe system of work and the relevant legislation on environmental protection is adhered to. Specialist finishing companies will often carry out this service on site.
  • On external applications, such as facades, rainfall can normally be expected to wash off accumulations of dirt and other deposits efficiently, depending on the amount of exposure and the elevation.
  • Attention should be given to sheltered areas during routine cleaning to avoid the accumulation of airborne contaminants, especially in marine and industrial environments. The build-up of airborne chlorides or SOx can result in corrosion, if not removed.

Cleansers

  • NEVER use scouring powders, as these may scratch the stainless steel surface.
  • NEVER use Chloride-containing cleansers, especially those containing hydrochloric acid.
  • NEVER use Hypochlorite bleaches on stainless steels; if applied accidentally or spilt on stainless steel surfaces rinse off immediately with liberal amounts of fresh water.
  • NEVER use Silver-cleaners on stainless steel.
  • To remove fingerprints and other marks from architectural finishes, soapy water or a mild detergent are usually safe and successful.
  • Spray cleaners are available, which in addition to removing existing fingerprints, it leaves the surface in a condition that reduces the tendency for fingerprints to show in subsequent service.
  • After applying the spray to the surface, polish with a dry cloth.
  • Your nearest national stainless steel development association should be able to advise on products locally available.
  • Mirror-polished stainless steel can be cleaned with glass cleansers. These products should be chloride-free.
  • For more stubborn stains, mild household cream cleansers should be effective. This should also be suitable for cleaning off watermarks and light discolouration. After cleaning, remove the residues with distilled water (available in supermarkets, e.g. for steam ironing or car batteries) and dry to avoid streaking and water marks.
  • Solvents can lead to the spreading of a stain on the stainless steel. It is suggested to apply clean solvent several times with a clean, non-scratching cloth, until all traces of the partially dissolved oil or grease are removed.
  • Paint and graffiti can be treated with proprietary alkaline or solvent-based paint strippers
  • Heavily neglected surfaces can be treated with metal polishes, such as those for cleaning chromium-plated items (e.g. automotive trim). Furthermore, polishes used for re-finishing car paint can be considered. Note: the stainless steel surfaces may become scratched with these cleaners.
  • Alternatively, use a stainless steel cleaner containing Phosphoric acid to remove contamination, rinse with distilled water and dry. The entire surface of the component should be treated to avoid a patchy appearance
  • Always adhere to the health and safety literature from the supplier.

Cleaning Utensils

Precautions:

  • DO NOT use non-stainless steel based scouring pads, cleaning wool, non-stainless steel wire brushes. These cleaning utensils can leave carbon steel deposits on the stainless surface, which can develop into rust spots.
  • DO NOT use hard scrapers or knives, as these may scratch the stainless steel surface.
  • Use a damp cloth or chamois leather.
  • Soft nylon brushes can be used for cleaning stainless steel with patterned finishes
  • The direction of cleaning strokes should be along the grain and not across it.
  • Where water has been used for cleaning or rinsing, wipe the surface dry to prevent watermarks. The use of distilled water will prevent the formation of hard water staining.
  • Cleaning materials for use on stainless steel items should preferable be reserved exclusively for that purpose, to avoid cross contamination.
  • For more stubborn dirt, nylon pads can be used.

Cleaning Intervals

Cleaning should be done before there is a visible build-up of soiling or finger-marking, so that the effort and cost of cleaning is minimised along with the risk of marking altering the appearance of the surfaces.

It is good practice to clean the stainless steel at the same frequency as the building's windows. Depending on the severity of soiling and deposit build up, routine cleaning frequencies of 6-12 months for light soiling and 3-6 months for heavy soiling or high pollution environments.

Disclaimer

This information is issued as a general guide only, and does not preclude the use of other methods, materials or equipment. However, the user should carefully evaluate and fully investigate the suitability of any alternative methods, materials, or equipment before using them. Specific cleaning instructions should be obtained from the product manufacturer. Veto Aluminium disclaims liability from any loss or damage suffered from the provision or use of this information.